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Carentan is a small rural town near the north-eastern base of the French Cotentin Peninsulamarker in Normandy in north-western Francemarker near the port city of Cherbourg-Octevillemarker. Carentan has a population somewhat over 6,000 and is now administratively organized as a commune in the Manchemarker department and was a strategic early goal of the WW-II landings as capturing the town was necessary to link the lodgements at Utahmarker and Omaha beachesmarker which were divided by the Douve Rivermarker estuary (Nearby fields were flooded by the Germans up to the town's outskirts). The town was also needed as an intermediate staging position for the capture of the cities of Cherbourgmarker and Octeville, with the critically important port facilities in Cherbourg.


Carentan is also close to the sites of the medieval Battle of Formignymarker of the Hundred Years' War. The town is also likely the site of the historical references to the ancient gallic port (documented by Roman sources) as Crociatonum a possession of the Unelli (or Veneli or also Venelli) tribe (Greek: Οὐένελοι) as it is situated on the Douve Rivermarker slightly inland from the beaches at Normandy geographically, such gentle terrain as is nearby down the river valley is excellent for boat building

In World War II Carentan became famous as it was set up as a German strong point that was captured during the first week of battle of Normandy in hard fighting between the 10-12th of June, 1944 by the 101st United States Airborne Division and achieved further fame in the second phase of the battle for Carentan, Cherbourgmarker, and the Cotentin peninsula when the German forces counter-attacked in strength creating a meeting engagement slightly to the town's south-west that is known and studied separately in War Colleges as the Battle of Bloody Gulch.

The Battle of Bloody Gulch was the final part two days removed from the Battle of Carentanmarker and one more step towards the battle of Battle of Cherbourg in the campaign as the Light Infantry forces of the American paratroop division fought to expand the American lodgement across the peninsula towards the South-west to secure and cut off the tip of the peninsula in that perilous invasion phase of World War II only to meet German armor forces counterattacking along the same axis.

Because of this fight in defense of the town against counterattack, the battle and the battle for Carentanmarker have consequently entered into the popular culture through extensive treatment in film and other media.
Carentan cathedral

In the early hours of June 6, the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Divisions landed at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula. Although the landings were scattered, they nevertheless secured most of the routes by which the U.S. VII Corps would advance from Utah Beachmarker, the rightmost flank of the allied forces separated from the landings at Omaha and the other beachheads by the Douve River valley. The U.S. 4th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach shortly after dawn with few casualties, and began staging for a move against the fortified port of Cherbourg, for a port was critical to allied operations.

In the immediate aftermath of the landings, the priority for the invaders at Utah Beach was to link up with the main Allied landings further west, and this job was tasked to the 101st division, who had landed in the area and had been conducting raids against inland targets mainly artillery emplacements helping secure and cut off the landings from such threats as well as reinforements. On June 9, the 101st Airborne Division had reorganized sufficiently from the haphazard scattering of its component units and managed to cross the flooded Douve River valleymarker exploiting their superior training and utilizing the few causeways passing through the flooded fields, and they captured Carentan the next day after a dawn attack in the all-day hard fought house to house fighting in the Battle of Carentanmarker, where the German troops fought from strong prepared positions amongst the stone houses of the town. The capture of the town gave the invaders a continuous front joining Omahamarker to Utah Beachmarker and the other three lodgements to the east of Utah. Possession of the town was maintained despite an German armor reinforced counterattack just to the south-west of town on the 13th known as the Battle of Bloody Gulch.

On 15 June, engineers of the Ninth Air Force IX Engineering Command began construction of a combat Advanced Landing Ground for fighter aircraft south of the town. Declared operational on 25 June, the airfield was designated as "A-10marker". It was used by P-47 Thunderbolts of the 50th Fighter Group until mid-August, then as a support airfield for supplies and evacuation of wounded personnel until November when it was closed. Today, a small private airfield is located on part of the wartime facility.

Popular culture

Carentan has been featured in many World War II themed games and TV series, including the computer games Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 as a multiplayer map. This map was later remade for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, under the name 'Chinatown'. It was also featured in Company of Heroes, Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30, Brothers In Arms: Earned in Blood and Battlefield 1942 as the map "Bocage". Carentan was also featured in the HBO World War II series Band of Brothers.

101st Airborne March

The "101st Airborne March" was composed by Daniel Bourdelès, a Norman composer, for the celebration of the liberation of Carentan, in June 1944. This march created in Carentan is extracted from the CD "Carentan, the sky memory" (1994), produced by the town. It is regularly used as a musical illustration for the Normandy liberation films on France3 regional TV. You can hear it .


Twinned Town

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