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Subject: AAR - St Lo rss

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Pete Atack
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Initial Deployment



German.

352d Division. Front of 9 company strength Strong Points backed by 7 battalion SPs about 1-1.5km behind the line and 2 battalions in general reserve near St Lo.

3d Fallschirmjager Division. Front of 10 company SPs backed by 2 company and 2 battalion SPs 600 meters to 1km back and 2 battalions in general reserve farther back near St Lo.

US.

2d Division. 3 battalions at the base of Hill 192.

29th Division. 116th Regt tying in with 2d Div. The 115th Regt in 9 company strength positions covering the center and US right flank, linking up with the 35th Div. Second and Third Battalions of the 175th Regt in immediate reserve on the US left flank behind the 116th Regt.

35th Division. 320th Regt in mixed company and battalion strength positions on the division's left flank with 1st thru 3d battalions of the 137th Regt in positions east of the Vire River.


GT1 11 July

Through an aggressive counter-recon plan, the 3d FJ Division picks up on the impending attack by the 2d US Div & quickly barrages the assembly area of 2/38th (2d battalion, 38th Regt) pinning the unit in place. US initial barrages are far less effective and fail to disorganize any German positions. Regardless, the orders are to attack. 3/38th, heavily reinforced with armor and engineers, quickly overtakes 2 companies of the 3/9th FJ including the key position on Hill 192. Due west of the hill, the 116th Regt also advances rapidly. Minimal German resistance (from 1/8th FJ) is pushed aside in La Rocque allowing the 1st & 3d battalions to move south down the Bayeux Road. Paratroops from the 1/8th & 2/9th FJ hastily move back to positions out of sight of the US observation posts (OPs) not sighted on Hill 192. Advances elsewhere are far less satisfactory. The green 35th Div fails to engage the German 352d Div anywhere and the balance of the 29th Div is largely scattered in company defenses that are each too weak to attack without reforming into battalions.

Notes : The US forgot to use two available air strikes - a critical mistake. The US 35th Div could not activate due to the random ending of the Operations Phase. German decisions were to either reform companies into battalions and leave some gaps in the line, or form a solid line and watch the individual companies be easily swamped by US battalions (the latter does allow for delaying the US forces as a result of possibly forcing more activations, hence lowering the morale levels).

GT2 12 July

Inconsistent actions across the US front have led the commanders to fall behind their aggressive schedules. The 2d Div, having captured all the prepared German positions in their sector (destroying the last of the 3/9th FJ in the process), are only able to advance 1 battalion south, stopping just north of St Pierre Du Semilly. Only an odd decision by the 1/5th FJ to advance into Plantro generates any activity in 2d Div's HQ as their forward observers on Hill 192 quickly bring down a crushing barrage on the unit.

In 29th Div sector poor attacks by the both the 115th & 116th Regiments sap the offensive spirit of the division. First, the 1/115th is shot to pieces in front of La Luzerne which had been reinforced by StuGs from 3d FJ Division HQ. Next was an equally poor attack by 3/115th on 3/8th FJ that cost a company's worth of men. Lastly, an attack by 3/116th on Le Mesnil Sigard that was also pushed back with the loss of several M10s and 50% of the battalion to heavy German 75mm anti-tank gun fire from the 2/9th FJ.

The 35th Div again had a paltry day gaining most of its ground due to the German units pulling back to the 2d defense line. Only two companies from the 897th Battalion (352d Div) were lost to the advancing Americans. Most worrying to the US commander : no divisional assets from the 352d had yet been identified in the front lines.

As for the Germans the front seemed to be solidifying. The 352d is holding strong along the 2d defense line manned by 7 battalions. Only a slight gap between Hill 122 & Mesnil Rouxelin worries the command. In 3d FJ's area most prepared positions have been lost / abandoned, but the key positions of Martinville Ridge & the Bayeux Rd are still under German control. In several areas, many German battalions have worked to exhaustion to dig new positions (mainly along the Talvas-Hill 122-La Capelle line).

Notes : US attacks are still not taking proper advantage of barrages. The Germans were very able at disengaging and moving back to new positions and then digging in. Part of this seems to be due to the lack of US interdiction fire to lower German initiative.

GT3 13 July

Already behind schedule, heavy rains do nothing to assist. The US 2d Div pushes its 3/38th south towards Plantro which the Germans hastily abandon. The entire 29th Div sits motionless, only enduring a moderate barrage on 2/115th directed from Hill 122. Under cover of poor weather, a fatigued 2/9th FJ starts to pull back off Martinville Ridge, but rain and mud keep them from getting far. The one US attack, by 3/320th (35th ID) fails to make any headway and loses 2 armored companies and scores of infantry. For the last time, the US corps commander orders his divisions not to attack without an advance barrage. As night falls, most troops on both sides are at least grateful for some rest.

Notes : Rain and a quick end to the random activation keeps both sides static. After 3 turns the folly of attacking without the defender being pinned or disrupted has come to roost (especially when the defender is in Improved Positions or Strongpoints).

GT4 14 July

Attacks all across the line pressure the Germans, but fail to get optimal results. The 116th Regt moves up along the Martinville Ridge and the north side of the Bayeux Rd, but an attack on the 2/9th FJ is repulsed with losses in tanks and infantry that can't be afforded. South of La Luzerne, Ger artillery breaks up the advance of the 2d & 3d battalions of the 175th Regt which is followed up by a last disastrous attack by the 2/115th on Les Romains (trying to open the Isigny Rd). In protracted fighting the battalion is destroyed, but the defenders (2/943d) are also bloodied. Finally in the 35th Div sector two attacks cost the 3/137th & 3/320th for no gain. By days end German positions are still strong and no direct threat to St Lo exists.

GT5 15 July

Under clear skies & with rested troops, US forces finally make impressive gains. The 2d & 3d battalions of the 175th Regt quickly advance to La Coudree (1.5km northeast of St Lo) after a devastating air strike destroys the remnants of the 1/8th FJ in La Couchais. Now exposed, 2/8th FJ abandons La Luzerne and moves west of the Isigny Rd just below Hill 122. Also supported by air and artillery, 1/116th overruns the 2/9th FJ, clearing the Martinville Ridge & advancing on La Planche. In 35th Div's sector, 2/134th captures the La Marel SP effectively cutting off the 1/914th (352d Div) in Le Carillon. Due west of the Vire River 1st & 2d battalions of the 137th Regt close in on, and bottle up a German battalion in La Cornicaillerie (a quick reduction will open the Vire River Valley).

Notes : finally the proper use of air power cracks the German line. At this point the US has realized that possible leaving some battalions as companies may have aided in pinning German units and allowing the easier bypass of SPs.

GT6 16 July

The day starts cloudy, but a break in the weather lets another air strike ravage Ger positions - the 2./943d, already reduced is eliminated in Les Romains. With the collapse, only 1 prepared position remains between the US forces and St Lo. The 2d Div is also able to push aside resistance in Catigny (1/5th FJ) ending the Ger presence in their sector. From that point on, Ger tactical ability runs the table. Heavy barrages from Hill 122 and La Capelle pin and disrupt 5 separate US battalions, virtually halting US operations before delivering the fatal blow. The 1/9th FJ, supported by engineers and Jagdpanthers attack from La Capelle. They quickly brush aside a recon platoon, then overrun a pinned 3/116th battalion and supporting engineer detachment for only the loss of their panzer support. Not finished, they regroup and attack into the flank of another disrupted unit - the 2/116th, which is also destroyed in the action. Full of confidence, the 1/9th pulls back to La Capelle ending the day sitting strong in the farm complex with OPs back up in the high ground. Largely demoralized, all US units are ordered to halt and reconsolidate for the evening.

GT7 17 July

With units relatively rested, the Americans prepare to step off again. As the better part of 4 battalions are now within striking distance of St Lo, regimental commanders are confused by midday as no orders arrive from higher HQs. IN one of those striking events that influence battles, somehow no new orders are cut to have units move out from their halts the previous evening. By the time the mistake is realized, the plans are delayed until the following day.

Notes : the GT ended after only 3 activations.

GT8 18 July

With a flurry of orders coming from corps pressuring the division for success, the 29th and 35th divs launch assaults everywhere possible. La Cornicaillie, held by 2/897th (352d Div) and St Herbert fall to a grinding attack by the 1st & 2d battalions of the 137th Regt. Southwest of Les Malaies, the 1/915th is hit hard and forced to retreat back on Hill 122, but the 3/137th & 2/134th (35th US Div) are unable to move any closer than 2.5-3km to St Lo. The 29th Div gets closer but at high cost. With air and artillery support, the 3/115th destroys the 2/8th FJ and a StuG company in La Barberie but close fighting & heavy indirect fire breaks the battalion as a fighting organization. The 1/116th, after seeing two sister battalions slaughtered elects to hold its positions while 2d & 3d of the 175th slides north around a German SP in La Macconnerie & get astride the St Lo suburbs but are held in place by 3 German battalions.

Notes : no key VPs hexes fall to the US. Only 6 regular depots have been captured and occupied and none of the key St Lo hexes is credibly threatened.

Victory

US 6 VPs = German substantial victory.

US Basic Game notes.

US use of airpower is crucial to opening the line.

Use some companies to pin & screen German positions so battalions can easily bypass (especially in 35th Div sector); most Ger units of the 352d have limited attacking power and unless well supported will collapse in the attack.

Don't attack without at least trying to pin/disrupt with artillery.

German Basic Game notes.

Shorten the line ASAP; consolidate most battalions, but do not underestimate the ability of company positions to slow the US even though they will be destroyed quickly.

Try not to commit assets to companies.

352d Division. I think they were underused. At game end 50% of divisional assets were not assigned (some of this was due to the US 35th Div never really hitting an offensive stride), but many battalions were in very strong SPs but that left gaps in the line (the US did not exploit).
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Jem Ruggera
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
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Great report, very much enjoyed it.
 
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