On September 28th 1944, German High Command issued an order to mount a counter offensive at the town of Mortain, which if successful would cut the Allies coheasion, and Drive them back to the sea.
The Spearheaded attack lead by Schturmbahnfuhrer Warner achieved an early suprise, but the Allies, supplied with fresh mechanised troops coming in from the recently captured port of Cherbourg quickly thwarted the attack.
Fresh on the success of the defence of Mortain the Allies quickly mounted up and pressed to idenfity the staging area where the Germans had attacked from, however they were met by heavy and precise German rifle and machinegun fire coming from an abandoned french sawmill just south of Flers.
After heavy casualties were inflicted on the Allies at the sawmill, Schturmbahnfuhrer Warner ordered the tactical withdrawal of his troops to resupply at Falaise. Elements of the 97th Infantry Artillery Battalion had in the mean time set up an 88mm artillery position East of Falaise, in an attempt to halt the Allied advance through the Bocage country.
The US, lead by General David Manning of the 1st Infantry Wincle Battalion, quickly persued the Germans down the narrow hedge-lined roads to Falaise, setting up a mortar positon on Hill 537 to engage the German position.
The Germans used the 88mm to halt the advances of the Allies, even to the point where the Falaise town sign on the road into the village was blown to pieces by a round accurately called in by the German commander, ontop of a US attack. (thanks to Alex for blowing up my Falaise sign )
The British and Commonwealth Commando team, lead by Lieutenant Richard Heath, set about flanking Falaise to silence the 88mm and disrupt the supply of ammuntion to the gun, however they met fierce resistance, only managing to break through just before the order to stand down was given for re-supply.
The Germans had inflicted and had taken many casualties defending the town, however the precise use of the 88mm and some fierce hedge-row fighting clinched a crushing blow to the Allied advance across northern France.
Once supplied, the Combined force of British and American troops, supported by members of the 5th Armoured Division lead a decisive attack on the now bloody and muddy Crossroads at Falaise. The Germans, on high Morale from their earlier victory, ambushed the attack, and inflicted casualties. Schturmbahnfuhrer Warner was advised of the 97th setting up another 88mm artillery gun in the woods east of Chambois, and withdrew his force to defend it and the road to it.
Once in Falaise, the British and Americans set up a Field Hospital on the cross roads and moved out on two flanks to Chambois. Within the Hedgerows the Germans had set up a large newtwork of cross-fire positions, and held the Allies off. Dispite brave and Heroic personal sacrifice from the Allies, the line moved very little, and the Field Hospital was filling up with wounded. Menbers of the Canadian First Army to the North and Patton's 3rd Army to the South had in the mean time been advancing East, Flanking the Germans in a pocket between Chambois and Argentan, despite the Speradic firing of the 88mm artillery position at Chambois.
For the Germans, despite holding the main frontal force of the Allied attack, the order was given to fall back to a bridge crossing the River SarthÃ© in the dark Foret De Gauffern. The Allies and Germans then fought over the bridge in the dwindling daylight of Sunday September 28th 1944, the Germans, having held the Allies at bay for the majority of the conflict, broke through the Canadian Armies lines and escaped the closing pocket despite taking heavy loses.
The failure to capture greater numbers of German troops was questioned by some commanders. The formation and reduction of the pocket was a great Allied success there was however a sense, even as the pocket closed behind the escaping Germans, that the enagement had not neutralised as many Germans combattants as anticipated during the initial phases, and that the Germans had escaped a rash attack on Mortain, and successfully stalled and inflicted great casualties on the Allied advance.
Overall enagement analysis points to a Moderate German victory.
it was a hard battle. the US troops were a little fragmented and incoherent and the german forces capitalised on this confusion. however , instead of fighting as a large force , when we were driven apart and divided into groups, from section size down to individuals, displayed a tenacity that was fierce. we didnt score over whelming victories but we did show the germans that a hand full of veterans bolstered up with young soldiers eager for a fight can do what is asked of them , and if not they will die hard in the attempt . we may not have compleated every objective, but we did not put a foot back.
Or from a British (i.e., my totally biased and unqualified) perspective â€¦â€¦
Reduced to only 9 men while lacking a supply of smoke and grenades, being without either L.M.G support or a sniper contingent, and with a re-supply point that was generally some distance from the frontline, the British force enthusiastically attempted all that was asked of it. Despite being outgunned and outranged, especially by elements of the enemy dressed in some previously unseen variants of cammo, they worked as a team to push forward onto their objectives: that the odds were slim did not negate their enthusiasm, but it did limit the opportunities for tea.
With thanks to Lt. Yith, a credit to his men who were a credit to him.
after holding a flank alone and out numbered on the outskirts of faliase for what seemed like ever, it was an incredible sight to see a british patrol and be greated by the office who informed me in a cheery and matter of fact way that they had come to help me personally. gob bless that british understatement and humilty. they didnt make any tea tho, i thought this a little out of charecter but they had had a hard day and suffered many loses. very brave profesional men .
and i thought you guys would always found time for tea
and i thought you guys would always found time for tea
Something we can always do is find a way to redefine a defeat as a victory.
but it did limit the opportunities for tea.
I managed to get a tea at lunchtime so that wasn't too much of a problem.