Fort du Roule
Fort du Roule stood at the northwest end of a high ridge overlooking Cherbourg. Its high walls protected a garrison equipped to hold out indefinitely, as indeed they were ordered to do. The fort was the key to the city and needed to be taken to secure Cherbourg entirely, so the 314th Infantry Regiment settled into a good old-fashioned siege on 22 June. After three days of bitter fighting, the 314th finally forced the surrender of the fort, and ended the battle of Cherbourg on the following day, 26 June.
La Hay du Puits
After Cherbourg, the division marched south to join the Allied front line at La Hay du Puits. There the division faced the horrors of bocage fighting. Once again the battle hinged upon the high ground, known as Hill 95, but more commonly referred to as ‘Bloody Hill’ by the men of the 79th.
German artillery hit the infantrymen hard as they attacked the hill, but the doughboy’s own ‘Div Arty’ responded in kind, with interest. One GI remembered the counterbattery fire as ‘the prettiest damned precision artillery in this man’s war.’ The Germans buckled under the pressure as the 314th Infantry Regiment pushed right up behind the rolling barrage taking their first few objectives in the town on 4 July. After four more days of fighting in the town and on Bloody Hill, the La Hay du Puits area finally fell into Allied hands.
The Seine Loop
As a follow-up division in Operation Cobra, the 79th fought its way to a loop in the Seine River and secured a crossing near Mantes-Gassicourt. The 79th held for five days against repeated attacks from German aircraft and ground troops. By 28 August, the 79th won the vital crossing and with that the doughboys joined in the race across France.