For the last few days the troops have remained in the marshaling area, changing money into francs and making other last minute preparations. Today, the 313th was trucked to the port of embarkation. Tomorrow, the 79th lands on Utah Beach. Here’s the situation they will find.
The Allies have carved out a modest beachhead on the Normandy coast. The British Second Army – on the east of the beachhead – has been stalled short of Caen since D-Day. Caen is on the direct path to Paris, and the Germans are defending it heavily.
“Amateurs study strategy while professionals study logistics,” goes the old military axiom. The Germans remain convinced that the Normandy Invasion is a feint – that the Allies cannot possible support and sustain a major invasion without a suitable port to deliver supplies. The Allies have constructed artificial ports to facilitate off-loading material and continue to deliver supplies directly to the beach using LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks). But Eisenhower and his command staff fear the Germans may be correct. Without a port to properly supply their forces, the Allies may be pushed back to the channel. Thus, Eisenhower’s top priority is to capture a port and secure his logistics. His eyes are set on the port city of Cherbourg at the northern tip of the Cotentin pennisula. The Americans must drive west across the peninsula to cut off Cherbourg from reinforcement, and then drive north to capture the port that will be their supply lifeline in the coming months.
An advance party of the 79th Division landed at Utah beach yesterday, 12 June 1944. Tomorrow, the rest of the 79th will be joining the fight.