Saint Lô d'Ourville -- Carrefour d'Olonde
The Last Battle For France June 17th - 18th 1940
After Dunkirk the German advance through France was rapid.
Some 50,000 British troops rescued at Dunkirk were landed in Cherbourg to
spearhead the defence of Normandy and create an area of resistance around the
port of Cherbourg and by this means it was hoped that the Germans would not only
be held but could be pushed back across France. Unfortunately the German advance
was so swift that although the British troops had been landed, not much of their
equipment had been shipped from England. General Rommel who commanded the 7th
Panzer group, was under orders from Hitler to take Cherbourg quickly before the
French government's demand for a cessation of hostilities was implemented.
Commandant Feuardent was given the task of holding the Germans at bay whilst the
British troops were embarked back to their ships and taken back to England.
Many French Solders and Sailors also took the opportunity to flee to England
against orders to fight again for the liberation of their country. Commandant
Feuardent commanded the 6th Battalion of the 208th Regiment, which also included
a detachment of Senegalese troops and about 250 Marines. In all around 2,500
badly equipped French troops together with a number of British Royal Artillery.
The French headquarters in Cherbourg heard hour by hour of the German's advance,
and the Germans had faced no real resistance since Saint Valery en Caux which
fell on June 12th. By the evening of June 17th the Panzers had reached Flers, by
20:30 the same night news reached Cherbourg that they had taken Villedieu les
Poéles, and by nightfall Coutances and Lessay had been taken. In Rommel's
memoires he states that around midnight his Panzers had arrived in Le Haye du
The French troops that faced Rommel were his only obstacle before he reached his
goal of Cherbourg, and this was the first resistance he had faced during the
last 250 kms.
Not a shot had been fired by either the Allies of the Germans. The French some
cannons had put in place, but these were old and not very accurate. They mostly
consisted of 75 mm first world war cannon, either mounted on wheels or on metal
bases and they had been brought by train and put in place near the track.