Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Discussions on the fortifications, artillery, & rockets used by the Axis forces.
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Sheldrake
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 16 Aug 2019 11:43

Artee wrote:
16 Aug 2019 07:39
And this thread is still going... Mind you it seems to be heading towards a general discussion about the origins of WW2.

Sheldrake,

(1) Re post #250…SAA 989 was equipped with 12.2cm howitzers ie. SFH 396(r). Maximum range ~11.8km NOT 20km. That is, 2./989 had to move from Amblie on the morning of 06June. Unless of course the battery commander of 2./989 physically carried his shells towards Benouville!


(2) Re post #253… I agree with jpz4. SAA 989, for example, had more than one month to lay ~6000m of land-line to each of their respective OP’s.


(3) Post #265 I didn’t think it was particularly “lazy comment”. The list from Post #264 is garbage…
Artee
Artee,

Thank you for the measured response.

RE 1. So 2./898 had to move on AM 6 June. They were probably out of action when the landings took place. Do you know where the battery moved to? Did they have any impact on the Orne Bridgehead battle? Are there mentions post D Day?

Re 2. The point at issue here is whether the Germans had dug in communications between their OPs and guns that survived shredding from the preliminary bombardment. I don't know how much line a German Artillery Abteilung had, but did it have enough to provide a ladder based system supporting six OPs across 15 km? A month might seem long enough to dig in wire if they had little else to do. (My back of an envelope calcyulation came up with 225 man months for 18 km of telephone wire dug in to 6 ft) But German units were tasked with providing labour for all the construction work on beach defences and Rommel asparagus for landing fields, and they had to maintain vehicles, undertake training. A further reason for my skepticism about dug in telephone communications is the absence of the evidence of diggings on aerial photographs.

I remain unpersuaded that 898th delivered effective defensive fire on Juno beach on D Day. Someone would have noticed 8 x 122mm guns firing DFs. There may have been spasmodic harassing fire, which is consistent with comms lost between OP and guns.

Re 3 My words were "lazy content." I agree with your view on the list in #264.

Artee
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Artee » 21 May 2020 08:36

Hello Sheldrake,

I see that since I last signed in to this forum you’ve released your book…

Back to SAA 989.

Firstly 2./989. Again, as mentioned back in May 2018…the battery almost certainly moved from its position at Amblie towards Benouville, pre-dawn on 06June. About the only detail we have next (from the 716 Inf Div after-action report) is that SAA989 still had three howitzers in action at the end of the day. By 12June the entire 989 had apparently disappeared from 7 Armee organisation charts. Whilst on 17June a Second Army intel summary tells us that the remnants of 989 were fighting as infantry to the east of the Orne River.

Secondly - the question of the batteries of SAA989 communicating with its OP’s. Yes, the infantry were entirely busy with the construction of defences/beach obstacles, however it doesn’t necessarily follow that the men of the 989, located inland, were required to assist. It is more probable that the unit’s priority task was to establish OP’s and lay line to them (notwithstanding the fact that SAA 989 was a Corps asset before it came under command of 716 Inf Div).

As for the absence of diggings on aerial photographs (and the associated maps), as you are aware, Allied Intelligence missed quite a bit – especially the location German batteries. And, again we cannot eliminate the use of German radio communication from the picture.

Thirdly – the Juno area. Thanks again to Valtoro for posting the map showing the location of the OP’s of SAA 989 we can make an assessment. That is, as the Canadian Infantry battalions commenced landing, there were four active German gun batteries facing the Juno area (nb. Not Anti-Ship batteries). However 6./716 at Ver Sur Mer & 7./716 at Beny Sur Mer had previously been located and their fire was suppressed by naval gunfire. The other two batteries were 1./989 & 3./155 (21 Panzer), neither of which had been targeted. However, 45 minutes before the Canadian infantry arrived on Nan Red, it was H-Hour on Queen beach in the Sword area. The first call for fire to 1./989 (if indeed the FO was still kicking) would have likely come from the OP in WN21 ie. overlooking Queen beach. Don’t forget that the ‘missing’ battery ie. 3./989 was actually facing the Gold area, not Juno. Thus, of the 12 12.2cm howitzers of SAA 989, it is quite likely that none of them were initially firing into the Juno area.

On Mike Red and Nan Red in particular, the indirect fire encountered by the infantry was predominately mortar fire. The RCA’s run-in shoot failed, in a highly spectacular fashion, to take out the mortars in WN27 & WN31. However, the Allied Intel/Air/Naval effort also failed to eliminate any of the German gun batteries facing the British/Canadian beaches.

Artee

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 21 May 2020 09:26

Artee wrote:
21 May 2020 08:36
Hello Sheldrake,

I see that since I last signed in to this forum you’ve released your book…
Thanks - I expect a critique or review ;)

I am still interested in the subject and value your thoughts.

I am working on a walking guide looking at the artillery story on the D Day beaches. This will include a lot of material that had to be left out of the book on the whole Normandy campaign.

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by jazote » 21 May 2020 14:06

Sheldrake wrote:
21 May 2020 09:26
Artee wrote:
21 May 2020 08:36
Hello Sheldrake,
I see that since I last signed in to this forum you’ve released your book…
Thanks - I expect a critique or review ;)
I am still interested in the subject and value your thoughts.
I am working on a walking guide looking at the artillery story on the D Day beaches. This will include a lot of material that had to be left out of the book on the whole Normandy campaign.
And when this "walking guide" will be printed ?
Thanks
Regards
JLM

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Sheldrake
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 21 May 2020 17:49

jazote wrote:
21 May 2020 14:06
Sheldrake wrote:
21 May 2020 09:26
Artee wrote:
21 May 2020 08:36
Hello Sheldrake,
I see that since I last signed in to this forum you’ve released your book…
Thanks - I expect a critique or review ;)
I am still interested in the subject and value your thoughts.
I am working on a walking guide looking at the artillery story on the D Day beaches. This will include a lot of material that had to be left out of the book on the whole Normandy campaign.
And when this "walking guide" will be printed ?
Thanks
Regards
JLM
Pen and sword have the title listed, but it is probably 2021

Artee
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Artee » 23 May 2020 03:13

Hello again Sheldrake,

Another tiny fragment of the SAA 989 story has materialised in the last 24 hours. That is the possible name of the Battery Commander of 1./989. This was Leutnant Heinrich Machens (born 25Jan1919 died 17Feb2001). As of 1939 he was a theology student, probably conscripted, seeing service as a Kanonier in the 267 Infanterie Division. He was wounded in Belgium, later serving in Norway in a Coastal Artillery Unit. By January 44 he was Leutnant Machens. He was reportedly captured near Basly, released from captivity in 46….

Artee

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Sheldrake
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 08 Jun 2020 15:12

Artee wrote:
23 May 2020 03:13
Hello again Sheldrake,

Another tiny fragment of the SAA 989 story has materialised in the last 24 hours. That is the possible name of the Battery Commander of 1./989. This was Leutnant Heinrich Machens (born 25Jan1919 died 17Feb2001). As of 1939 he was a theology student, probably conscripted, seeing service as a Kanonier in the 267 Infanterie Division. He was wounded in Belgium, later serving in Norway in a Coastal Artillery Unit. By January 44 he was Leutnant Machens. He was reportedly captured near Basly, released from captivity in 46….

Artee
Sorry I missed this.Many thanks!

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Sheldrake
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 08 Jun 2020 15:26

Lt Hunton, GPO C Troop, 109 Bty, wrote of D Day 6 June 1944 "The first thing which vividly stands out in my mind was some very nasty oil bombs which dropped close. The heat from them was terrific. We fired the odd target and dug out slit trenches at great speed. The noise was terrific. Odd snipers still remained in the houses on the beach and altogether everyone kept low but on constant lookout." His battery was "300m from the beach in a cornfield near Lion-sur-Mer"

When I read "Oil Bomb" I think of the Wuhrframe 32cm with Napalm
Image

Where were Wurfrahmen deployed on Sword Beach close enough to worry Lt Hunton? Who operated them?

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Jun 2020 08:45

This has been triggered by a post on a different forum so apologies to any denizens of http://www.ww2f.com/

There are a series of photgraphs in the Bundesarchiv showing a firepower demonstration for Rommel on 30 May 1944'. I have posted some hypotheses and questions for my fellow students of the science and art of artillery on 6 June
Image
The photos posted as the OP shows Rommel and his entourage walking away from by the sea shows a
The equipment they have been inspecting is this
Image
mistaken listed in the Bundesarchiv as a Waffenvorführung des 8-cm-Vielfachwerfers (Panzerwerfer auf Halbkettenfahrzeug "Maultier"); PK 698 at Rival Bella

The same picture is identified as "(Alfred) Becker stands by during presentation of one of his Vielfachwerfers, mounted on an armourized French SOMUA MCG" I am pretty sure the demonstration takes place at WN 21 Lion-Sur-Mer, because the porch in the background is distinctive. This was the German copy of the Katyusha on a French chassis. Zetteriling lists two of these as equipping 10./Pz Arty Regt 155.

This wasn't the only equipment demonstrated that day.
The second piece of equipment was the Reihenwerfer or Mittler Schutzenpanzerwagen S307(f) mit Reihenwerfer. This was a self-propelled barrage mortar from 16 Brandt 81m,m Mortars in rotating mounting on the back of an SOMUA MCG.
The vehicle is in the grounds of the Chateau at Lion-Sur-Mer - about 1.5 km - 20 minute walk 5 min drive from the sea front.
Image
This wasn't just a static display as there is another image showing the detachment loading the mortars.
Image
There are no images of the Reihenwerfer at the sea front. I think it must have been fired from the Chateau grounds. I am fairly sure it was fired, because if you invite VIPs to view some equipment and you load it they will expect to see it go bang. Furthermore it might be trickier to unload live bombs than simply fire them. Nor would I feel comfortable driving any distance with loaded mortars.

We have images of the fall of shot
Image
and observers watching it
Image
The observers have to have been away to a flank. No one wants to stand next to a rocket launcher when it fired. Probably to the west, as the maps show wire and a fence there.

I wonder if these images give some clues about the effectiveness or use of these weapons. .

1. Is there a way to estimate the range and spread of fire.from the photographs?

2. It is slightly odd that the barrage mortar is fired from the chateau grounds (if it was) while the rockets were fired from the sea front. Was the German Katyusha too unsafe to fire over the heads of friendly troops except on operations?

3. How useful was the Reihenwerfer? Initially I thought it was a bit of a waste of effort. Mortars have a high rate of fire anyway. 10-15 rpm, and what is the point for 2.8 km range. But the Reihenwerfer can perhaps put 16 bombs in the air in 15 seconds, which would give those on the receiving end less time to take cover. Maybe Becker was onto something? This was a good equipment for "shoot and scoot" which might avoid retaliation, but potentially risky by day under a hostile sky. My guess is that Rommel would have ordered all this stuff deployed close to the beach. Not sure of any specific references to the effects of these weapons. I think two of these were captured by the Canadians on D +1?

How many of these weapons were produced and who used them. According to zetterling the PGR regiments of 21 Panzer Diviison each have four of these equipments, but he does not mention any 8cm mortars for the battlaions. Kortenhaus' divisional history has different numbers?

Any comments or information?

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by jopaerya » 09 Jun 2020 08:58

Here the program for the day , Regards Jos ( NARA )
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by jopaerya » 09 Jun 2020 09:02

The "Reihenwerfer" on that day that looks a other location as the photo's you posted ?? BAMA

Regards Jos
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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Jun 2020 10:41

jopaerya wrote:
09 Jun 2020 09:02
The "Reihenwerfer" on that day that looks a other location as the photo's you posted ?? BAMA

Regards Jos
Excellent work. Many thanks!

So on the same demonstration they also had 15 cm Nebelwerfer.

Is that the sea in the background of the Reihenwerfer?

Any further information on the programme - was there a nachmitag page?

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 09 Jun 2020 11:16

The actual users of the Vielfachwerfer has always been in doubt partly because in one of the photographs of Becker showing it to Rommel it is quite clearly marked as being a vehicle of Stab./StuG. Abt. 200 while as you say Zetterling has the pair of them in 10./PAR 155.

The 16 barrel Reihenwerfer were used in the Heavy Companies of 21 PD's two Panzergrenadier Regiments.
Alan

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Jun 2020 12:46

Alanmccoubrey wrote:
09 Jun 2020 11:16
The actual users of the Vielfachwerfer has always been in doubt partly because in one of the photographs of Becker showing it to Rommel it is quite clearly marked as being a vehicle of Stab./StuG. Abt. 200 while as you say Zetterling has the pair of them in 10./PAR 155.

The 16 barrel Reihenwerfer were used in the Heavy Companies of 21 PD's two Panzergrenadier Regiments.
Were they in addition to or replacing the 12 x 8cm mortars shown in the heavy weapons companies of other panzer grenadier battalions?

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Re: Artillery in Normandy 6.6.1944

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 09 Jun 2020 14:20

These were the only mortars in those regiments, none of the rifle companies had their normal 2 x 8cm mortars and neither did the heavy company have its platoon of 6 mortars which would have made up the 12 to which you referred. The Reihenwerfer belonged to each regiment's 10.Kp., they must have found this a bit of a drag tactically but I've not read any complaints about it. I have always been surprised that von Luck made no mention of it in his book.
Alan

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