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 Puits.
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.

Home Up Last Battle Pt 2

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