|Edward S. Hamilton
Bis Place du Général de Gaulle • 50190 Périers
|Henri G. Levaufre
on July 27,2019, the Hamilton-Levaufre Space is a place of memory
dedicated to these two exceptional men, but also to the 90th US
Infantry Division, the bombing of Périers, the exodus, the hard
fights at Hill 122 and Sèves Island prior to the liberation of
Périers, the reconstruction, the PLUTO pipeline, etc.
|Edward S. Hamilton||Henri
at Utah-Beach on June 8, 1944, Major Hamilton commanded the 1st
Battalion (about 800 men) of the 357th Regiment of the 90th US Infantry
Division during the fighting for the liberation of Périers.
Ed was a leader of men. On August 7, a few kilometers from Le Mans, his regiment decimated a unit of German soldiers, making 30 dead, 80 wounded and 280 prisoners. The following September 8th, in Meurthe-et-Moselle, he launched a new raid on the German positions which resulted in the destruction of 4 enemy tanks and the capture of 17 prisoners. This new action earned him the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic behavior under enemy fire. Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel, he is seriously wounded on September 10th at Hayange, in Moselle.
was 13 years old at the time of the landing in Normandy. His life is
forever marked by it, and the summer of 1944 will never stop feeding
the daily routine of a life that has become extraordinary. All his
life, he never ceased to know and to make known the history of the 90th
US Infantry Division, that liberated Périers on July 27, 1944.
Appointed as early as 1972 as its official representative in Europe, he
is still today an authority in the knowledge of this unit for which, in
contact with the inhabitants or veterans of both camps, he has
collected an impressive quantity of testimonies on the living
conditions and the fights. His greatest pride is, on the occasion of a
meeting in Heidelberg in 1979, to have brought a new friendship between
yesterday's enemies, the soldiers of the 90th US Infantry Division and
those of the 6th German Parachute Regiment.
|The 90th US
|The first elements of the 90th Infantry Division (2 battalions of the 359th Infantry Regiment attached to the 4th Infantry Division) landed on Utah-Beach in the morning of June 6, 1944. The rest of the division arrived there two days later. On July 22 and 23, 1944, after having successfully crossed the Sèves River and despite the efforts made to stay there, the men of the 358th Infantry Regiment were forced to surrender or to return to their starting line. The fighting was so violent that a truce was negotiated so that each side could recover its wounded abandoned on the battlefield. Of the approximately 35,000 men who had spent 308 days in combat, the 90th Infantry Division counted 2,963 killed, 14,009 wounded, 1,052 missing and 442 prisoners.||Contrary
to the information provided to the bomber crews, Périers does not house
German Headquarters, it is only a crossroads of two major axes. In
Périers the fear is there of course, but the hope of a close liberation
helps to moderate it. We don't have to fear much here in such a small
town... think the inhabitants. On this 8th of June, for the inhabitants
of Périers, it is 8:11 am, the hour when their life will change... And
for 127 of them, it will stop. The 41 planes dropped 213 bombs of 500
pounds, about 50 tons of
explosives. In ruined Périers, the rescue
services are organizing themselves as best as they can, looking for
survivors, burying the dead and treating the wounded. The survival
instinct prevailed. You have to flee, to seek for
a safer shelter in the countryside.
And on June 13, all hell breaks loose again...
word speaks to the people of Normandy that Allied bombing forced to
leave their towns, their villages to seek shelter in the
countryside. The center of the village of Périers is now
in ruins. There are no doctors left to take care of the wounded. Fear
is omnipresent. Most of the time the first goal is to try to reach
another family home or a friendly farm. Then what seems to be essential
for survival is loaded into a cart or a
wheelbarrow. Once on the roads, the danger is not removed, quite the
contrary. Up in the sky, the incessant ballet of allied fighters is on
the lookout for the slightest movement. A vehicle on a road, even
covered with a white sheet, is bound to be suspicious in the eyes of
the young trigger-happy pilots.
summit of Mount Castre has an elevation of 122 meters above sea level,
hence the name of Cote 122, in English Hill 122. The view enjoyed by
German artillery observers from the heights of the mount allows them to
precisely and deadly adjust their guns. The Americans started their
attack from July 3. The Germans held firm and prevented the Americans
from advancing any further: 90% of their losses were due to German
artillery. Disorganised, exhausted and permanently soaked for nearly a
week, the American soldiers had a particularly low morale. The return
of good weather on July 5 made air support possible. The vise will
finally be loosened on July 10 at the cost of heavy losses and thanks
to the intervention of four Sherman tanks of the 712th Tank Battalion
led by Lieutenant Jim Flowers. Mount Castre and the surrounding area
were completely liberated on the 12th.
the evening of July 24,1944, the objective is the capture of Périers
and of other villages further south. The 359th Regiment had to position
itself a few kilometers north of Périers, in front of the Hospital
lane, a dirt road on the edge of the marsh. Enclosed under tall trees
between two thick hedges, the Germans transformed it into a
fortification line. The first difficulty is to succeed in crossing the
Sèves, the river that flows through the open meadows. The Germans had
several tanks at their disposal, which took the American forces in
enfilade. At the end of the day on the 26, unable to hold their
positions because of a lack of support, the men had to resign
themselves to rejoin the position they had left that morning. Out of a
starting strength of 450 men, these 15 hours of uninterrupted fighting
will have cost 72 killed and 176 wounded. After numerous attacks,
Périers is finally liberated in the afternoon of July 27.
bombardments on the mornings of June 8 and June 13, 1944 plus the
artillery shelling during the days leading up to the liberation of July
v, left the center of the town of Périers
almost 80% destroyed. Although the American engineers cleared the two
main roads with bulldozers to ease the
crossing of the tanks of the 4th Armored Division, the clearing of
houses had to be done mostly by hand with shovels, pickaxes and
wheelbarrows. The Prisiais (name of the people of Périers) will be
temporarily housed in wooden barracks, donated by international
solidarity, which will cover all available spots, including places like
the Fairage, the railway station and General Leclerc.
an American armored division requires 228 tons of fuel per day on the
road. A jeep consumes 15 liters of gas per 100 km, a Sherman tank more
than 400 liters for the same distance (average numbers). Every day the
men must be supplied with food, clothing and ammunition, but in a
modern army it is necessary to ensure the supply of fuel for all
vehicles. The answer: an underwater pipeline linking the Isle of Wight
to Cherbourg, which will carry about 3,000 tons of fuel every day. Its
name: PLUTO = Pipe-Line Under The Ocean. From time to time there are
leaks, more or less consequent, and the surrounding civilians hasten to
go and recover the precious liquid using all the available containers,
including the famous Jerrycan, famous in particular among the American
room is dedicated to the projection of films, most of them unpublished,
with many pictures and videos coming from archives. About fifteen sound
and color films are available, in French or English, with the
possibility of subtitling in French, English or German. The choice is
Space is open to the public from the beginning of June to the end of
August. Outside this period, contact 07 73 53 46 11, 06 88 04 27 41 or
06 62 12 29 09, whether for school groups, pensioner groups or others.
Admission is free.
Area fully accessible to people with reduced mobility.