American P-40 Mustangs over France
* * * A Radio Broadcast from the BBC
July 6, 1944
* * *
This is London calling in the European News Service of the BBC. Here is a special report from the French Front presented by C. Sophist.
The French city of St. Lô sits at a crossroads in Normandy. Roads converge in St. Lô from Brittany, from the occupied-French interior, and from the beachheads now held by the Allies. St. Lô is a critical corridor, a hand with fingers outstretched in all directions.
If the Allies take this city, they can deny this corridor to the Enemy and isolate Brittany from German reinforcements in the interior.
Recognizing this fact, enemy concentration in St. Lô has reportedly been immense.
Since D-Day, St. Lô has been under bombardment from Allied aircraft. When the tanks began to roll off the beaches, when the first meters then acres then miles of French land were liberated, St. Lô was under bombardment. As the Allied forces have pushed further into the interior, the air raids have not abated.
Now, the Allies approach near, and it seems this crucial artery of the Enemy must be soon severed.
* * *
One unit, at least, is eager to have at the Jerries in St. Lô. This reporter has been attached to the American 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division - a group of Yanks who, despite being in the thick of battle, seem eager yet to show the Germans their mettle.
My first encounter with the 505th came on June 7th, D+1, as I sought their Regimental HQ in the captured village of Sainte-Mère-Église
In the early morning hours of D-Day, the 505th parachuted into Normandy and loosed chaos behind enemy lines. They captured and held Sainte-Mère-Église, at a vital crossroads near the beach landings, and denied German reinforcements access to the sea until the tanks rolled up from the beaches.
My first encounter was of a number of jolly Yanks laughing and singing atop the wreck of a German Panzer. I introduced myself, and immediately one of their number announced to me, hand upon the twisted metal, that he was the one who had disabled this tank. Another scoffed at the man, unimpressed, saying that he himself would be the first one to Berlin. A third informed the second that he would have to get through St. Lô first.
The destroyed German tank in the center of Sainte-Mère-Église.
At this, the second replied: “Well then, what are we waiting for?” They group then informed me that they would indeed be taking St. Lô by supper, and that I should stick around for the show.
Of course, all were simply having a lark. They knew how hard the coming days were to be. This was several weeks ago, after all. And since then they have had hard fighting all through Normandy - but have driven the Hun back at every swipe.
Now, it seems, the Allies are now nearly in a position to begin the assault on St. Lô. Perhaps the 505th will get their chance after all.
Sainte-Mère-Église, Sherman tanks holding the road. Dead German soldiers scatter the field.