836,000 men landed in Normandy, among them were 20,000 American airborne troops. On 6th June they were dropped into several zones between Carentan, Saint-Mere-Eglise and Utah-Beach. Their mission was to protect the troops landing on the beaches and to promptly seize the town of Carentan. Routes through the three departments of Calvados, of La Manche and of the Orne, will enable you to retrace the Allied offensives: "Objective a Port", "D-Day, le Choc", "Cobra -la Percee", "La Contre-Attaque".
D-Day Le Choc
Retracing the American offensive, this itinerary takes visitors from Bayeux to Carentan, and through Omaha Beach, also named “Bloody Omaha” due to the terrible battle that took place there. The historical route also takes visitors to the marshland of Carentan, meeting point for the troops that landed at Utah Beach, one of the five D-Day beaches. One can follow the difficult progression of the American troops towards the ravaged city of St-Lo, an important road junction which the Allies had to seize.
Objectif A port: Cherbourg
In order to supply the landed troops, the Allies had a vital need: a deep water port. The primary objective for the American troops from Utah Beach and around Sainte-Mere-Eglise was to capture the port of Cherbourg. The itinerary "Objectif-un Port" follows the route of General Collins and the 7th Army Corps towards Cherbourg.
From Carentan to Cherbourg, this route retraces the parachute drops of the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions around Sainte-Mère-Eglise and the landings on Utah Beach.
And then continues towards Cherbourg following the itinerary taken by the Allies to:
- Cut across the Cotentin peninsula
- Isolate the German troops stationed in this region
- Capture the port of Cherbourg
Cobra La Percée
On 25th July 1944 the Allies decided to launch Operation Cobra. Commanded by American General Bradley, the objective of this operation was to break through German defences, west of St-Lo and to begin to manoeuvre around the enemy, encircling forces from the south.
From Cherbourg to Avranches visitors can follow the difficult route taken by the armoured Allies led by General Patton toward the great breakthrough at Avranches. The towns of La-Haye-du-Puits, Périers and Coutances and the battle sites of Mont Castre, la Chapelle-en-Juger and Roncey show the extreme adversity confronted by soldiers involved in operation Cobra.
After the liberation of Avranches, on 31st July, part of General Patton's army pressed towards Brittany, others towards the Loire and a final section in the direction of Le Mans-Alencon on the rear of the enemy.
The breakthrough at Avranches enabled the Allies' rapid re-conquest of the country.