Skip to comments.ALLIES CAPTURE BAYEUX, CLEAR BEACHES, AS NAZI RESISTANCE STIFFENS STEADILY (6/8/44)
Posted on 06/08/2014 5:17:39 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Normandy beachheads link up
Thursday, June 8, 1944 www.onwar.com
American soldiers just off the Utah beach [photo at link]
On the Western Front... A second wave of Allied troops has landed. Elements of the US 7th Corps, from Utah beach, advance toward Cherbourg. The 4th Division engages in heavy fighting near Azeville. Elements of the US 5th Corps, on Omaha beach, capture Isigny but cannot establish a link with the American forces on Utah. A link is established between Omaha and Gold beach once British Marines, part of the 30th Corps, take Port-en-Bessin.
In Italy... German rearguards slow the advance of the US 5th Army and British 8th Army.
In New Guinea... Fighting continues on Biak Island. A Japanese attempt to ship reinforcements to Biak is intercepted by the cruiser squadron commanded by Admiral Crutchley. It is forced to retreat. On the mainland, at the American beachhead around Aitape, US forces begin counterattacking.
June 8th, 1944 (THURSDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The first deep-penetration 12,000-lb. “Tallboy” bomb is dropped on the Saumur tunnel by an RAF Lancaster bomber. (22)
Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz, Commanding General, U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe (USSTAF), places oil as the first priority target for the USAAF’s Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces as a result of the destructive effect achieved by several missions against oil centers in May 1944.
The USAAF’s Eighth Air Force in England flies Mission 400: 1,178 bombers and 1,353 fighter sorties are flown on communications in France to isolate German forward elements, and airfields are bombed to prevent Luftwaffe support. Cloud conditions prevent 400+ bombers from executing attacks.
1. 640 B-17 Flying Fortresses are dispatched to La Frilliere (66 bomb), Orleans (36 bomb), Rennes Airfield (30 bomb), Orleans/Les Aubrais marshalling yard (60 bomb), Nantes (25 bomb), La Huchetiere (31 bomb), Tours/La Riche (61 bomb) and Cinq Mars bridge (57 bomb); 18 hit Bruz, two hit Rennes and 13 hit targets of opportunity; one1 B-17 is lost.
2. 538 B-24 Liberators are dispatched to Pontaubault (67 bomb), Angers/St Laud (24 bomb), Angers (19 bomb), Le Mans/Arnage Airfield (14 bomb), Pontaubault (13 bomb), Nantes (42 bomb) and Cinq Mars bridge (55 bomb); five hit Dinon, one hits Precey, one hits Cinq Mars bridge, 30 hit Grandville Harbor, 19 hit a bridge at Rennes, nine hit Precey and 26 hit targets of opportunity; an attack on the Melun bridge by an Azon unit is foiled by clouds; two B-24s are lost.
Escort for the bombers is provided by 116 P-51 Mustangs; they claim 3-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; two P-51s are lost.
Personal Memory: On this day in 1944 we were assigned a target in Orleans, France where we were to drop our 1000 pound bombs on a train track with rolling stock, hoping to drop a railroad bridge into the rubble. Our assembly had to be modified because of two cloud layers and we finally formed up between these layers. The 303rd Bomb Group furnished 36 B-17s for this mission, comprising three groups of twelve. All three groups took off between 0431 and 0522 and were back on the base at Molesworth before noon. Our part of the mission was largely wasted because of a problem with the Norden bomb sight in the lead plane. Our bomb run was visual but the lead bombardier was having trouble cranking the proper drift corrections. He decided to turn the bomb run over to the deputy lead but was too late as the Norden sight released his bombs and of course all twelve planes dropped in unison. Our bombs struck the ground even with the target but too far to the left by at least five hund red feet, destroying some large, unknown buildings. Hogan was the hero of the day. our 359th squadron that led the high group laid a perfect pattern on the rail yard and the bridge. Hogan saved the mission when the low group did just as badly as we did. Some of the bombers were still jockeying into position when the bombs were away and in banking the plane it tossed the bombs to one side resulting in a poor pattern. Some days it doesn’t pay to get up. But at least it was a milk run. Score so far: Milk Runs 9, Others 4.(Dick Johnson)
Other fighter-bomber missions are:
1. 381 P-38 Lightnings, 24 P-47 Thunderbolts and 89 P-51s fly sweeps and patrols along the Normandy beachhead and the Channel area; P-47s claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; three P-51s are lost.
2. 333 P-47s and 526 P-51s fly fighter-bomber missions against communications in northwestern France; they claim 27-2-4 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 21-0-11 on the ground; six P-47s and eleven P-51s are lost.
Overall, the fighters fly 1,405 sorties and attack nearly 75 targets during the day.
The USAAF’s Ninth Air Force in England dispatches around 400 B-26 Marauders to attack rail and road bridges and junctions, rail sidings, marshalling yards, town areas, fuel storage tanks, ammunition dumps, troop concentration and strong points in the Calais, France area. Around 1,300 fighter sorties provide support to B-26s and high cover over the assault area, and bomb and strafe bridges, marshalling yards, gun batteries, rail facilities, vehicles, towns, and troop concentrations.
Corvette HMCS Arnprior (ex HMS Rising Castle) commissioned Belfast.
Paymaster Captain John Alick Edward Woodhouse RN (on loan to RCN) awarded CBE.
Captain John Wallace Thomas MN Master SS Empress of Japan awarded CBE.
A/Capt William Lavallin Puyley RN (on Loan to RCN) awarded OBE.
CPO/Sup Ernest Sydney Johnson RCN awarded BEM.
A/LCdr Arthur Hugh Snow Mayne RCNVR awarded Mention in Dispatches.
RPO James Henry Wheeler RCNR awarded LSandGC medal.
ENGLISH CHANNEL: A ‘Liberator’ patrol a/c from RAF 224 Sqn, piloted by F/Lt KO Moore, RCAF, sank 2 U-boats in less than 30 minutes in the English Channel, by radar-visual attacks on a bright moonlit night. They were - U-441, Kptlt. Klaus Hartmann, CO, at 48.27N, 005.47W and U-373, OLtzS Detlev Von Lehsten, CO, at 48.10N, 005.31W. There were no survivors from U-441’s crew of 51 men; however, all but 4 of the 51 crewmembers from U-373 were rescued. OLtzS Von Lehsten has been listed among those lost by some sources (see below). For his part in the action, F/Lt. Moore was awarded the DSO and the US Silver Star.
FRANCE: The Allied second wave is now ashore at Normandy.
Normandy: German troops capture a set of US operations plans; only now do they realize that the Normandy landings are the start of the planned invasion of France, not a diversionary attack.
At Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse a Canadian rifle regiment defeats the 12th SS Panzer Regiment, claiming 12 Panthers (Kurt Meyer admitted to losing 6) destroyed in a night engagement where 6-pdr anti-tank guns claimed 6 Panthers in the first charge. One Panther was dispatched with multiple PIAT hits and a necklace of ‘75’ grenades. (Stuart Millis)
The SS murders Canadian POWs for the second day in a row in Normandy, including six Winnipeg Rifles, and a Red Cross stretcher-bearer, who are ordered into a wood and shot in the temple; 13 more Canadians are executed within 100 yards of the Command post; the bodies of 7 more are found near-by, all shot in the head with small arms; and 40 Winnipegs and Cameron Highlanders are marched into a field, ordered to sit together with the wounded at their centre, and machine gunned; 5 escape. (Patrick Holscher)
Whilst acting as HQ ship for the assault forces off Juno beach, frigate HMS Lawford is attacked and sunk by Luftwaffe Do-217 aircraft armed with Henschel 293 missiles, off Courcelles. Location Seine Bay, Juno Beach area. There are 24 casualties. (Alex Gordon)(108)
ITALY: German forces withdraw along the Adriatic coast.
The USAAF’s Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches 52 B-17s, with P-47 escort, to bomb the navy yard and drydocks at Pola, Yugoslavia.
NEW GUINEA: US forces repel a Japanese fleet which attempts to supply the garrison on Biak Island.
CANADA: Repair ship HMS Beachy Head (later HMCS Cape Scott) laid down Vancouver.
Minesweeper HMCS Middlesex commissioned.
HMCS Orkney arrived Halifax from Esquimalt.
U.S.A.: The motion picture “The Mask of Dimitrious” is released in the U.S. This mystery based on Eric Ambler’s novel “A Coffin for Dimitrious,” is directed by Jean Negulesco and stars Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott, Faye Emerson and George Tobias. The plot involves a mystery writer (Lorre) tracing the life of a notorious criminal (Scott).
Corvette HMCS Hepatica completed forecastle extension refit in New York and left for workups.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Destroyers HMCS Qu’Appelle and Skeena attacked by U-953, OLtzS Karl-Heinz Marbach, CO. A ‘Gnat’ acoustic-homing torpedo exploded in the ships’ wakes.
“The first deep-penetration 12,000-lb. ‘Tallboy’ bomb is dropped on the Saumur tunnel by an RAF Lancaster bomber.”
“Tallboy was designed to be dropped from an optimal altitude of 18,000 ft (5,500 m) at a forward speed of 170 mph (270 km/h). Impacting at 750 mph (1,210 km/h), it made a crater 80 ft (24 m) deep and 100 ft (30 m) across and could go through 16 ft (4.9 m) of concrete.”
In 1944 it was the target of several Tallboy and Azon bombing raids by Allied planes. The first raid, on 8/9 June 1944, was against a railway tunnel near Saumur, seeing the first use of the 12,000 lb Tallboy “earthquake” bombs. The hastily organized night raid was to stop a planned German Panzer Division, travelling to engage the newly landed allied forces in Normandy. The panzers were expected to use the tunnel. No. 83 Squadron RAF illuminated the area with flares by four Avro Lancasters and marked the target at low level by three de Havilland Mosquitos. 25 Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron RAF then dropped their Tallboys with great accuracy. They hit the bridge, blocked the railway cutting and one pierced the roof of the tunnel, bringing down a huge quantity of rock and soil which blocked the tunnel, badly delaying the German reinforcements.
"American soldiers hurry German prisoners of war, with hands held high and field equipment still strapped to their backs, out of the range of sniper fire, as the Allies advance through Cisterna in Italy.
The long Italian campaign yielded major victories for the Allies in early 1944.
Sorry to say it, but photos like this get me to... mmmm, wondering... what if the allies had taken a, ahem, different approach to invasion?
Might an army like this have forced the Germans to surrender with less, ah, bloodshed? ;-)
I would think that had POW camps been so situated and staffed, the war might have ended much sooner.