The Normandy campaign.

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The_Enigma
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by The_Enigma » 13 Mar 2010 21:17

bf109 emil wrote:
Waaaay back when I first questioned the "splitting bit" it was because another poster, Rifleman2113, had claimed that they had "fought" their way in, which is incorrect. KG Rauch did not fighting when they drove to Luc sur Mer since their approach route was via Mathieu and west of Plumetot and Cresserons...quite simply their were no British or Canadian troops there for them to split.


not trying to split hairs here, but perhaps the fighting their way in might have come from resistance to naval bombardment and air cover as opposed to a conventional term as facing an army or combating direct resistance...

Unsure as I lack the resources to conclude if the 21st came under resistance from air and sea and hence the term "fighting" or "fought" as opposed to "losses"

Perhaps a casualty list or losses for the 21st Panzer on June 6 might show that they did indeed suffer losses although the term "fought" might be better substituted for "losses inflicted upon"...as IMHO I find it hard to fathom a German Panzer outfit driving to the coast, turning around and suffering little loss during this day with the air and sea arsenal in full swing...

I did find this showing losses from June 6-8th for the 21st Panzer...but rather a poor site as losses are not related as to causes

Division combat losses:

6 June, 1944: 16 tanks lost.

8 June, 1944: 70 out of 124 Mk IVs operational after air attacks. Staffordshire Yeomanry AT and artillery get 13 more.http://www.spearhead1944.com/gerpg/ger1.htm

another poor example cites this but lacks definitive information as to losses inflicted upon on June 6 before retreating..."The 21.Panzer was still in France when the Allies launched their invasion of Normandy in June of 1944, and the division was thrown into action against the Allied postions as the only Panzer unit to do so on the 1st day of the attack, June 6th. Most of its armour was lost early in the battles, but the Grenadiers of the Division fought in and around Caen for many weeks.http://www.feldgrau.com/heer21p.html

this sites does list the 21st as counterattacking so I maybe assume the term "fought" might be appropriate...The German 21st Panzer Division counterattacks in the late afternoon but does not dislodge the British defenders http://www.onwar.com/chrono/1944/jun44/f06jun44.htm


Prob not helpful but the following website shows that Pz.Gren.Rgt. 192 lost 427 men by 16 June; to big of a gap to note anything of importance however.
It also notes that by 9th June approx 60 MK IVs were combat ready, with an unknown number under repair, out of the 98 combat ready tanks it had on 1 June (with a further 14 under various stages of repair). 16 June it strength peaks at 85 combat ready tanks if any one is intrested.

Source: http://w1.183.telia.com/~u18313395/norm ... gerob.html

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by bf109 emil » 13 Mar 2010 21:23

Waaaay back when I first questioned the "splitting bit" it was because another poster, Rifleman2113, had claimed that they had "fought" their way in, which is incorrect. KG Rauch did not fighting when they drove to Luc sur Mer since their approach route was via Mathieu and west of Plumetot and Cresserons...quite simply their were no British or Canadian troops there for them to split. 3 BID and the Commandos were fully engaged trying to take Lion sur Mer further east.


I did find this listing the 21st fighting which took place on June 6 and indeed the 21sy drove straight through unhampered to the beaches...


The Division began the day in dispersed positions around Caen, intended to operate against airborne or commando landings. Feuchtinger was under strict orders not to commit any forces against a major sea borne invasion without orders from Army Group B.

It may have been around 1 am on June 6th that Feuchtinger first received word of British paratroop landings east of the Orne. His two motorised infantry battalions were committed to support units of 716th Division in dealing with these, whilst his reconnaissance battalion was tasked with searching for further paratroop landings south of Caen. At 4-30 am, Army Group B released the entire Division for operations against the British paratroops east of the Orne, a decision which drew a considerable part of its strength further away from the coast. By 9 am, the bulk of 21st Panzer's armor was moving steadily north-eastwards away from Caen.

Then at 10-30 am, General Marcks, commanding 84th Corps, changed Feuchtinger's orders. He was to direct his main effort against the British and Canadian sea borne landings.

This belated change of objective resulted in what was to prove to be fatal confusion. Many of 21st Panzer's men were inextricably committed against the paratroops, and in an order issued at 1pm, Feuchtinger attempted to make the best of a bad situation. His armored units were to divide their efforts, three of his panzer battalions were to move against the sea borne landings, whilst the fourth, with Panzergrenadier regiment 125, and attached elements, was to continue operations against the paratroops. Three "kampe gruppes" (battlegroups) , named after their commanders, were improvised, two of them to take charge of operations against the sea borne invaders. Panzerkampegruppe "Oppeln " consisted of two panzer battalions, one panzergrenadier, one engineer and one armored artillery battalion; Panzerkampgruppe "Rauch" was formed from two panzergrenadier battalions, supported by armored engineers and artillery.

The result of this probably inevitable compromise was that only two-thirds of 21st Panzer Division was available for the vital counter attack towards the coast. Chances of success were further reduced by the time lost in re-grouping the Division. It took precious hours to bring men and vehicles over the limited number of crossings of the River Orne, whilst the streets of Caen were blocked with rubble as a result of continuous Allied air and naval bombardment, as well as by crowds of fleeing civilian refugees. As the first tanks eventually emerged from the western suburbs of the town, they were themselves subjected to air attack by rocket-firing Typhoons, and six were knocked out.

It was not until about 4pm that Oppeln's group began deploying near the village of Lebussey, north of Caen. At the same time, General Marcks, commanding 84th Corps took personal charge of the deployment of Group Rauch, which would face the dominating high ground of Periers Rise, still thought to be German-held. Underlining how vital the attack was, Marcks told Oberst von Oppeln-Bronikowski: "If you don't succeed in throwing the British into the sea, we will have lost the war."

At about 4-20 pm, the German assault began. By now, as we have seen, unbeknown to 21st Panzer, Perriers Rise had been occupied by troops of the British Shropshire Light Infantry, equipped with 6 pounder anti-tank guns, and supported by 17 pounder SP guns of the 20th Anti-Tank Regiment. With some trepidation, the British saw a formation of some 40 Panzer IV's rapidly approaching their position. They held their fire until the German tanks began to climb the slope of the Rise, and then opened a devastating fire from their concealed positions. In quick succession, six of the 25 Mark IV's attacking on the right were knocked out. The German advance ground to a halt as surviving tanks sought shelter in patches of woodland. Further to the west, around the village of Mathieu, the 1st Panzer Regiment suffered a similar fate, with around nine tanks knocked out. As a German account admitted: " The fire of the English, from their outstandingly well-sited defence positions, was murderous… within a brief space of time the armoured regiment of 21st Panzer Division had lost a total of 16 tanks, a decisive defeat, from which, especially in morale, it never recovered."

Further to the left, however, PanzerKampfegruppe "Rauch" had found the gap between the British and Canadian forces, and drove unchecked right through to the coast. Here they linked up with the 111th Battalion of Infantry Regiment 736, which was still holding coastal positions to the west of the village of Lion sur Mer. It was a seemingly dramatic breakthrough, which would however require substantial reinforcement if it were to exploit its initial success.

The psychological effects on British troops of the counter-attack were greater than its material results. It did, however, effectively halt for the day the already faltering Allied advance towards Caen, and caused Montgomery to abandon his planned direct assault on the city in favour of a much more time-consuming enveloping movement.

For the Germans, the day ended in frustration. There were no reserves available to exploit the breakthrough at Lion. At about 9 pm, as dusk fell, the men of Group "Rauch" heard the roar of approaching aero engines, as wave after wave of transport aircraft, some towing gliders, came into view, carrying the remainder of the British 6th Airborne Division. These were on their way to reinforce the earlier landings east of the Orne, but the German troops at Lion believed that they were about to be cut off. Apart from a few men of Panzergrenadier Regiment 192, who reinforced the defenders of the isolated Douvres strongpoint, both battlegroups of 21st Panzer were ordered to pull back to positions north of Caen.

German reaction to the Allied landings had been fatally slow. The other nearest mobile reserves, 12th SS Panzer and Panzer Lehr Divisions, were not released by OKW to 7th Army until 7 pm, too late for either, harassed as they were by air attacks, to intervene that day. Germany's last chance to split the British and Canadian landings had been lost.


source.Sword Beach - written by John Barratt
Copyright © 2000 John Barratt
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by The_Enigma » 13 Mar 2010 21:24

Just scanning through Beevor's book on Normandy, i dont like it very much but it does have some charmers in there, the below is is take on the 21st:

"The armoured formation closest to the Normandy coast was the 21st Panzer-Division, which would face the British in front of Caen. Equipped with the MARK IV tank, rather than the latest Panthers or Tigers, a sixth of its personnel consisted of Volksdeutsche. According to their commander, Generalleutnant Edgar Feuchtinger, they 'could hardly understand orders and could hardly be understood by their NCOs and officers'.

Although he doesnt provide any sources for his claims or the quote.

(Beevor,p. 39)

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by bf109 emil » 13 Mar 2010 21:33

Just scanning through Beevor's book on Normandy, i dont like it very much but it does have some charmers in there, the below is is take on the 21st:


more on the 21st...
Counterattack by John Barratt in his work Sword Beach...can be read here as was the source for prior post (sorry for not including this while using a copy and paste)
http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/dday/counterattack.aspx

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Mar 2010 04:08

The_Enigma wrote:Schnellbrigade – “Fast Brigade” apparently, but what exactly is that? One couple search mentioned bicycles; a bike portable infantry brigade?


Sorry, Schnellbrigade West or Schnellbrigade 931 was comprised of a reinforced Panzergrenadier Regiment, which later became Panzergrenadier Regiment 433 and then finally Panzergrenadier Regiment 125 when it was assigned to 21 Panzerdivision when that division was reconstituted in France on 15 July 1943. Geapnzertes Artillerie Brigade West spun off gepanzertes Artillerie Regiment 1, which was later renamed Panzerartillerie Regiment 155 and also assigned to the new division. The last element in France was Paner Regiment 100, which absorbed elements of Panzer Ersatz Abteilung 100, Panzerkompanie LXXXI Korps, Panzerkompanie LXXXII Korps, and Panzerkompanie Paris to form a II Abteilung and was also assigned to the division. Other various elements were reformed as the recnnaissance and service elements of the division. Finally, Panzergrenadier Regiment 192 was formed in France by 7. Armee, I suspect mostly from the old Africa veterans.

Ersatzwehrkreis VI – no ideas but would assume something to do with training per the rest of the sentence?
With that done, going off Lt-Gen Feuchtinger comments and your own analysis would it be fair to say that the 21st Panzer was in fact a relatively green formation i.e. mostly new trainees?


Ersatz are replacements, the Wehrkreis was a military district.

That does seem awfully low considering the popular image of these weapons; although obviously one should not too much weight into popular opinion. Do we know if there was sort of rules and regs permitting the number that could be used or was it simply as needed?


The initial ammunition issue was essentially just that, it was, more or less, the ammunition load carried by the units men, combat vehicles, and organic transport.

John Buckley using various American, British and German records suggests that between 6-15 per cent of Allied tanks in Normandy were taken out by these weapon systems and that is a figure that raises to 25-30 per cent by late 1944 as German tanks and anti tank guns became less available.(Buckley, British tanks in Normandy, p. 123) I think it’s safe to say that’s probably a few hundred tanks worth in Normandy?


I would be curious which ones he used that led to that conclusion? For US First Army, nine of the 32 tanks examined in June were lost to Panzerfaust/Panzerschreck, and seven of the others were lost on OMAHA on 6 June, skewing the sample a bit. In July 24 of 73 were lost to PF/PS. In August it dropped to seven in 130. The remark that the figure "raises to 25-30 per cent by late 1944" sounds suspiciously like an almost identical statement in Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II, but is related to Italy and 1945. Otherwise there is nothing in that study, which is the most complete on the subject I am aware of, that would lead to those actual conclusions, although losses to PF/PS did increase year to year in both Europe and Italy.
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by bf109 emil » 14 Mar 2010 08:19

John Buckley using various American, British and German records suggests that between 6-15 per cent of Allied tanks in Normandy were taken out by these weapon systems and that is a figure that raises to 25-30 per cent by late 1944 as German tanks and anti tank guns became less available.(Buckley, British tanks in Normandy, p. 123) I think it’s safe to say that’s probably a few hundred tanks worth in Normandy?



I would be curious which ones he used that led to that conclusion? For US First Army, nine of the 32 tanks examined in June were lost to Panzerfaust/Panzerschreck, and seven of the others were lost on OMAHA on 6 June, skewing the sample a bit. In July 24 of 73 were lost to PF/PS. In August it dropped to seven in 130. The remark that the figure "raises to 25-30 per cent by late 1944" sounds suspiciously like an almost identical statement in Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II


but this is a comparison related to percentage, then sure as German armor and AT weapon where depleted of course the resulting damage done to armor by PF/PS would increase accordingly on a % scale...IMHO if we go even further say the battle for Berlin the % of Russian armor lost to PF/PS was even a far higher percent...not because these weapons where superior, but because the lack of an alternative resulted in losses by PF/PS to be higher in a % basis

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by Attrition » 14 Mar 2010 16:56

The same logic applies to the proportion of infantry casualties caused by German mortars in the last two years of the war.

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Mar 2010 17:09

Attrition wrote:The same logic applies to the proportion of infantry casualties caused by German mortars in the last two years of the war.


Umm, first you have to show that there was a significant decrease in the number of weapons systems causing the loss and/or a significant increase in another weapons system causing the loss. Then you need to show that there was not another exogenous factor at work, such as terrain, weather, force mix, etc.

In any case, the argument was not whether or not increasing issues of PF/PS resulted in increased losses of Allied tanks over time...it is the rather simpler question as to whether or not the PF/PS was effective in Normandy. For that, I think it is sufficient to show the samples I have.

They were there, they were effective, time to move along... :roll: :lol:

Cheers!
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by Attrition » 14 Mar 2010 19:04

No I don't.

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by bf109 emil » 14 Mar 2010 19:19

.it is the rather simpler question as to whether or not the PF/PS was effective in Normandy. For that, I think it is sufficient to show the samples I have.


was it effective in Normandy as a whole, or more so in terrain such as bocage, hedgerows and towns which IMHO the PF/PS excelled at?

Was not trying to sound cheeky, but more so as to learning if and had the PF/PS had the same success in what can be deemed more so open country by the Heer!

for example did the Heer at times in Normandy allow Allied armor to advance per say in order that the PF/PS could be utilized ( at a proper distance) or did the effects of the PF/PS in open country in Normandy inflict a lesser % of casualties due to the limitations of the PF/PS limited striking power?

thanks
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by Lightbob » 14 Mar 2010 20:00

Rich I have been waiting for this for a few weeks it is a transcript of a interview given by my brother in law to the BBC for a radio programme about the men who fought in Normandy. During the interview my sister took it down in shorthand and kept it I asked if they still had it and it took a while to find and get to Spain. I don’t now how this fits in to the historic evidence scene


I was called up into the army in in early 1943 and posted to the Royal Armoured Corps at Bovington completing my recruit training and tank training at Bovington and Lulworth. After training I was posted to the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment at Catterick in Yorkshire and posted to A Squadron. The Regiment had just returned from the middle east and had seen a lot of fighting. We had all new Sherman Tanks which I thought was the ‘Bee’s knees’.
However the old sweats were not very keen on them calling them ‘Ronsons’ if we ever showed enthusiasm for the Sherman we were promptly told; “Wait till Gerry gets his hands on yer you’ll soon change yer mind” How true they were.

On the 13th June 1944 we landed in Normandy and I was a Corporal commanding a tank, soon involved in the ‘Epsom battle’ during the attack I have memories of tanks exploding into flames all around. As we moved forward there was a bang and the tank slewed round a mine had blown of the track luckily the Gerry teller mine rarely cause the tank to Brew up. So we escaped into the cornfield. Although the result of the battle was effectively a draw and we were quite proud of our selves, the loss of tanks worried us all. Later after Goodwood the feelings that getting killed was almost inevitable .

Operation Bluecoat on the 22nd August we advanced toward a place called Vire the reconnaissance on the town said it was empty which was a relief as we had been fighting the SS tooth and nail for this sort of town or village. However we were told that we were to leave Vire to the Americans who later had a terrible battle to capture it. I was told later that the Americans had told their press they were about capture Vire and if we had it would have embarrassed the American Generals.

Shortly after my tank was hit by an 88mm Gun which in fact was an antiaircraft gun. The tank immediately burst into flame I and the Gunner escaped through the turret and the driver and machine gunner escaped through their respective hatches. The loader was injured and could not get out under his own steam. The Gunner and I tried to pull him out but we were both burned around the arm. The loader told us to leave him as the tank would explode. I left the loader my revolver. The Gunner and I got clear and the tank exploded.

I was in Hospital for two weeks followed by ten days sick leave. I rejoined the Regiment and worked for the QM for two weeks, which was far too long. I rejoined my squadron in time for the advance to liberate Amiens advancing 60 miles in a day. Antwerp operation followed, Which was captured with out a great fight. But unfortunately the Germans controlled the Scheldt estuary and was reinforcing their garrison not from the North as is generally thought, but from the south, the Pas de Calais. 100,000 Germans were crossing at Breskens in Holland and over to Flushing in the Walcheren.

The British and Canadians had a real fight on their hands to open the waterway, but fortunately we were in rest area getting ready to rid ourselves of the despised Shermans and took delivery of the new Comet. What a change the Comet was like a thoroughbred racehorse, compared to a clapped out cart horse. We had just started to train on the Comet when we had to take the Shermans back and move down into Belgium and defend the Meuse against the German attack at the start of the battle of the Bulge. On 24 December, our advanced positions spotted and destroyed several tanks of our old friends the 2nd Panzer Division, what a Christmas present, but not for poor Gerry. From 26 December onwards, the Germans started to withdraw and 11th Armoured was replaced by the 6th Airborne Division, after having pushed the enemy back beyond Celles. Our brigade remained in support of the Airborne . We were involved in several minor battles with advancing Germans forcing them back to Grupont, before being finally sent to Ypres for rest, refit and continue training with our new Comets.

After the re-equiping we continued advancing into Germany reaching Dortmund and crossing the Ems Canal on the 30th March. We crossed the Weser at Stolzenau on 5 April. A week later unfortunately we got the rotten job of relieving the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. An agreement with Germans made it possible to declare the camp an open area, and the fighting moved northeast to the River Elbe near Lüneburg on 18 April. On the 30th of April we carried out our last attack capturing Artlenburg, Lubeck and Neustadt. Around Lubeck we had a rather unsettling occurrences of fourteen and fifteen year old Hitler Youth on Bicycles armed with two Panzerfaust attacking our tanks. A joke at first until they became dangerous, a little machine gun fire used to put them off. We patrolled around north Germany capturing 80,000 Germans with 27 generals

About three weeks before the war finished I was involved in a troop trial of a completely new tank which was better than the Comet had a better gun and a Gyroscope that kept the gun on target. That tank was the Centurion. Why we got the tank so late? If we had have got it in Normandy who could say what would have happened. I believe the the problem was Anglo-American politics. Some thing about the Americans refusing to manufacture a British tank under lend lease, insisting that the British have the Sherman. All the allied tanks in Normandy in my opinion, were inferior to the Germans, The Best Allied tank was the Cromwell with the 6pdr gun firing the sabot round

The war ended and we were then occupation Regiment in Schleswig-Holstein my Squadron assisting in the arrest of the Dönitz government in Flensburg. In 1946 the 11th Division was disbanded in 1946 The 3rd Royal tanks went to Hohne and I went home to be a civilian. During the fighting in Europe we had lost a lot of men and tanks about 3000 men over 300% of our tanks.

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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by The_Enigma » 14 Mar 2010 20:21

Lightbob wrote:Rich I have been waiting for this for a few weeks it is a transcript of a interview given by my brother in law to the BBC for a radio programme about the men who fought in Normandy. During the interview my sister took it down in shorthand and kept it I asked if they still had it and it took a while to find and get to Spain. I don’t now how this fits in to the historic evidence scene.


An intresting account but what exactly are you looking for people to comment on?
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Mar 2010 21:03

Attrition wrote:No I don't.


Sorry, I should have been clearer that I wasn't addressing you specifically or contradicting you, I was agreeing with you and expanding upon your rather brief response. :D
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Mar 2010 21:16

Lightbob wrote:Rich I have been waiting for this for a few weeks it is a transcript of a interview given by my brother in law to the BBC for a radio programme about the men who fought in Normandy. During the interview my sister took it down in shorthand and kept it I asked if they still had it and it took a while to find and get to Spain. I don’t now how this fits in to the historic evidence scene.


Fascinating, thanks! The BBC veterans interviews are a marvelous source. It's sad they have discontinued adding to them, but then, like my Dad, those wonderful fellows are fading into the sunset now. :(

Here in the States there isn't any "national" program quite like that to capture veterans memories before they are gone. The closest are the Army's Oral History Program at the US Army Heritage and Education Center of the US Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, PA http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ahec/index.cfm, see the "Search AHEC Collections" tab (but unfortunately most of what they offer online is from boring old generals instead of interesting old sweats like your brother-in-law :D ), and the very excellent, private foundation, Witness to War (http://www.witness-to-war.org/content/).

BTW, he didn't give an account for GOODWOOD? Do you know what he was doing during that?

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
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Re: The Normandy campaign.

Post by The_Enigma » 14 Mar 2010 21:58

Pooping himself? No offense! :)

Completly off topic but a similar thing happened in the 60s; vets of the First World War sent in letters etc of their experiences to the BBC so they could be used in a 26 episode tv series entitled 'The Great War’. I have 5 extracts from them for my uni studies all centered around the their feelings on the opening of the war - mainly to hammer home the point the run to colours is basically a myth.

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