WWII Journal: Paul Farnum, 18 June 1944

Today, 18 June 1944, the 9th Division broke through German resistance to the west and reaches the coast at Barneville.  This completes the immediate strategic goal of cutting off Cherbourg from reinforcement. The Allied plan is for the 79th to relieve the 90th Division. Then the 79th Division will drive up to Cherbourg with the 4th Division covering the right flank and the 9th Division covering the left flank. The 313th Infantry regiment makes a short foot march westward to place it behind elements of the 90th Division.  On this march they passed the first town they had seen destroyed, Pont l’Abbe.  The 313th Infantry relieves the 359th Infantry of the 90th Division about dusk on the 18th. “H-hour” for the 313th and the rest of the 79th Division is set for 0500 tomorrow, 19 June.

The Cotentin Peninsula 18 June, 1944. The Allies' goal - to take the port city of Cherbourg and secure the logistics for the tenuous beachhead. Source: U.S. Army: Utah Beach to Cherbourg, Map 25, p. 128.

North of Barneville-Valognes-Montebourg line the Contentin Peninsula is hilly, gradually increasing in height toward Cherbourg.  To the south the land is flat and marshy with several small streams. Much of the marshy area has been flooded by the Germans.  The terrain consists of cultivated fields surround by high hedgerows. The ground makes defense easy and offense a challenge. Each field became a separate battlefield.  There is no observation, no place where artillery can see to the front.

The Allies are currently meeting their logistics needs through “Landing Ships, Tank” (LST’s) that can offload trucks and cargo directly to beaches, and artificial harbors called “Mulberries.” The American Mulberry is deployed at Omaha Beach, the other further east in the British sector. But an expanded beachhead with more Divisions means more logistics. The Allies are determined to capture the port city of Cherbourg to enable the supply of the much larger Army needed to break out of the beachhead and bring the war home to Germany.

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