Hill 192 - 11 juli 1944 - Battle of St Lô

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Lodieu Didier
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Hill 192 - 11 juli 1944 - Battle of St Lô

Postby Lodieu Didier » 02 Mar 2006 15:05

I am studying the fight for the Hill 192 that the 2nd. US Inf. Div. took 11 july. They had been engaged against Fallschirmjäger from the III./FJR. 9 and I./Fjr. 5. I have the books from battery press and some war diaries but I am looking for memories of americans veterans from this div., particularly from the 38th INf. Rgt. and from the 741st Tank Bn. Is anyone could help me ? Thanks in advance.

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tigre
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Hill 192

Postby tigre » 02 Mar 2006 23:31

Hello Didier; see if this article helps you.

Artillery Support in the Capture of Hill 192

Lieutenant Colonel Donald C. Little, Field Artillery.

The following article is one of a selected number of monographs, prepared by officers attending the 1946-1947 class of the Command and General Staff College.

Introduction.

A rolling barrage is a series of artillery fires delivered on successive lines on a fixed time schedule. During World War I, the rolling barrage was the normal method of artillery fire in an attack. Experience indicated that such a barrage was both wasteful of ammunition and ineffective, since we had no positive means of coordinating its advances exactly with that of the infantry. Yet in the assault of Hill 192 in Normandy, a rolling barrage was used to good effect by the artillery which supported the 2d Infantry Division.
The forward observer system adopted by our field artillery between World Wars I and II enabled our artillery to fire on areas of enemy resistance successively as our infantry advanced in an attack.
Why then was a rolling barrage fired during the attack on Hill 192 in July 1944?.

The Situation (Figure 1).

Hill 192 is a commanding height situated three miles east of St. Lo, France.
On 7 June 1944 (D+ 1 of the Normandy landings), the 2d Infantry Division had landed on Omaha Beach, passed through elements of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions which held the beach head, and fought thirty kilometers south to Hill 192.
There, because of stiffening German resistance and lack of logistical support, the Division had halted on 17 June.
For over three weeks the division sat on the northern slopes of Hill 192 and on a line six kilometers east of it, while supplies and reinforcements were brought into the beachhead. Then, on 11 July, the division was ordered to capture Hill 192 and the St. Lo-Bayeux road one-half mile to the south, as a preliminary to the general St. Lo breakthrough to take place two weeks later.

The Terrain

Hill 192 was not a peak, but was a long, sugar-loaf hill some fifty meters higher than the surrounding ground. The Germans had built a tower in the trees on its summit, and from this tower, on a clear day, one could see the shipping off Omaha Beach, twenty-odd miles to the north. We thought that when we had taken Hill 192, we could use it for our own observation against the Germans, but we were disappointed to find the ground to the south was even higher, and while Hill 192 was a fine OP- looking north, it was no good looking south.
This was the hedgerow country of Normandy. Hill 192 and the entire zone of the 2d Infantry Division was a patchwork of hedgerows. The hedgerows surrounded fields and lined sunken roads. The fields were of various sizes and shapes. About a third of the fields were orchards, the rest were under cultivation. Small groups of farm buildings dotted the area.
The hedgerows themselves were formidable obstacles. They varied from four to eight feet in height and from three to eight feet in thickness. They were built of closely. packed earth and rock and were usually sodded and topped with hedge whose roots further strengthened the wall.
As is now well known, each field in this area was a battleground in itself. Each hedgerow was obstacle and obsewrvation combined, and limited the field of fire to the next hedgerow only. On Hill 192, however, the Germans had excellent observation not only of the zone of the 2d Infantry Division, but of the 29th and 1st on the west and east, respectively.
From Hill 192, artillery could be and was directed over the entire area of V Corps, and roving guns fired from any number of firing positions.
It was this dominating Hill; interlaced throughout its length and height by formidable hedgerows, that the 38th Infantry of the 2d Infantry Division was to capture on 11 July. 1944.

The Enemy

Of more importance than the terrain was the enemy that defended Hill 192. In the first days of the fighting south of Omaha Beach, the enemy had been for the most part members of the static coast defenses, including Russians. As Hill 192 was approached, however, a new brand of opposition developed. These new defenders all wore mottled camouflage suits and all seemed to be armed with automatic weapons. They were’ soon identified as members of the 9th Parachute Regiment, 3d Parachute Division, who had been rushed from Brittany to halt this American penetration of the Normandy defenses.
They were clever, tenacious foes. They fired their “Burp’’ guns from trees, hedgerow corners, and buildings. During the period from 17 June to 11 July, while the Americans awaited the order to resume the attack, the paratroopers converted each hedgerow on the northern slope of Hill 192 into a maze of dugouts and firing positions. Tunnels were dug through the base of each hedgerow to afford apertures.
Firing pits dug along the tops of the hedgerows were zigzagged for greater protection. Machine guns as well as towed and selfpropelled antitank guns fired from prepared positions throughout the defended area. Movement laterally and to the front was covered by the hedgerows themselves and the many orchards and tree-lined trails throughout. Mortars were emplaced in countless positions covering every american position and avenue of approach. The Germans’ greatest asset was the caliber of the troops themselves.
They were always in the next hedgerow. Our patrols sent out at night were shot up hardly or gobbled up entirely. If we withdraw a hedgerow or two to bring down fire on their positions, they followed us back and were there again—in the next hedgerow. I watched as a group of paratroopers was being questioned after the hill had been captured. One ragged, bearded survivor expressed the spirit of the 3d Parachute Division when he was asked what he thought of the Americans now.
Looking, fixedly at his questioner he answered without hesitation: “Germany will win!”

Will follows The Plan of Attack (Figure 2) - if you are interested. Cheers. Tigre.
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Last edited by tigre on 03 Mar 2006 02:28, edited 2 times in total.

Lodieu Didier
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Postby Lodieu Didier » 02 Mar 2006 23:41

Thanks a lot Tigre. You are allways here when I need help. This article is usefull. There are some informations that I haven't. Your answer is constructive.
For Koursk, it's allways OK with my editor. Since I got you I found incredible pictures of the II./Pz.Rgt. 11 shot during the battle.
With all my sympathie.
Didier

website : didierlodieu.site.voila.fr/

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Hill 192 - 2d part.

Postby tigre » 03 Mar 2006 21:53

The Plan of Attack (Figure 2).

When the order came from V Corps to capture Hill 192, the 38th Infantry held the right third of the 2d Infantry Division sector, with Hill 192 to its front. On the right of the 38th, Infantry was the 116th Infantry of the 29th Infantry Division. On its left was the 23d Infantry of the 2d. With its three regiments already on an extended front, the division ordered the 38th Infantry to capture Hill 192, the 23d to capture the St. Lo-Bayeux road in its zone, and the division and supporting corps artillery to weight the effort of the 38th Infantry. The 29th Infantry Division would attack simultaneously to capture high ground to the west.

The 38th Infantry decided to attack with the 1st ‘and 2d Battalions abreast, the 2d on the right, to capture the objectives shown on Figure 2. In the zone of the 2d Battalion lay the main roads and trails being used by the enemy, the farm villages of Cloville and Le Soulaire, and the small patch of woods on the summit of Hill 192. The 1st Battalion zone included the more exposed eastern half of: the hill and a very large patch of thick woods on the reverse slope of the hill.

Because of the hedgerows, the opposing front lines were in some cases less than 100 yards apart. Each hedgerow line might be the main line of resistance.
Therefore, in order to bring maximum fire of artillery and mortars on the nearest’ enemy hedgerow, our line of departure for the attack would be two hedgerows (about 200 yards) back of our present front line. Withdrawal to the line of departure would take place during the first part of the artillery preparation. H-hour for the attack was 0600 hours (about first light) 11 July.

The Artillery Plan.

To support this attack the division artillery was reinforced by the 62d and 65th Armored Field Artillery Battalions of the V Corps Artillery, and two battalions of heavy corps artillery.
The 38th Field Artillery Battalion, in direct support of the 38th Infantry, was given the 62d and 65th Armored Field Artillefy Battalions to reinforce its fires; The artillery fire plan consisted of two main parts: (1) the preparation which would last for one hour and (2) the supporting fires during the attack, consisting of a rolling barrage for the light battalions, and deepening and thickening fires of the medium and heavy battalions.

During the first fifty minutes of the preparation the light battalions fired on located machine gun and mortar positions in the enemy forward areas, while medium and heavies went ,for enemy batteries, command posts, and reserve areas. In the last ten minutes of the preparation the lights and mediums ,came down on the first enemy-held hedgerow, the mediums firing on impact, and the lights with time fire, the fragments reaching into the Germans holes and emplacements. Fires of the infantry heavy weapons were integrated with the artillery preparation.

Then was to begin the second phase, or rolling barrage (Overlay to Figure 2). It was estimated that the infantry might advance at the rate of 100 yards every four minutes, and therefore every four minutes the artillery in the barrage would raise the range 100 yards, fire one volley, and maintain a slow ,fire of one round per gun per minute until at the end of the four minute period the process was repeated. In order to keep the fire plan flexible and conforming to the actual advance of the infantry, the 100 yard fire lines were superimposed on the 1:5000 yard battle map being used by the infantry and forward observers. Each range line was lettered, and the fire lines of each attillrery battalion were named as a group by colors, so that a forward observer could report “Hold Brown on Jig, advance Green to King.” Fifty yard advances of the barrage were obtained by calling for “ King plus 50. ”

More follows ASAP. Cheers. Tigre.
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Hill 192 - 3d part.

Postby tigre » 04 Mar 2006 12:50

Hello Didier here goes the story's third and last part.

Preparation for the Attack.

Because of the nature of the terrain, the closest cooperation was necessary between infantry, tanks, engineers, and artillery. Tank platoons of the battalion attached to the division were attached to each assault- infantry company, and intensive tank-infantry assault training was conducted in division rear areas for two weeks prior to the attack. Tanks were not-all equipped at this time with the cutting teeth that were used entirely in the St Lo breakthrough two weeks later, and it was necessary for demolition teams to precede tanks and blast holes through the hedgerows for them. It was a squad and a tank to a field, the squad to advance to the next hedgerow while covered by the fire of the tank, then the tank advanced while covered by the squad.

The artillery in direct support of the 38th Infantry (see Figure 3) was organized as follows:
a. Fire direction center of the 38th Field Artillery Battalion controlled all fires, acted on request of forward observers, and made necessary changes in scheduled fires.
b. A forward command post was established by the 38th Infantry in a sunken road about a thousand yards back of the line of departure. At this forward command post complete communications were established, including lines from the artillery liaison officers to the artillery battalion commander. Here the progress of each company was studied and the fire plan supplemented or revised as necessary.
c. It can be seen from Figure 3 that each artillery liaison officer was on a party hook up with the forward observers with the assault rifle companies, the fire direction center, and the artillery battalion commander. Radio of course was the alternate means of communication.
d. Observation furnished by forward observers was supplemented by a sixty foot tower observation post erected in the trees 500 yards in rear of the front lines, and affording excellent observation of the hill. Liaison planes furnished overall surveillance of the battle area, and looked especially for enemy batteries.
e. The, forward observers of the 38th Field Artillery Battalion who operated normally with the assault companies of the 38th Infantry would control the barrage fires of the three artillery battalions firing in front of the infantry. The 62d and 65th had forward observers out to report any initial errors direct to their own fire direction centers, but the fire direction center of the 38th gave the targets, time schedules and commands to fire to the 62d and 65th.

On the two days prior to 11 July, the eight battalions of division and corps artillery that were to support the attack registered on map located points on the hill. Every lot of ammunition that was to be used was registered. This assured direct hits on located gun emplacements during the preparation. Aerial photos and patrols had uncovered many of these exact locations.

The Attack.

At 0600, 11 July, following the artillery preparation, the infantry jumped off, and following the rolling barrage, by late afternoon had captured its objectives. Enemy resistance was continuous and stubborn throughout the day, for although gun emplacements and hedgerows had taken direct hits from artillery fire, the enemy was so well dug in that many had to be killed at close quarters. Captured German officers were curious about the American “automatic” artillery.

Counterattacks by the enemy to retake the hill were expected, and defensive fires were already prepared on call, and forward observers adjusted on check points as soon as the hill was taken in order to mass all fires. The counterattacks did not develop.
The 38th Infantry had taken fairly heavy casualties, but they were less than had been anticipated for the reduction of this heavily defended area. Less than 200 prisoners were taken, but the enemy dead were many times the number of prisoners.
Many German dead, killed by time fire and bursts on the top of hedgerows, had to be dug out of holes and hedgerow emplacements.
An unmailed letter taken off a dead Germar two weeks later, described the shelling of Hill 192 to a friend back in Germany: “At 1135 I left the platoon sector as last man. Carried my machine gun through the enemy lines into a slightly more protected defile and crept back again with another fellow to get the wounded. . . . On our way back we were covered again with terrific artillery fire. We were just lying in an open area. Every moment I expected deadly shrapnel. At that moment I lost my nerve. The others acted just like me. When one hears “for hours the whining, whistling, and bursting of shells and the moaning and groaning of the wounded, one does not ,feel to well-. . . . Our company had only thirty men left (out of 170).”

Conclusions

More than 25,000 rounds were fired by the eight artillery battalions in this attack, an average of 300 rounds per piece for the 105s. Except for three days during the Battle of the Bulge, this was the heaviest expenditure of ammunition in the experience of the 38th Field Artillery Battalion.
This was the only rolling barrage fired by the 2d Infantry Division Artillery in eleven months of combat, but nowhere again did the situation require its use.

Lessons Learned

“(1) Unusual situations sometimes require unusual methods.
(2) Shells are less expensive than men’s lives.
(3) In every operation careful prior planning saves lives and assures accomplishment of the mission whatever the enemy reaction may be.

Hasta la vista. Regards. Tigre.
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Lodieu Didier
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Postby Lodieu Didier » 27 Jun 2006 23:28

Dear Friend,
There is a long time that I don't reply to thankgiven you.
I have now my own publishing society and I published my firts book. This Division Meindl. For the end of the year it will be the engagement of the III. Pz.Korps with near 300 pictures unknown. For the while I work again on the battle of St. Lô. I found about 50 pictures from the 3. Fallschirmjägerdivision.
Your article about 192 is very interesting and useful
Sincerelly yours.
Didier

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tigre
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first book

Postby tigre » 28 Jun 2006 03:01

Hi Didier, you're welcome. I'm glad about your achievement. The best for you. Tigre.

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Cool stuff

Postby Fallschirmjäger » 28 Jun 2006 03:30

Nice info to read again,as shure have read it in books,fallschirmjäger are my favourites of course.

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Postby JonS » 29 Jun 2006 21:50

Thanks Tigre - interesting article. I'm surprised the US didn't use rolling barrages more often, to be honest. They are perfect when you don't really know where the enemy is located, but need to advance across the ground anyway, and they are also useful for maintaining orientation in confusing terrain. Both those conditions obtained in Normandy, and again in the Hurtegen(sp?), and it would have made a lot of sense for them to use such barrages more often.

The RB is often seen as a 'throw back' to WWI, which is true in a sense, but the same could be said about the using the machine gun, tanks, aircraft, radios, etc. An RB can be as simple or sophisticated as you like. The NZ Div used them a lot, from mid-42 right through to the end of the war, as did a lot of UK and Commonwealth divisions. Notable exceptions are the Canadians and the 4th Indian Division.

They can't be used in all circumstances - of course (paper, scissors, rock) - but when used well can be very very effective.

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Hill 192 - 11 juli 1944 - Battle of St Lô

Postby Bunkers Hunter » 05 Aug 2006 10:22

Hello , sorry to write so late but just reading this subject
very interresting answers and details from every one
thanks
I project to go on this place next august 20 to see the realy place and relief
thanks again

Larso
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Re: Hill 192 - 11 juli 1944 - Battle of St Lô

Postby Larso » 11 Aug 2017 13:06

A very old thread but I've just read Henry G Spencer's memoir 'Nineteen days in June 1944', which concerns his part in this battle. He commanded 1/23rd in its attack of 18th June.

Lodieu Didier
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Re: Hill 192 - 11 juli 1944 - Battle of St Lô

Postby Lodieu Didier » 13 Aug 2017 03:20

A great thanks for your interest and kindless
D. L.

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Re: Hill 192 - 11 juli 1944 - Battle of St Lô

Postby kstdk » 13 Aug 2017 10:24

Hello

Did you go? And if so, did you find anything?

Pictures maybe :-)

Bunkers Hunter wrote:Hello , sorry to write so late but just reading this subject
very interresting answers and details from every one
thanks
I project to go on this place next august 20 to see the realy place and relief
thanks again


Regards
Kurt
kstdk


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