Following developments in the course of the Battle of Verdun by mid June there was discussion about bringing the date of the Somme offensive forward, and 25 th June was agreed to, with 29 th June as the latest date to make the attack. As it happened, the date was moved to 29 th June. But on 28 th June the weather was very wet, causing trenches and gun positions to become waterlogged. The attack was postponed until 1 st July. It continued to rain on the night of 29 th /30 th , but the morning of Saturday 1 st July dawned as a dry day with a cloudless sky, with a mist lying in the river Somme and river Ancre valleys, and the prospect of a warm, sunny day.
Shortly thereafter, the 2nd Panzer Division, (on the left), attacked in two columns, encircled Mortain, overran and captured the village, and advanced towards the high ground west of Mortain, and to the southwest towards St. Hillaire. There was no significant American opposition, and by noon of 7 August, the German troops seemed on the way to St. Hilaire where they could threaten Avranches directly. One thing interfered: a Battalion of 30th Division infantrymen, surrounded, but still holding our on Hill #314, called such devastating artillery fire down on the panzer division, that the Germans were unable to advance after daylight.
The 28th Division had formerly been a component of the Pennsylvania National Guard. After mobilization, the division had been trained for participation in the invasion of France. On July 22, 1944, six weeks after D-Day, the 28th was shipped to France and quickly sent to the front. It fought with distinction throughout the Normandy campaign and, on August 29, had the privilege of representing the United States during celebration ceremonies marking the liberation of Paris. The men of the division did not have an opportunity to enjoy the City of Light, however. After marching through Paris they were immediately sent to the front. Once outside of Paris, the 28th, now under the command of Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota, resumed its eastward journey. On September 7 the division rolled into Luxembourg, crossed the Our River south of Clervaux and became the first Allied division to breach Germany’s vaunted Siegfried Line.