Image size: 1600 x 1308 pixel. 472 KB
Date: Tuesday, 27 June 1944
Place: Cherbourg-Octeville, Manche Department, Basse-Normandie, France
This dead young German Luftwaffe soldier wearing Zeltbahn M31 was one of the "last stand" defenders of German-held Cherbourg. Captain Earl J. Topley from St. Paul, Minnesota (left), who led one of the first outfits into the fallen city, blamed him for killing three of his men, until they got him with a grenade. France, 27 June 1944. The speed with which Cherbourg fell demoralised many German generals. Once the original landings had succeeded, and it became clear that the Allies were not going to be swept back into the seas, the Germans knew that they could only win if they could move reinforcements to the front quicker than the Allies. Like the Allies they underestimated how much could be done on the beaches, and believed that the capture of a major port was essential. As a result every major port was heavily fortified, but the fall of Cherbourg made it clear that even the best fortifications could be beaten, and quickly.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration ARC Identifier: 531214