Battle For Cherbourg, France
25 June 1944


  After the 18 June return to Plymouth, England, TEXAS would be involved in one more combat role in Northern France, the capture of Cherbourg.

As the Allied army in France increased in size, the ability to supply the force through the Normandy beachhead was inadequate. The closest port for supply entry was Cherbourg on the northern coast of the Carentan Peninsula. To support the army assault on the city, the Navy was to provide gunfire support

The Attack Plan

The plan called for NEVADA, with gun range almost that of the German range of 40,000 yards, to knock out Battery 2.

TEXAS, ARKANSAS and 5 destroyers would then enter FSA 3 (Fire Support Area) from the east via FSA 2.


Last Minute Change

On 25 June, Task Group 129.2 departed Portland, England for the Cherbourg area. At 0955, the group entered FSA 2. At the same the Group commander, Admiral C.F. Bryant, received a flash message that NEVADA had been diverted to Cherbourg and would not attack the 280mm guns. The group would have to get past German guns that could fire about twice as far. At 1114, the group moved into Approach Channel 3 and closer to the German guns. The group was forced to move at a slow speed behind minesweeper, making the group easy targets for the Germans. At 1208, ARKANSAS fired at a target spotted by a shore fire control party. There was no German counter fire.


The Battle Begins
At 1229, the Germans begin firing and immediately the destroyers BARTON and LAFFEY are hit and TEXAS is straddled. Serving aboard the BARTON was the actor Robert Montgomery.  The LAFFEY, in the Pacific in 1945, was attacked by 21 kamikaze airplanes but stays afloat.


1st Shell Hit On BB35:  At 1234, a 6" shell struck TEXAS on the port side below the waterline. The shell did not penetrate the side and exploded in the water. The resulting geyser sent water 80 feet up to the Admiral's bridge. Fragments of other shells also hit her.

At 1239 TEXAS started maneuvering to thwart enemy gunnery and began counter fire . The next 2 1/2 hours were spent in an exchange of gunfire with TEXAS hurling 208 14" shells and the German fire straddling TEXAS 65 times.

The destroyers also fired their 5" guns and are fired upon. At 1351 the destroyer O'BRIEN was hit but remained in action.

Turrets 4 and 5 firing


Near Misses
 
     

Captain Charles Baker, BB35 Captain, kept his position on the Navigation Bridge. The ship's captain was to be in the Conning Tower during battle due to it's armor protection but visibility was poor due it's lower elevation and the restricted openings in the view port. He constantly dashed from one side to the other observing German shell splashes and determining course and-or speed changes.

LeGrande Moody, BB35 Chaplin, was also on the bridge. He was the eyes and ears for the crew because most of them were below the main deck and could not see the situation. The Chaplain would keep the crew informed via the ship-wide public address system about what he could see and hear.

   

2nd Shell Hit

 

   It was immediately following a course change that TEXAS was hit at 1316. Captain Baker was outside the Bridge on one of the observation wings and was knocked down to the deck but not wounded. He shifted control to the Executive Officer in the Conning Tower and firing continued without interruption.



The medical staff were dealing with sever trauma and massive blood loss. On hand though was 250 pints of live blood given by the crew in preparation for battle casualties. For the family of Christen Christensen, everyone aboard gave to a collection with no one being allowed to give more then $1. Shortly after being hit, TEXAS did destroy one of the four German guns. The other 3 guns continued to fire.
   
Fire Control Booth (interior-aft in the Conning Tower): On the deck is part of the gun director, which crashed to the deck when the 280mm shell sheared off the external section when the shell hit the top of the Conning Tower. The Gunnery Officer was injured when struck by the director

3nd Shell Hit
At 1500, the engagement was broken off and the Group returned to Portland, England, arriving on the 26th. Just before disengagement, an unexploded 240mm shell was discovered at 1447, frame 19, half deck, port side, in Stateroom 20, quarters for a Warrant Officer. The horizontal line below entry point is the torpedo blister, which is the upper edge of the lower casemate armor.





 



After The Battle

Arriving in Portland, England, on the 25th, the shell was removed. After being deactivated, it is brought back and still there today.

Below is a letter from the EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) officer who deactivated the shell.

  After shell is deactivated back aboard.
Left: Admiral Bryant   Right: Captain Baker




















BB35 left Portland on the 26th entering Plymouth the same day. The next day TEXAS went into Devonport Dockyard, in Plymouth, for battle repairs till July 4th

Departed Plymouth on 4 July, and entered Belfast, Northern Ireland the next day.

   240mm shell deactivation  

Started 11 May 1999 by Chuck Moore, FTV (1st Texas Volunteers) a Battleship Texas volunteer group - Donate Your Time And Support The Battleship Texas