Military history


Touring Cherbourg

Three car tours covering the final battle for Festung Cherbourg follow and each one approximately covers one division’s attack on the fortress. Although there are maps in the book, it would be wise to purchase the relevant road maps of the area. The most detailed are the Série Bleu Maps; Reference Number 1210E (Cherbourg) and Cap de Hague Reference Number 1110E (or 1210 OT). IGN 1:1000,000 scale No.6, Caen/Cherbourg is also useful.

Remember that the French drive on the right and on narrow lanes a driver’s right of way is a matter of courtesy. The terrain surrounding Cherbourg is dominated by bocage, high earth embankments topped with thick hedgerows lining many of the roads and lanes, and this makes navigation a challenge at the best of times. Turning round if you miss a junction is rarely an option (and dangerous in many of the narrow lanes) and it is usually some distance before you can contemplate retracing your steps. If you do become lost, follow signposts to a village and stop to study the map. It will then be possible to head back to the last point on the route that you remember.

Ferry Terminal to the Harbour

When you leave the port take the first right at the roundabout, signposted for Cherbourg (Centre Ville) and after 400 metres the harbour basin appears as the road bends to the left. Turn right at the traffic lights, entering Cherbourg’s one-way system, and cross the bridge between the inner and outer basins; the Tourist Information Centre (Maison du Tourisme) is on the far side of the bridge and it is the starting point for all three tours. A 1944 comparison can be seen on page 153.

There is ample on-street parking (payable by the hour at road side meters) in the centre of Cherbourg. However, market days can be very busy. Many of the streets in the old town, immediately to the west of the harbour, are pedestrian precincts and should be avoided until you have parked your vehicle.

Either follow signs or ask for directions to the harbour if you need to visit the Tourist Information Office. The majority of the staff do speak English and it is an excellent place to ask any unusual questions if you not confident with French. Many of the locals in the town speak a little English but once you leave the port you will need to speak French to be understood.

There are a variety of hotels of all standards in and around Cherbourg and a comprehensive list is available at the Tourist Office. It is also possible to search for hotels on the internet and some take online bookings. Cherbourg is a popular tourist area and it can get booked up in the summer season and school holidays. It is particularly busy around the anniversaries of D-Day at the beginning of June and the liberation at the end of the month. Useful road signs printed in red give directions to many of the hotels in the town centre.

Car Tour 1 – 4th Division

Follow the one-way system from the Tourist Information office, heading inland alongside the inner harbour. At the end of the harbour basin follow signs for Caen, Rennes and Tourlaville, turning left at the traffic lights. Turn right at a second set of traffic lights after 200m and follow the N13, signposted for Caen and Rennes, heading south out of Cherbourg. The road follows a narrow valley, with Fort du Roule on the cliff to the left, and climbs steeply as it heads out of the suburbs. Go straight on at the roundabout after 2 1/2 miles in Cherbourg’s commercial area and continue straight on at a second roundabout after another 1/2 mile. Take the slip road to the right after two miles, signposted for Delasse and the D56.

79th Division ran into Kampfgruppen Koehn’s outposts as it approached Delasse on 20 June, coming under fire from 88s, mortars and artillery 10112. Turn left at the crossroads signposted for Le Theil and cross over the dual carriageway. Hedgerows and woods close in around the D56 as it heads east and it easy to see why the Normandy ‘bocage’ was ideal defensive terrain. 8th Regiment advanced from right to left as it headed towards the Trottebec valley, encountering German strongpoints in the patchwork of small enclosures. Colonel van Fleet repeatedly struggled to coordinate attacks with his supporting armour and German troops frequently infiltrated behind the Regiment’s lines.

Car Tour 1 - 4th Division’s area.

Delasse crossroads where 313th Regiment was ambushed by 88mm guns.

After 1 ½ miles, at the end of a long straight, there is a concrete track to the left marked by a small signpost for La Boissaie. In the fields to the left of the road are a number of bunkers and the remains of a V1 launch ramp 10113. 8th Regiment encountered strong German position in Bois du Rondou (now called Foret de l’Ermitage) to the right of the road.

Bunkers and shelters surround the V1 launch ramp captured by 8th Regiment.

Continue east and at the end of the wood, there are a number of concrete shelters in the trees to the right of the road 10114; further evidence of the extensive V1 rocket activity in this area. Crossroads 148 is a short distance further on. 10115

While the rest of 8th Regiment was heavily engaged in Bois du Rondou to the right of the road, two companies of 2nd Battalion were pinned down as they advanced across the fields to the left. Lieutenant-Colonel MacNeely used unusual tactics to break the deadlock, deploying a ‘tank platoon in line, an infantry platoon immediately behind each tank, the whole line charged, tanks firing guns and machineguns, infantry spraying with all their machine-guns.’ In spite of clearing the fields north of Bois du Rondou, German troops infiltrated behind MacNeeely’s position using the houses at Crossroads 148 as a base. The following morning Captain Kulp was sent back to deal with the threat and found the enemy sheltering in a copse north of the crossroads. After pulverising the wood with mortars, howitzers and machine guns; Kulp’s men rounded up 250 prisoners.

Shelters lie hidden in Bois du Rondou.

Crossroads 148, the base for German counterattacks on 8th Regiment’s rear.

Head straight on towards Le Theil and turn left onto the D63 after a mile, heading into Bois du Coudray. The road drops steeply down to the Saire stream on the far side of the wood where 12th Regiment found the Germans waiting on the slopes across the valley 10116. The bridge had already been destroyed and marshy ground either side of the stream prevented Colonel Luckett deploying his tanks. It took two days to find suitable crossing point downstream.

Continue across the stream, turning right onto the D413 towards Gonneville after 1/2 mile. Keep straight on at the crossroads after 1/2 mile taking note of the high hedgerows surrounding the enclosures either side of the road. Having found a crossing over the Saire, Captain Linder led his men along this road to outflank the German positions blocking 12th Regiment’s advance. Sherman tanks had to keep to the road, turning into the fields when Linder’s men identified an enemy position.

After 1 1/4 mile turn left onto the D320, heading north. The high ground immediately in front is Hill 158 10117. 22nd Regiment made a rapid advance along this road on the evening of 21 June, seizing the hill and cut Maupertus airfield off from Cherbourg. Over the next four days German infantry repeatedly attacked supply trucks as they tried to reach the Regiment’s positions. Major-General Barton eventually resorted to sending tanks stacked with ammunition and food to keep the Regiment supplied.

Turn left onto the D901 after 1 mile; note that the road climbs to the summit of Hill 158 as it heads east towards Maupertus airfield. Heading west, with Cherbourg in the distance, the importance of 22nd Regiment’s position on the high ground is clear. There is a water tower on the left after 1 1/2 mile; turn right onto the D120, signposted for Hameau Burnel and stop at a small parking area to the right after 400m. Cross the road and walk along Rue Fournel; after 200m climb the grassy mound to the left of the lane to see 4th Division’s view of Cherbourg 10118.

The Saire stream provided a natural defensive position on the north edge of Bois du Coudray.

The road to Maupertus was the scene for many ambushes after 22nd Regiment had made its lightning drive to capture Hill 158.

General Collins, Major-General Barton and Colonel Luckett watched from near here as 12th Regiment pushed along the coast into the city. Tourlaville is immediately in front, with Fort du Roule on the promontory straight ahead. Cherbourg’s harbour is to the right with the breakwater forming a huge arc out in the sea. Return to your car and head continue along the D120 towards the sea. The brambles and gorse bushes area to the left of the road conceals a number of bunkers and shelters that once formed a large underground hospital. The road drops steeply down a narrow ravine as it heads for Le Becquet and towards the bottom of the slope it is possible to see Fort Ile de Pelée out to sea.

At the bottom of the hill, turn left at the traffic lights in Le Becquet and head towards Cherbourg. Take the first right at the roundabout after 1/2 miles heading for the sea front and turn left signposted for Plage Colignon after 400m. The road makes a sharp right turn in front of the bypass and heads towards the beach. There is a large bunker at the T Junction on the sea front, park next to it to take a closer look at the harbour.

Fort Ile de Pelée 10119 is the closest, covering the eastern approach to the harbour. Major Johnston walked out along the thin walkway towards the fort to negotiate with the garrison. The garrison delayed their surrender until it was dark, fearing reprisals from the rest of the forts. Having taken Fort Ile de Pelée it took thirty-six hours and bombardments from the land, sea and the air to convince the men on the sea wall to capitulate.

Hill 158, on the St Pierre Église road, dominated the countryside.

A lone bunker overlooks the port.

The road into Le Becquet; the seawall protects Cherbourg’s outer harbour.

A bunker looks out to sea; Fort Ile de Pelée is in the distance.

Continue west, towards the centre of Cherbourg. Fort des Flamands 10120 can be seen to the right as you drive along the sea front. Take the first exit at the roundabout, heading for Cherbourg Centre. The road heads past the port entrance and back into the centre of the town.

Car Tour 2 – 79th Division

The first mile of tour two is the same as the previous tour. Follow the one-way system along the harbour and turn left at the traffic lights at the end, turn right at the second set of lights and head up the valley between Fort du Roule and Octeville. Go straight on at the first traffic lights, turning right, signposted for Bricquebec, at a second set of lights after 200m. The photograph alongside symbolises the capitulation of Cherbourg; the large sign is on the retaining wall to the left of the traffic lights.

La Glacerie is the next village and after 1/2 mile, just after two sharp bends, turn left onto the D119, heading up a steep slope. La Loge is at the top of the hill; park you car in the centre of the hamlet just before a stop sign on the right 10112. Walk back along the road, taking note of the plaque across the road; it remembers sixteen local people who died while fighting with the Resistance. Turn left into Chemin de la Chesnee after 50m and from the first gateway on the right it is possible to look over Cherbourg. The port is framed between the Octeville Heights and the Fort du Roule promontory. The difficulties faced by General Wyche and the men of 79th Division are obvious: both ridges had to be cleared before the 313th Regiment could advance along the Divette valley. A single company of 314th Regiment penetrated the German lines to reach La Loge on 23 June; the GIs were the first ground troops to look on VII Corps final objective.

Car Tour 2 - 79th Division’s area.

The road into Cherbourg...

...the view in June 1944 (top), prisoners are escorted into captivity. NARA-111-SC-190810-S

Return to your car and continue along the D119, heading for Hardinvast. Go straight on at the crossroads after two miles, taking note of the views to the right. Bois du Mont du Roc, a huge wooded hill dominates the horizon 10113. As 9th Division cleared the hill, 315th Regiment set up roadblocks in this area to protect 79th Division’s flank. Between them, the two divisions stopped over 3,000 German soldiers from retiring towards the port. They eventually capitulated on 26 June.

VII Corps final objective, the port of Cherbourg framed between the Octeville Heights and Fort du Roule as seen from La Loge.

Hardinvast is a mile further on; turn left at the church and park in front of the wall 10114. The church steps provide an ideal place to view the left flank of 79th Division’s positions around St Martin le Gerard on 22 June. Allied planes bombed and strafed General Wyche’s troops as they waited for zero hour on the far side of the valley and 315th Regiment ran into heavy opposition as it advanced. General Wyche decided to exploit the success on his right flank and left Colonel Wiggin’s men to contain the Germans in Hardinvast. Over the days that followed 315th Regiment gradually extended its perimeter onto the high ground to the northeast, helping to encircle Hardinvast and Martinvast.

Bois du Mont du Roc and Hill 171 overlooks Martinvast where thousands of German troops were cut off.

German troops holding Hardinvast had a perfect field of fire across 315th Regiment’s advance.

Return to your car and head east along the D152, following a right turn on the outskirts of the village; Tollevast is a mile away. In places it is possible to see the ridge to the left where German observers watched 79th Division’s attack unfold and were able to call on mortars, anti-aircraft guns and artillery to stall the advance.

314th Regiment tried in vain to enter the Tollevast and attempts to outflank the village became pinned down in front of strong entrenchments. Eventually, Colonel Robinson had to withdraw his troops under cover of darkness and send them through the gap created by 313th Regiment to the east.

Carry straight on past the Tollevast’s Marie and follow the D352 as it winds its way through the village. German engineers had turned the area into a fortress, building entrenchments, strongpoints and bunkers amongst the hedgerows. A short drive through this area, where at times it is narrow for a car to pass between the hedges, will leave a lasting impression on how formidable Festung Cherbourg was.

Continue on the D352, signposted for La Glacerie. There is a crossroads after ½ mile with a large bunker in the field on the right 10115. Park in the area on the left just beyond the junction and take the opportunity to study, one of the few remaining examples of the dozens of pillboxes that covered this area in 1944. If you walk a short distance up the road to the right of the bunker it is possible to see the gun aperture and study the effects of the high explosives used by the American troops.

One of the few surviving bunkers around Tollevast; the firing slit has been blown apart by explosives.

Return to your car and turn round, turning right into the D511 signposted for Martinvast. Turn right at the top of the ridge onto the D112 heading for La Glacerie and park alongside the water tower on the left after ¼ mile 10116. 313th Regiment finally broke the German fortifications at les Chèvres to the east on the evening of 22 June and reached this ridge under cover of darkness. Rather than batter his way through the defences at Hardinvast and Tollevast, General Wyche decided to exploit the breakthrough and ordered 314th Regiment to pull back from Tollevast. Overnight Colonel Robinson’s men made their way onto the ridge with its commanding views both north and south, and took up positions ready for the German reaction. It never came. Apart from snipers and small groups harassing the supply columns, the Germans holding Tollevast melted away, looking to find a way back to Cherbourg. Wyche’s daring plan had worked; the outer ring of entrenchments on his front had fallen.

Looking south across 79th Division’s assembly area.

Looking north from the water tower, it is possible to see the outskirts of Cherbourg and Octeville on the horizon. Although a hedge blocks the view over Tollevast, there is a gate a short walk along the road to the west. The view south, the one the German observers enjoyed, is also impressive. From here the importance of 79th Division’s achievement on 22 June is obvious.

Return to your car and continue to drive east along the ridge; there is a second opportunity to view 79th Division’s approach to Cherbourg from the small car park in front of an electricity substation on the right10117. Looking across to the city, the main highway is to the right and Crossroads 177 is close to the water tower. 313th Regiment reached the crossroads on the night of 22 June, having pierced the German line at Les Chèvres. A commercial estate covers La Mare à Canards, the next line of German fortification north of the crossroads.

Continue straight on under the main highway and follow the D122 as it descends steeply into the Trottebec valley. While 313th Regiment moved forward under cover of darkness towards Crossroads 177, one battalion became disorientated in the woods to the right and lost contact with the rest of the Regiment. General Collins avoided sending troops into the Trottebec valley and while 79th Division exploited the success at Crossroads 177, 4th Division advanced across the high ground in the distance.

La Glacerie is a mile from the underpass; turn left at the bottom of the steep hill, signposted for La Glacerie Centre. Head through the centre of La Glacerie and turn left at the far end, making an immediate left beyond the underpass, (signposted for Valognes). Turn right at the T-junction after 200m and follow the side road up the hill. It is possible to park near the summit and look over the suburbs of Cherbourg and Tourlaville 10118. The fields on the opposite side of the road were used as a base for German artillery. The gun crews ran for cover as 313th Regiment drew close; they were eventually rounded up in Hau Gringor quarry below. Once 314th Regiment had cleared the roof of Fort du Roule, 313th Regiment made its way down the slope heading into the suburbs; 4th Division approached from the right, taking Tourlaville by surprise under cover of darkness with infantry mounted on tanks.

Heading west in your car, the road descends rapidly into a narrow valley and Octeville, with its distinctive water tower, comes into view. 314th Regiment crossed this ravine to reach Fort du Roule on the summit of the ridge to the right of the road. Air strikes and an artillery bombardment failed to neutralise bunkers and entrenchments protecting the only approach to the fort and 314th Regiment’s first attempt to cross the valley failed. A second attack succeeded in gaining a foothold on the slope, in spite of enfilade fire from the Octeville heights.

Continue through La Glacerie to the bottom of the hill and turn right onto the main road into Cherbourg. Once 314th Regiment had started to ascend the ridge, 313th Regiment advanced astride this road heading for the centre of Cherbourg. Lieutenant Ogden was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour for single-handedly destroying two machine guns and an anti-aircraft position on the steep slope to the right.

Head straight on at the traffic lights and take the first right after the pedestrian crossing, signposted for Fort du Roule and Museé de la Liberation. The second turning to the right after 100m leads up the hill to the fort. A narrow road with passing places winds its way up the cliff, making a number of severe turns. There are parking spaces at the summit 10119.

Fort du Roule

The museum entrance fee is three euros (concessions 1.5 euros) and opening times are:

July to September

Tuesday to Saturday

11:00 to 18:00

Sunday and Monday

14:00 to 18:00

October to May

Wednesday and Sunday

14:00 to 18:00

Other days

10:00 to 12:00

As you enter the courtyard of the fort through the original Napoleonic gate note that Company E of 314th Regiment approached from the right, having cleared pillboxes covering the promontory. Corporal Kelly was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour for clearing one pillbox single-handedly. The entrance to the museum is at the far and of the modern glass structure but before you enter the museum take time to view the incredible panorama from the balcony; the information board at the end indicates all the landmarks. On a clear day it is possible to see the whole of Cherbourg and its suburbs, from Octeville in the west round to Tourlaville in the east. Having taken the courtyard of the fort, Company E hoped that the Germans below would surrender. However, over 150 men continued to fight on, harassing the troops advancing into the city. Looking over the parapet, it is possible to see one of the pillboxes on the cliff face. Engineers tried lowering satchel charges to dislodge the Germans but it took a barrage from eighteen tank-destroyers, gathered on the streets below, to silence them. Only then could Sergeant Hurst and a party of volunteers climb along the cliff face to reach the gun embrasures below and enter the fort.

The museum contains a large selection of photographs, artefacts and film archive recalling life in Cherbourg during the Second World War. The German occupation, life under the Nazis, the French resistance, VII Corps’ liberation of the city and the rebuilding of the port are dealt with in turn on the upper two floors of the fort. The only disadvantage is that the captions are in French.

After visiting the museum drive down to the bottom of the hill turning left towards the main road into the city and return to the Tourist Information Centre.

Cherbourg; the impressive panorama from Fort du Roule.

Car Tour 3 – 9th Division

Follow the one-way system from the Tourist Information Office, alongside the inner harbour, and go straight on at the traffic lights, signposted for Octeville. Head up the hill onto Octeville heights, which were covered in anti-aircraft positions in 1944, and go straight on at the traffic lights at the top, following the road out of the suburbs. To the left of the road is the Divette valley where several thousand German soldiers held out for several days. The village of Le Pont is one mile beyond Octeville; take the first exit at the roundabout, heading straight on towards Les Pieux. Bois du Mont du Roc is across the valley to the right of the road and as you head south west it is easy to see why 9th Division did not push men onto the lower slopes of the hill; the infantry trapped around Martinvaast to the left of the road had an excellent field of fire across the valley.

Slow down once you have passed the turning for Sideville to the right. The turning you want is also to the right and although it is signposted for Flottemanville-Hague, the sign is facing the wrong way (a sign for Hardinvaast is directly opposite). After crossing the Divette Steam the road climbs towards Les Vacheaux. Go straight on at the crossroads in the centre of the hamlet after ½ mile; signposted for Flottemanville-Hague. The road bends sharply to the right as it climbs the hill; park in the entrance to a track on the left after 100 metres 10112. A short walk along the track gives you the opportunity to see the German perspective of 47th Regiment’s advance across the Houelbecq stream. The stream winds its way through the wooded valley below and the Germans holding the high ground to the right and behind your position could see Colonel Smythe’s as they advanced on 22 June. The steep sided valley prevented armour moving forward to support the infantry as they struggled to find a way through the minefields and barbed wire either side of the stream.

Car Tour 3 - 9th Division’s area.

The anti-aircraft positions at Strongpoint 13 now serve as picnic areas.

Return to your car and continue up the hill, parking to the right after 200 metres opposite three concrete shelters built to resemble houses 10113. If you look over the fence there are a number of bunkers to the right of the ‘houses’. The complex served an anti-aircraft position on the top of the hill; the gun positions had a commanding view across 9th Division’s advance.

Continue to drive up the hill and ½ mile further on is a pull in to the right where two tracks head off up the hill 10114. The stopping point gives you the opportunity to take in another view across the Houelbecq valley and Baudienville beyond; Hill 171 and Bois du Mont du Roc are to the right of the road. From here it is possible to appreciate the difficult task facing General Eddy’s men.

Continue straight on and as the road starts to descend it is possible to see Flottemanville-Hague, with its white church spire, on the horizon. Strongpoints around the village had a commanding view of 9th Division’s advance. Turn left at Le Saussey crossroads and the road descends rapidly towards the Houelbecq steam. The strongpoint around the crossroads stalled 47th Regiment’s advance until tanks could be directed forward, meanwhile, parties of Germans cut off by the advance continued to harass supply trucks along the road. The road crosses Houelbecq steam at the bottom of the hill. Turn left into the narrow lane just beyond the bridge and follow it into Baudienville. 47th Regiment advanced from the village on 22 June under heavy fire from the strongpoints on the high ground to the left. The breakthrough came when the artillery hit the ammunition dump of one strongpoint, allowing the infantry to move close enough to assault. The rest of the Regiment exploited the breakthrough and moved onto the high ground under cover of darkness.

As you follow the narrow road through Baudienville 10115 the difficulties faced by Colonel Smythe and his supporting armour are clear. 400m beyond the village turn right onto the D22.

Turn right at the next crossroads, Crossroads 114 10116, signposted for Octeville. 47th Regiment’s 2nd Battalion ran into heavy fire from pillboxes at the crossroads on 22 June, they were eventually overcome when tank destroyers moved up, giving covering fire as the GIs charged the bunkers.

Take the first left after 400m and follow the road to the T-junction at the top of the hill; turn right into Flottemanville-Hague. Turn left before the church, signposted for Tonneville, and after 400m, turn left into the entrance for ‘Ludiver’ 10117, and park in the car park. The complex has a tourist information centre, a number of observatories and rotunda. It is built on the site of Strongpoint 13, an anti-aircraft position and the concrete emplacements now serve as picnic areas! The importance of the position is clear. The views along the coast are impressive and once the position had fallen, 9th Division was able to push towards Cherbourg. Kampfgruppen Keil withdrew from the strongpoint, and its rearguard surrendered as 60th Regiment attacked, closely supported by tank destroyers.

Return to your car and at the entrance to the site turn left down the hill. Head straight on at the crossroads after ½ mile into Tonneville. Turn left at the T Junction in the centre of the village and as you leave the houses behind, turn right onto the D901 signposted for Cherbourg. The dual carriageway descends quickly towards the sea. Go straight on at the traffic lights after 2 miles, signposted for Hameau de la Mer. Turn right for Hainneville at the roundabout on the sea front after ½ mile. Turn left at the traffic lights after 300m and right at a second set of lights after 400m, signposted for Fort des Couplets. Turn left after 400m and the fort is a short distance away, behind a line of pine trees, beyond the parking area 10118.

A preserved anti-aircraft position.

Fort des Couplets was one of the Napoleonic forts on the hills west of Cherbourg that had been upgraded by German engineers. 47th Regiment’s 2nd Battalion attacked it after fighter-bombers, artillery and tank-destroyers had shelled the position; eighty-nine men surrendered after a brief battle. Pillboxes line the high earth embankments beyond the original moat.

Return to the road and turn right down the hill, retracing your route, however, head straight on at the crossroads and park alongside the open area, 150m on the left. There are three gun emplacements and an anti-aircraft position in the park.

Equeurdreville Battery illustrated how effective coastal batteries could be against naval targets10119 on June 25, engaging the Allied task force as it sailed close to the shore. Salvoes from the battery damaged one ship and straddled several others before the flotilla’s destroyers could lay a protective smoke screen. It took over 200 shells to silence the battery.

Return to your car, turn around and at the crossroads turn right and again turn right at the traffic lights after 1/4 mile, heading down to the roundabout towards the sea. Take the second exit, sign posted Cherbourg, and follow the dual carriageway along the sea front. The wall of the Arsenal10120, the huge Napoleonic fortress built to protect Cherbourg’s military port, is on the left after ½ mile. Anti-aircraft positions stand in front of the wall at the corner of the fort and it is possible to park close by if you wish to take a closer look.

47th Regiment reached the walls of the fortress on the afternoon of 26 June but 20mm AA guns on the walls prevented Colonel Smythe’s men crossing the wide avenue. Tanks cruised up and down Rue Gambetta while attempts to contact Generalmajor Sattler were made. When all opportunities appeared to have been exhausted the order to attack was given but as Colonel Smythe’s men prepared for the assault, white flags appeared and the doors to the fortress opened. Cherbourg’s final mainland stronghold had surrendered.

There are a number of car parks in front of the Arsenal’s walls if you wish to study the fortress and have a closer look at the German pillboxes. The dual carriageway continues towards the town centre passing a large white building, the Maritime Hospital, to the right 10121. Over 2,500 wounded men, 150 of them captured US soldiers, were discovered inside the building. Place de la Republique is on the right in front of Cherbourg’s main church after ½ mile 9322.

Cherbourg’s liberation ceremony took place in the square on the afternoon of 27 June and a small crowd gathered to watch as General Collins proclaimed the port free. The Hotel de Ville is on the right and a small plaque by the door remembers the first US soldier to reach the building on the night of 26 June. Twenty-year old Sergeant William F Finley was killed in action on 1 April 1945, four weeks before the war ended.

The main road past the church turns alongside the harbour and back to the Tourist Information Centre, completing your tour of Festung Cherbourg.

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