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Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, June 10. — American troops — supported by Allied planes operating from French soil for the first time since 1940 — fought through German-flooded battlegrounds Saturday toward strategic Cherbourg, cutting the railway below the port in several places, and seizing two important towns.
The powerful United States attack, hampered by flood waters inches to seven feet deep, hammered north toward Cherbourg, west in a push to snip off the peninsula tip, and developed and two-way squeeze on Carentan guarding the narrowest neck of the jutting cape.
Berlin broadcasts put the Americans within 15 miles of Cherbourg, and said Germans forces, in the face of fresh parachute landings, were withdrawing south of Montegourg to shorten their lanes.
United States Thunderbolts R. A. F. Spitfires landed and took off from airfields stablished in France just four days after the invasion, roaring out in closest support of the ground assault.
Americans battling between Bayeux and Carentan seized Isigny — control point for floodgates there of the German-wrought inundation — and Trevieres, nine miles west of Bayeux.
The Nazis flooded large areas around Carentan, Ste. Mere Eglise and northeast of Caen, and headquarters reported heavy fighting in the Carentan area.
Americans have taken more than 3000 prisoners.
Headquarters identified four Nazi divisions engaged in heavy fighting against British and Canadians fighting for Caen, pivot city at the eastern end of the 60-mile long beachhead front.
Springing forward Ste. Mere Eglise, Americans drove north toward Cherbourg, and sent another column ramming south upon Carentan.
Other American forces drove on Carentan from the east after seizing Isigny seven miles away, putting a pincers push on that stronghold town.
The rapid establishment of air bases on liberated French territory, not only gave close fighter support but permitted air evacuation of wounded men.
“Planes of the Ninth Force troop carrier commands are evacuating wounded from the landing grounds in the beachhead areas, from strips constructed from special airfield engineered units, headquarters announced.
“The first wounded were landed at an airfield in Britain at 1:10 p.m. today.”
Just a few hours later it was disclosed that the Ninth Air Force had established an advanced headquarters in France, preliminary to putting bases in operations. Such bases give fighters a considerable advantage over their former “channel commuting.”
As for the offensive against Cherbourg, Berlin radio said that, in the face of fresh paratroops landings south of Valongnes (11 miles below Cherbourg) the German high command has withdrawn is spearheads to a shortened defense line south on Montebourg,” 15 miles southeast of the port.
Montebourg is midway below Valognes and Ste. Mere Eglise. Vinchy radio announced loss of Edmondville, between Ste. Mere Eglise and Mountebourg.
The Germans also reported new Allied gains below Bayeaux toward the key mid peninsular town of St. Lo.
Weather has improved, allowing air operations, and about 50 enemy planes were reported over the battle are Saturday morning.
Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley’s Americans parachutists and infantryman alone have captured more than 3000 prisoners, half of them Nazi parachute Veterans of Russia and Cassino seized after they plunge from the skies. The Allies since D-Day have taken more than 5000 captives.
British and Canadian Forces meanwhile battle German armored divisions in the greatest tank engagement since the landings, near Caen, stronghold on the eastern flank.
German broadcaster said 400,000 men were engaged in the beachhead fighting, about 2000,000 on each side.
Heavy fighting raged near Caen, and Allied shells tore into the big city.
Berlin asserted “Allied military strength assembled in the Caen-Bayeux area has been thrown in the direction of Cherbourg.”
General Bradley told correspondence he was “satisfied” with American progress, but expected a German counterattack shortly in three-division strength.
The 3000 prisoners seized by Americans represented many nationalities. United States airborne troops cut up a German parachute division which had fought in Russia, taking 800 to 1000 prisoners. Shortly afterward a German paratroop battalion which had fought at bloody Cassino and Italy was dropped but the whole unit of 500 to 800 men coming down on top of American position, was captured.
The German high command, with no Allied confirmation, said a nw landing attempt at Trouville, south of the Seine River mouth, “collapsed in the fire of our coastal batteries” with a warship sunk. The Germans also said that mopping-up operations on the eastern bank of the Orne River were proceeding and that German attacks west and northwest of Caen had gained the ground.
On the Cherbourg peninsula “embittered fighting is in progress,” the German communique said, adding that “our troops are giving an excellent account of themselves fighting against strong enemy forces and superior enemy air forces. Along the entire front many German nests of resistance and fortified points are encircled by the enemy and holding their own. Within the first three days more than 200 enemy tanks were destroyed and several thousand prisoners taken.
“Despite unfavorable weather conditions the disembarkation of further men and material was uninterrupted,” the bulletin added. There was an overcast sky and lumpy sea in the English Channel Saturday.
The German communique declared the Allied counter attacks against Touffreville, six miles east of Caen, had failed. There was no Allied confirmation of fighting on that side of the city, where Caen would be flanked from the east.
In the embattled Caen area, British and Canadians have smashed German attempts to break up the beachhead and inched their way toward Caen, where street fighting has been reported in progress for several days.
While Allied communique No. 9 reported that steady progress had been made in building up Allied resources of men and material an official field dispatch declared that German resistance in the American sector, where the going had been fairly tough, “began to break Friday afternoon, and indications now are that the Germans are having considerable difficulty in throwing in reinforcements indiscriminately.”
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel threw three armored divisions into a attacks from Caen — and between Caen and Bayeux — in an effort to drive to the sea and split the beachhead into sections which could be dealt with separately. Rommel was reported using all available reserves.
But every attempt failed in the face of British and Canadian troops determined to stand or die. They fired at tanks over open sights from less than 200 yards.
Piles of litter and twisted wreckage dotted the blackened in landscape strewn with bodies of both Germans and Americans.
The Americans fought one of the bloodiest beachhead struggles of the war before linking up with the Airborne units, but now they are moving faster.
Two thousand German prisoners had arrived in Britain and Allied headquarters said “several thousand more” were in route.
The German radio dropped its extravagant claims of the past few days and the German news agency D. N. B. adopted a more conservative tone.
“The tank battle between Bayeux and Caen is rising to a furious crescendo,” said the agency. “Having reinforce their beachheads with further hundreds of transport and landing craft in spite of the unfavorable weather tanks continue their fierce attacks in the direction of Caen.”
Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Allied ground forces, send a special note to the 50th Northumbrian Division which fought with him across the desert in North Africa and is now with him in France, congratulating it on a “first-class fighting performance in the face of very adverse sea conditions and stout enemy opposition.”
Huge Allied tank convoys are proceeding in the Caen fighting zone, set a front-line dispatch.
It was disclosed that American parachute troops who landed on D-Day near Ste. Mere Eglise and hung on to link up with infantry for the successful actions announced Friday, had carried off history’s most successful airborne operation. It far outranked the German operation which captured Crete in the spring of 1941.
Although the Allied command was chary of mentioning place names it was apparent that the Allies’ rambling beachheads now had pierced the coastline in depths varying from one mile to 10. The Germans conceded a wedge driven through Bayeux southwest towards St. Lo, a depth of 10 miles. The beachhead was yet narrow and susceptible to disastrous breakthrough.
Admitting the Airborne reinforcements were steadily building up Allied manpower in the beachhead, the Germans predicted and invasion of Belgium “between Dunkerque and Ostende.”
Among other broadcast German statements was one that the Allies had sustained such heavy losses that Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery was forced to use 17 divisions between the Orne and Vire estuaries.
The effect of the invasion in German-occupied France was described in dispatches to Barcelona which said a condition approaching chaos existed because of German fears of Allied invasion of the Mediterranean coast and a threat of the general uprising in the Vichy area.