Bombardment of Cherbourg, 1944

German artillery misses the battleship USS Texas during operations to capture the port of Cherbourg on 25 June, 1944. US Navy photo.

Location Cherbourg Penninsula, France

American ground forces had finally advanced to within a mile or so of Cherbourg on 25 June, 1944. This was a critical operation, since the capture of the city would net the Allies a port in France, and mean they were not dependent on the vulnerable Mullberry wharfs that had been constructed immediately following the landings in Normandy. The Germans knew it, too, and had heavy fortifications ready to meet the attack. So the Allies called in their naval forces for support. Battleships USS Nevada, USS Texas, and USS Arkansas, were joined by four cruisers, eleven destroyers, and three minesweepers, to cover the ground attack of the US VII Corps. Arriving on station, the minesweepers began clearing a path for the gun line, but were forced to break off by accurate German fire. A combination of air and ground spotters guided the warships throughout the day, plastering assigned targets and those others that made poor life choices by revealing themselves. The Germans continued to accurately return fire, but suffered from a plague of dud shells, resulting in little physical damage. The bombardment had been scheduled to end at 1:30 in the afternoon, but it was extended due to several German batteries remaining active. In addition to German artillery, Panzers and pillboxes were pounded by gunfire, guided by the spotters. VII Corps entered Cherbourg that afternoon, and the Allied warships headed for home, with the cruiser USS Tuscaloosa finishing her last fire mission at a range of some fifteen miles as she withdrew. VII Corps was very appreciative of the help, and the Germans blamed the rapid fall of the city to the naval fire support.