The 101st fight to take the city of Carentan, France.
The day was Friday, and our First Battalion was ordered to "stand in place," a military term for a unit that is on line but in "reserve" of another unit that is on the attack. Attacking for our Regiment was the 3rd Battalion. The order came down the day before, D plus 2, for "the 101st to take the city of Carentan, France."
With a population of about 4,000 people, Carentan was the second largest city in the Cherbourg Peninsula, located about eight miles from the sea on the Douver River. A canal running into the city made it possible for small boats to enter from the sea. A set of locks built into the canal controls the flow of the ocean's tide. North of the city is marshland, mostly below sea level. It would be easy to flood the entire area. The worst thing for us was the fact that there wasn't any cover.
The Allies needed to capture the city of Carentan so that we could link up all the beaches. Only then could we think of breaking out. To the Germans, Carentan had great strategic importance. To Field Marshall Rommel and General Dollmann, the Commanding Officer of the 7th Army, losing Carentan would mean the loss of the main road, and only a short time until the whole peninsula would be cut in two at its base. The loss of the main seaport city of Cherboug would then be inevitable. Helping the German officers decide on the importance of Carentan was their discovery the day before of an Allied operational order revealing our intentions
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(from Chapter 7--"Attack Underway")
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Marker for a fallen trooper, Carentan. June 11, 1944
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