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

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

CHAPTER 3
HOLDING FAST

By nightfall on June 6 the German situation was quite precarious. The left flank of the LXXXIV Corps (i.e., Utah Beach/Ste.-Mère-Eglise sector) had collapsed; indeed, the Americans had lost fewer than 200 men on Utah Beach, which was the smallest number of casualties suffered on any of the beaches. The Americans at Omaha Beach had gained two to three miles, primarily because of Bradley's ruthless determination to succeed. He had sent in wave after wave of infantry and had shelled his own beaches until the 352nd Division could no longer hold. The American losses had been enormous. Of the 6,603 U.S. casualties reported on D-Day (1,465 killed, 3,184 wounded, and 1,954 captured or missing), the airborne divisions had lost 2,499. Almost all the remainder had been lost by the U.S. 1st and 29th Infantry divisions on Omaha Beach. As June 6 ended, Omaha Beach was the only landing point not secure. Of the 2,400 tons of supplies the U.S. planners had scheduled to put on the beach on D-Day, only 100 tons actually reached shore. Omaha was short about 45 percent of its men, 50 percent of its vehicles, and more than 70 percent of its materiel and heavy equipment. On both American beaches, Bradley had planned to land 107,000 men, 14,000 vehicles, and 14,500 tons of supplies by the evening of June 7; when the second day of the invasion ended, he had landed 87,000 men, 7,000 vehicles, and less than 4,000 tons of supplies. 1 This shortage of 20 percent of his manpower, half his vehicles, and 75 percent of his materiel in the opening round of the invasion was a direct result of Rommel's defensive methods and introduces the question of what would have happened had the Field Marshal been given a free hand in his conduct of the defense. This question, of course, can never be answered, but the U.S. position on Utah Beach might well have been untenable had Rommel been allowed to position the panzer reserves where he wanted them; there is little doubt that

-93-

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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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