St Maurice en Cotentin

On June 17th 1944 the advancing Americans had reached Nehou some eight miles to the east of St Maurice. A forward scouting party consisting of fourteen soldiers travelling in four or five jeeps, lightly armed ran into a German ambush here, early on the morning of the 17th.

The Germans had prepared a defensive position with field guns either side of the road a hundred meters to the west of the present monument.

These cannons could well have been two of the Russian built 122 mm cannons used on the cliffs at Carteret, and were known to have been moved around this time.

The Americans who came from the 9th Division could only turn round and retreat. Four of their group lay dead and a fifth was to die later from his injuries.

Later that day (Saturday 17th June) the 3rd battalion of the 60th Division arrived in the village of St Maurice and continued towards Barneville. They encountered a further fire fight at La Haye d’Ectot at Les Essarts, before crossing the main road on the outskirts of Barneville.

The first soldiers to cut off the peninsula were not these but others from the same regiment who first saw the western ocean near the Manoir de Caillemont.

They came from Company "K" of the 60th.

Sunday 18th of June at around 05:00 the first American soldiers were in Barneville these came from the 3rd battalion and by 07:00 the town was free of occupying Germans.

German prisoners were rounded up, together with "Feld Gendarmes" German Military Police.

They were kept in the school, until POW camps could be established. One of these was at Fierville les Mines on the road to Port Bail. There was also an American field hospital nearby and it was said that the German prisoners were not fed until they had given blood.

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