Le Merderet


The Bridges over the Douve and the Merderet
The paras of 101st Airborne advanced towards the bridges over the Douve. At 0430 hours, a small group of men, led by Captain Shettle of 3rd Battalion, 506th Regiment, set up positions on the west bank opposite the Germans defending the approaches to Carentan. Thirty minutes later, Colonel Johnson (501st Regiment) along with 50 men arrived at their objective, the lock at la Barquette across the Douve estuary north of Carentan.
The drops to the west of the Merderet were the least successful of any in this sector. Several days were necessary for the men of 82nd Airborne to rejoin their units. Despite this handicap, General Gavin, with men from 507th and 508th Regiments, seized the bridges over the Merderet, notably at La Fière, shortly after 1100 hours.

Failures on the Merderet and at Crisbecq
The River Merderet and the marshland, which had been flooded by the Germans in the winter of 1941-42, constituted a natural defense between the Germans and the Americans but, it had to be crossed before the Allies could advance towards Cherbourg. Two attempts were carried out on 8th June. The first, to reinforce 2nd Battalion of 507th Regiment, isolated to the east of Amfreville, resulted in failure at 2300 hours. The second, which led to the crossing of the railway line to the north of La Fière, was also a failure with the American force withdrawing before nightfall.

Crossing the Merderet
The attempt to cross the River Merderet was finally successful following two unsuccessful attempts on 8th June. On 9th June, General Gavin, deputy commander of 82nd Airborne, led an assault across the causeway towards Cauquigny at 1100 hours, enabling the Americans to extend their bridgehead towards the parachutists who had been isolated on the western bank of the Merderet since 6th June. The commander of 82nd Airborne, General Ridgeway, was finally able to set up a temporary command post. The battle of La Fière was over but the Americans had lost a great number of men in the combat here since 6th June.