Jason

Operation Overlord

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Operation Overlord

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944 ! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

In June 1940, Germany's leader Adolf Hitler had triumphed in what he called "the most famous victory in history"—the fall of France. British craft evacuated to England over 338,000 Allied troops trapped along the northern coast of France (including much of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF)) in the Dunkirk evacuation (27 May to 4 June). British planners reported to Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 4 October that even with the help of other Commonwealth countries and the United States, it would not be possible to regain a foothold in continental Europe in the near future. After the Axis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin began pressing for a second front in Western Europe. Churchill declined because he felt that even with American help the British did not have adequate forces for such a strike, and he wished to avoid costly frontal assaults such as those that had occurred at the Somme and Passchendaele in World War I. Two tentative plans code-named Operation Roundup and Operation Sledgehammer were put forward for 1942–43, but neither was deemed by the British to be practical or likely to succeed. Instead, the Allies expanded their activity in the Mediterranean, launching the invasion of French North Africa in November 1942, the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and invading Italy in September. These campaigns provided the troops with valuable experience in amphibious warfare.

Attendees at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943 took the decision to launch a cross-Channel invasion within the next year. Churchill favoured making the main Allied thrust into Germany from the Mediterranean theatre, but his American allies, who were providing the bulk of the men and equipment, over-ruled him. The initial plans were constrained by the number of available landing-craft, most of which were already committed in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific. In part because of lessons learned in the Dieppe Raid of 19 August 1942, the Allies decided not to directly assault a heavily defended French seaport in their first landing. Allied planners considered four sites for the landings: Brittany, the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, and the Pas de Calais. As Brittany and Cotentin are peninsulas, the Germans could have cut off the Allied advance at a relatively narrow isthmus, so these sites were rejected.

Pas de Calais, the closest point in continental Europe to Britain, was the location of launch sites for V-1 and V-2 rockets, then still under development. The Germans regarded it as the most likely initial landing zone, and accordingly made it the most heavily fortified region. It offered the Allies few opportunities for expansion, however, as the area is bounded by numerous rivers and canals, whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, and an overland attack towards Paris and eventually into Germany. Normandy was therefore chosen as the landing site. The most serious drawback of the Normandy coast—the lack of port facilities—would be overcome through the development of artificial harbours.

The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of SHAEF. General Bernard Montgomery was named commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all of the land forces involved in the invasion. On 31 December 1943, Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the COSSAC plan, which proposed amphibious landings by three divisions, with two more divisions in support. The two generals immediately insisted on expanding the scale of the initial invasion to five divisions, with airborne descents by three additional divisions, to allow operations on a wider front and to speed up the capture of the port at Cherbourg. Eventually the Allies committed 39 divisions to the Battle of Normandy: 22 American, 12 British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totalling over a million troops all under overall British command.

"Overlord" was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was code-named Operation Neptune. To gain the required air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies launched a bombing campaign (codenamed Operation Pointblank) to target German aircraft-production, fuel supplies, and airfields. Under the Transport Plan, communications infrastructure and road and rail links were bombed to cut off the north of France and to make it more difficult to bring up reinforcements. These attacks were widespread so as to avoid revealing the exact location of the invasion. Elaborate deceptions were planned to prevent the Germans from determining the timing and location of the invasion.

The coastline of Normandy was divided into seventeen sectors, with codenames using a spelling alphabet—from Able, west of Omaha, to Roger on the east flank of Sword. Eight further sectors were added when the invasion was extended to include Utah on the Cotentin Peninsula. Sectors were further subdivided into beaches identified by the colours Green, Red, and White.

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Allied planners envisaged preceding the sea-borne landings with airborne drops: near Caen on the eastern flank to secure the Orne River bridges, and north of Carentan on the western flank. The initial goal was to capture Carentan, Isigny, Bayeux, and Caen. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah and Omaha, were to cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and capture the port facilities at Cherbourg. The British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno, were to capture Caen and form a front line from Caumont-l'Éventé to the south-east of Caen in order to protect the American flank, while establishing airfields near Caen. Possession of Caen and its surroundings would give the Anglo-Canadian forces a suitable staging area for a push south to capture the town of Falaise. A secure lodgement would be established and an attempt made to hold all territory captured north of the Avranches-Falaise line during the first three weeks. The Allied armies would then swing left to advance towards the River Seine.

The invasion fleet, led by Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, was split into the Western Naval Task Force (under Admiral Alan G Kirk) supporting the American sectors and the Eastern Naval Task Force (under Admiral Sir Philip Vian) in the British and Canadian sectors. The American forces of the First Army, led by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, comprised VII Corps (Utah) and V Corps (Omaha). On the British side, Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey commanded the Second Army, under which XXX Corps was assigned to Gold and I Corps to Juno and Sword. Land forces were under the overall command of Montgomery, and air command was assigned to Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory. The First Canadian Army included personnel and units from Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Other Allied nations also participated.

Nazi Germany had at its disposal 50 divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another 18 stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany, but there was no strategic reserve. The Calais region was defended by the 15th Army under Generaloberst (Colonel General) Hans von Salmuth, and Normandy by the 7th Army commanded by Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann. Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, meant the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were Ostlegionen (eastern legions)—conscripts and "volunteers" from Turkestan, Russia, Mongolia, and elsewhere. The Wehrmacht had provided them mainly with unreliable captured equipment; they lacked motorised transport. Formations that arrived later, such as the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, were for the most part younger and far better equipped and trained than the static troops stationed along the coast.

Alarmed by the raids on St Nazaire and Dieppe in 1942, Hitler ordered the construction of fortifications all along the Atlantic coast, from Spain to Norway, to protect against an expected Allied invasion. He envisioned 15,000 emplacements manned by 300,000 troops, but due to shortages, particularly of concrete and manpower, most of the strongpoints were never built. As the expected site of an Allied invasion, Pas de Calais was heavily defended. In the Normandy area the best fortifications were concentrated at the port facilities at Cherbourg and Saint-Malo.

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A report by Rundstedt to Hitler in October 1943 regarding the weak defences in France led to the appointment of Rommel to oversee the construction of further fortifications along the expected invasion-front, which stretched from the Netherlands to Cherbourg. Rommel was given command of the newly re-formed Army Group B, which included the 7th Army, the 15th Army, and the forces guarding the Netherlands. Nazi Germany's tangled command structure made it difficult for Rommel to achieve his task. He was not allowed to give orders to the Organisation Todt, which was commanded by armaments minister Albert Speer, so in some places he had to assign soldiers to do construction work.

Rommel believed that the Normandy coast could be a possible landing point for the invasion, so he ordered the construction of extensive defensive works along that shore. In addition to concrete gun-emplacements at strategic points along the coast, he ordered wooden stakes, metal tripods, mines, and large anti-tank obstacles to be placed on the beach to delay the approach of landing craft and to impede the movement of tanks. Expecting the Allies to land at high tide so that the infantry would spend less time exposed on the beach, he ordered many of these obstacles to be placed at the high-tide mark. Tangles of barbed wire, booby traps, and the removal of ground cover made the approach hazardous for infantry. On Rommel's order, the number of mines along the coast was tripled. Given the Allied air supremacy (4,029 Allied aircraft assigned to operations in Normandy plus 5,514 aircraft assigned to bombing and defence, versus 570 Luftwaffe planes stationed in France and the Low Countries), booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel (Rommel's asparagus) were set up in meadows and fields to deter airborne landings.

Rommel, believing that the Germans' best chance was to stop the invasion at the shore, requested that mobile reserves—especially tanks—be stationed as close to the coast as possible. Rundstedt, General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg (commander of Panzer Group West), and other senior commanders believed that the invasion could not be stopped on the beaches. Geyr argued for a conventional doctrine: keeping the Panzer formations concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen and deploying them only when the main Allied beachhead had been identified. Geyr also noted that in the Italian Campaign the armour stationed near the coast had been damaged by naval bombardment. Rommel's opinion was that because of the overwhelming Allied air superiority, large-scale movement of tanks would not be possible once the invasion was underway. Hitler made the final decision: he left three divisions under Geyr's command and gave Rommel operational control of three tank-divisions as reserves. Hitler took personal control of four divisions as strategic reserves, not to be used without his direct orders.

Lt.Chris and Pilgrim like this

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So retire like me :P

I believe the intention is for the US stuff to run alongside Chris' German stuff so you should be able to catch at least one op

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Week 1

Eisenhower_d-day.jpg

Mission Albany was a parachute combat assault at night by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division on June 6, 1944, part of the American airborne landings in Normandy during World War II. It was the opening step of Operation Neptune, the assault portion of the Allied invasion of Normandy, Operation Overlord. 6,928 paratroopers made their jumps from 443 C-47 Skytrain troop carrier planes into an intended objective area of roughly 15 square miles (39 km2) located in the southeast corner of the Cotentin Peninsula of France five hours ahead of the D-Day landings. The landings were badly scattered by bad weather and German ground fire over an area twice as large, with some troops dropped as far as 20 miles (32 km) away.

The division took most of its objectives on D-Day, but required four days to consolidate its scattered units and complete its mission of securing the left flank and rear of the U.S. VII Corps, reinforced by 2,300 glider infantry troops who landed by sea.

The 101st Airborne Division's objectives were to secure the four causeway exits behind Utah Beach, destroy a German coastal artillery battery at Saint-Martin-de-Varreville, capture buildings nearby at Mésières believed used as barracks and a command post for the artillery battery, capture the Douve River lock at la Barquette (opposite Carentan), capture two footbridges spanning the Douve at la Porte opposite Brévands, destroy the highway bridges over the Douve at Sainte-Come-du-Mont, and secure the Douve River valley.

In the process units would also disrupt German communications, establish roadblocks to hamper the movement of German reinforcements, establish a defensive line between the beachhead and Valognes, clear the area of the drop zones to the unit boundary at Les Forges, and link up with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.

German forces opposing the operation included the 3rd Battalion, 1058th Grenadier Regiment (91st Air Landing Division) in the vicinity of Saint Come-du-Mont, the 919th Grenadier Regiment (709th Infantry Division) behind Utah Beach, the 191st Artillery Regiment (105mm mountain howitzer, 91st AL Div), and the 6th Parachute Regiment, sent to Carentan during D-Day.

Albany was the first of two parachute missions, with "Mission Boston" following it by one hour to drop the 82nd Airborne Division. Each mission consisted of three regiment-sized air landings. The drop zones of the 101st Airborne Division were east and south of Sainte-Mère-Église and lettered A, C, and D from north to south (Drop Zone B had been that of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) before changes to the original landing plan made on May 27).

Each of its parachute infantry regiments was transported by three or four "serials" (formations containing 36, 45, or 54 C-47s), totalling ten serials and 432 aircraft. The planes, individually numbered within a serial by "chalk numbers" (literally numbers chalked on the airplanes to aid paratroopers in boarding the correct airplane), were organized into flights in trail, in a close pattern called "vee's of vee's" (3 planes in triangular vee's arranged in a larger vee of 9 planes). The serials were scheduled over the drop zones at 6-minute intervals. The paratroopers were organized into "sticks", a plane load of troops numbering 15-18 men.

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The main combat jumps were preceded at each drop zone by three teams of pathfinders that arrived thirty minutes before the main assault to set up navigation aids, including Eureka radar transponder beacons and marker lights, to aid the C-47s in locating the DZs in the dark.

To achieve surprise, the parachute drops were routed to approach Normandy at low altitude from the west. The serials took off beginning at 2230 on June 5, assembled into formations, and flew southwest over the English Channel at 500 feet (150 m) MSL to remain below German radar coverage. Once over water all lights except formation lights were turned off, and these were reduced to their lowest practical intensity. At a stationary marker boat code-named "Hoboken" and carrying a Eureka beacon they made a left turn to the southeast and flew between the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Alderney to their initial point on the Cotentin coast at Portbail, code-named "Muleshoe".

Over the Cotentin Peninsula numerous factors negatively affected the accuracy of the drops, including a solid cloud bank over the entire western half of the 22 miles (35 km) wide peninsula at penetration altitude (1500 feet MSL), an opaque ground fog over many drop zones,and intense German antiaircraft fire ("flak"). The weather conditions broke up and dispersed many formations and the ground fire scattered them even more. However the primary factor limiting success of the paratroop units, because it magnified all the errors resulting from the above factors, was the decision to make a massive parachute drop at night.

Drop Zone A

The paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" jumped between 00:48 and 01:40 British Double Summer Time on June 6. The first wave, inbound to Drop Zone A (the northernmost), was not surprised by the cloud bank and maintained formation, but navigating errors and a lack of Eureka signal caused the first error. Although the 2nd Battalion, 502nd PIR was dropped as a compact unit, it jumped on the wrong drop zone, while its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Steve A. Chappuis, came down virtually alone on the correct drop zone. Chappuis and this stick captured the coastal battery soon after assembling, and found that it had already been dismantled after an air raid.

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Most of the remainder of the 502nd PIR (70 of 80 groups) dropped in a disorganized pattern around the impromptu drop zone set up by the pathfinders near the beach. The commanders of the 1st and 3rd Battalions, Lieutenant Colonels Patrick J. Cassidy and Robert G. Cole, took charge of small groups and accomplished all of their D-Day missions. Cassidy's group took Saint Martin-de-Varreville by 06:30, sent a patrol under Staff Sergeant Harrison C. Summers to seize the "XYZ" objective, a barracks at Mésières, and set up a thin line of defense from Foucarville to Beuzeville. Cole's group moved during the night from near Saint Mère Église to the Varreville battery, then continued on and captured Exit 3 at 07:30. They held the position during the morning until relieved by troops moving inland from Utah Beach. Both commanders found Exit 4 covered by German artillery fire and Cassidy recommended to the 4th Infantry Division that it not use the exit.

The division's parachute artillery did not fare nearly as well. Its drop was one of the worst of the operation, losing all but one howitzer and dropping all but two of 54 loads four to twenty miles (32 km) to the north, where most ultimately became casualties.

Drop Zone C

The second wave, assigned to drop the 506th PIR on Drop Zone C one mile (1.6 km) west of Sainte Marie-du-Mont, was badly dispersed by the clouds, then subjected to intense antiaircraft fire for ten miles (16 km). Three of the 81 C-47s were lost before or during the jump. One, piloted by First Lieutenant Marvin F. Muir of the 439th Troop Carrier Group, caught fire. Muir held the aircraft steady while the men jumped, then died when the plane crashed immediately afterward, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Despite the opposition, the 506th's 1st Battalion (the original division reserve) was dropped accurately on DZ C, landing 2/3 of its sticks and the 506th's regimental commander, Colonel Robert Sink, on or within a mile of the drop zone.

The 2nd Battalion, much of which had jumped too far west near Sainte Mère Église, eventually assembled near Foucarville at the northern edge of the 101st Airborne Division's objective area. It fought its way to the hamlet of le Chemin near the Houdienville causeway by mid-afternoon, but found that the 4th Division had already seized the exit hours before. The 3rd Battalion of the 501st PIR, flown by the 435th TCG, was also assigned to jump onto DZ C, however it was partly scattered. BG Taylor, jumping from the lead aircraft of the 435th, landed on the DZ and assessed the situation and decided to take over the mission of securing the exits. An ad hoc company-sized team that included the division commander, Major General Maxwell D. Taylor, reached the Pouppeville exit at 0600. After a six-hour house-clearing battle with elements of the German 1058th Grenadier Regiment, the group secured the exit shortly before 4th Division troops arrived to link up.

Drop Zone D

The third wave also encountered severe flak, losing 6 aircraft. The troop carriers still made an accurate drop, placing 94 of 132 sticks on or close to the drop zone, but part of the DZ was covered by pre-registered German machine gun and mortar fire that inflicted heavy casualties before many troops could get out of their chutes. Among the killed were two of the three battalion commanders and the executive officer (XO) of the 3rd Battalion, 506th PIR.

The surviving battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Ballard, gathered 250 troopers and advanced toward Saint Côme-du-Mont to complete his mission of destroying the highway bridges over the Douve. Less than half a mile from his objective at les Droueries he was stopped by elements of battalion III./1058 Grenadier-Rgt. Another group of 50 men, assembled by the regimental S-3, Major Richard J. Allen, attacked the same area from the east at Basse-Addeville but was also pinned down.

The commander of the 501st PIR, Colonel Howard R. Johnson, collected 150 troops and captured the main objective, the la Barquette lock, by 04:00. After establishing defensive positions, Colonel Johnson went back to the drop zone and assembled another 100 men, including Allen's group, to reinforce the bridgehead. Despite naval gunfire support from the cruiser Quincy, Ballard's battalion was unable to take Saint Côme-du-Mont or join Colonel Johnson.

The S-3 officer of the 3rd Battalion, 506th, Captain Charles G. Shettle, put together a platoon and achieved another objective by seizing two foot bridges near la Porte at 04:30 and crossed to the east bank. When their ammunition drew low after knocking out several machine gun emplacements, the small force withdrew to the west bank. It doubled in size overnight as stragglers came in, and repulsed a German probe across the bridges.

Other actions

Two other noteworthy actions took place near Sainte Marie-du-Mont by units of the 506th PIR, both of which involved the seizure and destruction of batteries of 105mm howitzers of the German III Battalion-191st Artillery Regiment. During the morning, a squad-size patrol of troopers, mainly from Company E of the 506th PIR under First Lieutenant Richard Winters overwhelmed a force 3-4 times its size and destroyed four guns at Brécourt Manor.

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Around noon, while reconnoitering the area by jeep, Colonel Sink, commanding the 506th PIR, received word that a second battery of four guns had been discovered at Holdy, a manor between his CP and Sainte Marie-du-Mont, and the defenders had a force of some 70 paratroopers pinned down. Captain Lloyd E. Patch (Headquarters Company, 1st/506th) and Captain Knut H. Raudstein (Company C of the 506th PIR)[7] led an additional 70 paratroops to Holdy and enveloped the position. The combined force then continued on to seize Sainte Marie-du-Mont. A platoon of the 502nd PIR, left to hold the battery, destroyed three of the four guns before Colonel Sink could send four jeeps to save them for the 101st Airborne Division's use.

At the end of D-Day, Major General Taylor and the commander of the 101st Airborne Division Artillery, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe returned from their foray at Pouppeville. Taylor had control of approximately 2,500 of his 6,600 men, most of which were in the vicinity of the 506th CP at Culoville, with the thin defense line west of Saint Germain-du-Varreville, or the division reserve at Blosville. Two glider airlifts had brought in scant reinforcements and had resulted in the death of his assistant division commander (ADC), Brigadier General Don Pratt. The 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) had come across Utah Beach but only its third battalion (1st Battalion, 401st GIR) had reported in.

The 101st Airborne Division had accomplished its most important mission of securing the beach exits, but had a tenuous hold on positions near the Douve River, over which the Germans could still move armored units. The three groups clustered there had tenuous contact with each other but none with the rest of the division. A shortage of radio equipment caused by losses during the drops exacerbated his control problems. Major General Taylor made destroying the Douve bridges the division's top priority and delegated the task to Colonel Sink, who issued orders for the 1st Battalion, 401st GIR to lead three battalions south the next morning.

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Week 2

By May 1944, 1.5 million American troops had arrived in the United Kingdom. Most were housed in temporary camps in the south-west of England, ready to move across the Channel to the western section of the landing zone. British and Canadian troops were billeted in accommodation further east, spread from Southampton to Newhaven, and even on the east coast for men who would be coming across in later waves. A complex system called Movement Control assured that the men and vehicles left on schedule from twenty departure points. Some men had to board their craft nearly a week before departure. The ships met at a rendezvous point (nicknamed "Piccadilly Circus") south-east of the Isle of Wight to assemble into convoys to cross the Channel. Minesweepers began clearing lanes on the evening of 5 June, and a thousand bombers left before dawn to attack the coastal defences. Some 1,200 aircraft departed England just before midnight to transport three airborne divisions to their drop zones behind enemy lines several hours before the beach landings.

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The American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned objectives on the Cotentin Peninsula west of Utah. The British 6th Airborne Division was assigned to capture intact the bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne. The Free French 4th SAS battalion of 538 men was assigned objectives in Brittany (Operation Dingson, Operation Samwest). The airborne landings west of Utah were not very successful, as only ten per cent of the paratroopers landed in their drop zones. Gathering the men together into fighting units was made difficult by a shortage of radios and by the terrain, with its hedgerows, stone walls and marshes. The 82nd Airborne Division captured its primary objective at Sainte-Mère-Église and worked to protect the western flank. Its failure to capture the river crossings at the River Merderet resulted in a delay in sealing off the Cotentin Peninsula. The 101st Airborne Division helped protect the southern flank and captured the lock on the River Douve at La Barquette, but did not capture the assigned nearby bridges on the first day.

Some 132,000 men were transported by sea on D-Day, and a further 24,000 came by air. Preliminary naval bombardment commenced at 05:45 and continued until 06:25 from five battleships, twenty cruisers, sixty-five destroyers, and two monitors. Infantry began arriving on the beaches at around 06:30.

The craft bearing the U.S. 4th Infantry Division assaulting Utah were pushed by the current to a spot about 1,800 metres (2,000 yd) south of their intended landing zone. The troops met light resistance, suffering fewer than 200 casualties. Their efforts to push inland fell far short of their targets for the first day, but they were able to advance about 4 miles (6.4 km), making contact with the 101st Airborne Division. At Pointe du Hoc, the task for the two hundred men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder, was to scale the 30 metres (98 ft) cliffs with ropes and ladders to destroy the gun battery located there. While under fire from above, the men scaled the cliff, only to discover that the guns had already been withdrawn. The Rangers located the weapons, unguarded but ready to use, in an orchard some 550 metres (600 yd) south of the point, and disabled them. Under attack, the men at the point became isolated, and some were captured. By dawn on D+1, Rudder had only 90 men able to fight. Relief did not come until D+2, when members of the 743rd Tank Battalion arrived.

At Gold, high winds made conditions difficult for the landing craft, and the amphibious DD tanks were landed close to shore or directly on the beach instead of further out as planned. Aerial attacks had failed to hit the Le Hamel strong point, and its 75 mm gun continued to do damage until 16:00. On the western flank, the 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment captured Arromanches (future site of Mulberry "B"), and contact was made on the eastern flank with the Canadian forces at Juno. The ruins of Mulberry Harbour B are still visible in the town of Arromanches to this day.

Landings of infantry at Juno were delayed because of rough seas, and the men arrived ahead of their supporting armour, suffering many casualties while disembarking. Most of the offshore bombardment had missed the German defences. In spite of these difficulties, the Canadians quickly cleared the beach and created two exits to the villages above. Delays in taking Bény-sur-Mer led to congestion on the beach, but by nightfall the contiguous Juno and Gold beachheads covered an area 12 miles (19 km) wide and 7 miles (10 km) deep. Casualties at Juno were 961 men.

On Sword, 21 of 25 DD tanks succeeded in getting safely ashore to provide cover for the infantry, who began disembarking at 07:30. They quickly cleared the beach and created several exits for the tanks. In the windy conditions, the tide came in more quickly than expected, making manoeuvring the armour difficult. The 2nd Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry advanced on foot to within a few kilometres of Caen, but had to withdraw due to lack of armour support. At 16:00, the German 21st Panzer Division mounted a counterattack between Sword and Juno and nearly succeeded in reaching the coast. They met stiff resistance from the British 3rd Infantry Division and were soon recalled to assist in the area between Caen and Bayeux.

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Omaha, the most heavily defended sector, was assigned to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, supplemented by troops from the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. They faced the 352nd Infantry Division, rather than the expected single regiment. Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or delayed them. Casualties were heavier than all the other landings combined, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above. Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to offer supporting artillery fire. Exit from Omaha was possible only via five gullies, and by late morning barely six hundred men had reached the higher ground. By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. They also started clearing the draws of enemy defences so that vehicles could move off the beach. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives were accomplished by D+3.

The first components of the Mulberry harbours were brought across on D+1 and the structures were in use for unloading by mid-June. One was constructed at Arromanches by the British, the other at Omaha by the Americans. Severe storms on 19 June interrupted the landing of supplies and destroyed the Omaha harbour. The repaired Arromanches harbour was able to receive around 6,000 tons of materiel daily and was in continuous use for the next ten months, but most shipments were brought in over the beaches until the port of Cherbourg was cleared of mines and obstructions on 16 July.

Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. The Germans lost 1,000 men. The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah), linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches; none of these objectives were achieved. The five beachheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep. Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

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Week 3

The Battle of Carentan was an engagement in World War II between airborne forces of the United States Army and the German Wehrmacht during the Battle of Normandy. The battle took place between 10 and 15 June 1944, on the approaches to and within the city of Carentan, France.

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The objective of the attacking American forces was consolidation of the U.S. beachheads (Utah Beach and Omaha Beach) and establishment of a continuous defensive line against expected German counterattacks. The defending German force attempted to hold the city long enough to allow reinforcements en route from the south to arrive, prevent or delay the merging of the lodgements, and keep the U.S. First Army from launching an attack towards Lessay-Périers that would cut off the Cotentin Peninsula.

Carentan was defended by two battalions of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 (6th Parachute Regiment) of the 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division and two Ost battalions. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division, ordered to reinforce Carentan, was delayed by transport shortages and attacks by Allied aircraft. The attacking 101st Airborne Division, landed by parachute on 6 June as part of the American airborne landings in Normandy, was ordered to seize Carentan.

In the ensuing battle, the 101st forced passage across the causeway into Carentan on 10 and 11 June. A lack of ammunition forced the German forces to withdraw on 12 June. The 17th SS PzG Division counter-attacked the 101st Airborne on 13 June. Initially successful, its attack was thrown back by Combat Command A (CCA) of the U.S. 2nd Armoured Division.

On 9 June the 101st finished consolidating, with the 502nd PIR guarding the right flank along the upper Douve River, the 506th PIR deployed across the Carentan highway, and the 327th GIR on the left in positions along the Douve River opposite Brévands. The 501st PIR was the division's reserve and guarding the left flank east of the 327.

Patrols and aerial reconnaissance of Carentan indicated that the town might be lightly defended, and a plan to capture the city by a double envelopment was contrived, using the 502nd PIR on the right and the 327th GIR on the left, scheduled to jump off just after midnight 10 June. Then 502nd's mission was to force the bridges and capture high ground southwest of the town along the Périers highway (Hill 30) to block withdrawal. The 327th was to cross the Douve at Brévands, circle a mile to the east, and come in on the road west from Isigny to take the town.

Purple Heart Lane, 10 June

Leading the attack of the 502nd, the 3rd Battalion (3rd/502nd PIR) under Lt Col. Robert G. Cole found Bridge No. 2 (the Douve bridge) not repaired and the engineers assigned to the task pinned down by fire from an 88mm gun. Cole sent his S-2, 1st Lt. Ralph B. Gehauf, with a patrol across the river in a small boat. They made their way to the last bridge, which they found blocked by a Belgian gate. The patrol was able to push the obstacle aside only 18 inches, just enough for one soldier at a time to negotiate. The patrol soon came under flare illumination, mortar, and machine gun fire and eventually returned at 05:30, when the attack was postponed. Most of the fire appeared to be coming from a large farmhouse and a hedgerow on higher ground 250 yards to the right of the highway beyond Bridge No. 4.

The 327th GIR's 1st and 2nd Battalions crossed the Douve River during the early morning hours of 10 June. 1st Battalion received friendly fire casualties from US mortars during the crossing by rubber boat. Some units waded across the river. After reaching the east bank in the early daylight hours the 327th GIR swung south towards Catz. 1st Battalion attacked on the south side of the Isigny highway and 2nd Battalion was on the north side. With Company G in the 2nd Battalion lead, heavy casualties were received as they approached Carentan. G Company was placed in reserve and was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the 327th (401). In the early daylight hours of the 11th, Company A of the 401st (3Bn) and Co G of the 327th attacked southward along the Bassin a Flot, again taking heavy casualties.

At 01:45 1st/327th GIR began crossing the footbridges over the lower Douve, and by 06:00, under cover of artillery fire, the entire regiment was across. It captured Brévands and began the three-mile (5 km) movement south and west. Company A of the 401st GIR, accompanied by the Division Assistant G-3, left the column and marched east toward Auville-sur-le-Vey to link up with the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. The 327th did not encounter serious opposition until it approached the bridges spanning the Vire-Taute Canal east of Carentan at 18:00. It went into the attack with two battalions on line and by midnight held the east bank.

The Douve bridge was still not repaired when 3rd/502d PIR returned at noon. The paratroopers used engineer materials at hand to improvise a footbridge and began their attack shortly after 13:00. Moving single file down the causeway and advancing by crouching and crawling, the point of the 400-man battalion reached Bridge No. 4 at about 16:00, with most of the unit past Bridge No. 3. Under artillery and mortar fire, and then sniper and machine gun fire as they got within range, casualties among the 3rd/502nd PIR became heavy. Nightfall ended the advance but not the casualties, when an attack at 23:30 by two low-flying German Ju 87 Stukas strafing the causeway killed 30 men and knocked I Company completely out of the battle. The severe casualties suffered by the 3rd/502d PIR, estimated at 67% of the original force, resulted in the nickname "Purple Heart Lane" applied to that portion of the Carentan-Sainte-Mère-Église highway.

Cole's charge, 11 June

During the night German fire subsided. Company H crept through the opening in the obstacle, and when it did not suffer any casualties, at 0400 Company G and the Headquarters Company followed, taking cover on both sides of the highway. Scouts in the point nearly reached the main farmhouse in the morning twilight when they were cut down by German fire. Lt. Col. Cole immediately called for artillery support, but the German fire did not cease. At 06:15, using a smoke screen for concealment, Lt Col. Cole ordered his executive officer, Major John P. Stopka, to pass word to the battalion that it would have to charge the German positions to eliminate them.

Using a whistle to signal the attack, Cole led a bayonet charge that overwhelmed the defenders in savage close combat, for which Cole was later awarded the Medal of Honour. At first only a small portion of the battalion, approximately 20 men, charged, but Stopka quickly followed with 50 more. The attack picked up impetus as the other paratroopers observed it in progress and joined it, crossing a ditch. Overrunning the empty farmhouse, men of Company H found many German paratroopers dug in along the hedgerow behind it. Companies H and G killed them with hand grenades and bayonets but at severe cost to themselves.

The survivors of 3rd/502nd PIR set up defensive positions and requested 1st Battalion 502nd PIR continue the attack. Lt Col. Patrick F. Cassidy's battalion, however, also took serious casualties from mortar fire and could only strengthen Lt Col. Cole's defensive line, taking up positions from the 3rd Battalion command post in the farmhouse to the highway. During a 2-hour truce at mid-day in which U.S. forces attempted to negotiate for removal of casualties, Company C 502nd moved forward from Bridge No. 4 into a cabbage patch between the second and third hedgerows. Company A 502nd moved up just behind Company C and extended its line across the highway. Fighting at the cabbage patch during the afternoon often took place at extremely close range with the contending forces on opposite sides of the same hedgerow.

Except for the noon truce, which FJR6 also used to resupply and reorganise, the American forces repelled repeated attacks. The final one nearly succeeded in overwhelming the 3rd/502nd PIR at 1830, gaining all but the final hedgerow between it and the Douve River. However, Lt Col. Cole's artillery officer, able to overcome jamming of his radio, called down a concentration of VII Corps Artillery so close that several Americans were also killed. The overwhelming violence of the 5-minute barrage rolled back the last German counterattack.

Patrols from the 327th had discovered a partially destroyed footbridge over the Vire-Taute Canal at the point where it connected with the Douve, northeast of the city. The bridge was repaired by 10:00, and a company each of the 2nd (Company G) and 3rd battalions (Company A 401) crossed and attacked down the forested banks of the boat basin (Bassin à Flot), but like the 502nd, were stopped a half mile (1 km) short of Carentan by machine gun and mortar fires that artillery could not suppress.

FJR6, nearly out of ammunition, withdrew during the night, leaving only a small rear guard. A Luftwaffe parachute resupply drop that night seven miles (11 km) to the southwest arrived too late to help. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division (Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Werner Ostendorff), on the road toward Carentan since D-Day, had been delayed by air attack and lack of fuel. By nightfall on 11 June only a few advanced elements had reached the division's assembly areas.

Carentan captured, 12 June

To complete the capture of Carentan, Gen. Courtney Hodges of First Army created a task force under Gen. Anthony McAuliffe to coordinate the final assault. The mission to take Hill 30 was reassigned to the 506th PIR, the attack along the Bassin à Flot was renewed, and the 501st PIR was relieved of its defensive positions to circle behind the 327th GIR and approach Hill 30 from the east. The movements were covered by an all-night artillery bombardment of Carentan using naval gunfire, Corps artillery, 4.2-inch mortars, and tank destroyers that had joined the 327th GIR along the eastern canal.

Two battalions of the 506th moved down the Carentan causeway after dark, passed through the 2nd/502nd PIR at 02:00 on 12 June, and marched cross country to Hill 30 (the village of la Billonnerie), which they captured by 05:00. The 1st Battalion took up defensive positions facing south across the highway, while the 2nd Battalion was ordered north to attack the city. The 501st PIR during the night moved into position behind the 327th Glider Infantry, crossed the canal, and reached Hill 30 by 06:30.

At 06:00 Carentan was attacked from the north by 1st/401st GIR and the south by 2nd/506th PIR. Both units encountered machine gun fire from the rear guard, but the 2nd/506th was also sporadically shelled by artillery to the south of Carentan. Despite this, both units swiftly cleaned out the rear guard in a short fight near the railway station and advanced on the streets ending with the enemies forces, then the us paratroopers met at 07:30 in the centre of town after a short combat . The 1st/506th PIR engaged in more serious combat south of town when it had to rescue Col. Sink's command post, surrounded because it had pushed too far towards the German lines in the dark.

In the afternoon both the 506th and 501st advanced southwest but after a mile were stopped by heavy contacts with new German units including a few tanks. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division had intended to counterattack to retake Carentan, but its assault guns were held up in the assembly areas by Allied air attacks. Instead infantry units dug in on higher ground below the city and battled the paratroopers until dark.

Bloody Gulch, 13 June

At dawn on 13 June, the 101st Airborne was about to attack the German line when it was attacked by tanks and assault guns. Two battalions of the 37th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, supported by the 17th SS Panzer Battalion and III./FJR6, struck hard at the 501st PIR on the American left, which fell back under heavy pressure. The left flank companies (Dog and Fox Companies) of the 506th then gave way, and by noon the spearheads of the German attack were within 500 yards of Carentan. However, Company E (Easy) of the 506th, commanded by 1st Lt. Richard D. Winters, anchored its right flank against a railroad embankment and held its position. Reinforced by the 2nd/502nd PIR taking position on its right, Easy Company slowed the German attack until American tanks could be brought up.

Reacting to an Ultra warning of the size and threat of the counterattack, Lieutenant General Bradley diverted CCA U.S. 2nd Armoured Division (commanded by Brig. Gen. Maurice Rose and near Isigny sur mer) to Carentan at 10:30. At 14:00 CCA attacked, supported by the self-propelled howitzers of the 14th Armoured Field Artillery Battalion. One task force of tanks and mechanised infantry surged down the road to Baupte in the 2nd/506th's area and shattered the main German thrust. A second task force drove back German forces along the Périers highway, inflicting heavy losses in men and equipment. CCA, followed by the 502nd PIR, then pushed west a mile beyond the original lines.

The counterattack became known anecdotally among the surviving paratroopers as the "Battle of Bloody Gulch".

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Week 4

Operation Lüttich was a codename given to a German counter-attack during the Battle of Normandy, which took place around the American positions near Mortain from 7 August to 13 August 1944. The offensive is also referred to in American and British histories of the Battle of Normandy as the Mortain counterattack. The assault was ordered by Adolf Hitler, to eliminate the gains made by the First United States Army during Operation Cobra and the subsequent weeks, and by reaching the coast in the region of Avranches at the base of the Cotentin peninsula, cut off the units of the Third United States Army which had advanced into Brittany.

The main German striking force was the XLVII Panzer Corps, with one and a half SS Panzer Divisions and two Heer Panzer Divisions. Although they made initial gains against the defending U.S. VII Corps, they were soon halted and Allied aircraft inflicted severe losses on the attacking troops, eventually destroying nearly half of the German tanks involved in the attack. Although fighting continued around Mortain for six days, the American forces had regained the initiative within a day of the opening of the German attack.

As the German commanders on the spot had warned Hitler in vain, there was little chance of the attack succeeding, and the concentration of their armoured reserves at the western end of the front in Normandy soon led to disaster, as they were outflanked to their south and the front to their east collapsed, resulting in many of the German troops in Normandy being trapped in the Falaise Pocket.

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On 25 July 1944, following six weeks of attritional warfare along a stalemated front, American forces under Lieutenant General Omar Bradley mounted an attack code-named Operation Cobra, which broke through the German defenses near Saint-Lô. Almost the entire western half of the German front in Normandy collapsed, and on 1 August, American forces captured Avranches. With the capture of this town at the base of the Cotentin peninsula, and an intact bridge at Pontaubault nearby, the American forces had "turned the corner"; the German front could no longer be anchored against the sea at its western end and American forces could advance west and south into Brittany. The U.S. Third Army, commanded by Lieutenant General George S. Patton, was activated the same day. Despite German air attacks against the bridge at Pontaubault, Patton pushed no less than seven divisions across it during the next three days, and units of his army began advancing almost unopposed towards the Brittany ports.

Beginning on 30 July, the British Second Army, under Lieutenant-General Miles C. Dempsey, mounted a supporting attack (code-named Operation Bluecoat) on the eastern flank of the American armies. Much of the German armoured reserves being rushed west to halt the American breakthrough were diverted to face this new threat. Meanwhile, the U.S. continued its attacks to widen the corridor around Avranches. Although  the Germans held the vital road junction of Vire, U.S. VII Corps, under Major General J. Lawton Collins, captured Mortain, 19 miles (31 km) east of Avranches, on 3 August.

The next day, although U.S. VIII Corps continued to advance west through Brittany toward the ports of Brest and Lorient, Bradley ordered Patton to drive eastward with the main body of the U.S. Third Army, around the open German flank and into the German rear areas. U.S. XV Corps advanced no less than 75 mi (121 km) during the next three days, and by 7 August they were approaching Le Mans, formerly the location of the headquarters of the German 7th Army, and still an important logistic centre.

Generalfeldmarshall Günther von Kluge was the German supreme commander in the West. After Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel was injured by Allied aircraft on 17 July, Kluge also took over direct command of Army Group B, the formation conducting the battle in Normandy. He had warned Hitler on 22 July that the collapse of the front was imminent, but Hitler continued to order him to stand fast.

On 2 August, Hitler sent a directive to Kluge ordering "an immediate counter-attack between Mortain and Avranches". General Walter Warlimont—the Deputy Chief of Staff at OKW, the German armed forces headquarters—was also sent to Kluge's headquarters to ensure these orders were complied with. Kluge suggested that there was no chance of success, and the German forces in Normandy should retire to the Seine River, pivoting on the intact defences south of Caen, but on 4 August, Hitler categorically ordered the attack to be launched. He demanded that eight of the nine Panzer Divisions in Normandy be used in the attack, and that the Luftwaffe commit its entire reserve, including 1,000 fighters. According to Hitler, three qualifications had to be met for the attack to proceed. "Von Kluge must believe in it. He must be able to detach enough armour from the main front in Normandy to create an effective striking force, and he must achieve surprise".

Although ordered to wait "until every tank, gun and plane was assembled", Kluge and SS General Paul Hausser (commanding the German 7th Army, which held the western part of the front) decided to attack as soon as possible, before the overall situation deteriorated further. The main striking force assigned was the XLVII Panzer Corps, commanded by General Hans Freiherr von Funck. Instead of eight Panzer Divisions, only four—one of them incomplete—could be relieved from their defensive tasks and assembled in time; the 2nd Panzer Division, 116th Panzer Division, the 2nd SS Panzer Division and part of the 1st SS Panzer Division, with a total of about 300 tanks. The Panzer Corps was supported by two Infantry Divisions and five Kampfgruppen, formed from the remnants of the Panzer Lehr Division and four equally battered infantry divisions.

Kluge ordered the attack to be mounted on the night of 6/7 August. To avoid alerting American forces to the attack, there would be no preparatory artillery bombardments. The intention was to hit the U.S. 30th Infantry Division, commanded by Major-General Leland Hobbs, east of Mortain, then cut through American defences to reach the coast. Had surprise been achieved, the attack might well have succeeded, but Allied decoders at Ultra had intercepted and decrypted the orders for Operation Lüttich by August 4. As a result, Bradley was able to obtain air support from both the US 9th Air Force and the RAF.

At 22:00 on 6 August, von Funck reported that his troops were still not concentrated, and the commander of the 116th Panzer Division "had made a mess of things". In fact, this officer (Gerhard von Schwerin) had been so pessimistic about the operation that he had not even ordered his tank units to take part. This delay disjointed the German attack, but on the German left flank, the SS Panzer troops attacked the positions of the American 30th Infantry Division east of Mortain shortly after midnight. The Germans achieved temporary surprise, as the Ultra documents had arrived at U.S. First Army Headquarters too late to alert the troops to the immediate assault. They briefly captured Mortain but were unable to breach the lines of the 30th Division, as the 2nd Battalion of the 120th Infantry Regiment commanded Hill 314, the dominant feature around Mortain. Although cut off, they were supplied by parachute drops. Of the 700 men who defended the position until 12 August, over 300 were killed.

To the north, the 2nd Panzer Division attacked several hours later, aiming south-west toward Avranches. It managed to penetrate several miles into the American lines, before being stopped by the 35th Infantry Division and a combat command of the 3rd Armored Division only 2 mi (3.2 km) short of Avranches. The German High Command ordered the attacks to be renewed before the afternoon, so that Avranches could be taken.

By noon of 7 August, the early morning fog had dispersed, and large numbers of Allied aircraft appeared over the battlefield. With the advance knowledge of the attack provided by Ultra, the U.S. 9th Air Force had been reinforced by the RAF Second Tactical Air Force. Despite assurances by the Luftwaffe that German forces would have adequate air support, the Allied aircraft quickly achieved complete control of the airspace over Mortain. The Luftwaffe reported that its fighters were engaged by Allied aircraft from the moment they took off, and were unable even to reach the battlefield. In the open ground east of Mortain, the German Panzers became exposed targets, especially for rocket-firing Hawker Typhoon fighter bombers of the RAF.

Through 7 August, American troops had continued to press south near Vire, on the right flank of the German attack. The 116th Panzer Division—which was supposed to advance in this sector—was actually driven back. In the afternoon, the 1st SS and 116th Panzer Divisions made renewed attacks, but the flanks of the Mortain positions had been sealed off, allowing the American VII Corps to contain the German advance.

Meanwhile, Bradley had sent two armoured combat commands against the German southern (left) flank. On 8 August, one of these (from the U.S. 2nd Armored Division) was attacking the rear of the two SS Panzer Divisions. Although fighting would continue around Mortain for several more days, there was no further prospect of any German success. The Germans issued orders to go on to the defensive along the entire front, but poorly communicated orders resulted in this being impossible to achieve, with some German forces retreating, and others preparing to hold their ground.

As the U.S. First Army counter-attacked German units near Mortain, units of Patton's 3rd Army were advancing unchecked through the open country to the south of the German armies, and had taken Le Mans on 8 August. The same day, the First Canadian Army attacked the weakened German positions south of Caen in Operation Totalize and threatened to break through to Falaise, although this attack stalled after two days. In desperation, Hitler ordered the attacks against Mortain to be renewed with greater intensity, demanding that the 9th Panzer Division, almost the only formation opposing Patton's advance east from Le Mans, be transferred to Mortain to take part in the attack. General Heinrich Eberbach—commander of Panzergruppe West—was ordered to form a new headquarters, named "Panzer Group Eberbach", to command the renewed offensive. Kluge—who feared he was about to be implicated by the Gestapo in the 20 July Plot—acquiesced in this apparently suicidal order. Eberbach's proposed counter-attack was soon overtaken by events, and was never mounted.

548px-Operation_Tractable.svg.png

By 13 August, the offensive had fully halted, with German forces being driven out of Mortain. The Germans had lost 120 tanks and assault guns to Allied counter-attacks and air strikes, more than two-thirds of their committed total. As Hitler ordered German forces in Normandy to hold their positions, the U.S. VII and XV Corps were swinging east and north toward Argentan. The German attack west left the 7th Army and Panzergruppe West in danger of being encircled by Allied forces. As American forces advanced on Argentan, British and Canadian forces advanced on Falaise, threatening to cut off both armies in the newly formed Falaise Pocket.

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Week 5

After securing territory in the Cotentin Peninsula south as far as Saint-Lô, the U.S. First Army launched Operation Cobra on 25 July and advanced further south to Avranches by 1 August. The British launched Operation Bluecoat on 30 July to secure Vire and the high ground of Mont Pinçon. Lieutenant General George S. Patton's U.S. Third Army, activated on 1 August, quickly took most of Brittany and territory as far south as the Loire, while the First Army maintained pressure eastward toward Le Mans to protect their flank. By 3 August, Patton and the Third Army were able to leave a small force in Brittany and drive eastward towards the main concentration of German forces south of Caen. Over Kluge's objections, on 4 August Hitler ordered a counter-offensive (Operation Lüttich) from Vire towards Avranches.

Falaise_Pocket_map.jpg

While II Canadian Corps pushed south from Caen toward Falaise in Operation Totalize on 8 August, Bradley and Montgomery realised that there was an opportunity for the bulk of the German forces to be trapped at Falaise. The Third Army continued the encirclement from the south, reaching Alençon on 11 August. Although Hitler continued to insist until 14 August that his forces should counter-attack, Kluge and his officers began planning a retreat eastward. The German forces were severely hampered by Hitler's insistence on making all major decisions himself, which left his forces without orders for periods as long as 24 hours while information was sent back and forth to the Führer's residence at Obersalzberg in Bavaria. On the evening of 12 August, Patton asked Bradley if his forces should continue northward to close
the gap and encircle the German forces. Bradley refused, because Montgomery had already assigned the First Canadian Army to take the territory from the north. The Canadians met heavy resistance and captured Falaise on 16 August. The gap was closed on 21 August, trapping 50,000 German troops but more than a third of the German 7th Army and the remnants of nine of the eleven Panzer divisions had escaped to the east.

1280px-St.-Lambert-surrender.jpg

Montgomery's decision-making regarding the Falaise Gap was criticised at the time by American commanders, especially Patton, although Bradley was more sympathetic and believed Patton would not have been able to close the gap.

"Although Patton might have spun a line across the narrow neck, I doubted his ability to hold it. Nineteen German divisions were now stampeding to escape the trap. Meanwhile, with four divisions George was already blocking three principal escape routes through Alencon, Sees and Argentan. Had he stretched that line to include Falaise, he would have extended his roadblock a distance of 40 miles (64 km). The enemy could not only have broken through, but he might have trampled Patton's position in the onrush. I much preferred a solid shoulder at Argentan to the possibility of a broken neck at Falaise."

Omar Bradley

"The battlefield at Falaise was unquestionably one of the greatest "killing fields" of any of the war areas. Forty-eight hours after the closing of the gap I was conducted through it on foot, to encounter scenes that could be described only by Dante. It was literally possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh."

Dwight Eisenhower

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Hitler relieved Kluge of his command of OB West on 15 August and replaced him with Field Marshal Walter Model. Kluge committed suicide on 19 August after Hitler became aware of his involvement in the 20 July plot.

A few days later, the Allied Liberation of Paris was completed, and on 30 August the remnants of Army Group B retreated across the Seine, which ended Operation Overlord.

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We enjoy playing ArmA3 in a tactical and professional way and ensuring at the same time a high level of fun is kept within the game. We use tactics and procedures from various armies and modify them to suit our own needs. This allows us to operate in the ArmA 3 platform effectively.

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