US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

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US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Cult Icon » 03 Feb 2020 06:55

In particular- personnel and AFV losses and if possible, a granular breakdown.

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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Feb 2020 14:37

Good luck with German records from those weeks. An acquaintance tried to estimate this & was reduced to making wild guesses for the German units. One could argue the failure of Op LUTTICH resulted in 50,000+ prisoners and 10,000+ dead in the Falaise Pocket. IIRC Wiki gives the German tank losses as 140, approx 2/3 of those committed. That would give the two panzer corps attacking less than the tank strength of a single division.

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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Cult Icon » 04 Feb 2020 05:59

I have many books/unit histories that cover Mortain. They typically have claims, unit strengths, and other fragmented data.

ORS from 21AG and 2TAF inspected the battlefield on Aug 12-20, 1944 and found these wrecks:

33 Panthers, 10 PzIV, 3 SP guns (46 tanks and assault guns). 23 SPWs. 8 Armored cars. 50 (other) vehicles.

Interestingly, of the tanks and AG, 9 were knocked out by air attack, 11 were abandoned , 20 were knocked out by the US forces, 6 were of unknown causes.

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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Richard Anderson » 04 Feb 2020 06:48

Cult Icon wrote:
03 Feb 2020 06:55
In particular- personnel and AFV losses and if possible, a granular breakdown.
What do you want to include? What time frame? The battle is generally accepted as occuring 7-13 August.

For that period, the 30th ID reported casualties for the entire division (two battalions were attached to the 2d AD, thus including casualties not incurred at Mortain) as 163 KIA, 1,491 WIA, and 279 MIA. A total of 7 captured were reported during the period, along with 172 DNBI. A total of 170 EPW were reported. It was engaged with the main body of DR, LSSAH elements, and what was left of GvB.

The 2d AD, engaged at Balleroy and later with elements of DR south of Mortain, reported casualties of 48 KIA, 346 WIA, and 6 MIA, along with 145 DNBI. They reported 176 EPW captured.

The 3d AD, which had its CCB attached to the 30th ID, reported 62 KIA, 292 WIA, and 2 MIA, along with 195 DNBI. They reported 11 EPW captured.

The 9th ID reported 157 KIA, 709 WIA, and 39 MIA, with 57 reported captured. There were 499 DNBI. They reported 321 EPW captured. It was engaged with 2. Panzer-Division and possibly minor elements of 116. Panzer-Division.

The 743d Tank Battalion, attached to the 30th ID, reported 7 Medium Tanks M4-series with 75mm Gun written off (1 on 7 and 6 on 8 August). The battalion operational decreased from 50 to 35. It does not appear any M4-series 105mm were lost of damaged. One Light Tank M5A1 became non-operational on 9 August, but it is not known if it was battle damage or due to other causes. At least one of them IIRC was to a rocket fired by a Typhoon...

The 746th Tank Battalion, attached to the 9th ID, is difficult to track. They did not report any write offs (it was actually unusual for that to happen), but its operational strength did fluctuate...wildly. On 12 August all 48 Medium Tanks M4-series with 75mm Gun on hand were reported non-operational. Not sure what that was about...it'll take some digging to find out.

Hope that helps.
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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Feb 2020 07:37

Cult Icon wrote:
04 Feb 2020 05:59
ORS from 21AG and 2TAF inspected the battlefield on Aug 12-20, 1944 and found these wrecks:

33 Panthers, 10 PzIV, 3 SP guns (46 tanks and assault guns). 23 SPWs. 8 Armored cars. 50 (other) vehicles. ...
Perhaps as accurate as one can hope for. My acquaintance got hung up on how to account for losses outside the area of this specific survey,vehicles that were 'knocked out' then repaired and were damaged or abandoned again further east in the retreat, and tanks that may have been removed to a repair site further east away from the Mortain battle. Then he had the usual fun trying to reconcile German & US accounts.

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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Feb 2020 18:19

This is about ten years old, but should still work...

Observations on Mortain

There are a couple of important points that I missed in the ORS Report No. 4. The total number of German vehicles counted was determined by matching the counts of the 2 ORS team and the ORS team from 2 TAF. Thus, it is possible there was some duplication. Worse, there is some confusion in terminology. Although the total of tanks is given as 33 Panther, 10 Mark IV and 3 SP guns, the 2 ORS team actually counted 21 Panthers, 4 StG or possibly JgPz (they called them a 75mm SP on a Mark III chassis) and 2 SP 75mm guns (presumably Marders). So where did the 3 other SP guns go in the total count (4 StG and 2 Marders versus a count of 3 SP guns)? Were they counted as Mark IV tanks? I expect I’ll never be able to answer that question.

However, plotting the locations of the 2 ORS wrecks has proven beneficial and has answered (possibly) a number of questions. As I mentioned, the wrecks appear in a number of clusters, the largest of which is to the north and northwest of St. Barthelemy. From the layout of these wrecks we can assume a number of answers, which relate to the air effectiveness question.

One distinct group of vehicles was found along a 4 to 5 kilometer-long stretch of the road from Mortain to Barenton. When the Germans attacked, the US 2nd Armored Division (-) was in and around Barenton, so for those vehicles to get there would require traversing some backroads and trails through the Foret de Mortain and around Hill 314 (which was held by the 2nd/120th Infantry throughout the battle). US accounts indicate that only German infantry followed this route, so it is likely that these were actually destroyed prior to the battle, either to the 1st ID en route to Mayenne or earlier by Allied air. The group consists of 2 Panthers, 1 88, and 4 trucks. One Panther was on its side and was wrecked by an unknown shell, the other was wrecked by unknown causes. All the others were lost to HE, but there were no rocket or bomb craters along this stretch of road. It appears likely that all were lost to ground forces, probably before the German attack.

A second distinct group was found along the road from Barenton to Ger. This was the right-hand boundary of the 2nd AD counterattack beginning on 7 August. It appears likely from the evidence that they were lost to artillery fire supporting this advance, although there is some evidence that air attacks may have hit this stretch of road. Two Marders, 1 88, 1 50mm AT, 2 SPW, and 5 trucks or staff cars were counted in this group. One of the Marders was hit by an AP round as may have been the other. All of the other wrecks appear to have been due to HE fire although one truck may have been bombed.

The third group is found strung along an 8-kilometer stretch of the road between Ger and Mortain. Again, most of these appear victims to HE attacks, it may be significant that this stretch of roadway was fully exposed to observation from Hill 314. All of these were hit by HE or were abandoned, there was little or no evidence of air attack. The group includes 1 StG or JgPz (which may have been one of the two reported lost to air attack by SS-PzGRgt 4, see below), 1 Panther (undergoing track repair and abandoned), 7 trucks, 1 ambulance, 1 VW, and 1 car.

North of the Ger-Mortain road, about three kilometers northeast of l’Abbayye Blanche is the two small clusters totaling 3 Panthers, all of which appear to have been under repair (two were being towed). About two kilometers west of there is a Bergepanther, possibly hit by a bazooka, but it sounds more like a hit by a large-caliber HEAT round – possibly from a 105mm M4 or M7 (or less likely, from a 105mm M3 of the 117th Cannon Company, see below).

The last and most interesting groups are all around (mostly north or northwest) of St. Barthelemy. This is where the msot evidence of bomb and rocket attacks occur as well. However, there is a major problem here, most of the fighting in this area began at 0500 on 7 August and was ending by around 0900, when the village defense was collapsing. Coincidentally, that is also when most of the ground haze was burning off, and the air attacks began. Eyewitness accounts appear to place the bulk of the sorties in this area – indeed, some of the losses to 1st/A/823rd TD Battalion at l’Abbayye Blanche (about 3.5 kilometers south of this area) were inflicted by air attacks at this time. From comparing the accounts of B Company of the 823rd (which was deployed between Juvigny – 5 kilometers west of St. Barthelemy – and St. Barthelemy) it appears that many of the German tank losses accounted for in the ORS reports were as a result of the 823rd action – most were either destroyed or knocked out before the air attacks began. There are a total of 15 Panthers in this area, 2 of which appeared to only have been hit by rocket projectiles, 1 which was evidently hit by 105mm rounds by the 117th Cannon Company). The others include 2 probably destroyed by bazookas (by a team from the 117th Infantry led by a Sgt. Hardy, see “Against the Panzers”), 8 were almost assuredly victims of guns of the 823rd in St. Barthelemy, while 2 outside of le Mesnil Tove (north of Juvigny) were probably lost to guns of the 823rd there late in the morning. In and among these tanks were a collection of 10 SPW, 1 armored car and 7 trucks, VWs and cars.

German strength and losses are difficult to determine. The units actually participating in the attack consisted of elements of the 2nd Panzer, 1st SS-Panzer, 2nd SS-Panzer, and 17th SS-Panzer Grenadier divisions. Unfortunately, Niklas’ excellent research only turned up the before and after strength for the 1st SS. They had 57 PzIV, 46 Panther and 27 StG operational on 5 August and 14 PzIV, 7 Panther, and 8 StG operational on 13 August, a decrease of 43, PzIV, 39 Panther and 19 StG. The 2nd Panzer history claimed a strength of 60 tanks and 15 JgPz before the battle and the division reported 9 PzIV, 8 Panther and 5 JgPz operational on 11 August, a possible decrease of 43 tanks and 10 JgPz. The 2nd SS-Panzer reported 37 PzIV, 41 Panther and 22 StG on 23 July and 4 PzIV, 1 Panther, and 6 StG on 11 August. According to German accounts, two of four StG attached to Der Fuehrer Regiment were lost to Allied air attacks on 7 August. However, I expect that much of the decrease was as a result of the fighting following COBRA, when the 2nd SS was desperately attempting to hold the onrush of the 2nd and 3rd Armored.

German reports indicate that the total armor committed were 75 PzIV, 70 Panther, and 32 StG and JgPz. By 13 August there were only 28 PzIV, 18 PzV, and 21 StG and JgPz operational in these units. The ORS report gives a total of 46 tanks, StG, and JgPz lost (of which 2 may not have been lost in the battle), which leaves at least 64 unaccounted for, many of which were likely damaged or perhaps broken down en route (and I still haven’t found the mysterious Panther of 1st SS hit by the crashing Typhoon in the defile at Vente – it sounds rather Hollywoodish). Of these, it appears that as few as 2 were lost exclusively to air attack. Furthermore, the accounts of the battle indicate that the main German armor thrust between St. Barthelemy and Sourdeval was halted before the intervention of Allied airpower. Perhaps if we knew the cause of loss and locations of the 17-odd tanks counted by the ORS team of 2 TAF, we could more definitely say that the Mortain counterattack was halted by Allied air. However, the weight of the evidence is that it was halted by the action of the 117th and 120th Infantry, supported by A and B Company of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion (which lost 11 of 24 guns in the action) and the artillery of the 30th Division.
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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Juha » 06 Feb 2020 22:57

Hello
It seems that also the AFVs of the 116. PzDiv actively participated Operation Lüttich. Guderian in his book (Guderian, Heinz Günther, From Normandy to the Ruhr With the 116th Panzer Division in World War II) writes that the Panther tanks of the 116th fought at the tip of the attacking wedge of 2nd Panzer Division and that during the fighting on 7 and 8 August two of the company commanders of the battalion were killed and the battalion commander and adjutant were wounded. The wounded commander, Major von Meyer, was awarded the Knight’s Cross for his actions on that day. And according to Strauss (Strauss, F. J. u.a., Friedens- und Kriegserlebnisse einer Generation. Ein Kapitel Weltgeschichte aus der Sicht der Panzerjäger-Abteilung 38 (SF) in der ehemaligen 2. (Wiener) Panzerdivision) the JgPz IVs of the Pz.-Abtailungen of 116th Pz.-Div. fought with the right Kampfgruppe of 2nd Pz.-Div, the German formation which got farthest to the west during the German counter-attack. So it definitely seems that I./Pz.Regt. 24 and Jagd-Panzern of Pz.-Jäg. Abt. 38 (SF) participated the counter attack.

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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Richard Anderson » 06 Feb 2020 23:05

You know, ten years later and you're the first person to notice I forgot the battalion entirely when I wrote that up! I certainly didn't notice...you made me re-read my own write up to be sure! :thumbsup: :lol:
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Re: US and German losses for Operation Lüttich?

Post by Cult Icon » 20 Apr 2020 05:57

Thanks, I finished reading "Victory at Mortain: Stopping Hitler's Panzer Counteroffensive' by Mark J. Reardon- probably the best book on the subject.

Interesting how the figures you provide make the battle seem smaller than the dynamic and dramatic troop activity would show.

There was also US 35.ID and 4.ID.

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