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Bocage Fighting Around St Lo

Discussion in 'The War In Normandy' started by Jim, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    American infantry backed by armour attack a German position embedded in the tightly knit Normandy countryside of the Bocage during the fighting around St lo in late July

    The overwhelming strength of US First Army and the staggering firepower supplied by artillery and close-support aircraft began to count for little when its troops entered the thick Bocage. Progress was severely limited by the Normandy countryside, comprising small fields and high earth banks topped with hedges and narrow lanes, all surrounded by thick undergrowth and vegetation. Fighting was reduced to small scale assaults against an almost unseen enemy. Every hedgerow housed a German anti-tank gun or machine gun nest and every lane formed an anti-tank ditch. The result was many face-to-face actions in which the attackers often came off worse. An American Sherman tank (1) from US 3rd Armoured Division is attacking the line held by Panzer Lehr Division in the Bocage near St Lo, supported by American infantry (2) from US 30th Infantry Division. The German position was established along hedgerows in sunken lanes, almost Impossible to detect except at very close quarters. American infantry have had to rush a German position from across a small field behind the protection of armour. Attached to the front of the Sherman is a Cullin Hedgerow Device (3) . This was an improvised attachment thought up by an American engineer to overcome the problems of trying to get over the high banks that surrounded every field lane. The banks acted as an antitank obstacle to advancing armour which had difficulties driving up and over them, for each time a tank crested a bank it exposed its vulnerable undersides to the enemy. Cullin's solution was to use German 'Hedgehog' obstacles that littered the landing beaches. These devices were made from pieces of railway line welded together to form spikes which were designed to rip the bottom out of landing craft. Sergeant Cullin used the rails to construct a kind of ram which was welded to the front of the tank. In action the tank would drive hard at the bank, the protruding ram would penetrate into the earth breaking up the bank and the device would then burrow through, pushing the earth and roots of the hedge up over the front of the tank. Many types of these Cullin devices were improvised by tank crews and fitters in the field. They often took on a variety of hastily welded shapes and forms. The German 75 mm anti-tank gun (4) had been sited to cover the field to its front, but the sudden rush by American Infantry and tanks has given the crew little time to engage all of the attacking armour. One Sherman has managed to get through to the German line and the position is now lost. Some of the enemy try to flee; others are dealt with by the accompanying American infantry. One brave Panzergrenadier (5) is in a position to engage the Sherman tank with a Panzer1aust hand held anti-tank weapon, but from such close quarters he may well perish in the resulting blast. It required a great deal of courage to use these portable weapons. Each country had examples of this type of anti-tank 'bazooka' in their arsenal and their effectiveness all depended on the user getting into a good position close to the armour he was stalking. Not surprisingly, many of those who tried to use them were killed by supporting infantry or by the machine guns of the tanks themselves.

  2. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

    Dec 15, 2007
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    do not forget jim,the 2nd british and 1st canadian armies,also fought in the bocage,not just americans.17pdr.

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