The campaign in the Cotentin peninsula was the first Allied victory in Normandy after the D-Day landings themselves. The capture of a major port was a key part of the Overlord plan, and Cherbourg, just to the north-west of the landing beaches, was the obvious first target.
This entry in the Campaign series covers the entire Cotentin campaign. We start with the early battles to expand the D-Day beachhead, which included a series of attacks on coastal defence gun batteries. Next comes the attack west across the base of the Cotentin peninsula. At this point Hitler intervened for the first time, making the task harder for his troops by refusing to give permission for units that weren't needed at Cherbourg to escape south before the route was closed. As a result one division had to fight its way south, suffering heavy losses on the way. Once the Americans had reached the west coast, they turned north and began the advance towards Cherbourg. Once again Hitler intervened, preventing his troops from retreating into the Cherbourg defences promptly. Instead more men were lost attempting to fight in open country. Next came the attack on Cherbourg itself, first on the extensive land defences outside the port and then the attack on the port. Finally the last resistance, in the peninsular to the west of Cherbourg, had to be overcome.
This was one of the quicker sieges of the European campaign. US forces reached the land defences of Cherbourg on 21 June, the senior German commanders surrendered only five days later, on 26 June, the last hold-outs in Cherbourg surrendered on 29 June and the fighting at Cap de la Hague ended on 30 June. This despite an impressive ring of fortifications around Cherbourg, as shown on the high quality campaign maps.
This is a good entry in the campaign series, telling the story of a fairly short campaign in some detail, and covering both sides of the battle, as well as providing information on the aftermath of the battle - the fairly quick clearance of the port, and Cherbourg's role as a major Allied supply base across the summer and autumn of 1944.
Author: Steven J. Zaloga