Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: Question re: German tactics in the bocage - 1944 rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Michael Dorosh
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Tactical Wargamer's Journal
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
While researching an article on tactics in the bocage, I found a lot of good info on American tactics - Michael Doubler's work is pretty famous, and much is available online - but found not a lot from the German perspective. Found a few trace references among the late Ian Daglish's writings on his website, and some vague references among a couple of Panzer Lehr books. Mostly just got the impression the Germans were as unprepared to fight there as the Americans were, despite having four years of garrison duty in France. They just didn't imagine having to fight there for long.

Are there any particularly good references anyone wold recommend that discuss low level tactics or experiences with regards to the bocage from the German perspective?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
dustin boggs
Canada
Victoria
BC
flag msg tools
these are my overtexts and
badge
now I am without geek gold :(
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
no help for you but could you post your online findings for the yanks please
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Dorosh
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Tactical Wargamer's Journal
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ramkitty wrote:
no help for you but could you post your online findings for the yanks please


I actually published them in TWJ here:

TWJ

Link is to the download version; also available in print version.

Sorry, not trying to turn this into an advertisement.

I can recommend Michael Doubler's BUSTING THE BOCAGE, and there is an online version at this URL. (There are actually several online versions if you search). He also wrote CLOSING WITH THE ENEMY which is also quite good, though you have to purchase it.

I'm sure someone can summarize for you in detail, but basically the Americans had to come up with solutions via trial and error, and individual divisions seem to have come up with similar though unique solutions to getting through the compartmentalized terrain of the bocage, usually centred around tank-infantry-engineer co-operation and the use of explosives to blast through hedges, combined with a number of devices mounted on the tanks to cut through the hedges (the Culin device was most famous, but not by any means the only one used - others include the Salad Fork and the plain old Sherman Dozer). Interesting to note though that the Culin was not permitted to be used until COBRA began on 25 July, for fear of giving away its existence to the Germans. So for the entire Battle of Normandy, as the US Army historians defined it (25 July onwards was the breakout) the Americans were hamstrung by lack of equipment, or rather, the same lack of equipment the Germans had for getting vehicles through the hedges.

There is still a lack of consensus - at least in the sources I read - of just how roadbound tanks were, whether they actually crossed hedges or not, etc. Some parts of the bocage country seem to have been almost like the jungle - one US corps commander who fought on Guadalcanal actually compared it to same. Roads were little better than horse tracks and cross country travel almost impossible for the tanks in any event.

Anyway, Doubler talks about some of the American divisional routines, and it came down to company battle drills - usually a combination of breaching, tank fire, then company assault across the field, to be repeated as often as necessary in the course of an advance.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Michael Dorosh wrote:
Mostly just got the impression the Germans were as unprepared to fight there as the Americans were, despite having four years of garrison duty in France.


they fought there in the same manner as they fought anywhere else. For example, they attempted to use the terrain to their advantage defensively. At the lowest level their tactics were based around their machinegun's firepower. Shooting the enemy with it was often a good idea, esp. for example when he was reconnoitering, and one might assume in the bocage their American enemy had less than usual to answer it with, given that the American sector had denser bocage than the British and it was consequently more hazardous to traverse. Their most serious problem was Allied air power, and the bocage may have provided welcome protection from that. The main German advantage was infantry in quantity, and their defence in very great depth was seen by all to be successful and formed the only example on which to base post-war doctrine. Whether doctrines such as this are for the purposes of training or combat practice is an interesting question. Monty's great ability was to try to close the gap between these two possibilities.

Quote:
Are there any particularly good references anyone wold recommend that discuss low level tactics or experiences with regards to the bocage from the German perspective?


These things are usually platitudinous waffle that state the obvious repeatedly. Doubler's book is slightly detached from reality, given that he has his hyper-aggressive GIs crying when the regimental bayonet-sharpening machine breaks down. Their tendency to run is not discussed. The participants who were regular officers, and therefore cared, tended to hold in their minds a league table that ranked divisions by quality, which suggests they varied in this respect to a greater extent than the ideas their constituents carried into battle.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't even recall a debate, but then there are so few.

The equipment repeatedly mentioned as being loved forms a long list. The food is often forgotten, but GIs had the best. The 1911A1, the 1903 Springfield, the Thompson, the M1 carbine especially, the bazookas, the famous 50cal, the White scout car, the DUKW, the M3 tank, the M18 tank destroyer, the 105mm and 155mm howitzers, & to some extent the long guns. Much of this satisfaction came from specific features of a weapon, and often came from foreign operators as well, and it shouldn't be forgotten that foreign inventions were often of American manufacture, for example Savage in Mass. made many Mk. IV SMLE rifles and Packard made the Rolls-Royce aero engine that transformed the superlative Mustang. Other stuff such as the Garand was often well-liked but you don't come across approbation to the same degree as in these cases above. The jeep and the M3 halftrack were good in their niche but lacked the versatility that the exigencies of war demanded of them -- all halftracks did, for example, as they were a compromise in performance terms which is the reason why the concept didn't survive the war. Also their ubiquity meant they kept having to remove dead bodies from them. The Sherman [and its gun] shouldn't really have still been in service in 1944, but for all the allies' industrial might, none of them produced a tank whose technology dominated the battlefield in its heyday, which might have been a matter of months. And it shouldn't be forgotten that the most important element is always the man pulling the trigger, or rather his willingness & ability to do so.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.