352nd Infantry Division (Wehrmacht) - History - D-Day


The 352nd began its coastal duty by improving the beach obstacles, emplacing mined stakes and timber structures. This involved not only cutting and hauling timber from miles inland but also driving stakes and piles deep into the sand. To fully cover the sector, they needed 10 million mines, but a scant 10,000 were available. The first band of obstacles - about 250 yards (750 ft) out from the waterline at high tide - consisted of Belgian Gates, reinforced iron frames with iron supports that were built atop rollers. Next came a band of mined stakes and log ramps, meant to tear the bottoms out of landing craft or tip them over. Finally, there was a row of metal obstacles, including 'hedgehogs', made of iron rails. Although the Germans had attached mines to many of the obstacles, few of them were waterproofed, and corrosion had long since taken its toll of many of the explosive devices.

The soldiers of the 916th and 726th regiments occupied slit trenches, eight concrete bunkers, 35 pillboxes, six mortar pits, 35 Nebelwerfer (multi-barrel rocket launcher) sites and 85 machine-gun nests. The defenses were clustered in strongpoints.

Early on 6 June 1944, a Kampfgruppe from the 915th Grenadier Regiment, which was the only reserve element of the 352nd Infantry Division, was diverted away from Omaha and Gold beaches and the 101st Airborne Division's drop zones. The regiment spent the morning of 6 June searching the woods for parachutists, believing an airborne division had landed in the area but which turned out to be dummies dropped as part of Operation Titanic.

The 916th Grenadier Regiment saw action during D-Day (Operation Overlord), opposing the US 1st and 29th divisions at Omaha Beach. The 352nd gave a good account of itself, causing many casualties and defending the bluffs above the beach for several hours before being overwhelmed. The 916th retreated in the morning hours of 7 June after the commander, Colonel Ernst Goth, could no longer hold the positions retaken in the night of 6/7 June.

The rest of the division saw heavy fighting in the bocage (or hedgerow) country defending Saint-Lô against the Americans.

Read more about this topic:  352nd Infantry Division (Wehrmacht), History

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