From the diary of Major George Miller, US Army, attached to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (with commentary)
7PM , Saturday 10th June (D+4)
This miserable weather has sapped all the enthusiasm and energy from the staff at Southwick House, and I suspect from most of the military commanders as well. Eisenhower is looking more and more worried, and now is smoking continuously. He still smiles and waves at the occasional group of soldiers, but it is a facade and when he turns away from observers his brow furrows. I have heard Montgomery’s junior staff are reluctant to deliver messages as he bites the head of anyone who enters his office.
This afternoon there was only one attack by Allied forces, and though eliminating the last remaining fortified strongpoint overlooking Omaha was welcome, it was not the sort of victory to spark enthusiasm. Not when the enemy’s constant nagging attacks kept our casualties mounting. Not many large battles, but a series of small scale actions and artillery bombardments that cost the Germans little but slowly degraded the few units on shore. That most of those units had suffered badly in the landings just made these current losses more critical.
The Cotentin Peninsula: German attacks and artillery bombardments during the afternoon of Saturday 10th June
Scanning the casualty reports (there is not much else to do with no logistical flows to coordinate) it can be seen that it is our boys on the Cotentin Peninsula that are in the most trouble. They make up more than half the losses for the afternoon. The combat reports are depressingly similar. Overwhelming German forces close on outnumbered and already weakened paratroopers and, while artillery pounds all troops in the area, one position is overrun. The bocage is a huge advantage for us, and sometimes our soldiers can repel the attacker, but even in success we lose men. Our lack of artillery support (a direct result of the stormy seas) is usually given as the reason for defeat.
Mortars give some assistance, but without heavy guns our troops are vulnerable
The meteorologists are still unable to give us good news. They warn that though the storm should ease overnight, the best that can be hoped is that heavy rain blankets the French coast. Still, Montgomery is getting ready to go on the offensive. He called his corps commanders to Southwick to discuss the current situation and what can be done when cross-Channel supply resumes. Being not needed, I was detailed to take minutes at that meeting, and it was quite illuminating.
As might be expected from the casualties his men are taking, Collins has no immediate plans for anything other than halting the slow retreat towards Utah. Between Omaha and Caen, there is less activity, but that is more a consequence of the German weakness than anything else. Gerow is holding his ground but Bucknall is under some pressure. Both state that the number and quality of enemy troops is increasing and both are concerned that at any moment the Germans may launch more major attacks. Their major worry, however, is that the opportunity for a swift breakthrough is slipping through our fingers. After the rapid advance of the first days of the invasion, when the enemy was unable to put up any real resistance, our progress has stalled. By the time the weather improves, we can expect much more opposition.
Surprisingly, Crocker is still confident. He still has substantial forces within 5 miles of Caen and he is still, despite some difficulties, maintaining a foothold across the Orne. While not overconfident, he believes that he could swing onto the offensive quickly and drive on Caen.
Caen and the Orne River: does the opportunity for success still exist?
The meeting did not end on that positive note. Leigh Mallory rose to give the final word. I was a bit surprised, as our aircraft have been grounded for days, but apparently a few long range reconnaissance flights have been possible. (I gather that several aircraft were lost). Enemy forces are moving northwards up the coastal road towards the Cotentin Peninsula and there is some evidence of movement in the area north of St Lô. Alarmingly, it seems that Bucknall will have more problems tomorrow: more motorised and mechanised units are moving westwards from Caen. Even Crocker was given something to worry about. Details are few, but north of Falaise a column of heavy artillery has been detected. It will presumably cover the 15 miles or so to Caen overnight. Whether is deployed to the east (to attack 6th Airborne) or to the north (to attack 3rd Infantry, it will have a major impact.
So it is with mixed emotions that I head for my bunk. I can hear the thunder and the hut is buffeted by the wind. When I wake, will it be calmer? Fingers crossed.
From the diary of Hauptmann Georg Müller, attached to Army Group B (with commentary)
7PM, 10th June (4th day after the landings)
An interesting day at here at Heeresgruppe B headquarters. It started, all the rumours say, with a terse query from von Rundstedt asking why, with all the reinforcements sent and the enemy unable to land men or supplies, Rommel had not taken at least one of the landing beaches. The unfairness of this apparently sparked fury among Rommel’s staff. “Wasn’t it Rommel that wanted to crush the landings on the beaches? Was it not von Rundstedt that insisted that reserves be held back to fight inland?”
This uncalled for intervention at least halted Rommel’s attacks on his own subordinates, whom he had been harrying for not being aggressive enough. He has been convinced by their arguments that the weather, while definitely in our favour, has not always been to our advantage. Travel other than on the best highways has been difficult and slow, and communications links over anything but the shortest distances are unreliable. Coordinating attacks has been a nightmare, as has keeping divisions concentrated.
With bridges blown and dirt roads impassable, units have been forced to travel cross-country
Rommel took the time to prepare a short paper for von Rundstedt, setting out the current position and explaining the dangers of attacking on all fronts. In essence, he warned that an excess of confidence would lead to disproportionate losses on our part. We might gain some ground, but we would not drive the enemy into the sea, and when clear skies returned, we would find ourselves short of men and vehicles to defend against the inevitable resumption of Allied attacks.
In summary, the paper stated that we have been able to avert the threat of an outbreak into France proper. The Allied invasion has been contained to two area: one on the eastern side of the Cotentin Peninsula, the other stretching in a thin strip, rarely more than 10 kilometres wide, from east of Isigny sur Mére to just east of the Orne River.
The Invasion Front on Saturday afternoon
While Rommel still has concerns in the area of the Aure and Tortonne Rivers, these are being allayed as more troops arrive to block the invaders. Elsewhere we are either blocking any advance or are actively pushing the enemy back.
The most promising results are being obtained in the Cotentin. After clearing the enemy from Montbourg, von Schlieben has pushed down the east bank of the Merderet River and the N-13 Highway. He has been content to hold Quineville on his left flank – the flooded fields that parallel the coast make any advance there too dangerous. Complementing von Schlieben’s concentration on the Merderet, Hellmich has been driving back the paratroopers on the western side of the river. It took him some time to get his men in position, but now he is only a few kilometres from La Fière Bridge, the only way for the Americans to escape annihilation. Although outwardly not as successful, Klosterkemper did what was needed by blocking access to Carentan. He could not prevent the enemy crossing the Douve, but they are trapped on the floodplains and are being slowly degraded by artillery fire.
La Fière Bridge: a narrow escape route for the Americans west of the Merderet
With the Americans on the Cotentin contained, the virtual destruction of 352.ID has not proved to be the disaster it might have been. Düvert has stabilised the situation along a line from La Combe to the coast. 77.ID will arrive sometime tomorrow, and that will make the 15 kilometre gap between the main Allied landings and the Cotentin secure for now. (We have lost contact with the last of the beach fortifications: it must be assumed that the Americans finally breached its walls).
The invasion forces have not been able to link at Carentan
Further east, 17.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division “Götz von Berlichingen” has slowly wound its way through the Forét de Cerisy and the rain soaked fields to begin operations against the Americans moving on Bayeux.
West of Bayeux
On the other side of the city, “Hitlerjugend” has reached the Seulles River and, as “Lehr” covers its right flank, is preparing to assault the Brithish besiegers.
East of Bayeux
Although the enemy did get very close to Caen, for the past few days we have not only held them immobile, but have started to weaken them. Our activities across the Orne have, according to our intelligence, dragged reserves from in front of Caen. Once the threat to Bayeux is removed, the armoured divisions can be swung back to crush the Allies against the anvil of 21.PzD.
A positive summary for OB West: but will that positive slant prove to be true? We may get another day without the enemy aircraft and artillery, but when they return, will we be ready?
The Allies are concerned, but there is no sign of an imminent catastrophe. The Germans are slowly building pressure, particularly in the far west, but nowhere do they have the superiority to allow a mass assault. While “Overlord” is way behind schedule, there is every chance that when the weather clears the impetus will swing back to the invaders.
Allied Losses (10th June Afternoon)
82nd Airborne: F/2/507, B/1/325, H/3/508
101st Airborne: A/326E
4th Infantry: A/3/22, A/1/12
6th Airborne: A/3 (AT)
3rd Infantry: A/2KSL/185
3rd Canadian A/NNSH/9, A/3E/3
7th Armoured: B/8KRH
1st Special Services B/3RM
Independent: A/13/18/27, A/12KR/8
German Losses (10th June Afternoon)
Strongpoints: 1 x (1)
Allied Losses Allied Casualties 10 – 6 PM
82nd Airborne: 3/505/82, 1/506/82, 3/507/82, 2/508/82, 2/507/82, 3/508 (4 Bn),
(10 + 15 PARA) C/1/505, A/2/505, A/2/235, A/1/507, A & B/1/325
101st Airborne: 2/501/101
(9 + 6 PARA) B & C/1/501, H & I/3/501, H & I/3/506, A/1/502, D/2/506, 2 x D/2/502, E/2/501, A/326E
1st Inf Div: 2/16/1
(6 + 2 INF) A &B /2/18/1, B/3/16/1, A/3/26/1, A/1/18/1
4th Inf Div: 1/8/4
(3 + 7 INF) A/3/8, A/3/12, A/1/12, A/1/22, A/2/12, A/2/8, A/3/24
29th Inf Div: 1/116/29, 1/115/29
(8 + 7 INF) A(x2) & B/3/116/29, A /2/116/29, 3 x A/3/115, A/1/175, A/2/175
5th Rangers: A & B/5
Independent 743/V, 741/V
10 x ARM A/70/VII (DD), A & B/745/V, A/899/VII
6th Airborne: 7/3/6, 8/3/6, 1st Canadian/3/6, 12/5/6, 1RU/6/6
(9 + 12 PARA+ D/2nd O & B/5, AARR/6 (1 ARM), A/13/5,
1 x ARM, 2 x AT) A/4 (AT), A & B/12DR/6, A/9/3/6, A/2O&BLI/6, A/3 (AT)
3rd Inf Div: 1SL/8/3
(4 + 7 INF + 1 ARM) A & C/2EY/8/3, B/2EY/8/3, A/1RNR/185/3, A/3/3 Recon, A/1KOSB/9/3, A/1CS/7/3, A/2RUR/9, A/2KSL/185
7th Armoured: 8KRH
(2 INF + 2 ARM) A/1RB/22/7A, B/IRB/22
50th Inf Div: 2 x A & B/1HR/231, A/6GH/231, A & C/5EY/69
(6 + 4 INF + 1 ARM)A & B/7GH/69, A/6GH/69, A/6DL/50, A/61/50
3rd Canadian: RRR/7, RW/7, QOR/8 (+ A),
(5 + 10 INF) C/NS/8/3, 2 x A/NNSH/9/3, A/7RCH, A/3E/3
4th Special Service Brigade: A/47RM, A/48RM, C/41RM, A/46RM
1st Special Service Brigade: A & B/4RM, B & C/3RM
(2 +2 COMM)
Independent A/NY/8 (DD), A/4/7/8 (DD), A/27SFR/2, A &B/1ERY/27
14 ARM, 1 INF 1&3 RMASG, C/13/18/27, A/1CR/1 (Recon), B/5/7/8, A&B/6H/2, A/73/XXX, A/13/18/27, A/12KR/8
Air Losses: Combat Support 2
Armed Reconnaissance 1
German losses German Casualties 10 – 6 PM
6 INF, 2 ARM A/PzPio, A/I/25, 2 x A/II/25, 2 x A/1/26
21.PzD: II/192/21.PzD, 1/192/21.PzD, 9siG/21.PzD
7 INF, 4 ARM A/II/121/21Pz, , A/200 PzJag/21.PzD, A/I/125/21.PzD
30.schnelle Brigade: 513/30, 51/30
7 INF A/518/30
91.ID: 191/Pio/91, 14.PaK/91, 13/6FJ/9, 111/1058/91(4Bns), I/III/6FJ
15 INF, 2 AT A/1/919/91, A/13.schw/91, A/II/1057/91, /I/6FJ, B/II/6FJ, B/I/6FJ
130.PzD “Lehr” 10.SiG/130, A/II/901, A/130.Auf
1 INF, 2 ARM
243.ID A/1/920, A/1/922 A/II/922,
346.ID: A/Füsilier/346, A/III/858/346. A/I/858/346
352.ID: 14.PaK/352, Pio/352 (3Bns), 13.schw/352 (4Bns)
15 INF, 2 AT B & C/II/916/352, 2 x A&B/II/914,
2 ARM A & B/Füs, A/II/915/352, A/PzJag, A/I/916
709.ID: B & C/1/919, A/795/739, A/III/739, A/II/729, A/I/6FJ, 7 INF A/561/739/709
716.ID: II/726/716, I/736/716, 642/736/716 Ost, 14.PaK/716, PzJag/716, 439/726/716 Ost, II/736/716, 441/716/Ost, III/726/716, 1/736/716 I/726/716,
26 INF, 4 AT A &B/III/735/716, A/Pio
Independent: II.1/III Flak, A/I.1/III Flak
Independent: Abt 989
Strongpoints: 10 x (4), 11 x (3), 6 x (2), 5 x (1)
Static Artillery: 1/AR 1716, 2/AR 1716, 3/AR 1716, 7/AR 1716, 1/HKAR 13 1261, 6/ AR 191, 2/HKAA, 6/AR 1716, 2/HKAR 1251, 5/AR 1716, 3/HKAA 1250, 10/AR 1716, 4/HKAA 1260
 Forward command post of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, near Portsmouth
 Major General J. Lawton Collins, VII Corps
 Major General Leonard T. Gerow, V Corps
 Lieutenant General Gerald Corfield Bucknall, XXX Corps
 Lieutenant General Sir John Tredinnick Crocker, I Corps
 Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Commander in Chief, Allied Expeditionary Air Force
 This was 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division, at the time spread along the highway just north of Coutance.
 These must have been various elements of 77 and 275.ID which had been scattered by the combined effects of the poor conditions of the roads and the Allied bridge destruction.
 It seems that the aircraft may have detected delayed units of “Lehr” moving to join the rest of the division.
 Werfer-Brigade 7, comprising Werfer-Regimenter 83 and 84. Equipped with a mix of 15cm and 30cm Nebelwerfer
 Generalfeldmarschall Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt, Oberbefehlshaber West. Rommel’s direct superior
 Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, Heeresgruppe B (7 and 15.Armee)
 Generalleutnant Karl Wilhelm von Schlieben, 709.ID
 Generalleutnant Heinz Hellmich, 243.ID
 Generalmajor Bernhard Klosterkemper, delegate commander of 91.ID following the death of Generallleutnant Wilhelm Falley on 6th June. On 10th June he returned to command 920th Infantry Regiment, handing over 91.ID to Generalleutnant Eugen König.
 Generalleutnant Walther Düvert, 265.ID.