Saint-Lo is the capital of the Manche region of Normandy and a vital traffic hub. In 1944, it had been a key strategic objective for American forces. Sitting at the center of a major road and rail network which connects Normandy and Brittany, it was to form a pivotal role in the American attempt to swing into Brittany and begin the encirclement of the enemy.
The Germans also had an important command and control centre in St.-Lo. The Germans had been prepared for The Americans. As early as July1st, German High Command had dictated that a fight to the death policy would be adopted, ground was to be yielded only when overrun and harassing counterattacks were to be effectively utilized against the advancing Americans. Every field, lane, and approach to St.-Lo had been prepared by the Germans.
Territorial gains in the weeks leading up to the taking of St.-Lo, could often be measured in terms of yards taken, for men killed.
|Germans dug in, American casualty in foreground|
The advance on St. Lo had been a miserable affair for the American soldiers, but on July 18th 1944, the 29th Division finally entered what was left of the ancient market town.
The taking of the town has always been credited to the 29th as it was they who had fought their way in, but stout and costly support had been provided by the 30th Division. Without the soldiers of ‘Old Hickory’, engaging the fanatical groups of German paratroopers and SS grenadiers, tightly holding on, the 29th Division casualties, already significant, would have been catastrophic.
|Saint-Lo, modern day, from http://christopheferey.over-blog.net|
Since 1999 St Lo has been twinned with Roanoke, Virginia, USA.