The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense of Fortress Europe

By Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
CHERBOURG

As we have seen, Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Schlieben was defeated in his attempt to retake Ste.-Mère-Eglise. On June 9 he threw the 1057th Grenadier Regiment into an attack against the American airborne bridgehead west of the Merderet River and gave Brigadier General James M. Gavin, the deputy commander of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, some bad moments, but the "All-Americans" paratroopers prevailed in heavy fighting. Schlieben then retreated to a line overlooking the western edge of the American beachhead, where he assembled what troops he could find, and what units Rommel could spare, while Bradley and his lieutenants were preoccupied with the Battle of Carentan. Between June 9 and 12 he established a line manned by miscellaneous units from the 709th, 243rd, and 91st divisions, as well as the 7th Army Assault Battalion. Schlieben's main strength, however, was his artillery. Several field artillery units had survived D-Day at least partially intact, and von Schlieben gathered all he could: a battalion from the 243rd Artillery Regiment, the 456th and 457th Motorized Artillery battalions, a battery of six French 155mm guns from the 1261st Army Coastal Artillery Regiment, the remnants of the 1709th Artillery Battalion, five batteries from Flak Group Koenig, and part of Major Koenig's 100th Mortar Regiment. Despite his young age and relatively junior rank, Schlieben placed a fine officer, Major Friedrich Wilhelm Kueppers, in charge of the artillery forces. 1

Utah Beach, on the east coast of the Cotentin, faced southwest, toward the interior of the peninsula. Sixteen miles to the northwest was Cherbourg, the strategic objective of the American landings. As soon as they established some depth to their bridgehead, Rommel knew that the Americans would turn on von Schlieben and go after this prize. However, he could spare little in the way of reinforcements for 7th Army, because

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The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense of Fortress Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Atlantic Wall 1
  • Chapter 2 - D-Day 57
  • Chapter 3 - Holding Fast 93
  • Chapter 4 - Cherbourg 129
  • Chapter 5 - The Crumbling Fortress 141
  • Chapter 6 - A pitiless Destiny 179
  • Appendix I - Table of Equivalent Ranks 203
  • Appendix II - German Staff Abbreviations 205
  • Appendix III - Characteristics of Opposing Tanks 207
  • Appendix IV - Rommel's Schedule, March 23-June 4, 1944 209
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 219
  • About the Author *
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