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20 June 1944

20 June 1944

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20 June 1944


Second day of the battle of the Philippine Sea: by the end of the battle 14 Japanese ships, including 3 carriers have been sunk or damaged.


8th Army captures Perugia

Western Front

US troops attack the outer defences of Cherbourg

Today in World War II History—June 20, 1944

75 Years Ago—June 20, 1944: US First Army besieges Cherbourg, France.

Soviets take Viipuri, Finland, opening Gulf of Finland to Soviet ships.

US Tenth Army is activated under Lt. Gen. Simon Buckner will fight on Okinawa.

2 Responses to “Today in World War II History—June 20, 1944”

I really love your daily WWII postings! There’s an amazing story about June 20 and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. I write a bi-weekly article for my local newspaper, in which I reflect on 75th anniversary happenings from the war. The articles are then posted on my website (ww2diary.wordpress.com). Just uploaded the June 20 piece entitled “Remembering When the Lights Came On󈼣 Years Later.” I’d be honored if you could read it and give me some feedback. Sorry, in advance, for the ads that WordPress puts on my website. I’ll soon be switching over to an ad-free platform. Thank you…

Thank you, Donnie! I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts. Your website is wonderful. I particularly enjoyed your tribute to Marc Mitscher. I would love to subscribe to your site, but was unable to find a way to do so.

Incredible Photos of Operation Valkyrie and the Plot to Assassinate Hitler

Operation Valkyrie was a Nazi emergency continuity of government plan in case of a general breakdown of command. This plan could have been implemented in the instance of Allied bombings or forced labor uprisings.

General Friedrich Olbricht, Major General Henning von Tresckow, and Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg wanted to implement this plan to take control of Germany, disarm the SS, and arrest all Nazi leadership if the July 20, 1944, plot succeeded.

This plot was the attempted assassination of Hitler in the &ldquoWolf&rsquos Lair&rdquo in East Prussia. A bomb was secretly placed in a conference room inside a briefcase. When the bomb exploded, more than 20 people were injured and three officers were killed.

More than 7,000 people were arrested and 4,980 people were executed by the Gestapo.

&ldquoThe whole world will vilify us now, but I am still totally convinced that we did the right thing. Hitler is the archenemy not only of Germany but of the world. When, in few hours&rsquo time, I go before God to account for what I have done and left undone, I know I will be able to justify what I did in the struggle against Hitler. None of us can bewail his own death those who consented to join our circle put on the robe of Nessus. A human being&rsquos moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions.&rdquo &ndash Henning von Tresckow

At Rastenburg on 15 July 1944. Stauffenberg at left, Hitler center, Keitel on right. The person shaking hands with Hitler is General Karl Bodenschatz, who was seriously wounded five days later by Stauffenberg&rsquos bomb. Wikipedia Soldiers and Waffen SS at the Bendlerblock. Wikipedia Claus von Stauffenberg, Chief-conspirator in Operation Valkyrie. Wikipedia Henning von Tresckow in 1944. Wikipedia Friedrich Olbricht was a German general during World War II and one of the plotters involved in the 20 July Plot, an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Wikipedia Hans Oster was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany who was also a leading figure in the German resistance from 1938 to 1943. In April 1945 he was hanged at Flossenburg concentration camp for treason. Wikipedia General Ludwig Beck became a major leader within the conspiracy against Hitler, and would have been regent (Reichsverweser) had the 20 July plot succeeded, but when the plot failed, Beck was arrested and executed. Wikipedia Erwin von Witzleben was A leading conspirator in the 20 July plot, he was designated to become Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht in a post-Nazi regime had the plot succeeded. Wikipedia Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was a monarchist conservative German politician, executive, economist, civil servant and opponent of the Nazi regime. Had the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler of 1944 succeeded, Goerdeler would have served as the Chancellor of the new government. Wikipedia Henning von Tresckow was an officer in the German Army who helped organize German resistance against Adolf Hitler. He was described by the Gestapo as the &ldquoprime mover&rdquo and the &ldquoevil spirit&rdquo behind the plot of 20 July 1944 to assassinate Hitler. Wikipedia Werner von Haeften was an Oberleutnant in the Wehrmacht, who took part in the military-based conspiracy against Adolf Hitler known as the 20 July plot. Wikipedia Floor plan showing distribution of casualties. Wikipedia The bomb had gone off with a deafening roar. The windows were blown out, the roof buckled and part of it collapsed. warefarehistorynetwork The Wolfsschanze after the bomb. Wikipedia Photograph of Hitler&rsquos pants after the failed Operation Valkyrie. Pinterest Hitler visits Admiral Karl-Jesko von Puttkamer in the hospital. Wikipedia Ludwig Beck, one time chief of the Army General Staff. After his resignation in 1938, Beck became the center of the military resistance to Hitler. He was executed in 1944 for his role in the July 1944 attempt to kill Hitler. Germany, date uncertain. USHMM The funeral of General Günther Korten at the Tannenberg Memorial. Wikipedia Carl Goerdeler, former mayor of Leipzig and a leader of the July 1944 conspiracy to kill Hitler, stands trial before the People&rsquos Court in Berlin. He was condemned and executed at Ploetzensee prison on February 2, 1945. Berlin, Germany, 1944. USHMM Carl Heinrich Langbehn, an attorney who was slated for a possible cabinet seat had the July 1944 attempt on Hitler&rsquos life succeeded, on trial before the People&rsquos Court in Berlin. Langbehn was executed in the Ploetzensee prison on October 12, 1944. USHMM Roland Freisler (center), president of the Volk Court (People&rsquos Court), gives the Nazi salute at the trial of conspirators in the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler. Under Freisler&rsquos leadership, the court condemned thousands of Germans to death. Berlin, Germany, 1944. USHMM Participants in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler and members of the &ldquoKreisau Circle&rdquo resistance group on trial before the People&rsquos Court. Pictured are Dr. Franz Reisert, Dr. Theodor Haubach, Graf von Moltke, Theodor Steltzer, and Dr. Eugen Gerstenmeier. Library of Congress Participants in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler stand trial before the People&rsquos Court of Berlin. Berlin, Germany, August-September 1944. Library of Congress Entrance to the Ploetzensee prison. At Ploetzensee, the Nazis executed hundreds of Germans for opposition to Hitler, including many of the participants in the July 20, 1944, plot to kill Hitler. Berlin, Germany, postwar. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Baltic Sea, 19./20. June 1944 Operation Drosselfang

Post by Klaus F. » 14 Aug 2005, 18:35

Post by Juha Tompuri » 29 Aug 2005, 21:48

Welcome to the Forum, sorry for the late reply
The case is mentioned at couple of Finnish books. Are you still interested?
What about Niobe, do you have any more info about it than at the http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. . &highlight ?


Post by Klaus F. » 31 Aug 2005, 17:16

Post by Rauli » 01 Sep 2005, 17:22

You can find whole story what happened to T31 from Cajus Bekker´s Itämeri ja Suomenlahti 1944-45(Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland 1944-45). Because the author is German I´m certain that book has been published also in german.

Post by Erich » 01 Sep 2005, 22:55

Post by Juha Tompuri » 01 Sep 2005, 23:57

The Finnish version 1960 and the original, Ostsee, deutches Schicksal 1944/45 1959
But I believe Klaus has read it.
The best Finnish books about this Operation I've read are the:
Laivat Puuta, Miehet Rautaa (Wooden boats, Men of Iron) by O. Peuranheimo, J. Pirhonen and K. Killinen
Meririntama ( Sea Front) by Per-Olof Ekman


Post by Klaus F. » 04 Sep 2005, 17:05

Re: Drosselfang

Post by Juha Tompuri » 07 Sep 2005, 23:09

I'm still reading (and trying to understand) about the backgrounds at the Operation Drosselfang from Finnish point of view.
Here some short replies as a start:

There was a Finnish liaison officer Lieutenant-Commander (Kapitänleutnant) Herlevi (an MTB officer) onboard T 30.

P.S. Klaus, what kind of info about Niobe do you have from German sources?

Post by Harri » 08 Sep 2005, 19:27

There were two "O. Peuranheimo"s in the Finnish Navy. In 1944 Lt.Cmd Olavi Peuranheimo commanded "2. Vartiomoottorivenelaivue" (2.Vmv.Lv.) (2nd Motor Lauch Squadron) which belonged to "Kevyt laivasto-osasto" (Kev.LOs.)
(Light Naval Detachment). He was moved to other duties already on 19.6.1944 but I don't know where (staff duties?).

Cmd. Orvo Peuranheimo was the Commander of "Moottoritorpedoveneosasto" (Mtv.Os.) (Motor Torpedo Boat Detachment) which had two MTB Flotillas led by Lt.Cmd. J. Pirhonen (1.Mtv.Lv.) and Lt.Cmd. K. Kajatsalo (2.Mtv.Lv.):

Post by Klaus F. » 11 Sep 2005, 14:45

Hello Juha
many thanks for your answer and the pictures. I knew the picture of the little island of Narvi not.
The photo of T 30 is known to me however with another description.
My Niobe sources are: Schön, Baltic Sea 1945,
Gröner, the German warships 1815-1945.
Further details on the Internet: http://www.wlb-stuttgart.de/seekrieg/44-07.htm as well as in the Google search machine under > Flak-Kreuzer Niobe <. You know nevertheless these information all already, as I could see from the outstanding information of you in the forum.
What a pity! that I can contribute nothing new to the Niobe.
The details on the two Finnish flotillas are giving me an insight, which one, now tasks the MTB this night had. So no escort was provided for T 30 and T 31. Also the other German navy units of
Drosselfang (MFP’s and R-boats/M-boats) without a necessary MTB escort were. At the rescue of the shipwrecked sailors of T 31 were so both flotillas involved. German reports talk about some Finnish boats which saved the German sailors and other Finnish boats which put the Russian cutters to escape. Can one notice to which flotilla the rescuers belonged and who the fighting boats were?
The comradely and friendly treatment of the wounded German sailors by the Finnish MTB crews is very praised from a German side, and by the medical-personal on the hospital ship Seagull II (sea seagull) later Suuri-Musta (proximity Kuutsalo/Kotka). I also miss this report of in the Freiburg-files. Are there Finnish sources about this process? A personal-record/photo of Heikki J. Herlevi, the liaison officer on board T 30, to exist? He also was there when T 30 got and sank to a minefield.

Hi Harry,
a good and detailed list of the Finnish MTB flotillas. This matches well for my Drosselfang inquiries. Boats were the Taisto class Italian Origin, but also Russian G 5 and D 3 types could be found in the flotillas, or am I mistaken there?

Post by Harri » 11 Sep 2005, 19:24

About the Finnish MTBs in use in the summer 1944:

Viima Class, captured Soviet MTBs. I think these are the Soviet boats you mean?
Viima 1 (ex TK 141)
Viima 2 (ex TK 64)
Viima 3 (ex ?)
(also known as V 1 - V 3)

Launched in 1938. Displacement 16 tons. Max speed 50 kts.
Armament: 1 - 12.7 mm HMG, torpedoes 2 - 533 mm, 4 mines

There was yet another captured Soviet MTB "Vasama" (ex TK 52) launched in 1935. It although didn't belong to "Motor Torpedo Boat Detachment" but "I Group / 2nd Motor Lauch Squadron" (I/2. Vartiomoottorivenelaivue, I/2.Vmv.Lv.) because it was considered more a fast motor gun boat in Finland. It was larger (displacement 35 tons) than other MTBs but although very fast (34 kts). Armament: 1 - 20 mm AA gun, 2 - 12.7 mm HMG and torpedoes 2 - 450 mm which could be replaced with 1 - 40 Bofors AA gun.

Jymy Class, the same Italian MTBs which operatad on Lake Ladoga in the summer and autumn 1942. Bought by the Finnish Navy in spring 1943.
Jylhä (ex MAS 526)
Jyry (ex MAS 527)
Jyske (ex MAS 528)
Jymy (ex MAS 529)
(later Jymy 1 - Jymy 4)

Launched in 1939. Displacement 22 tons. Max speed 42 kts.
Armament: 1 - 20 mm AA gun, 1 - 12.7 mm HMG, torpedoes 2 - 450 mm

Hurja Class, Italian MTBs arrived in Finland in 1943.
Hyöky, Hirmu, Hurja, Hyrsky, Häijy
(later Hurja 1 - Hurja 5)

Launched in 1941(?). Displacement 20 tons. Max speed 36 kts.
Armament: 1 - 20 mm AA gun, torpedoes 2 - 450 mm, 2 mines
Hurja 5 was destroyed in an air raid against a shipyard on 26.2.1944.

Taisto Class, Finnish made MTBs
Tarmo, Taisto, Tyrsky, Tuima, Tuisku, Tuuli
(later Taisto 1 - Taisto 6)

Launched in 1943. Displacement 22 tons. Max speed 48 kts.
Armament: 1 - 20 mm AA gun, torpedoes 2 - 450 mm
Taisto 1 was sunk on 26.6.1944 by the bombs of a Soviet aircraft

Post by Klaus F. » 14 Sep 2005, 22:34

Hello together,
a good friend found in Russian sources from the Finnish navy captured Ships.
It was:
TK 52, (D 3 class), capt. 23.10.1941, Finnish „Vasama“, back to SU: September 1944.
TK 141, (G 5 class), capt. Nov. 1941, Finnish “Vihuri”, back to SU: September 1944.
TK 64, (G 5 class), capt. Nov. 1941, Finnish “Viima”, back to SU: September 1944.
TK 51, (G 5 class), capt. 17.06.1944, Finnish “V 3”, back to SU: September 1944.
>Panzermotorboot<, Nr. 215 (Russian class 1125), Finnish “VTV 1” capt. August 1941,
Vyborg-Bay, to Lake-Onega, back to SU: September 1944.
Sorry, > Panzermotorboot< I can’t translate! I think all know what I mean.

The 1st. Finnish-MTB-Flotilla: 6 “Taisto”- class boats, and “Vihuri” and “Viima” both G 5-types,
this Flotilla saved the German sailors. My information, from different German files.
Correct or not? I don’t know! Its confused, this much different statements.
The same is with losses of torpedo-cutters (Russian-MTB’s). The German combat-report
from T 30 and T 31 declare 8 or 9 cutters to sinking, and several bad damaged. Russian
war-reports: only damaged boats, some wounded Russian sailors. The German boats to have
almost the whole ammunition consumed by the fight. Without a full-hit! Strange!
Many questions to the German navy-operation >Drosselfang< over 60 years after.
Regards, Klaus

Post by Klaus F. » 15 Sep 2005, 14:47

Re: Baltic Sea, 19./20. June 1944 Operation Drosselfang

Post by Juha Tompuri » 16 Sep 2005, 00:28

According to the Peuranheimo etc. The 1st Finnish MTB-Flotilla saw the German ships on their way to East being at combat with Soviet MO-boats, then 2300 o'clock they saw Soviet MTB's laying smoke screen and trying to aproach the Germann ships travelling to West. According to that book it were the Taisto (1st Flotilla) boats that at that moment forced the Soviets to withdraw. 2358 o'clock the Flotilla noticed an explosion North of Narvi.
The explosion was also noticed from Seiskari Island and they radioed a message around midnight: Torpedohit, Soviet That was a bit confusing, as it was thought that a Soviet ship had been hit. Only after nearly two hours it was understood what had happend, and both the Finnish MTB-Flotillas were sent to help. 1st Flotilla found the survivors 0200 o'clock and by 0220 o'clock 86 oil covered, slipery survivors (including the captain Peter Pirkham) were rescued (23 of them wounded). The wounded were taken to hospital ship Seagull II at Suur-Musta as you mentioned earlier.

American Strikes

As Ozawa's aircraft were launching, his carriers were being stalked by American submarines. The first to strike was USS Albacore which fired a spread of torpedoes at the carrier Taiho. Ozawa's flagship, Taiho was hit by one which ruptured two aviation fuel tanks. A second attack came later in the day when USS Cavella struck the carrier Shokaku with four torpedoes. As Shokaku was dead in the water and sinking, a damage control error aboard Taiho led to a series of explosions which sank the ship.

Recovering his aircraft, Spruance again held off turning west in an effort to protect Saipan. Making the turn at nightfall, his search aircraft spent most of June 20 trying to locate Ozawa's ships. Finally around 4:00 p.m., a scout from USS Enterprise (CV-6) located the enemy. Making a daring decision, Mitscher launched an attack at extreme range and with only hours remaining before sunset. Reaching the Japanese fleet, the 550 American aircraft sank two oilers and the carrier Hiyo in exchange for twenty aircraft. In addition, hits were scored on the carriers Zuikaku, Junyo, and Chiyoda, as well as the battleship Haruna.

Flying home in the darkness, the attackers began to run low on fuel and many were forced to ditch. To ease their return, Mitscher daringly ordered all of the lights in the fleet turned on despite the risk of alerting enemy submarines to their position. Landing over a two-hour span, the aircraft set down wherever was easiest with many landing on the wrong ship. Despite these efforts, around 80 aircraft were lost through ditching or crashes. His air arm effectively destroyed, Ozawa was ordered to withdraw that night by Toyoda.

The massacre

It began, like so much racial violence, with a false allegation that a Black man had raped a white woman.

The man was Dick Rowland, and he was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, an elevator operator, on May 30, 1921. Nobody knows for sure what happened, but a common suggestion is that Rowland may have tripped and, to catch his fall, grabbed Page’s arm. She screamed and he, knowing the danger he was in, ran from the building.

Rowland was arrested the next morning and jailed in the Tulsa County Courthouse, where the sheriff had allowed a lynch mob to kidnap another Black man the year before. So when The Tulsa Tribune ran an inflammatory article and editorial on May 31, Black Tulsans had every reason to fear that Rowland would be lynched, and no reason to believe the authorities would protect him.

That evening, as hundreds of white Tulsans shouted for the sheriff to turn Rowland over, groups of armed Black men showed up at the courthouse and told officials they were there to help defend it. Many white people went off to get their own weapons, and the crowd grew to more than 2,000.

Finally, according to the 2001 commission report, a white man tried to grab a Black man’s gun, the gun went off, and the white mob spread out through the streets of downtown Tulsa, shooting Black people on sight.

The morning of June 1, the mob rushed into Greenwood and opened fire, including with machine guns led Black people out of their homes and businesses at gunpoint looted valuables and set the buildings on fire. Black residents tried to defend themselves but were overpowered.

The mob stopped firefighters from reaching much of the burning neighborhood, while the police and National Guard arrested Black people instead of the white rioters. In some cases, members of the Guard joined the rioters.

Airbattles in Karelian Istmus 20 June 1944

Post by tramonte » 05 Sep 2020, 10:59

Overclaiming by individuals can occur when more than one person attacks the same target and each claims its destruction, when an aircraft appears to be no longer in a flying condition but manages to land safely, or when an individual simply wishes to claim unjustified credit for downing an opponent. In some instances of combat over friendly territory a damaged aircraft may have been claimed as an aerial victory by its opponent while the aircraft was later salvaged and restored to an operational status. In this situation the loss may not appear in the records while the claim remains confirmed.

With this basic fact remembering we now have good reasons to guess quite high Finnish/German overclaiming during very intense air war during critical day of 20 June 1944 in Karelian Isthmus when Soviet forces managed to take Vyborg (Viipuri). During that day pilots of FAF have total 49 claims and pilots of Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey 9. Total 58 + unknown (?) numbers by Finnish AA-units.

02.45–03.45 Someri. ( Leo Ahokas). La-5

7.10–7.30 Ristiniemi. (Palm). Il-2
7.10–8.00 Ristiniemi-Tiurinsaari. (Juutilainen).. 2 x Yak-9 and 2 x Il-4
7.10–8.05 Ristiniemi. ( Kirjonen). Il-2
7.10–8.05 Ristiniemi. ( Fräntilä). Il-2 1
7.10–8.10 Vatnuori. (Leino). Yak-9
07.15–07.50 Saarenpää. (Keskinummi). LaGG-3
07.15-8.00 Koivisto. (Wind). 2 x La-5
07.15–08.00 Koivisto-Seiskari. (Laitinen). Yak-9

08.30–09.20 Vyborg-Römpötti. ( Puro). Il-2, La-5 and LaGG-3
08.30–09.30 Hanhijoki. (Pyötsiä). Airacobra
08.30–09.40 Oinala. (Lampi). Airacobra
08.30–09.40 Vatnuori-Koivisto. (Halonen). Jak-1 and LaGG-3
8.50–10.00 Kämäränjärvi. (Länsivaara).. Yak-9
8.50–9.50 Mieltyjärvi. (Tani). Airacobra
8.50–9.50 Nöykkijärvi. (R. Valli). Yak-9
08.55–09.55 Koivisto-Seiskari. (Wind). Pe-2 and 2 x Yak-9
9.00–10.00 Perkjärvi. (Alakoski). Airacobra

10.40–11.25 Säiniö-Kämärä. (Laitinen). 2 x Il-2
10.40–11.25 Karhusuo. (Vesa). 2 x Il-2
10.45–11.45 Heinjoki-Leipäsuo. ( Myllylä). 2 x La-5
10.45–11.45 Leipäsuo. (Tuomikoski). U-2
10.45–12.00 Kämärä station. ( Lampi). Il-2 and La-5

"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention reality counts for very little in such affair."

20 June 1944 - History

A soldier from the Division put it best:

The 352.Infanterie-Division (352nd Infantry Division , 352.Inf. Div., 352.ID) was formed on 5 November 1943 at St. Lô under the command of Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiß , as part of the Wehrkreis XI (Military District XI), headquartered in Hannover. A majority of the Division's soldiers came from decimated Divisions from the Ost Front , especially those in the battle at Kursk. Originally slated to be sent to the East Front ( Ostfront ), the Division was trained to fight defensively and was armed appropriately. However, when the threat of a cross-chanel invasion by the Western Allies became imminent, the 352nd was placed in Armeegruppe B under the command of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to serve on the Atlantikwall . Rommel was in charge of protecting the Atlantic coast from and Allied Invasion. Despite the fact that much of the German leadership believed that the main Allied invasion would take place at the Pas-de-Calais, Rommel was convinced that Normandy would be the location of the invasion. Rommel placed the 352nd at Normandy to push any invading force back into the sea.

Unlike the Division' s neighboring units - the 709th and 716th Infantry Divisions - the 352nd was considered a combat unit. The 709th and 716th were defensive "fortress" units, and were considered immobile. The 352.ID was responsible for an unreasonably large area of territory. It's primary missions were:

  • Costal Artillery and Beach Defenses
  • Reserve Division for the Army Corps
  • To provide one Regiment as Tactical Reserve for LXXXIV Corps
  • Wehrkreis VII (Munich)
  • 468th, 488th and 499th Grenadier-Regiments
  • 1939: Reserve Unit, activated
  • 1939-1940: Saar Front
  • 1941 - 1943: Ost Front
  • Battle of Yelna Bend, Moscow, Rzhev and Kursk
  • Elements fought at Cholm and Demyansk
  • Wehrkreis XI (Hannover)
  • 588th, 589th and 590th Grenadier-Regiments
  • 1940: Activated at Abberville
  • December 1942: Ost Front &ndash Army Group Center
  • Suffered heavy losses at Kursk
  • Part of 389.Infanterie-Division
  • Wehrkreis XII (Hesse)
  • 1941-1942: Ost Front
  • Winter Drive across Don River, Volga River, Stalingrad
  • 3 Infantry Regiments (9 Infantry Battalions total)
  • 1 Artillery Regiment
  • 1 Tank Destroyer Battalion
  • 1 Pioniere Battalion
  • 1 Light Infantry/Recon Battalion
  • 1 Field Replacement Battalion




Field Marshal Erwin Rommel believed that the Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall) did not have enough defensive capability to withstand an Allied invasion. Rommel, believing that any chance of success of an Allied invasion would be decided on the beaches, made great strives to increase the defenses of the Atlantikwall by increasing physical barriers and bunkers, placing millions of mines, and increasing the manpower on the Wall.

The 352nd began its coastal duty improving the defenses of the Atlantikwall , as directed by Rommel. They placed beach obstacles, to include mined stakes and anti-landing craft timbers. They cut the timber from the woods, transported it to the beach, and drove it deep into the sand.

Parts of the 916.Grenadier-Regiment was located near Omaha Beach. One battalion from the 716.Infanterie-Division was subordinated to the 916th. The 915.Grenadier-Regiment was in reserve southeast of Bayeux, and the 914.Grenadier-Regiment was deployed around Isigny-sur-Mer.

Aerial reconnaissance photos of the Normandy coastline on 3 June, days before the invasion, indicate that elements of an unidentified infantry unit have relocated to positions along the Calvados coast, just east of the Vire estuary. Allied Intelligence suspects it to be the veteran 352nd Infantry Division, although the 352nd had thought to have been located further south. No reports have been received from resistance groups in France as to the 352nd relocating to the coastline.

In fact, a French resistance group did try to notify the Allies of the 352nd weeks before via carrier pigeons. Two pigeons were sent with the same message (to increase the chances of delivery), but the Germans manning the Atlantikwall along the coast, aware that resistance groups used carrier pigeons, managed that day to shoot both birds carrying the message as they were flying out to the English Channel.

Allied Intelligence determined that major commands should be notified of the unaccounted German strength in the area. Unfortunately, notification takes more than 48 hours to be delivered to the pertinent commands. By the time General Bradley, commander of the U.S. First Army, receives this intelligence, he and his command have already put out to sea - just four hours before the naval bombardment is to begin. The troops under Bradley's command that are storming the beach code named Omaha, the U.S. 1st and 29th Infantry Division, will not know until it's too late that the beach has been fortified and reinforced by the veteran German 352nd Infantry Division.

Once the D-Day invasion began on 6 June 1944, and the 352nd realized it was facing the brunt of the Invasion, it immediately absorbed all troops within is sector, to include Luftwaffe Flak troops and RAD (Labor Service) personnel. Once it became clear that the main Allied invasion force was coming ashore at Normandy, all available units were rushed to the front. Hardened bunkers ( Winderstandsnest ) on or near the beach opened fire and continued to fire until they depleted their ammunition or all the men inside were dead. Artillery Regiment 352 and 1275 had pre-sighted every inch of the landing areas on the beach and rained shells down upon the landing Allied forces. They, too, continued to fire until they had run out of ammo or were in danger from being encircled.

The following excerpts are from U.S. soldiers fighting the 352nd in Normandy:

"Assault units disintegrating. Very heavy losses. Enemy fire prevents crossing of the beach line. Landing units bunching up in a very confined area. Engineers unable to clear paths through minefields and cannot destroy beach obstacles. Elements of the. 352nd Infantry Division identified."

The 916.Grenadier-Regiment saw action on D-Day opposing the 1st and 29th U.S. Divisions at Omaha Beach. The 352nd fought for several hours, inflicting many casualties, before being overwhelmed and overrun. The 916th retreated on the morning of 7 June after Regiment Commander Oberst Ernst Goth couldn&rsquot hold the positions that they had just taken back on the previous night. The rest of the Division saw heavy fighting in the bocage (hedgerow) country while defending the area around St. Lô.

Because of constant fighting, most of the Division wasn&rsquot able to eat or sleep until 10 June. A total absence of motorized transport meant that all movement was by foot or bicycle. By the time the Allies had put armor on the beaches and started their advance, there wasn&rsquot much the 352nd could do to stop it. By this time, most of the fighting ability of the Division was either killed or captured. A few isolated units continued to fight, or were absorbed into other neighboring units.

On 16 June, the Division suffered 3,000 casualties. From 6 &ndash 24 June, casualties were 5,407 officers and men. Despite these heavy losses, the Division kept fighting, but continued to be beaten back and they continued to lose men - The Allies' complete control of the air and their material superiority were just too great. By 11 July, the 352nd incurred 2,479 more casualties, and from 1 &ndash 25 July, the Division had 123 officers and men killed, 464 wounded, and 110 missing.

By 30 July, the Division was in very poor shape. The Wehrmacht declared all battalions of the 352nd abgekämpft (no longer combat worthy) on that date, which means that each battalion had less than 100 combat-ready men. By the time the Division had been disbanded, it had subordinated the following units, all of which ended up worse off than the Division&rsquos original units:

  • Three battalions from 266.Inf.-Div.
  • Two battalions from 353.Inf.-Div.
  • One battalion from 30.Brigade
  • One battalion from 275.Inf.-Div.
  • One battalion from 343.Inf.-Div.
  • One artillery battery from 343.Inf.-Div.
  • One artillery battery from " Autun " artillery battalion

Some members of the Division ended up being caught in the Falaise Pocket at the end of July and the beginning of August. They, along with members of the 2.SS-Panzer Division inflicted heavy casualties on the Polish 1st Armored Division while in the pocket, but were eventually beaten back. The Pocket ultimately was sealed off. Approximately 15,000 Germans were killed in the fighting and about 50,000 were taken prisoner. The collapse of the Falaise Pocket was a major turning point in the battle on the West Front - two major German Armies were captured and destroyed in the pocket, severely depleting German strength in the West.

After the first of August, the 352nd Infantry Division was withdrawn to refit in the area southeast of Alençon. The 352nd was only there for a little over a week before American forces closed in. Elements of the Division engaged in rear guard action along the axis of Le Mans and Dreux. Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiß, the 352.ID commander, was injured in an attack on 4 August 1944. He died of his injuries two days later. Oberst Heyna was the interim commander of the Division as they pulled out of the front-line in France.

While refitting, the 352nd was called back into action when the Allies launched Market Garden. The Division was attached to the 10.SS and the 363.Infanterie-Division . They helped prevent the Allied XXX Corps from linking up with the British 1st Airborne Division, which landed at Arnhem, Holland. Elements of the 352nd engaged the U.S. 101st Airborne at Nijmegen.

Nijmegen after the Battle, 28 September 1944


The remnants of the 352nd Infantry Division were merged with the remnants of the 581.Volkgrenadier-Division and a few Marine detachments (formerly coastal artillery) to form the 352.Volksgrenadier-Division on 4 September 1944, under the command of Oberst Erich Schmidt.

Oberst Erich Schmidt, Commander,
Volksgrenadier-Divisions are slightly different than regular Infanterie-Divisions . These Divisions had only six infantry battalions instead of the standard nine battalions of a full Infanterie-Division this was already a common occurrence in most other Infantry Divisions at the time. Volksgrenadier-Divisions emphasized defensive strength rather than offensive strength. Standard infantry weapons typically consisted of light machine guns, light automatic weapons, and the Panzerfaust (single shot anti-tank weapons). The Züge (platoons) and Gruppen (groups) of Volksgrenadier-Divisions were formed around hardened veterans to inspire and properly lead whatever personel was used to fill out the Division. The bulk of these Divisions were commonly filled out with "jobless" Wehrmacht personnel from the Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force), wounded soldiers returning to duty, as well as men and boys considered too old or young for peacetime military service.


7.Armee Movement in the Ardennes Offensive

The 352.Volksgrenadier-Division's major engagements in the Offensive occurred in and around Diekirch and Ettelbruck.

The push in the south, although stopped initially, managed to move again by the second week of the offensive and posed a threat to Allied lines. On 23 December 1944, there was heavy fighting in Merzig and a large portion of the Division was captured or destroyed there. Only when the U.S. 80th Infantry Divison was reinforced with armor from the U.S. 702nd Tank Battalion were the Germans defeated on the southern front of the Offensive.

Ultimately, the Ardennes Offensive as a whole failed, and again, the 352nd was decimated by losing men to casualties and being captured as prisoners.

Grenadiere from the 914.Inf-Reg. of the 352.Volksgrenadier Div. surrender in Merzig after the Ardennes Offensive comes to a close - 24 Dec 1944

This newly reformed Volksgrenadier-Division was a part of LXXXV. Armeekorps , and fell in with the 7.Armee . The 7.Armee was under the command of General der Panzertruppe Erich Brandenburger. The 7.Armme makeup consisted of:

Amis cross a bridge in Trier, 1945

D-Day and the Battle for Normandy are often seen as the beginning of the end for Hitler. But Germany's defeat would probably have occurred even without Operation Overlord, given the huge casualties sustained fighting the Soviets on the Eastern Front.

But the landings certainly hastened the end of the war in Europe, drawing in forces that might otherwise have slowed the Soviet advance to Berlin. D-Day also ensured that the Western Allies were firmly established on the Continent at the war’s end, thus providing a counter to Soviet-backed communism at the start of the Cold War.

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A Churchill tank awaits possible enemy counter-attack in a ruined village, 1944

A Churchill tank awaits possible enemy counter-attack in a ruined village, 1944

Watch the video: WWII Soviets defeat Germans Battle of Vitebsk, Belarus, June 1944 (August 2022).