NormandyNorthern FranceRhinelandArdennesCentral EuropeOfficial Site of the 35th Infantry Division Association
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Welcome to the official site of the 35th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II

We continue the story of the 35th Division in Europe with the capture of St. Lo on the 19th of July, 1944. That evening the exhausted 29th Division was pulled back for a much needed rest and relieved by the 134th Infantry Regiment. The Germans had withdrawn to a ridge about one mile South and to our front and methodically fired artillery rounds into the city which had already been devastated by aerial bombing and heavy artillery. The next few days the division flushed out snipers and small pockets of resistance and watched the indomitable French people come out of their basement hiding places and filter back into their town, in spite of streets filled with huge piles of debris that made them almost impassable. On the brighter side we cleaned up – ourselves, our weapons, equipment, replenished ammunition and extended our three regiments across the entire seven mile XIX corps front along the South edge of St. Lo and along the St. Lo-Bayeux Highway, with the 320th Infantry on the left, 134th Infantry in the center, and 137th Infantry on the right. To our left was the 2nd Division, part of Gen. Gerow’s V Corps. On our right was the 30th Division.

We had lost 2,500 men from our first ten days of combat, almost 16% of the division and many faces were missing, some of our longest trained officers and best NCO’s Regiments, battalions, companies, platoons, squads – all had to regroup under new commanders who moved up to fill vacancies. A sobering and painful ritual without much ceremony that followed every major engagement throughout the war. It never got any easier. The frequent arrival of replacements filled gaps but continually changed the makeup of the division. Meanwhile we looked out southward to see that the German 3rd Parachute Division and the tough 352nd Division were still out there waiting for us.

War was not always tough

While there, the news of the aborted attempt by German officers on Adolph Hitler’s life spread among the troops and excited speculation that this was a sign of an early termination of the war. It raised morale but was not evident in any signs of lessening resistance by our southerly neighbors.

The capture of St. Lo brought greater security to the beaches, and Gen. Bradley and Gen. Eisenhower now felt that they had a sufficient striking force in the lodgement area to attempt a breakout. There were 12 American Infantry Divisions and three Armored Divisions now in France with six more on the way from the states. Along the front line in Normandy facing South and extending from the British sector westward were the following divisions:5th, 2nd, 35th, 30th, 9th, 83rd, 4th, Armored, 90th, 8th, and 79th Divisions. Behind the lines were the 1st, 4th, 29th, and 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions. About to arrive were the 6th Armored Division, 28th and the French 2nd Armored Division, altogether some 900,000 men under Gen. Bradley. To the East around Caen were the British, Canadian and some French and Polish units under Gen. Montgomery. The 8th and 9th U.S. Air Forces and the R.A.F. Bomber Command and Fighter Squadrons had secured control of the skies over Normandy and for an area over 100 miles behind the German lines, denying the German Vehrmacht of free daylight movement of troops and supplies, and limiting the Luftwaffe to infrequent daylight sorties and reduced nighttime bombing and fighter attacks. The 7th and 15th German Armies were locked into defensive positions and movement of tanks, infantry and supplies to mount counter attacks or bring up reinforcements forced German movements to be delayed until nighttime. Behind the lines free French units and Freedom Fighting Maquis, who had mobilized throughout France, hampered transportation, destroyed bridges and communications, and created a nightmare for enemy troops.

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Quick Facts

By Maj. Norman C. Carey, Company A-320th Inf. Regt.

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