Some Explanations


Le Plessis-Lastelle

Hill 122
Le Mont-Castre

Seves Island

Why Hill 122, Beaucoudray, Seves Island ?
It is evident that for the not introduced in the military matter, even though their region is familiar to them, these names are unknown.

It is necessary to understand that for practical reasons, the Staff, whichever they are, prefer to baptize their objectives with easy names to remember rather than long descriptions. These naming, echoed in various rungs of the hierarchy, support the memory of those who participated in the fights.

Each one remembers the Trench of the Bayonets, of the Hill of the Pepper or of the Laffaux's Mill. In 44 and 45, there was Utah-Beach, Omaha, the Avenue of the 88, the Valley of Death, the Path of the Purple Heart, etc...

These explanations are not pointless. Every time a Veteran returns, trying to walk in his former tracks, or when a member of a family returns to meet the landscape where suffered or died either his father, his grandfather, his brother or his uncle, they look for Hill 122, for Beaucoudray, for Seves Island.

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Hill 122
Hill 122 indicates very militarily for the Americans the Level 122, more familiarly known in Lower-Normandy under the naming of Mont-Castre. It is a very woody hill which peaks, according to the maps, to 121 or 122 meters over the sea level. Long about 3.000 meters and 1.500 meters wide, it is located East of La-Haye-du-Puits, in the South of Lithaire and on the West of Plessis-Lastelle.

It is doubtless one of the rare places where American and German individual holes are still visible, dug in the vestiges of the Roman fortifications of the Caesar's camp, where about 2.000 years ago, Gauls tried in vain to dislodge the Roman invader.

The 358th and 359th Regiments of the 90th Division became famous there during the fights which lasted from 3 till 12 July 1944.

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A municipality in the South of our Department, La Manche, bears this name. It is known for the tragic events which happened there (French resistants were shot there by Germans) but has not any historic relation with the place which interests us.

To better seize the explanation, it is necessary to admit that it is about a cartographic error.
During the years of occupation, the Germans considered useful to establish maps of our region, in 1/25.000, which doubtless had to facilitate largely their movements.
American Intelligence services, for quite so evident reasons, needed detailed maps, that they realized in the same scale.

However, not to repeat readings already realized by the French cartographic services, specialized services of the two armies, although antagonists, were inspired by the same source: the French Staff map of the IGN ( National Geographic Institute) in 1/80.000 or 1/50.000 type 1889, the readings of which had been realized in the 1830's.

But, once the readings of 1830 made on the spot, a problem settled in the municipality of the Plessis, a dilemma which animated the farms : was it necessary to restore the church already in very poor condition, or was it better to build a new one in a better adapted place, on the placed hillock near the Beaucoudray's farm for example ?

This last solution was retained, the village was reorganized bit by bit around the new church, near the Beaucoudray's farm, and the former ruin returned to campaign.

Naturally, Americans and Germans ignored this adaptation of the local life, and their maps only constituted a modern and coloured replica of our respectable Staff's map.

At the beginning of July 44, the objective assigned to the 357th Regiment is the village surrounding the church. The objective is naturally baptized according to the name on the map. Objective : Beaucoudray.
The church will be again destroyed during these fights, but will be reconstructed afterward, and this time in the same place.

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Seves Island
One thing is sure, there is no island in the swamp which separates the municipalities of Nay, Gonfreville and Saint-Germain-sur-Sèves !

During the preparation of the attack of July 22 against Saint-Germain-sur-Sèves, the Staff of the 90th Division notices that on the map, the objective has the form of an egg veined of a network of black lines indicating the roads, in the middle of a colorful low plain of blue lines indicating swamp and brooks. A single road connects this isolated ground with the "continent".
An island would be said really in the middle of the sea, it will be Seves Island. Objective : Seves Island.

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