Dead Mans Corner

Dead Mans Corner

The 101st Airborne Division fought two battles in Normandy after D-Day. The first, at Saint Côme-du-Mont, was to complete its objective of blocking possible German counterattacks from south of the Douve River and is considered part of its original airborne mission.[9]

The multi-battalion reconnaissance toward Saint Côme-du-Mont jumped off at 0430 as planned, but without the full-strength glider infantry battalion, which had not yet come up. The town was defended by a line of troops of the 3rd Battalion 1058th Grenadier Regiment (III./1058) in prepared positions from les Droueries to Basse-Addeville, who had stopped the advance of the 2/501st on D-Day. In the town itself was the 2nd Battalion of the 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment (FJR6), which had dug in on the north and east since returning from Sainte Mère Eglise during the night. Its 1st Battalion was in Sainte Marie-du-Mont but cut off from contact with the main body. As the battle developed during the day, the commander of FJR6, Oberstleutnant Friedrich von der Heydte, brought up half of his 3rd Battalion from Carentan to reinforce the III./1058 and took over defense of the highway.

The far understrength 1st and 2nd Battalions 506th PIR spread out in skirmish line in the dark to move through the hedgerows but were subjected to persistent sniper fire. They covered the twisting dirt road from Culoville to Vierville—a distance of one mile—in four hours. Pushing on beyond the town, they had moved only a thousand yards more by 1100 when a platoon of six Sherman medium tanks of Company A, 746th Tank Battalion appeared. They moved forward another mile, with Germans constantly infiltrating in behind them, before a sniper killed the commander of the 1st Battalion 506th, Lt Col. William L. Turner. Attacks to clear the flanking hedgerows were thrown back and the advance stalled. Using a newly arrived Stuart light tank as support, Company D advanced at 1830 two miles (3 km) to the battalion objective, the crossroads below Saint Côme-du-Mont linking it with Carentan. However the tank was destroyed there by a direct hit, where the hull and a dead crewman hanging out of the tank gave the intersection the nickname “Dead Man’s Corner”.[10] Company A followed Company D to the outskirts of Saint Côme-du-Mont, but both were recalled just before midnight when no other units could consolidate on them.

During the morning, the 1st Battalion of FJR6 cut across country in an attempt to reach their own lines. They were observed by Col. Sink during the morning but not identified as enemy in time to bring them under fire. In the afternoon the German paratroopers crossed the marsh and encountered both Col. Johnson’s and Capt. Shettle’s pockets. After brief firefights with both at mid-afternoon, in which 90-100 were killed and a like number wounded, all but 25 of the 800-man battalion surrendered, 250 to Shettle and 350 to Johnson.[11]

DMC2” by TomasinoOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.