As the 90th’s artillery battalions organize, the divisional artillery commander, BG John Devine sends liaison and fire direction officers to Ste Mère Eglise to meet up with his former West Point classmate Matt Ridgeway, then directing the fight to consolidate a bridgehead at La Fière.
In the presence of the MG Collins, the corps commander, LTC Norris speaks up, suggesting that his battalion of 155mm guns might be able to support the attack to secure the causeway if it were delayed by two hours. On his advice, Gavin is delayed. This must have been a delicate calculation. Balanced against the advantage of Norris’s guns, waiting two hours meant the Germans would be better organized and might even launch a counterattack.
Norris went farther forward to make his observations. Elements of the German 1057/91 Airlanding Division had not been able to consolidate their defense of Craquigny and were still obliged to engage with the paratroopers assembled in an orchard just east of Amfreville. Writes Norris:
Gavin, from outside the foxhole, nonchalantly showed us what he wanted hit. Bob [345th’s operations officer] then conducted a brilliant adjustment of fire on Gavin’s preferred targets. It was a textbook performance by a superb gunnery officer. Then, we began to await the arrival of all howitzers by 10:30. (The target area involved the German front line, defending against a crossing of the Merderet. Although the range from our howitzers to the target was over five miles, Bob’s calculations were so accurate that the first round landed within fifty hards of the target—a splendid payoff indeed for his countless hours of gunnery and fire-direction training. His rapid three-round adjustment gave the Krauts no warning of the devastating fire that greeted them when the assault began….
Fortunately, all twelve howitzers came into position. At 10:30 we fired. “Battalion 15 rounds as rapidly as possible,” [was the order]. We put 180 rounds of 96-lb HE shells into the most dangerous areas at the end of the causeway. It was quite a help to the assault….
After a costly action carried by 3/325 Glider and C/505 PIR, the bridgehead that would allow the passage of 357/90 was secure. (A detailed account may be found here: http://smallwarsjournal.com/print/12774)