Spearhead of the Attack
It was less than three days after the beach landings at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, that allied commanders issued orders for the second phase of beachhead operations to begin. Though German resistance was weakening, any further delay in increasing the lodgement to its desired depth could allow enemy reinforcements to retake the assaulted positions. Allied commanders considered a German counterattack to be highly likely.
During the evening of June 8, V Corps issued orders directing an attack, designed to continue the forward movements that were already underway. The 1st Infantry Division’s objectives - and those of the 18th Infantry Regiment - were to be found along the high ground west of the Drome River and on the right flank of the Corps’ assault. This area, known as the Cerisy Forest, was thought to be an assembly area for numerous enemy forces.
On June 9, the 18th Infantry Regiment advanced along a front, 4,000 yards wide, on the Bayeux-St. Lo Highway, with Vaubadon and la Commune as objectives. The enemy offered stubborn resistance from several strong point positions, but they were eventually overwhelmed by the courageous determination of the men of the 18th Infantry Regiment.
The scene depicted in this incredible print, SPEARHEAD OF THE ATTACK, portrays one squad of infantrymen under the leadership of SSGWalter Ehlers during the assault of June 9-10, 1944. Near Goville, France, SSG Ehlers courageously led his men to knock out several machine gun and mortar positions, often exposing himself to enemy fire, thereby eliminating stubborn German strong points and pushing forward the advance of the 18th Infantry Regiment. For his actions during this assault, SSG Ehlers would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his "intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness."
Immediately following the assault, on June 11, the men of the 1st Infantry Division and V Corps concentrated on consolidating the hard-fought gains during their rapid advance the previous two days. For allied forces, the successful push forward would continue, with the men of the 18th Infantry Regiment forming the SPEARHEAD OF THE ATTACK.
This work was commissioned by the Soldiers of Task Force 1-18, Baghdad and Ta’Meem, Iraq 2006-2007, and dedicated to our fallen comrades. May the souls of America’s bravest find eternal peace.
Image Size: 25" x 15"
Overall Size: 31" x 21.5"
Publisher Proof Edition