Juno Beach - Aftermath


While the Normandy landings in all five sectors managed to establish footholds in Normandy, many D-Day objectives were not met. The 82nd and 101st American Airborne Divisions had suffered heavy casualties—their landings were scattered all over the dropzones—but had captured Sainte-Mère-Église to the west of Utah. On the Cotentin Peninsula, the American 4th Division had suffered lighter casualties in securing Utah, and had established a strong bridgehead by the end of D-Day. Omaha had met with less success, as intact defences and high-calibre troops of the 352nd Division caused heavier casualties than at any of the other beaches; at one point the attack was going so badly that Lieutenant General Omar Bradley considered withdrawing the US V Corps from the beaches. A second wave of attacks breached the coastal defences, but could only push 2,000 yards (1,800 m) inland by nightfall. To the west of Juno, the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division encountered only light resistance, and succeeded in advancing inland and creating a continuous front with Juno (though not with Omaha) with only 413 casualties. To their east, the British 3rd Infantry Division succeeded in establishing a foothold on Sword. However, counterattacks by the 21st Panzer Division in the afternoon prevented the 3rd Infantry from advancing on Caen and from making contact with the Canadian 3rd on Juno. The counterattack did not succeed in driving the British off the beaches, as units of the British 6th Airborne Division—which had landed the previous night near the River Orne—were able to outflank the 21st and force it to withdraw.

In spite of the heavy casualties inflicted on the 352nd and 716th Infantry Divisions, the German Seventh Army quickly established plans for counterattacks. Early logistical responses to the invasion were confused, as the divisions necessary for counterattacks fell under a different jurisdiction than those defending the coast. Furthermore, the heavy Panzer divisions, such as the Panzer Lehr, 12th SS Panzer, and 2nd SS Panzer, could not be mobilized to the coast without the explicit authorization of Hitler himself. The order to mobilize Panzer Lehr and the 12th SS was finally given in the mid-afternoon of 6 June. When the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers began to advance on 7 June, they were met by entrenched forces of the 716th Infantry and 21st Panzer Divisions. At 17:00, the advancing force was counterattacked by the 12th SS, under the command of Kurt Meyer. After heavy fighting the 9th Brigade was forced to withdraw to their D-Day positions, having suffered heavier casualties than any single unit on Juno itself the previous day. However, the 7th Brigade succeeded in reaching its final D-Day objectives along Line Oak, while the 8th Brigade attempted to destroy German radar stations to their east, a task which would only be completed on 11 June.

The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division made contact with the British on Sword on 7 June, before forming one continuous front with the American sector by 13 June. The subsequent advance on Caen and Cherbourg was slow, as a greater number of German Panzer units were concentrated near Caen and Carentan. The Canadians captured Carpiquet Airfield during Operation Windsor on 5 July, while Anglo-Canadian forces captured Caen as part of Operation Charnwood (8–9 July) and Operation Atlantic (18–20 July).

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