Just a few days left until the start of the Combat Mission Grand Tournamant. After showcasing you the first round of Cold War in stream and Red Thunder in a video by Usually Hapless, today it's Battle for Normandy's turn. We have prepared a very interesting article, written by Mark Goddard, military and Wargaming expert. to keep you informed about the real history behind these historic battles. We’ll talk about the battle you are going to play in this first round, the battle of Isigny Sur Mer. We’ll also include details on what occured at Hill 192 and St Lo to get the whole picture of what happened.
Mark is an officer himself, and is a history enthusiast, keen wargamer and wargaming expert. We hope you enjoy this first article, as well as the tournament, which you can sign up to here.
Mark’s first article has been included below, we hope you enjoy it:
Breaking out: The battle for St Lô Jul 7 -19 1944:
St Lô was a key objective for US forces following the initial Normandy landings. A vital German support hub it radiated rail and road networks across the area. Until this hub was captured, German forces could continue to harass US forces and conduct resupply across the front lines. As General Patton stated “Take St Lô and we will be in Paris within two weeks”.
The capture of St Lô fell to the 29th, 30th and 35th Infantry Divisions as part of XIX Corps. Opposing them was the German 352nd Infantry Division and the tenacious and highly trained 3rd Division of the II Fallschirmkorps (Parachute Corps).
In order to set the conditions for the assault on St Lô, several key sub objectives had to be accomplished, including the capture of Isigny Sur Mer and Hill 192.
Capture of Isigny Sur Mer:
The capture of Isigny Sur Mer was the one of the first steps beyond the beaches and the advance to St Lô. Its capture would also enable a crossing over the Vire river to link up US forces from Utah and Omaha beaches. The task of taking the town fell to the 175th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division, supported by the Shermans of the 747th Tank Battalion. In preperation for the assault, a major bombardment was conducted on 8 Jun resulting in the town being over 60% destroyed. It was into this smouldering ruin that the 175th Infantry Regiment advanced at 0200 on the 9th Jun. The town was defended by the Ukrainian soldiers of Ost-Bataillion 439, 352. Infanterie-Division, who used snipers in the ruins to effectively slow the US advance. House to house fighting ensured over a five hour period, but by 0700 the US forces were consolidating their positions. While still reorganising, a rapid German counter attack was conducted at 0800 but the 3rd Battalion of the 175th Infantry Regiment beat it back. Over 200 German and Ukrainian prisoners were taken that day. The road was now open for further advance and limited resupply into the town's small port.
Capture of Hill 192:
The US forces continued to adavnce towards St Lô over the next 2 days but were now faced with the capture of Hill 192. It formed a ridgeline along the St Lô – Bayeux highway dominating the area and allowing effective German precision artillery support. Once captured it would allow a commanding view over St Lô, enabling US artillery and air support to be bought to bear. The planned strike by 192 P-47s to set the conditions for the 2nd Infantry Division attack was abandoned due to bad weather. Instead it fell to the infantry, supported by the 741st Tank Battalion, to assault the hill. Over 25,000 artillery rounds were fired that day to suppress and kill the German defenders an average of over 300 per 105mm gun.
Taking St Lô:
With the road and ridge secured, the 29th Infantry Division begun their attack on St Lô on the 15 Jul The 1st Battalion of the 116th Infantry Regiment advanced too far ahead and become cut off 1000m short of the town. They held until 17 Jul when 3rd Battalion linked up with them, advancing with bayonets fixed, through dense vegetation, to avoid detection. The Regiment called in the 'arsenal of democracy' utilising Air Dominance and US Artillery Fire superiority to disperse the German troops. By Jul 18th the 116th Infantry Regiment had reached the Madeline River forcing the Germans to fall back to Rampan. With German resistance faltering the assault on the city passed to Task Force 'C' commanded by General Norman Cota which formed up on the St Lô – Bayeux road. The Task Force consisted of M8 Greyhounds of the 29th Recce Squadron, Company A of the 175th Infantry Regiment, a platoon of M4 Shermans from the 747th Tank Battalion, M10s of B Company 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, observers for the 227th Field Artillery Battalion as well as elements of the 29th Military Police.
Task Force 'C' begun the attack at 1500 on the 18 Jul, after the 115th Infantry Regiment secured high ground to the city's North. As it approached the city it was met by German anti tank guns which were neutralised by the 29th Recce Squadron who advanced into the city before being forced by rubble to dismount. Fierce house to house fighting occurred accompanied by close combat in the rubble choked streets, but by 1900 key intersections and vitally the bridges over the Vire river were secured. The Germans had been surprised by the rapid and audacious Task Force 'C' advance. Between 7-22 Jul US forces suffered over 11,000 casualties including over 3,000 dead, however finally the roads deeper into France were open and Op COBRA, the encirclement of German forces could begin.