D-Day 4 – 9: Days 5 to 10

On the 9th of June, the 101st Airborne, with the 506th, 502nd and 501st regiments, and presumably, Private Austin, attacked the German-held town of Carentan. The 501st attacked from the Northwest, where they captured a hill. Over the next several days, the 101st airborne would work to hold the town and defend key routes into the city.[1] Elements of the 175th Infantry would also participate in Carentan, but is it not likely that Lieutenant Jerome Eastman, NU ’32, would have participated. As he had been wounded several days earlier, when he first reached Normandy.[2] The capture of Carentan would link the two American beaches into a continuous front.

June 7th through the 11th showed the arrival of one of the most important units to the battle, the 2nd Armored Division, and along with it, Captain Gordon Fuller, NU ‘38, General Edward Brooks, NU ‘16, Colonel I.D. White, NU ‘22, Captain Sten Bergstedt, NU ’32, Lieutenant Col Briard Johnson, NU ’27 (and later, Commandant and Professor of Military Sciences), and Captain James Burt, NU ‘39. They arrived on Omaha Beach. In addition, the 39th Infantry, with Norwich alumni Colonel Harry ‘Paddy’ Flint, NU ’10, and Lieutenant Arnold MacKerer, NU ‘46, arrived on Utah Beach.

The Second Armored division, under the command of General Brooks, embarked for Normandy on the 6th of June, and arrived on the 7th, where they appear to have landed in several stages. General Brooks arrived on the 7th. While landing, a landing craft exploded next to Brook’s ship; close enough to push it around.[3] It is likely that Captain Gordon Fuller, NU ’38, was aboard this LST, as Colonel White, NU ’22, noted in an interview years later that the LST belonged to the 67th Regiment, which Captain Fuller was assigned to[4]. He would prove to be the first Norwich casualty in the Normandy Invasion, before he even reached the beachhead.

Command Combat B, which was commanded by Col. I.D. White (‘22), arrived June 8th, where they spent the rest of the day de-waterproofing their equipment and by that night, the entire unit moved to the Tournieres and Littry area, where they prepared for combat and scouted the area for enemy emplacements and for safe routes in the region[5]. Once the 2nd Armored division had landed in Normandy, the initial phase of the invasion was completed.[6] The next phase was to secure the Normandy region. The 2nd Armored Division was called into action to help reinforce the forces already in the battlefield, as there were reports that the Germans were launching a counter attack. On the 12th of June, the division began to carry out attacks on the Germans, first reinforcing a group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne division near Carentan. The 66th Regiment, which Captain Sten Bergstedt, NU ’32, was attached to, would remain with the 101st Airborne division and the 83rd Infantry division, until early July.[7] While this was happening, Combat Command B, under Colonel I.D. White, was clearing the assembly area of mines and the unit worked to find ways to fight in the Normandy hedgerows, as well as the use of armored and infantry units in support of each other.

The 39th Infantry Division, commanded by Colonel Harry Flint, NU ’10, also landed on the 11th of June, at Utah Beach. Lieutenant Arnold MacKerer Jr., NU ’46, was also a member of this unit, assigned to E-Company. The unit landed in the morning and marched to St. Mere Eglise and was immediately sent to Quinneville with Patton’s 4th Division. They arrived on June 14th and engaged the German defenders in the area there. Initially, they met heavy enemy fire and were forced to withdraw, but within the day, the Division was able to break the German lines at Quinneville. The unit was able to rest for a couple days, but was back on the line by the 16th, where they worked to cut off the peninsula that was one of the larger goals of the American forces in the area, something that was achieved by the 18th of June, granting the Allied forces a large port. The next week would be spent neutralizing the enemy forces that had been cornered by the attack.

[1] Ibid, 359-360

[2] Ibid

[3] Huston, 199

[4] Strodter, 224

[5] CCB Periodic Report, 7-11 June

[6] Huston, 200

[7] Huston, 203