Microsoft Video Games Close Combat User manual

Microsoft Video Games Close Combat User manual
You can choose commands and expand or scroll the Close Combat View Area using the following
key combinations and sequences:
Function
In Windows95
Game Reference
m
On the Macintosh
Scroll the View Area
Arrow keys
Arrow keys
Expand the View Area
CTRL+G (or ALT, O, G)
COMMAND+G
Turn sound on/off
ALT, O, S
Turn music on/off
ALT, O, M
Turn videos on/off
ALT, O, V
Remove trees
CTRL+T (or ALT, O, T)
COMMAND+T
Remove soldiers KIA
CTRL+K (or ALT, O, K)
COMMAND+K
Pause Close Combat
F3
COMMAND+P
Stop a game
CTRL+A (or ALT, G, A)
COMMAND+A
Exit Close Combat
ALT+F4 (or ALT, G, X)
COMMAND+Q
Get Help
F1
COMMAND+H
Issue a Move command
Select a team, then press Z
Select a team, then press Z
Issue a Move Fast command
Select a team, then press X
Select a team, then press X
Issue a Fire command
Select a team, then press C
Select a team, then press C
Issue a Smoke command
Select a team, then press V
Select a team, then press V
m
Close Combat
*69052*
Game Reference
Close Combat Keyboard Quick Reference
Take command of men who act like real soldiers
Chapter 1
About Close Combat
Chapter 1
About Close Combat
June 6, 1944. The largest invasion fleet in history lies off the coast of Normandy,
France. Four years ago, France surrendered to Germany, and the remnants of the
British Expeditionary Force fled from the beaches of Dunkirk. Now the Allies are
ready to strike back. Their goal is to liberate western Europe. The Germans’ goal
is to hurl the invaders back into the sea. Failing that, they must harass and delay
the Allies and make them pay for every foot of ground. In this campaign, the fate
of nations hangs in the balance.
The campaign you’ll be fighting in Close Combat took place in Normandy
between June 6 and July 18, 1944. It begins late on D-Day as units of the
American 29th Infantry Division reach the high ground above Omaha Beach to
meet the German 352nd Infantry Division. The campaign ends 20 miles inland at
the strategic town of Saint-Lô.
During those six weeks, soldiers of the Allied and German armies endure some of
the closest and most vicious combat of World War II, across one of the most
bizarre terrains ever contested in any war: the Norman hedgerow country—the
bocage. It’s a place where rulebook tactics don’t hold up; where a defense based
on infiltration and ambush kills men and tanks who seldom see the enemy; where
adaptability and improvisation become as important as tanks and guns in pressing
the attack. No matter which side you choose to play, Close Combat is an intriguing
mix of historically accurate weapons and terrain, realistic combat psychology, and
opportunities to change history through superior skill and leadership.
The Close Combat campaign consists of six operations, each with distinct challenges and opportunities. The decisions you make and the leadership you provide
decide the outcome of each operation, and shape the campaign to reflect your
effectiveness as a commander.
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Close Combat
Close Combat Game Theory
Historical accuracy and realistic psychology make Close Combat different from
other strategy games. The forces, the locations, the weapons, all reflect the reality
of the Normandy Campaign. And the Close Combat artificial intelligence (AI)
tracks not only every round fired, but also the physical and psychological states of
individual soldiers and their teams. Because the AI uses this information to vary
soldier and unit performance in every situation, every game is different.
You Lead Human Beings, not Superheroes
One of the first things you’ll notice when you play Close Combat is that you
can’t always make things happen when or as you want them to. Close Combat
challenges the player with a realistic representation of complex and unpredictable
human behavior under the stress of combat. For example, when you order your
units to move or fire, they may respond immediately and move or fire quickly, or
take a while to respond, or not respond at all. They may also react in a way that
has nothing to do with your orders: They might take on an entirely different target,
or dive for cover, or hide, or run away. This is because your soldiers behave not
like robots or superheroes, but like—human beings!
Your troops’ human behavior doesn’t mean their reactions are out of your hands,
however. The better you lead your men, the better they respond to your orders.
Players who lead their squads into trouble—whose decisions result in squads
becoming overly fatigued, suppressed by incoming fire, ambushed, captured, or
killed—will find that their units’ performance deteriorates: Incoming fire makes
the men want to seek cover, and reduces their desire to attack. Fatigue also reduces
the likelihood of soldiers hitting their targets, or obeying future orders that require
physical effort. If the fire is heavy enough and their cover is insufficient, soldiers
may disregard orders and stay put instead of moving and firing. As each side takes
casualties, its cohesion—the willingness of its soldiers to fight—deteriorates. And
if a player’s leadership has resulted in heavy casualties or sufficient accumulated
stress, soldiers may break and run.
Close Combat bases its psychological model on a study of the behavioral effects
of combat stress by Dr. Steven Silver of Temple University. The game tracks the
cumulative physical and emotional stress that soldiers and units on both sides
experience. Given their current state at any point in a game, it determines whether
or not soldiers will carry out orders, and how quickly and effectively they will
carry out those orders.
Chapter 1
About Close Combat
You can choose to exercise “super” control over your troops by setting soldiers in
the “always obey orders” mode before starting a game, but you can’t switch them
out of this mode during play, and gains made this way usually lead to increased
casualties and decreased team performance. For more information, see the section
titled “Who’s in Control? You Choose.”
Taking Other Realistic Factors into Account
You’ll notice as you play that Close Combat tracks soldier fatigue and adjusts
soldier and squad performance to reflect cumulative fatigue. As in actual battle,
men who have run long distances carrying heavy loads, or who have to drag big
weapons into position, become fatigued, and their morale suffers accordingly.
Another distinctive feature of Close Combat is that, as in real combat, players
can never take for granted that a shot fired will hit or destroy a target. Terrain
may shield the target and deflect the shot. And, as in real combat, soldiers who
are pinned down by enemy fire, extremely tired, or low on morale don’t shoot
accurately.
Weapons have their limitations as well. Every weapon used in Close Combat has a
base chance to hit, depending on the distance to the target and the type of ammunition used, and hitting a target doesn’t guarantee its destruction. The game resolves
the effect of each hit based on target protection in eight directions, on the
weapon’s penetrating power, and on its blast effect and lethal radius.
Dynamic Play Balancing Means No Two Games Play the Same
A major feature in Close Combat is the ability of the game to dynamically
balance itself against its opponent. Close Combat adjusts the relative strength of
each side—American and German—from one battle to the next throughout the
campaign to represent historical strength. However, a player winning most
battles decisively will face stronger enemy forces with each win. This dynamic
play balancing means more challenge for expert players and less frustration
for novices.
Play balancing also means that the game adjusts its level of difficulty to suit the
quality of play in any given game. For example, players on the American side who
do well in the first scenario are less likely to get reinforcements or replacements to
bring their forces up to the full complement specified in the historical order of
battle. If players lead less successfully, the reverse applies, and they get more
reinforcements and replacements but at a cost in time, which delays their eventual
assault on Saint-Lô.
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Close Combat
Who’s in Control? You Choose
As noted earlier, your teams may or may not obey an order you give them.
However, you can avoid order overrides by selecting the “Soldiers always
obey” game option. Even so, when a team receives orders to fire, it may decide
that a different target represents a greater threat, and may fire at that alternate
target instead.
A soldier’s emotional state may also keep him from carrying out an order; he may
remain in cover or run away. Again, you can override these states by setting troops
in “Soldiers show no fear” mode before starting a game, but you can’t switch them
out of this mode during play, and units may follow orders with such enthusiasm
that they sustain far more casualties. Choosing “Soldiers show no fear” mode is
not only risky, but also makes game play less realistic.
To learn how to play Close Combat, turn the page.
For a detailed history of the Normandy Campaign depicted in Close Combat,
including a discussion of defensive and offensive tactics in the hedgerow battle,
see Chapter 4, “The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat.”
To read about the larger events of World War II that led to or resulted from the
Normandy Campaign, see Chapter 7, “The Big Picture: A Short History of
World War II.”
Chapter 2
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
This chapter describes how to install and set up Close Combat, how to
learn game-play basics using Boot Camp scenarios, and what type of
games you can play (Maneuvers, Campaigns, and Replays). Finally,
this chapter provides how-to-play procedures for Close Combat.
Installation and Setup
This section describes how to install and set up Close Combat.
To set up Close Combat in Windows 95
When you install Windows 95, AutoRun is enabled. To set up Close
Combat in Windows 95:
1 Insert the Close Combat CD into the CD-ROM drive.
Windows 95 displays the Close Combat AutoRun screen.
2 Click the Install button at the bottom of the dialog box.
After installation is complete, the Close Combat AutoRun screen
launches each time you insert the game CD.
To set up Close Combat in Windows 95 if AutoRun is disabled
1
2
3
4
Insert the Close Combat CD into the CD-ROM drive.
Double-click the My Computer icon.
Double-click the CD-ROM drive icon.
Double-click the Setup icon.
To launch Close Combat in Windows 95
1
2
3
4
Make sure the Close Combat CD is in the CD-ROM drive.
Click the Start button.
Click Microsoft Games.
Click Close Combat.
Setup and Game Play
5
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Close Combat
To set up Close Combat on the Macintosh
1 Insert the Close Combat CD into the CD-ROM drive.
The Close Combat CD icon appears.
2 Double-click the Close Combat CD icon.
This opens the Close Combat window.
3 Double-click the Close Combat Setup icon.
To launch Close Combat on the Macintosh
1 Double-click the Microsoft Close Combat folder, or the folder you specified
during setup.
2 Double-click the Close Combat icon.
System Requirements
The following table shows the minimum system requirements for playing Close
Combat in Windows 95 and on the Macintosh.
Minimum Windows 95
System Configuration
Personal computer with Pentium
processor
8 megabytes RAM
(16 MB recommended)
20 MB of free hard disk space
2X CD-ROM drive
640x480x256-color video (800x600
higher resolution recommended)
Sound card
(recommended but not required)
9600-baud modem (for dial-up
head-to-head play)
Minimum Macintosh
System Configuration
Macintosh with PowerPC
processor
12 megabytes RAM
(16 MB recommended)
20 MB of free hard disk space
2X CD-ROM drive
13-inch monitor (15-inch or
or larger monitor recommended)
Sound Manager 3.1
Microsoft Windows 95 operating
system
Network card (for head-to-head
Local Area Network play)
Headphones or speakers
Apple System 7.5. and QuickTime
2.1 (for playing QuickTime videos)
Network card (for head-to-head
Local Area Network play)
9600-baud modem and MacTCP
2.0.6 (for dial-up head-to-head play)
Chapter 2
Close Combat Game Types
You can play four types of games with Close Combat: Boot Camp,
Maneuvers, Campaigns, and Replays.
Boot Camp
Close Combat’s Boot Camp includes scenarios you can use to learn
and practice the skills you need to play, and win at, Close Combat.
Maneuvers
Maneuvers are single battles, such as Off The Beach 1, that represent
actions from the Normandy Campaign. At the end of each battle in
maneuver play, the Debriefing screen appears; you must return to the
Command screen and choose another Maneuver, Campaign, or Replay
to continue playing.
Campaigns
A Campaign consists of all six Close Combat operations played in a
continuous sequence. During campaign play, each of these six operations is composed of several battles. For example, during campaign
play, the Off The Beach operation is composed of one to three battles.
The number of battles you fight depends on your success; if you don’t
win a battle, you may find yourself fighting for the same terrain
againjust as the 29th and 352nd Divisions did in the Normandy
Campaign.
Replays
Replays are “movies” of a battle you played and saved. You can create
Replays at the end of a battle (Maneuver or Campaign), or when you
choose to end a battle, by using the Save Replay button on the Debriefing screen. You can jump in and start playing a Replay at any point
during playbackas soon as you issue a command, you’re playing the
game.
Playing Close Combat—An Overview
•
•
In Windows 95, click the Start button, click Programs, click
Microsoft Games, and then click Close Combat.
On the Macintosh, double-click the Microsoft Close Combat folder,
then double-click the Close Combat icon.
If you want to skip the opening graphics and move directly to the
Command screen, press any key.
Setup and Game Play
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Close Combat
On the Command screen, click to select the game options you want:
1 Click Boot Camp (basic training), Maneuvers (to fight single battles),
Campaign (to fight all battles sequentially), or Replays (to play previously
completed battles).
Choosing any of these options displays a scrollable list from which you can
choose the training scenario or action you want to play.
Maneuvers is the default setting.
2 Select the training exercise, battle, Campaign (new or saved), or Replay you
want.
3 Select the side you want to fight on (American or German).
American is the default setting.
4 Select one-player or two-player game.
When you start Close Combat, the default setting is one-player—you choose
the side you want to play, and your computer plays the enemy side. Click the
Two-Player button to connect by way of a modem or network with another
player.
5 Select the level of difficulty you want for the upcoming game: Easy, Normal,
Hard, or Custom.
The default setting is Normal.
6 Click Begin to load the game. The game starts in Deploy mode.
7 Examine the game map, drag your teams to the positions you want, then click
Begin again to start game play.
Once you begin play, you issue commands (Move, Move Fast, Fire, Smoke,
Defend, or Hide) until you win or lose.
When the game is over, Close Combat tells you who won, then the Debriefing
screen appears, summarizing the results of the battle. From this screen you
can save any completed game as a Replay.
If you have played a Maneuver (single-battle) game, you can return to the
Command screen and select another battle. If you’re playing a Campaign
game, you can choose to play the next battle in the Campaign.
Going to Boot Camp
Boot Camp walks you through five sample battles to teach you Close Combat
basics. You lead soldiers and issue orders while learning the basics of the game.
The exercises are usually most valuable when you do them in order, but you can
do them randomly if you prefer.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
To start Boot Camp
1 Click the Boot Camp button.
2 Click a Boot Camp exercise in the list.
3 Click Begin.
During Boot Camp training, you follow the directions in the training messages
appearing on the screen. You continue through the exercise by performing the
action it prescribes. You can quit at any point during Boot Camp by choosing
Abort Battle from the Game menu (File menu on the Macintosh). Close Combat
Boot Camp consists of the following five exercises:
Quick Tour of Close Combat
This quick tour is the shortest of the five exercises. It takes you to the Command
menu and gives you an opportunity to issue commands.
Viewing Terrain
The terrain-viewing exercise covers the screen elements in the View Area (play
area). It shows you the landscape and how to move around the map to see the
battle.
Monitors and Toolbars
This exercise describes the screen elements surrounding the play area, and
teaches you how to interpret soldier information. You learn about changes
displayed in the game monitors and how to use those changes to your benefit.
Infantry Strategies
This exercise lets you try a few basic strategies that you can use in the battles. It
briefly explains soldier behavior and the best ways to use tanks.
Armor Strategies
This advanced exercise gives you a chance to use all the skills you’ve acquired in
the previous exercises. You practice using all the commands while you fight a
sample battle. If you think you already know most of the basics and want to give
game play a try, run this exercise first.
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Close Combat
Maneuver Play
When you start a Maneuver, the Game screen appears with Close Combat in
Deployment mode. You use this mode to move your teams where you want them
(on your side of the battle line) before you begin the battle. Once you have
deployed your teams, you begin the battle, and issue commands until you win,
lose, click End Battle, or choose Abort Battle from the Game menu (File menu on
the Macintosh).
At the end of each Maneuver, the Debriefing screen appears. This screen summarizes the results of the just-completed battle. From the Debriefing screen, you can
either display the Debriefing Details screen, save the Maneuver for replay, or go
to the Command screen. Once back at the Command screen, you can choose to
play another Maneuver, start a new or saved Campaign, or select a Replay.
To win at maneuver play, you need only win a single battle. You can take more
chances during a Maneuver than you should during a Campaign because you
receive fresh teams after playing a Maneuver. Because you keep the same teams
throughout the Campaign (although you may receive replacements for killed or
wounded soldiers), the cohesion of your teams at the end of each battle is carried
over to the next battle.
Campaign Play
When you start a Campaign, the Game screen appears with Close Combat in
Deployment mode. You can deploy your teams where you want them (on your
side of the battle line), then begin the battle. When the battle starts, you issue
commands until you win, lose, click End Battle, or choose Abort Battle from the
Game menu (File menu on the Macintosh).
When the battle is over, the Debriefing screen appears. From the Debriefing
screen you can choose to display the Debriefing Details screen, then play the next
battle, or you can skip the Debriefing Details screen and move straight to the next
battle.
Which battle you play next depends on whether you win (decisive, major, or
minor victory) or lose (decisive, major, or minor defeat) and which side you’re
playing on. If you are playing as the Americans:
•
•
•
•
•
You skip ahead two battles if you score a decisive victory.
You skip ahead one battle if you score a major victory.
You play the next battle if you score a minor victory.
You play the same battle if you suffer a minor or major defeat.
You play the previous battle if you suffer a decisive defeat.
If you play as the Germans:
•
•
You play the previous battle if you score a decisive victory.
You play the same battle if you score a major or minor victory.
Chapter 2
•
•
•
Setup and Game Play
11
You play the next battle if you suffer a minor defeat.
You skip ahead one battle if you suffer a major defeat.
You skip ahead two battles if you suffer a decisive defeat.
You cannot skip over the first battle on a new map, nor can you back
up to a previous map. Advances and regressions are possible only with
multiple battles on the same map. For example, since Across the Aure
1 and Off the Beach 3 are on different maps, winning Off the Beach 3
decisively as the Americans will still take you to Across the Aure 1 just
like a minor victory would, but in much less time than it would take for
a minor victory.
The two exceptions are Across the Aure 1 and Across the Aure 3. The
Americans only get one chance to cross the Aure bridge in Across the
Aure 1. If they fail, they must take a detour to Bricqueville to fight
Across the Aure 3. In Across the Aure 3, the Germans get one chance
to launch a major counterattack. Unless the Americans get a major or
decisive victory, play will progress to Across the Aure 4, but the
amount of time that elapses between the battles will vary with the level
of victory.
During campaign play, Campaigns are automatically saved when each
battle ends. If you exit Close Combat at the end of a battle during
campaign play, Close Combat displays the next battle when you restart
your Campaign.
If you save a Campaign as a Replay, only the battle you were playing is
saved for Replay. If you save Hedgerows! 2 as a Replay, you only play
Hedgerows! 2 when you load the Replay. When you finish playing
Hedgerows! 2 as a Replay, the game is over; if you want to complete
the Campaign, you need to start the saved Campaign.
If the completed operation is the last operation, then you are shown a
final video that congratulates the winner and offers advice to the loser.
To win at campaign play, you need to complete all six operations on or
before the actual date on which Saint-Lô was secured. Remember that
the condition of your teams at the end of each campaign battle is very
important because you keep the same teams throughout the Campaign;
you probably won’t want to play as aggressively as you would in
maneuver play.
Replays
You can choose to play back any game saved as a Replay. When you
replay a saved game, you watch the action until the game is over. Or,
you can issue a command that stops the Replay and lets you play the
game to completion.
You can start a game by
double-clicking the appropriate
title in the scrollable list.
12
Close Combat
Reconnoitering Close Combat
Close Combat uses four screens: the Command, Game, Debriefing, and
Debriefing Details screens.
Command Screen
The Command screen is the first screen that appears when you start Close
Combat. You use the Command screen to select the type of game, side, number of
players, and level of difficulty. The Command screen consists of the elements
described in the following sections.
Menu Bar
Three items appear on the Close Combat menu bar: Game (File on the
Macintosh), Options, and Help. The menu bar appears on all four Close Combat
screens.
Game Buttons
Four game buttons appear on the Command screen; the button you select
determines what is displayed in the scrollable list. The four buttons are:
Boot Camp button When you click the Boot Camp button, the available training
exercises appear in the scrollable list.
Maneuver button When you click the Maneuver button, the available
Maneuvers (single battles) appear in the scrollable list.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Campaign button When you click the Campaign button, the available
Campaigns appear in the scrollable list. When you first start Close Combat, there
are no Campaigns in the scrollable list; nothing appears in the scrollable list until
you start a Campaign and complete the first battle. After you complete the first
battle, the Campaign is automatically saved and appears in the scrollable list.
Replay button When you click the Replay button, the available Replays appear
in the scrollable list. As with Campaigns, no Replays appear in the scrollable list
when you first start Close Combat; there are no Replays to list until you create
them.
Side Buttons
Two side buttons appear on the Command screenthe American and German
side buttons. Click either button to select the side you want to play.
Number Of Player Buttons
Two Number Of Player buttons appear on the Command screenOne Player or
Two Player. Clicking the One Player button means you play against Close
Combat’s artificial intelligence; clicking the Two Player button means you want
to play another person using a local area network or modem.
Level Of Difficulty Buttons
You use the four Level Of Difficulty buttons to determine how hard a game will
be to win. For a two-player game, the initiator controls the settings for both
players. For example, if the initiator chooses Easy, then the opponent’s level of
difficulty is Hard; conversely, if the initiator chooses Hard, the opponent’s level
of difficulty is Easy. The initiator can also choose Custom settings for both
players in the Custom Difficulty dialog box. The four buttons are:
Easy button Choosing Easy gives your side the advantage, making it stronger
in numbers, weapons, and physical and psychological status, while making the
enemy forces weaker, with poorer-quality troops. Your teams may be stronger, but
this doesn’t guarantee you will win; poor leadership on your part can dissipate
your advantage.
Normal button Choosing Normal balances both sides, based on the historical
order of battle, in numbers, weapons, and physical and psychological status. The
historical order of battle reflects the actual distribution of troops in the Normandy
Campaign.
Hard button Choosing Hard puts your side at a disadvantage because you
receive a weaker force than the enemy. Selecting Hard tests your fighting skill to
the maximum.
Custom button
Choosing Custom lets you refine the level of difficulty.
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Close Combat
Scrollable List
The scrollable list is the portion of the Command screen used to display Boot
Camp exercises, battles (Maneuvers), Campaigns, and Replays.
Status Bar
The status bar displays the current selections made in the Command screen.
Begin Button
When you click the Begin button, Close Combat starts a game based on the
selections you’ve made.
Game Screen
You use the Game screen to play Close Combat; the Game screen appears when
you click Begin on the Command screen. The Game screen consists of the
following:
•
•
•
•
View Area
Toolbar
Command menu
Game monitors
View Area
The View Area is the portion of the Game screen you use to play Close Combat.
The battle map appears in the View Area; the map shown depends on the battle
you play. You can scroll the battle map in the View Area by moving the mouse
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
15
pointer to the edge of the Game screen. For example, if you move the mouse
pointer to the right side of the Game screen, the battle map scrolls from right
to left.
You deploy your teams and issue commands in the View Area. When the Game
screen appears, the View Area is set to normal view; you’ll want to use this view
most of the time. However, you cannot see the entire battle map in normal view,
which can make monitoring a battle difficult. You can zoom out to display the
entire battle map in the View Area, but doing so can make issuing commands
more difficult.
To make monitoring a battle easy while using normal view, the Game screen
includes five monitors you can use to “see” what’s happening on the portion of
the battle map not in view. These monitors can also help you move around the
View Area more quickly than scrolling.
The battle map itself is composed of various terrain types that reflect the real
terrain of the Normandy Campaign. All of the buildings on the battlefield are
wooden or stone. The buildings all have roofs; however, the roof is “cut away” so
you can see inside. If there are shell craters within the walls of a building, this
indicates that the portion of the roof above the craters has been blown away.
Buildings or locations with flag symbols are Victory Locations. As the
Americans, capturing Victory Locations is your primary goalit’s how you win
the game. As the Germans, holding Victory Locations, and pushing back the
Americans, is your primary goal. Structures with German flags are American
Victory Locations; structures with American flags are German Victory Locations.
If you have teams engaged in a battle for a Victory Location, the flag will be half
German and half American. When you capture a Victory Location, your flag flies
over it.
Toolbar
The Close Combat toolbar on the right side of the View area contains buttons
you can click to change your view of the game screen, and to issue orders to
friendly units. The buttons on the toolbar vary, depending on whether you are in
Deployment mode or Game Play mode. For specific information on toolbar
buttons and how to use them, see “Using the Toolbar.”
Command Menu
You use the Command menu to issue commands to friendly units. The Command
menu appears when you point at a unit, then click and hold down the mouse
button. To issue a command to the selected unit, you drag toward you to select the
command you want on the menu, then release the mouse button. For specific
information on the Command menu, see “Issuing Commands.”
Toolbar in
Game Play
Mode
Toolbar in
Deployment
Mode
16
Close Combat
Game Screen Monitors
Five monitors appear in the Game screen:
•
•
•
•
•
Team monitor
Soldier monitor
Message monitor
Overview monitor
Zoom monitor
The monitors you see while playing Close Combat depend on your screen
settings. If you play in 640x480, you see only the Team, Soldier, and Message
monitors. If you play in 800x600, you also see the Overview monitor; if you play
in 1024x768 or greater, you also see the Zoom monitor.
Before describing how to use the monitors in Close Combat, it’s important to
understand how color is used in the Team, Soldier, and Message monitors. Color
is used to indicate quality in the Team and Soldier monitors and to indicate
urgency in the Message monitor. The color green represents good condition in the
Team and Soldier monitors. In the Message monitor, white indicates the lowest
message priority.
In the Team and Soldier monitors, the color red indicates the terminally lowest
qualitydead. Red indicates the highest message priority in the Message monitor.
Team Monitor
The Team monitor lists the teams that compose your fighting force
during a battle. The Team monitor lists all your teams; each team is
represented by a panel. Each panel consists of fields that list the team
name, team type, team quality, current status, and the enemy threat
indicator. For more information on using this monitor during a game,
see “Using the Team Monitor.”
The following sections describe the fields that compose the Team
monitor.
Team Icon
The team icon is a graphical depiction of the personnel or vehicle that composes
the team. For example, a group of soldiers indicates an infantry team, while two
soldiers with a mortar indicate a mortar team. Vehicles include tanks, tank
destroyers, halftracks, or other vehicle teams.
One to four gold bars are displayed in the upper-right corner of the team icon.
These bars indicate the team’s overall quality; the more bars, the higher the
team’s quality. Team quality does not represent the team’s firepower; it represents
the team’s effectiveness as a unit, which is based on the team’s average experience and base morale. Experience ranges from elite (most experienced) to
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
conscript (least experienced). Base morale is the team’s morale at the start of a
battle and represents the soldiers’ willingness to fight.
If a team starts a Campaign with minimal quality but enjoys success in a given
battle, the team can increase in quality, reflected by more gold bars in subsequent
battles. Conversely, elite teams can lose quality when killed or wounded team
members are replaced with new soldiers. If the replacements perform well, the
team quality can improve back to elite.
When you start a Campaign, your name is entered as your side’s leader. You are
made a member of an elite team; you can never be killed, although you may be
wounded or incapacitated for the duration of a given battle. If you are playing a
Campaign, your wounds heal miraculously so you are ready for the next battle.
Teams are rated according to the following attributes:
Attribute
Stress
Anti-Stress
Description
Each team is tracked for having undergone stressful events. These
events include:
Gun Attack—Fired at by artillery.
Ambushed—Attacked by unknown enemy while exposed.
Outnumbered—More enemies than friendly teams are seen.
Tank Attack—Fired at by a tank.
Encircled—Fired at from opposite sides.
Exposed—Pinned by fire in poor cover.
These events help reduce the effect of stress:
Outnumbering—More friendly teams than enemy teams.
Ambushing—Catching an enemy team in the open.
Cohesion—The overall fighting ability of the team. As the team
suffers losses and stress accumulates, the cohesion of the team is
reduced. Reduced cohesion means the fighting ability of all
soldiers on the team is reduced. The team’s cohesion rating is
represented by the background color in the Team Type panel; as
with all color in Close Combat, green is good (high cohesion), red
is low, and black indicates terminally low cohesion.
Orders—The order given the soldier by the Close Combat AI or the
player.
Order Strength—The force of the order based on the overall
leadership of the side, with a bonus if the player issued the order.
Action—What the team is currently doing, which may or may not
be what you commanded it to do. For more information, see “Close
Combat Game Theory” in Chapter 1, “About Close Combat.”
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Close Combat
Leader Rank
An insignia indicates the team leader’s rank. The leader of any given team can be
either the leader of only that team, or the leader of several teams. You are the
highest-ranking leader as company commander, but there are also platoon, squad,
team, and assistant team leaders. Platoon leaders command four or more teams,
squad leaders command two to four teams, and team leaders command only their
own team.
If a leader is incapacitated, the subordinate leaders are “promoted” to fill the
vacancy left by the incapacitated leader. The lowest level of leader is assistant
leader (infantry) or assistant (vehicle); if either of these lowest-level leaders is
incapacitated, an enlisted man is “promoted” to take the incapacitated leader’s
place.
If no insignia is displayed, the team is commanded by a team leader. Team leaders
can affect only the men on their team; they cannot rally men on other teams. If an
insignia is displayed, the team is commanded by a squad leader (or higher).
Squad leaders can affect the men on all the teams under their command.
You can also determine a team leader’s rank in the hierarchy by the size of the
leadership circle that surrounds each team leader. If the circle is thick, the team
leader is also the company commander. A medium-sized circle represents a
platoon leader. If the circle is thin, the leader is a squad leader. Leadership quality
is indicated by the color of the circle, ranging from green (best) to red (worst).
Team Type
The team’s type is displayed against a color background; the color reflects the
team’s current cohesion. The basic team types are:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Tank (tank, tank destroyer, or motorized artillery)
Vehicles (halftrack, armored car, or light vehicle)
Gun (antitank, artillery, flak, infantry gun)
Machine Gun (MG42, .30 cal, .50 cal)
Mortar (8 cm, 60 mm)
AT Infantry (Bazooka, Panzerschreck)
Heavy Infantry (Assault, Sturmgruppe)
Medium Infantry (BAR)
Light Infantry (Rifle)
Scout (Recon)
Sniper
Current Command
The command you most recently issued to a team is displayed beneath the team
type, unless the command has already been carried out or the team has decided to
disobey it. Commands are displayed in color; if the text is green, the team is
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
following the orders you issued. Red text indicates the team is intentionally acting
against the command you issued due to local battlefield conditions. White text
indicates you have issued no commands to the team, or the command you previously issued has been completed. In this case, the team will go into Defend mode
(Ambush for the Germans) and select targets of opportunity based on local
battlefield conditions.
Enemy Threat Indicator
The rosette to the right of the team type and current orders is the enemy threat
indicator. The indicator is an eight-sided rosette; the eight points of the rosette
represent eight compass points: north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest,
west, and northwest.
These eight points are green at the start of the game and change to red when a
team is threatened by the enemy. A team is threatened when it either sees, or is
fired upon by, the enemy. For example, if one of your teams sees enemy troops to
the north, the north point of the rosette turns red. If your team is taking fire, both
the appropriate compass point and the center of the rosette turn red.
When you start a game, all American teams scan for threats using a 90-degree arc
aimed west (the direction of the Germans); all German teams scan for threats
using a 90-degree arc aimed east (the direction of the Americans).
If you issue a Defend command to a team, you manually set the arc the team uses
to scan for threats. A blue circle appears, which you use to set the width of the arc
the team uses to scan for threats.
This arc is used to scan the terrain for cover and potential ambush points; the scan
arc works in the same manner as the scan for threats. For example, at the start of a
game, all American teams scan in a 90-degree arc aimed west and all German
teams scan in a 90-degree arc aimed east.
When you start a game, your teams start scanning for both threats and cover. For
example, if a team starts in the middle of an open field, they scan for cover within
their scan arc, then move toward the closest available cover. If there is a stone
fence twenty meters away and a stone building fifty meters away, the team will
move to the stone fence; even though it provides less protection than the stone
building, as it’s closer to the team. However, if the team’s threat scan reveals an
enemy threat, the team may move back to different cover, as the stone fence may
not protect against fire from the enemy’s direction.
A team’s scan arc changes when you issue a Move or Move Fast command. When
you issue one of these commands, the team scans 45 degrees to either side of the
compass heading the team is ordered to move on. For example, if you order a
team to move north, it will scan 45 degrees to the left of north (west and northwest) and 45 degrees to the right of north (east and northeast).
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Close Combat
Soldier Monitor
The Soldier monitor lists the soldiers that compose
each team in your fighting force. Selecting a team
in the Team monitor displays the team members in
the Soldier monitor. The Soldier monitor lists
soldiers’ health, fatigue level, and emotional state,
along with their weapons and ammunition. For
more information on using this monitor during a
game, see “Using the Soldier Monitor.”
The Soldier monitor displays panels for all members of the selected team. A Team
panel also appears in the Soldier monitor; the Team panel consists of fields
summarizing the vehicle or infantry team. There is a Vehicle Team panel and an
Infantry Team panel. To view all the soldiers in the monitor, use the scroll bar.
Each soldier is continuously monitored and rated throughout the game. Soldiers
are rated on the following abilities.
Ability
Physical
Mental
Leadership
Morale
Experience
Skill
Description
Increases ability to withstand injury and perform tasks without
becoming rapidly fatigued
Improves reaction time when ambushed, ability to repair and
unjam weapons, and ability to learn quickly from combat
experience
Increases team cohesion, which reduces the chance that other
soldiers in the leaders team will break and run
Decreases likelihood of a soldier being panicked or suppressed by
enemy fire
Improves use of cover, weapons, and ammo selection, and
decreases chance of being injured
Improves probability of hitting targets
During campaign or maneuver play, the interaction of these rated abilities and
enemy fire results in states the game tracks for each soldier. These states are
displayed in the Soldier monitor.
State
Health
Suppression
Morale State
Description
Each soldier starts the game healthy; a soldier’s health obviously
declines if he’s injured.
One effect of incoming fire is to make a soldier keep his head
down and not return fire.
Makes a soldier more susceptible to disobeying commands and
more likely to surrender.
Chapter 2
Fatigue
Observation
Setup and Game Play
Fatigue accumulates as a soldier runs or carries heavy equipment;
resting reduces fatigue.
If a soldier is observed by the enemy, he is more likely to be shot
at. There are different levels of observation, ranging from hidden
(not seen on the game map) to concealed (shadows on the game
map) to observed (soldiers displayed on the game map).
Below the Vehicle or Infantry Team panel is a crew (vehicle) or soldier (infantry)
panel for each member of the selected team. These panels are composed of fields;
these fields are described in the following section.
Vehicle Team Panel
The Vehicle Team panel consists of the following fields:
Vehicle Icon
The same vehicle icon displayed in the Team monitor.
Vehicle Name A more descriptive name than that displayed in the Team monitor.
The same color-coding is used in both the Team and Soldier monitors; green
indicates operational, and black indicates destroyed.
Current Order Same as Current Order in the Team monitor. Displays the last
order you issued, or the last order the team has decided to carry out. Again, the
same color-coding is used: Green indicates the team is following the order you
issued, and red indicates the team is acting against your order, based on local
battlefield conditions.
Team Effectiveness & Firepower The small graph indicates the vehicle’s weapons rating in both antipersonnel (Anti Pers.) and antitank (Anti-Tank) firepower.
A vehicle’s firepower is based on the weapons it carries and the effectiveness of
the crew. Note that most weapons’ effectiveness drops as the range increases.
Firepower is listed according to range; range is indicated in tens of meters (20,
40, 80, 160, 320, and 640 meters). Colored bars indicate the vehicle’s firepower at
each range. A green bar means high firepower, while red means low firepower;
the other Close Combat colors indicate relative degrees of firepower. For example, orange in the Antitank graph means you need a flank or rear shot to
destroy a heavily armored enemy tank. A gray dash or black line shows the
vehicle is not capable of delivering that type of fire. For example, if a vehicle has
gray lines in the Anti-Tank portion of the graph, it means the vehicle has no
antitank weapons.
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Close Combat
Smoke Indicator
symbol.
A vehicle can fire smoke shells only if it has the Smoke
Vehicle Condition There are seven vehicle conditions; the condition text is
color-coded to match the actual condition. The following table lists the condition
text and associated color.
Condition text
Text
Operational
Damaged
In battle-ready condition.
Some of crew injured, weapons
damaged, or speed reduced.
Vehicle can no longer move.
Crew has left the vehicle or is dead.
Vehicle is on fire.
Vehicle has exploded and crew inside
is dead.
Vehicle has burned.
Immobilized
Abandoned
Burning
Exploded
Burned Out
Color
Green
Orange
Red
Red
Red
Red
Red
Status Fields These fields list the weapons with which the vehicle is armed.
Vehicle weapons are color-coded; green indicates the weapon is operational, red
indicates it’s not operational. Each vehicle may have one or more of the following
weapons.
Status field
Main Gun
Bow MG
Coax MG
Mobility
AA MG
Description
The vehicle’s primary weapon. For example, on a Tiger tank, the
main gun is an 88-mm high-velocity cannon.
Bow-mounted machine gun.
Coaxial-mounted machine gun.
The vehicle’s current mobility; the vehicle is either mobile or
immobile.
Antiaircraft machine gun.
Infantry Team Panel
The infantry header consists of the following panels:
Team Icon
The same team icon displayed in the Team monitor.
Team Name A more descriptive name than that displayed in the Team monitor.
The same color-coding is used in both the Team and Soldier monitors; green
indicates operational, and red indicates destroyed.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Current Order Same as Current Order in the Team monitor. The last order you
issued, or the last order the team has decided to carry out, is displayed. Again, the
same color-coding is used; green indicates the team is following the order you
issued, and red indicates the team is acting against your order, based on local
battlefield conditions.
Team Effectiveness & Firepower The small graph indicates the team’s weapons
rating in both antipersonnel (Anti Pers.) and antitank (Anti-Tank) fire power. A
team’s firepower is based on the weapons it carries and the effectiveness of the
team. Note that most weapons’ effectiveness drops as the range increases.
Firepower is listed according to range; range is indicated in tens of meters (20,
40, 80, 160, 320, and 640 meters). Colored bars indicate the team’s firepower at
each range. A green bar means high firepower, and red means low firepower; the
other Close Combat colors indicate relative degrees of firepower. A gray dash or
black line shows that the unit is not capable of delivering that type of fire. For
example, if an infantry team has gray lines in the Anti-Tank portion of the graph,
it means the team has no antitank weapons.
Note that most German infantry teams have antitank capabilities even though the
team may not have any antitank weapons listed in the Soldier monitor. This
reflects the fact that many German infantrymen were issued Panzerfausts along
with their primary weapon. When German units encountered tanks or other
vehicles, soldiers could put down their rifles and use the Panzerfaust. This proved
effective against the American forces in the Normandy Campaign, since the
Americans never knew when an antitank weapon might be deployed against
them.
Smoke Indicator A team can fire smoke shells or throw smoke grenades only if
it has the Smoke symbol.
Soldier Panels
There is a Soldier panel for every team member; these panels are the same for
both vehicle and infantry teams. The Soldier panel consists of the following
fields:
Rank Icon
An insignia indicating the soldier’s rank.
Name The soldier’s surname, as selected from a list of American or
German names.
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Close Combat
Current Action Displays what the soldier is doing. The current action text is
color-coded; green indicates the soldier is following an order you issued, red
indicates the soldier is taking action that countermands your order, and white
indicates that no order has been issued and the soldier is acting on local battlefield
conditions. The following table lists all the messages that can appear as current
actions.
Current action
Moving
Resting
Loading
Aiming
Firing
Taking Cover
Assaulting
On Watch
Holding Fire
Suppressed
Pinned
Cowering
Routed
Panicked
Unjamming
Assisting
Firing/Target
Firing/Area
Firing Blind
Out of Ammo
Can’t See
Friend Block
Gun Broken
No Target
Description
Soldier is moving.
Soldier is too tired to do anything but rest.
Soldier is loading his weapon.
Soldier is aiming his weapon or waiting for loader to finish
loading.
Soldier is firing his weapon.
Soldier is looking for better cover.
Soldier is moving forward and firing.
Soldier is looking for targets.
Soldier has loaded weapon and sees a target, but chooses
not to fire.
Soldier is suppressed by enemy fire (takes cover), but will
still fire.
Soldier is pinned down by enemy fire, hides more than he
shoots.
Soldier is pinned down, but rarely fires and refuses to
move.
Soldier is running away from the battlefield.
Soldier is panicked and is seeking cover out of sight of the
enemy.
Soldier is trying to clear a jammed weapon.
Soldier is assisting another soldier with a crew weapon.
Soldier is firing at a specific target.
Soldier is firing at an area or location.
Soldier is firing at a target he cannot see.
Soldier is out of ammunition.
Soldier cannot see target.
Soldier’s line of fire is blocked by friendly soldiers.
Soldier’s gun is damaged.
Soldier cannot see a target at which to fire.
Chapter 2
Crawling
Ambushing
Hiding
Bad Shot
In Building
No Weapon
Repairing
Can’t Target
Conserving
Too Close
Separated
Setup and Game Play
Soldier is crawling toward cover or destination.
Soldier is ambushing the enemy.
Soldier is hiding from the enemy.
Soldier has a shot that is a waste of ammunition.
Soldier (mortar team) is inside building and cannot fire.
Soldier has no weapon.
Soldier is repairing his weapon.
Target is outside the gun’s firing arc.
Soldier is running low on ammunition so he’s conserving it.
Soldier is too close to the target to fire.
Soldier is separated from his team.
Function in Team Describes the soldier’s role on the team. The following table
lists the team functions.
Function
Leader
Assistant
Soldat
G.I.
Cmdr.
Driver
Gunner
Loader
Description
Leader of an infantry team
Assists the driver of a vehicle and fires bow machine gun or is
second in command on an infantry team
German infantryman
American infantryman
Commander; leader of a vehicle team
Driver of a vehicle
Fires vehicle’s main weapon
Loads vehicle’s main weapon
The next three components of the panel describe a soldier’s physical state
(Health), mental stability (Emotional State), and level of fatigue (Fatigue Level).
Only one factor determines a soldier’s physical state: being wounded. The factor
that determines a soldier’s level of fatigue is also simplephysical exertion. For
example, if you issue a command to a heavy mortar team to move fast for a long
distance, the team will be tired when they complete the move. Extended combat
also fatigues soldiers.
The factors that determine a soldier’s mental stability are more complex. Good
team leadership, team success, and lack of suppression fire from the enemy all
contribute positively to a soldier’s emotional state. Conversely, bad leadership,
wounded or killed team members, and heavy suppression fire all contribute
negatively to a soldier’s emotional state.
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Close Combat
Health Shows a soldier’s physical state. These states are described in the
following table.
Health
Healthy (green background)
Hurt (yellow background)
Incap. (orange background)
Dead (red background)
Description
Soldier is physically able to obey all commands.
Soldier is slightly wounded; physically able to
obey orders at a reduced level of performance.
Incapacitated; soldier is severely wounded and
unable to obey commands.
Soldier is terminally disobedient.
Emotional State Shows a soldier’s mental stability. The states are described in
the following table.
Emotional state
Berserk (red text on
black background)
Fanatic (orange text
on black background)
Heroic (yellow text on
black background)
Stable (black text on
green background)
Panic (black text on
red background)
Routed (black text on red
background)
Description
Soldier is irrational and disregards
personal safety to attack the enemy.
Soldier is slightly irrational and takes
chances to be a hero.
Soldier fights aggressively and is capable
of heroic acts.
Soldier’s default setting; in full control of
emotions.
Soldier is emotionally unstable and must
be rallied to become effective.
Soldier is running away from the
battleground.
Fatigue Level Shows a soldier’s level of fatigue. The states are described in the
following table.
Fatigue level
Description
Rested (green background)
Soldier is well rested.
Winded (yellow background) Soldier is temporarily out of breath but will
recover quickly.
Fatigued (red background)
Soldier is so tired that his performance is affected.
Weapon Icon
Weapon Name
Graphical display of the soldier’s weapon.
Text describing the soldier’s weapon.
Ammo Type Describes the type of ammunition used by infantrymen, crew
weapon team members, or vehicle crew members. There are five types of ammunition, as shown in the following table.
Chapter 2
Ammunition type
AP
HE
HEAT
Smoke
SP
Setup and Game Play
Description
Armor piercing.
High explosive; used against infantry, light vehicles, and
structures.
High explosive, antitank; used against tanks, tank destroyers, and motorized artillery. Not effective against infantry
in the open, but can be effective against infantry in
structures.
Smoke shells or grenades; used to screen infantry and
vehicle movement from the enemy.
Special; includes canister and high velocity AP.
Ammo Rounds The number of rounds of the listed type the infantryman or crew
member has in his possession.
Message Monitor
The Message monitor lists messages sent by your
teams; you can use these messages to monitor
what’s happening to your teams. You receive
messages when teams complete moves, when
teams come under fire, and when a tank hits a
target. For more information on using this
monitor during a game, see “Using the Message
Monitor.”
The message text is color-coded according to the importance of the message; red
indicates the most important messages while green indicates the least important.
You can filter out less important messages if you want. You filter messages using
the five color-coded Message Filter buttons at the top of the Message monitor.
Overview Monitor
The Overview monitor displays a zoomed-out view of the
battle map. This monitor appears only if you play at 800x600
resolution or higher. For more information on using this
monitor during a game, see “Using the Overview Monitor.”
Zoom Monitor
When the View Area is in normal mode, the Zoom monitor
displays a zoomed-in view of the mouse pointer position in
the View Area. When the View Area is zoomed in or zoomed
out, the Zoom monitor is blank.
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Close Combat
Debriefing Screen
The Debriefing screen appears at the end of each battle (unless you selected Abort
Battle, in which case the Command screen appears). You use the Debriefing
screen to see the results of the just-completed battle. You also use this screen to
go to the Debriefing Details screen, back to the Command screen, to the next
battle (Campaign only), or to save a battle as a Replay. The Debriefing screen
consists of the elements described in the following sections.
Victory Information
This portion of the Debriefing screen displays the side that won and the type of
victory (decisive, major, or minor).
Score Summaries
Two score summaries appear on the Debriefing screen: one for the American
Army and one for the German Army. These summaries display the points each
side earned based on casualties inflicted and terrain captured. Total points are also
displayed; they are the sum of points each side has earned. For details on points,
see “Scoring.”
Details Button
Clicking this button displays the Debriefing Details screen. For more information,
see “Debriefing Details Screen.”
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Historical Timeline
The Historical Timeline shows you how long it took the Americans to advance
from Omaha Beach to Saint-Lô. This is the timeline you compete against during
campaign play. If you play as the Americans, your goal is to secure Saint-Lô in 43
days or less. If you play as the Germans, your goal is to force the Americans to
take more than 43 days to secure Saint-Lô.
Command Screen Button
You use the Command Screen button to display the Command screen.
Save Replay Button
You use the Save Replay button to create a Replay. A Replay is a completed battle
that you can play back; at any time during playback you can start issuing commands, which stops the playback and gives you the opportunity to complete the
game as if it were a Maneuver. For more information, see “Replays.”
Play Next Battle Button
You use the Play Next Battle button only during a Campaign. You click this
button to start the next battle in the Campaign without displaying the Command
screen.
Debriefing Details Screen
To view the Debriefing Details screen, click the Details button on the Debriefing
screen. This screen provides detailed health, status, scoring, and performance
information on every soldier
under your command. While
the Debriefing Details
screen may look formidable
when it first appears, it’s
very useful in understanding
how Close Combat determines team cohesiveness,
team quality, and scoring.
The Debriefing Details
screen consists of the Return
button, color scale, Side
buttons (American and
German), and Debriefing
table.
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Close Combat
Return Button
When you click the Return button, the Debriefing screen appears. For more
information, see “Debriefing Screen.”
Color Scale
The color scales shows the range between good (green), bad (red), and dead or
destroyed (black). These colors, along with text, are used throughout the Close
Combat monitors to indicate a soldier’s health, fatigue level, emotional state,
experience, and morale; the colors are also used to indicate a team’s cohesion and
quality. Color is used to indicate the importance of messages, too.
Side Buttons
Two Side buttons appear on the Debriefing Details screen: American and
German. Clicking the American button displays all American soldiers in the
Debriefing table; clicking the German button displays all German soldiers in the
table.
Debriefing Table
The Debriefing table consists of rows and columns; the soldiers under your
command are listed in the rows. Columns representing the soldier’s health, status,
scoring, and performance delineate each row into fields.
Text (characters and numbers), symbols, and colors are used, individually and in
combinations, to indicate a soldier’s health, status, scoring, and performance.
Rank and Name The first two columns in the Debriefing table are not labeled.
The first column displays the soldier’s rank; rank is indicated by the insignias
used by the U.S. and German armies during World War II. The second column
displays the soldier’s surname.
The remaining columns in the table are labeled; each labeled column is described
in the following sections.
Health Both text and symbols are used to indicate a soldier’s health; the text
and symbols used are:
OK
+
++
KIA
Flag
The soldier is healthy.
The soldier is slightly wounded.
The soldier is seriously wounded (incapacitated).
The soldier was killed in action.
A white flag indicates the soldier was captured.
The next five show the status of each soldier’s ability to lead, level of fatigue,
emotional state, experience, and morale.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Leadership Leadership indicates the ability a soldier has to lead his team, rally
his team, and rally other teams. Color is used to show a soldier’s leadership
ability. Green indicates the highest leadership ability, while black indicates the
lowest. An arrow symbol is used to indicate whether leadership ability increased
or decreased as a result of the just-completed battle. An up-arrow symbol means
leadership ability went up; a down-arrow symbol means leadership ability went
down.
Physical Condition A soldier’s physical condition reflects the ability to perform
strenuous actions without being fatigued quickly and to withstand injuries that
would stop lesser men. Green indicates the best physical condition, while black
indicates the soldier is dead. This attribute can decrease due to injuries received
during combat and is indicated by a down arrow.
Mental Condition A soldier’s mental condition reflects the ability to react
quickly to battlefield conditions, to learn from those experiences, and apply them
the next time. This attribute never changes.
Experience Soldiers gain experience by surviving battles. The amount depends
on how well they perform and how easily they learn (mental condition). Experienced soldiers tend to perform better than inexperienced soldiers. Color is used to
show a soldier’s experience. Green indicates the highest level of experience
(elite), while black indicates the lowest (conscript). Because soldiers can only
gain experience and not lose it, only the up-arrow symbol is displayed.
Morale A soldier’s morale represents how well the soldier can withstand the
terrors of the battlefield and remain an effective fighter. This attribute can
increase (up arrow) or decrease (down arrow) based on the amount of stress and
how well the soldier handles it. Green indicates the highest morale while black
indicates the lowest.
The next five fields show you how the soldier performed in terms of scoring in
the just-completed battle.
Tanks Killed Two numbers may be displayed in this field; the top number
indicates the number of tanks a soldier destroyed (or helped destroy) in the
just-completed battle, while the lower number is the cumulative total of tanks
destroyed during a Campaign.
Guns Killed Two numbers may be displayed in this field; the top number
indicates the number of guns a soldier destroyed (or helped destroy) in the
just-completed battle, while the lower number is the cumulative total of guns
destroyed during a Campaign.
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Close Combat
Soldiers Killed Two numbers may be displayed in this field; the top number
indicates the number of enemy soldiers a soldier killed in the just-completed
battle, while the lower number is the cumulative total of enemy soldiers killed
during a Campaign.
Acts of Bravery Two numbers may be displayed in this field; the top number
indicates the number of brave acts a soldier performed in the just-completed
battle, while the lower number is the cumulative total of brave acts performed
during a Campaign.
Cowardice Two numbers may be displayed in this field; the top number indicates the number of times a soldier acted cowardly in the just-completed battle,
while the lower number is the cumulative total of times a soldier acted cowardly
during a Campaign.
The next six fields indicate how a soldier performed in terms of medals won.
Medals are awarded for acts of bravery and for being wounded.
Medal of Honor (American) Highest medal awarded to U.S. military personnel.
The number displayed is the cumulative total of medals awarded during a
Campaign.
Distinguished Service Cross (American) Awarded for bravery. The number
displayed is the cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Silver Star (American) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Bronze Star (American) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Combat Badge (American) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Purple Heart (American) Awarded to wounded soldiers. The number displayed is
the cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Knight’s Cross (German) Highest medal awarded to German military personnel.
The number displayed is the cumulative total of medals awarded during a
Campaign.
Cross In Gold (German) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Iron Cross 1st (German) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Iron Cross 2nd (German) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Assault Badge (German) Awarded for bravery. The number displayed is the
cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign.
Wounded Badge (German) Awarded to wounded soldiers. The number displayed
is the cumulative total of medals awarded during a Campaign. Note that unlike
the Purple Heart, the Wounded Badge is awarded only to soldiers severely injured
or maimed in combat.
Starting Games
The following sections provide instructions for starting Maneuvers, Campaigns,
and Replays.
Starting Maneuver Play
The procedure for starting maneuver play assumes that you have already started
Close Combat and the Command screen is displayed.
To start maneuver play
1 On the Command screen, click the Maneuvers button (Maneuvers is the
default setting).
The available Maneuvers appear in the scrollable list.
2 Select the Maneuver you want to play by clicking it in the scrollable list.
The Maneuver is selected and “Play the Operation [Maneuver] Battle [#] as
[American or German] on [Difficulty]” appears in the status bar.
3 Select the side you want to play by clicking the American or German button.
4 Select the number of players by clicking the one- or two-player button.
For information about how to set up a two-player game, see “Playing a
Two-Player Game.”
5 Select the level of difficulty by clicking on the Easy, Normal, Hard, or Custom
button (see “Refining the Level of Difficulty”).
If you select Custom, the Custom Difficulty dialog box appears, allowing you
to customize American and German strength. You can also choose the following options: make enemy units always visible, enemy intelligence always
known, friendly units always obey orders, and friendly units fearless.
6 Click Begin.
The Game Play screen appears with Close Combat in Deployment mode.
7 Deploy your teams where you want them, then click Begin again.
The Maneuver starts and you can begin issuing commands.
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Close Combat
Refining the Level of Difficulty
You can refine the level of difficulty of any game. When you select the Custom
button on the Command screen, the Custom Difficulty dialog box appears.
The items in the Custom Difficulty dialog box are described in the following
sections.
American Strength
You use this list box to select the strength of American forces; the available
levels of strength are: very strong, strong, average (default setting), weak, and
very weak.
To select American strength
1 Click the button next to the American Strength text box.
The strength list appears with Average displayed in the text box and list box.
2 Click the up or down button next to the strength list to display the strength
you want.
3 Point at the strength you want.
The strength you want is selected.
4 Click the text box or press Enter.
The selected strength appears in the text box.
German Strength
You use this list box to select the strength of German forces; the available l
evels of strength are: very strong, strong, average (default setting), weak, and
very weak.
To select German strength
1 Click the button next to the German Strength text box.
2 The strength list appears with Average displayed in the text box and list box.
3 Click the up or down button next to the strength list to display the strength
you want.
4 Point at the strength you want.
The strength you want is selected.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
5 Click the text box or press Enter.
The selected strength appears in the text box.
American Units Always Obey Orders
You use this check box to make American units always obey your commands,
regardless of battlefield conditions.
To make American units always obey orders
•
Click the check box. When a check mark appears in the check box, this option
is enabled.
American Units Are Fearless
You use this check box to make American units fearless, regardless of battlefield
conditions.
To make American units are fearless
•
Click the check box. When a check mark appears in the check box, this option
is enabled.
German Units Always Obey Orders
You use this check box to make German units always obey your commands,
regardless of battlefield conditions.
To make German units always obey orders
•
Click the check box. When a check mark appears in the check box, this option
is enabled.
German Units Are Fearless
You use this check box to make German units fearless, regardless of battlefield
conditions.
To make German units fearless
•
Click the check box. When a check mark appears in the check box, this option
is enabled.
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Close Combat
Enemy Units Are Always Visible
You use this check box to make sure you can always see enemy units
in the View Area.
To make enemy units always visible
•
Click the check box. When a check mark appears in the check box,
this option is enabled.
Enemy Intelligence Always Available
You use this check box to make intelligence concerning the enemy
always available.
To make enemy intelligence always available
•
Click the check box. When a check mark appears in the check box,
this option is enabled.
Starting Campaign Play
When you first load Close
Combat, the only Campaign in
the scrollable list is New
Campaign. Campaigns appear
in the scrollable list only after
you’ve saved them.
If you don’t want to see the
Deployment video at the start
of each operation in a Campaign, you can turn the videos
on and off using the Options
menu. If there is a check next
to Videos on the Options menu,
then videos are turned on.
When you start campaign play, you will either start a new or saved
Campaign. The procedures for starting both new and saved campaigns
assume that you have already started Close Combat and the Command
screen is displayed.
To start a new Campaign
1 On the Command screen, click the Campaign button.
Any saved Campaigns appear in the scrollable list with New
Campaign at the top of the list.
2 Select the side, number of players, and level of difficulty.
3 In the scrollable list, double-click New Campaign.
The New Campaign Game popup appears.
4 Type your commander’s name, then press TAB.
You can use up to 11 alphanumeric characters for the
commander’s name.
5 Type your Campaign’s name.
You can use up to 31 alphanumeric characters for the
Campaign name.
Chapter 2
6 Click OK.
The New Campaign Game popup disappears and your new
Campaign is added to the scrollable list.
7 Click Begin.
The Deployment video plays, then the Game Play screen appears.
Remember, when the Game Play screen first appears, the game is in
Deployment mode.
8 Move your teams to the locations you want, then click Begin.
The first operation of the Campaign begins.
To start a saved Campaign
1 On the Command screen, click the Campaign button.
Any saved Campaigns appear in the scrollable list.
2 In the scrollable list, double-click the name of the unfinished
Campaign you want to play.
The unfinished Campaign is loaded and the Game Play screen
appears with Close Combat in Deployment mode. You have the
opportunity to move your teams before you start playing.
3 Click Begin.
The Campaign resumes and you can begin issuing commands.
Starting Replays
When you start a Replay, you can choose to end playback and take
command of the game at any time by issuing a command.
To start a Replay
1 On the Command screen, click the Replay button.
The saved games (Replays) appear in the scrollable list.
2 In the scrollable list, double-click the name of the Replay you want
to play back.
The Replay begins to play back.
3 If you want to take command of the Replay, issue a command
(Move, Move Fast, Fire, Smoke, Defend, or Hide).
Close Combat tells you that it’s ending playback and you are
taking command.
Setup and Game Play
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Close Combat
Winning Close Combat Games
Winning any battle is based on the following criteria, which are listed from most
important to least:
Pushing enemy force morale into red, causing the enemy to abandon the
battlefield, while your force morale remains green or yellow.
• Securing more Victory Locations and inflicting more casualties before time
runs out.
Winning Close Combat games also depends on which type of game you choose
to play. Winning Maneuvers and Replays is determined by the criteria listed
previously. An additional layer of criteria when you play a Campaign is the 43day historical timeline; this is the number of days it took the Americans to move
from Omaha Beach to Saint-Lô. If you play as the Americans and complete all six
operations in 43 days or less, you win the Campaign. If you play as the Americans and complete all six operations in more than 43 days, the Germans win.
•
Scoring
Close Combat scores games based on casualties inflicted (incurred) and Victory
Locations captured (held). Casualties and Victory Locations captured are scored
as shown in the following tables.
Americans
Soldiers
Light vehicles (trucks,
personnel carriers, and halftracks)
Artillery
Heavy vehicles (tanks, tank
destroyers, and motorized artillery)
Victory Locations
Germans
Soldiers
Light vehicles (trucks,
personnel carriers, and halftracks)
Artillery
Heavy vehicles (tanks, tank
destroyers, and motorized artillery)
Victory Locations
Killed or
Wounded
2
5
Captured
4
10
10
20
20
40
NA
1 to 100
Killed or
Wounded
3
7
Captured
6
15
15
30
30
60
NA
1 to 100
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
If you capture a Victory Location and are not routed off the field, you receive all
of the points for that location. For example, if the Americans capture a Victory
Location worth 20 points and hold it until the game ends, the Americans receive
20 points.
If you start a battle holding a Victory Location and hold it throughout a battle, you
receive half of the points for that location. For example, if the Germans hold a
Victory Location worth 20 points throughout the game, the Germans receive 10
points when the game ends.
If both sides hold the same Victory Location, the Germans and Americans divide the
points for that location. For example, if the Germans hold a 20-point location at the
start of a battle, and the Americans and Germans are still fighting for possession of
the location when the battle ends, the Americans receive 10 points (one-half of the
total) while the Germans receive 5 points (one-quarter of the total).
The number of points assigned to each Victory Location depends on the strategic
value of the location. Locations with nominal strategic value are worth 1 to 19
points, locations with moderate strategic value are worth 20 to 39 points, and
locations with vital strategic value are worth 40 to 100 points. The strategic value of
any Victory Location is indicated by the size of type that marks it; the larger the
type, the higher the strategic value.
If one side is routed or chooses the End Battle button, the opposing side receives
one-quarter of the points for all Victory Locations held by the team choosing to end
the battle.
Deploying Teams
The game first begins in Deployment mode. During this time you can move your
teams to any legal location within your setup area. For example, you can’t deploy
tanks in buildings or soldiers in rivers. There are three types of setup areas: Enemy
Controlled (dark grey), “No Man’s Land” (light grey), and Friendly (no shading).
To deploy a team, select it with the mouse, then drag the team to its destination and
release the mouse button. All the members of the team will deploy to take advantage
of the terrain in and around the location you select.
When you have finished deployment, click Begin to start the battle.
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Close Combat
Issuing Commands
No matter what kind of game you choose—Maneuver, Campaign, or
Replay—you can issue six commands to your teams: Move, Move Fast,
Fire, Smoke, Defend, and Hide. To issue a command to a team, you need
to perform these three steps:
1 Point at a unit, then click and hold down the mouse button.
Clicking a unit or a soldier in a unit selects the unit. The Command
menu appears when you point at a unit or a soldier in a unit and hold
down the mouse button.
2 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to select
the command you want from the menu, then release the mouse
button.
3 Drag to draw a line from the unit to its destination or target, then
release the mouse button.
Issuing Move and Move Fast Commands
You can select a team by
clicking the team’s icon in the
Team monitor. Double-clicking
selects the team and centers it
in the View Area.
You issue the Move and Move Fast commands to tell teams where you
want them to go, and how quickly you want them to go there. The team
moves faster if you issue a Move Fast command, but becomes more
fatigued in the process. When moving fast, teams are also less likely to
be alert to enemy fire, to see the enemy, and return fire effectively.
Whether the team completes a Move or Move Fast command satisfactorily depends on several factors, including how far the team must move,
available cover, team leadership, and enemy fire. For a more detailed
description of the factors affecting team moves, see Chapter 3, “Tactics.”
To issue a Move command
Once you select a team, you can
issue a Move command by
pressing Z. To complete the
command, drag the destination
line from the team to its destination, then click to place the
destination marker.
1 Point at the team you want to move or click the team to select it.
When you select a team, the View Area displays blue boxes around
each member of the team; a circle is always displayed around squad
leaders (or higher), even when the team is not selected. The Team
monitor displays a blue box around the selected team, and the
Soldier monitor displays the names of the soldiers in the team.
2 Click and hold down the mouse button.
The Command menu appears.
3 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to choose
Move from the Command menu, and then release the mouse button.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
4 Drag the destination line from the team’s current location to the
destination you want.
5 Click the mouse button again to place a destination marker.
When a team completes a successful move, the Message Monitor
displays the message “Redeploying Successful” and the destination
marker disappears.
To issue a Move Fast command
1 Point at the team you want to move fast or click the team to select it.
When you select a team, the View Area displays blue boxes around
each member of the team; a circle is always displayed around squad
leaders (or higher), even when the team is not selected. The Team
monitor displays a blue box around the selected team, and the
Soldier monitor displays the names of the soldiers in the team.
2 Click and hold down the mouse button.
The Command menu appears.
3 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to choose
Move Fast from the Command menu, and then release the mouse
button.
4 Drag the destination line from the team’s current location to the
destination you want.
5 Click to place a destination marker.
When a team completes a successful Move Fast command, the
Message Monitor displays the message “Redeploying Successful”
and the destination marker disappears.
Issuing Fire and Smoke Commands
To shoot at a specific enemy unit or at a suspected enemy location, you
issue the Fire command. To place smoke screens that conceal your
forces’ movements from the enemy, you issue the Smoke command (to
teams with smoke capability).
There are two types of fire used in Close Combatdirect and indirect
fire. Direct fire weapons require a clear line of sight to fire; pistols,
rifles, machine guns, submachine guns, antitank weapons, and most
artillery are direct fire weapons. Mortars are indirect fire weapons; they
do not require a clear line of sight to fire at the enemy.
Delivering effective fire depends on factors such as range, cover, team
quality, and enemy suppression fire. For a more detailed description of
the factors affecting firing and smoke screens, see Chapter 3, “Tactics.”
Once you select a team, you
can issue a Move Fast command by pressing X. To
complete the command, drag
the destination line from the
team to its destination, then
click to place the destination
marker.
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Close Combat
To issue a Fire command
Once you select a team, you
can issue a Fire command by
pressing C. To finish issuing the
command, drag the target line
from the team to its target, then
click to place the target marker.
1 Point at the team you want to fire or click the team to select it.
When you select a team, the View Area displays blue boxes around
each member of the team; a circle is always displayed around squad
leaders (or higher), even when the team is not selected. The Team
monitor displays a blue box around the selected team, and the Soldier
monitor displays the names of the soldiers in the team.
2 Click and hold down the mouse button.
The Command menu appears.
3 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to choose
Fire from the Command menu, and then release the mouse button.
4 Drag the target line from the team to the target at which you want the
team to shoot.
The target line is red if nothing blocks the team’s line of sight or line
of fire to the target. If the target line changes to dark red, the team
has line of fire, but their line of sight is blocked. If the target line
changes from red, or dark red, to black, the team’s line of fire is
blocked at the point at which it turns black.
5 Click to place a target marker.
No message is displayed when you issue a Fire command. The
effectiveness of your proposed fire is denoted by the color of the
target marker: As you drag toward the target it changes from red to
green to black, like the weapons graph in the Soldier monitor.
To issue a Smoke command
Once you select a team, you
can issue a Smoke command
by pressing V. To finish issuing
the command, drag the target
line from the team to its target,
then click to place the target
marker.
1 Point at the team you want to order to fire smoke shells or throw
smoke grenades or click the team to select it.
When you select a team, the View Area displays blue boxes around
each member of the team; a circle is always displayed around squad
leaders (or higher), even when the team is not selected. The Team
monitor displays a blue box around the selected team, and the Soldier
monitor displays the names of the soldiers in the team.
2 Click and hold down the mouse button.
The Command menu appears.
3 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to choose
Smoke from the Command menu, and then release the mouse button.
4 Drag the target line from the team to the location where you want the
smoke screen.
Chapter 2
The target line is red if nothing blocks the team’s line of sight or
line of fire to the target. If the target line changes to dark red, the
team has line of fire but their line of sight is blocked. If the target
line changes from red, or dark red, to black, the team’s line of sight
is blocked at the point at which it turns black.
5 Click to place a target marker.
If the target marker is green, you can fire smoke. If the target
marker is black, the target is out of range. When you fire smoke
shells or throw smoke grenades, the smoke lasts approximately one
minute, and is thickest when the rounds first go off. Smoke plumes
are as wide as they are tall. Because the game assumes that a light
wind is blowing from west to east, you should keep the smoke
between your team (or teams) and the enemy. Time your smoke
rounds and assault with these factors in mind.
No message is displayed when you choose the Smoke command.
Issuing a Defend Command
You issue a Defend command when you want a team to defend its
present position. When you issue a Defend command, you manually set
the team’s scan arc to specify the direction in which you want the team
to watch for the enemy.
•
•
For American teams, if enemy soldiers move into the team’s
defensive scan arc and are visible, the defending team automatically opens fire.
For German teams, if enemy soldiers move into the team’s defensive scan arc and are visible, the defending team waits to ambush
instead of automatically opening fire.
When you issue a Defend command, the View Area displays a defense
marker that indicates the team is defending. By default soldiers look
for the best cover, then plan for possible ambush.
You use the scan arc to tell your soldiers where to watch for the enemy.
Using a wide scan arc means the team must spread out to scan effectively. A spread-out team is more susceptible to enemy fire because
soldiers may not use the terrain to their best advantage. For example, if
you set the defend scan arc at 270 degrees to the east, soldiers may use
terrain that protects them from fire coming from the northwest or
southwest. However, these soldiers are vulnerable to fire from the
eastthe direction from which enemy fire is most likely to come.
Setup and Game Play
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Close Combat
To issue a Defend command
1 Point at the team you want to order to defend its present position or click the
team to select it.
When you select a team, the View Area displays blue boxes around each
member of the team; a circle is always displayed around squad leaders (or
higher), even when the team is not selected. Once the team has found a target
and opens fire, the defense marker switches to the enemy they are shooting at.
The Team monitor displays a blue box around the selected team, and the
Soldier monitor displays the names of the soldiers in the team.
2 Click and hold down the mouse button.
The Command menu appears.
3 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to choose Defend
from the Command menu, and then release the mouse button.
This displays a blue circle over the team, which represents its scan arc.
4 Set the width and direction of the defend scan arc.
Moving the cursor toward the center of circle widens the scan arc; moving the
cursor toward the edge of circle narrows the scan arc. Moving the cursor
around the circle aims the scan arc in the direction you want.
5 Click to set the scan arc and place a defense marker.
Issuing a Hide Command
You issue a Hide command when you want a team to take cover in a safe position
and keep their heads down. When you issue a Hide command, the View Area
displays a hide marker on the team, indicating that it’s looking for the best nearby
hiding place. Once a team finds suitable cover, it stays there until you issue
another order. Hidden teams will fire on enemies that come within 30 meters of
their hiding place.
To issue a Hide command
1 Point at the team you want to hide or click the team to select it.
When you select a team, the View Area displays blue boxes around each
member of the team; a circle is always displayed around squad leaders (or
higher), even when the team is not selected. The Team monitor displays a blue
box around the selected team, and the Soldier monitor displays the names of
the soldiers in the team.
2 Click and hold down the mouse button.
The Command menu appears.
3 While you hold down the mouse button, drag toward you to choose Hide from
the Command menu, and then release the mouse button.
The team moves to the nearest cover and hides.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Using the Toolbar
The Close Combat toolbar on the right of the View Area contains buttons you can
click to change your view of the game screen and to issue orders to all friendly
units. The buttons available on the toolbar depend on whether you are currently in
Deployment mode or Game Play mode. When you click a toolbar button, the
button remains active until you click a different button or click the active button a
second time to deactivate it.
Deployment Mode
In Deployment mode, the toolbar looks like the figure at left.
Toolbar in Deployment Mode
The Deployment mode toolbar buttons perform the following functions:
Zoom In (+) magnifies an area on a game map to get a closer look at
the terrain. There are three zoom levels: the closest view (almost
directly overhead), the normal view (a “bird’s eye” view), and the
farthest view (that you might see from a plane). Each time you click
this button, the view zooms in one level.
Zoom Out (–) reduces the size of the map so you can see more of it in
the view area. There are three zoom levels: the closest view (almost
directly overhead), the normal view (a “bird’s eye” view), and the
farthest view (that you might see from a plane). Each time you click
this button, the view zooms out one level.
Begin starts the battle with the troops in position as you have deployed
them. This button is available only in Deployment mode.
Force Morale in Deployment mode displays the initial cohesion—the
willingness of the soldiers to fight—for both sides. The color and
length of the bars in the Force Morale monitor reflect the average
physical and mental status of teams on both sides. The bars start out
green and change color to reflect the status of each side. As a bar
changes to yellow or red, it becomes shorter. If the bar representing
your side turns red and your opponent’s stays yellow or green, you
lose. If both sides’ bars turn red or both stay yellow, the victor is
determined based on which side has taken the fewest casualties and
gained the most ground.
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Close Combat
Game Play Mode
In Game Play mode, the toolbar looks like the figure at left.
Toolbar in Game Play mode
The Game Play mode toolbar buttons perform the following functions:
Zoom In (+) magnifies an area on a game map to get a closer look at the
terrain. There are three zoom levels: the closest view (almost directly
overhead), the normal view (a “bird’s eye” view), and the farthest view
(that you might see from a plane). Each time you click this button, the
view zooms in one level.
Zoom Out (–) reduces the size of the map so you can see the entire map
in the view area. There are three zoom levels: the closest view (almost
directly overhead), the normal view (a “bird’s eye” view), and the
farthest view (that you might see from a plane). Each time you click
this button, the view zooms out one level.
Clicking the Move Out button cancels all current orders and issues a
blanket order to all friendly troops to move forward to the next position
with adequate cover.
Clicking the Defend button cancels all current orders and issues a
blanket order to all friendly troops to defend when enemy units are
sighted. This order causes your teams not only to defend themselves,
but to take advantage of ambush opportunities as well.
Clicking the Pull Back button issues a blanket order to all friendly
troops to retreat or fall back. Forces receiving this order return to
previously occupied areas looking for adequate cover and protection.
Clicking the End Battle button ends the battle in progress, and displays
a Debriefing screen that summarizes the status of the battle to the point
at which you ended the game. Clicking End Battle forces your side to
lose, and gives the enemy at least a minor victory.
Force Morale in Game Play mode displays the current cohesion for both
sides. The color and length of the bars in the Force Morale monitor
reflect the average physical and mental status of the teams on both
sides. The bars start out green and change color to reflect the status of
each side. As a bar changes to yellow or red, it becomes shorter. If the
bar representing your side turns red and your opponent’s stays yellow
or green, you lose. If both sides’ bars turn red or both stay yellow, the
victor is determined based on which side has taken the fewest casualties and gained the most ground.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Monitoring the Game
Using Close Combat’s monitors, you “see” what’s happening to teams not in
view. The maps used in Close Combat are too large to fit in the Game screen
when you play in normal view. Because the normal view is best for playing Close
Combat, you can’t see all your teams without zooming out.
Close Combat’s Game screen has a View Area and five monitors:
•
•
•
•
•
Team monitor
Soldier monitor
Message monitor
Overview monitor
Zoom monitor
Using the View Area
The View Area is the portion of the Game screen where the battlefield action
occurs. To scroll the View Area, move the mouse pointer to the edge of the
screen. For example, if you move the pointer to the left edge of the Game screen,
the View Area scrolls from the left; the game map appears to scroll to the right. If
your screen resolution is 800x600 or higher, the Overview monitor is displayed;
you can see the yellow rectangle (which represents the View Area) move in the
same direction you move the mouse pointer. You can also scroll the View Area by
using the arrow keys, the numeric keypad, or the number keys (1 through 9).
You can use the arrow keys to scroll the View Area; pressing the LEFT ARROW
key scrolls the View Area to the left. You can use the numeric keypad to scroll the
View Area. For example, pressing the 4 key on the keypad scrolls the View Area
to the left; pressing the 7 key on the keypad scrolls the View Area diagonally (up
and to the left).
You can zoom the View Area in and out. By zooming out, you see an overview of
the map; the entire map is displayed in the View Area. By zooming in, you see
less of the map, but you see more detail. If you play at a resolution of 800x600 or
higher, an overview of the map is displayed in the Overview monitor.
You can click any team (yours or the enemy’s) visible in the View Area and
receive information about that team in the Team and Soldier monitors. When
selected, your units have blue boxes around each soldier on the team and a yellow
box around the selected soldier. There is a colored circle around the team leader;
the color of the circle matches the color indicating the team’s quality in the Team
and Soldier monitors.
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Close Combat
Using the Team Monitor
You monitor the status of your teams using the Team monitor. To view all the
teams in the monitor, use the scroll bar.
To select a team, click its panel in the Team monitor. If you click an enemy unit
during game play, the list is replaced by the text “Enemy unit selected,” and the
enemy soldiers appear in the Soldier monitor. In either case, when you click one
of your teams in the Team monitor, or an enemy team in the View Area, the
Soldier monitor lists the soldiers on that team.
To center a team in the View Area, click its panel in the Team monitor after you
select it. To select the team and center it in the View Area, double-click the team’s
panel in the Team monitor.
When you select a team in the Team monitor, the team is highlighted by a blue
box, the Soldier monitor shows information for each soldier on the selected team,
and the team is selected in the View Area.
Using the Soldier Monitor
You use the Soldier monitor to monitor the status of individual soldiers. When
you start a game, the Soldier monitor is not displayed; it appears only when you
select a team in either the Team or View Area.
To select a soldier, click the appropriate panel in the Soldier monitor. When you
select a soldier, a yellow box surrounds the soldier’s name in both the Soldier and
View Area. If you select an enemy team, its members appear in the Soldier
monitor. However, question marks may appear in some portions of the panel if
you don’t have complete intelligence information. As an enemy team remains
under observation, these question marks are replaced with more complete information about the enemy team.
Using the Message Monitor
You monitor the messages from your teams using the Message monitor. When
you start a game, there are no messages displayed; messages display only when
events affecting your teams occur. The Message monitor displays messages
radioed, or shouted, to you. To see all the messages sent during a given battle, use
the scroll bars. Double-clicking a message selects and centers the team that sent
the message in the View Area so you can readily issue a command.
You can also filter messages by using the colored buttons at the top of the Message monitor. First you decide which levels of messages you don’t want to see,
then click the appropriate button. For example, if you click the red message filter,
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
red (the most important) messages do not appear in the monitor; you click the red
button again to make these messages reappear. You can click more than one filter;
If you click the red and orange message filters, both red and orange messages
disappear from the monitor.
Using the Overview Monitor
The Overview monitor appears only when you play at 800x600 resolution or
higher. This monitor displays a scaled-down version of the game map shown in the
View Area; the Overview monitor enables you to see all of the game map throughout game play. All Victory Locations are displayed on this map; all friendly units
are represented by blue dots while enemy units are represented by red dots.
A yellow rectangle appears over a portion of the map in the Overview monitor.
Moving the rectangle in the Overview monitor changes the portion of the map you
see in the View Area. Using the Overview monitor is often a faster way to move
around the View Area than scrolling.
To use the Overview monitor
1 Move the mouse pointer to the Overview monitor.
The mouse pointer changes to a magnifying glass.
2 Move the magnifying glass to the part of the map you want displayed in the
View Area and click.
The View Area displays the part of the map you want.
Pausing a Game
To pause during game play, press F3 (Windows 95), press COMMAND+P
(Macintosh) or choose Pause Game from the Game menu (Windows 95), or File
menu (Macintosh). The game pauses automatically when you:
•
•
•
Display a menu
End or stop a battle
Press F1 for Help
You can instantly pause and minimize Close Combat in Windows 95 by clicking
the Minimize button. When your “civilian duties” are complete, you can resume
your battle by clicking the Close Combat button at the bottom of the screen.
On the Macintosh, you can instantly pause and minimize Close Combat by choosing Hide Close Combat from the Finder menu on the right side of the menu bar. To
resume play, choose Close Combat from the Finder menu.
49
50
Close Combat
Ending Games
You can end a Close Combat game in three ways:
•
•
•
You can end any game by clicking the End Battle button on the
Toolbar. If you choose to end a battle, you suffer a minor, or worse,
defeat. The Debriefing screen appears, summarizing the ended
battle’s results.
You can stop any game using the Abort Battle command on the
Game menu (Windows 95) or File menu (Macintosh). Unlike
ending a battle, stopping a battle carries no penalty for the side
choosing to stop. The Command screen appears when you stop any
game; stopped battles are not saved as part of a Campaign.
You can exit Close Combat using the Exit command on the Game
menu (Windows 95) or using the Quit command on the File menu
(Macintosh).
The following sections describe each method for ending a game.
Ending a Game
You use the End Battle button to end any game without exiting Close
Combat. However, ending a battle is the equivalent of withdrawing
from the battlefield; the side choosing to end any battle automatically
suffers a minor defeat or worse.
To end a game
1 On the Toolbar, click End Battle.
A popup appears asking if you’re sure you want to forfeit the battle.
2 In the popup, click Yes. If you click Yes, you lose.
The popup and the Game screen disappear, and the Debriefing
screen appears.
Stopping a Game
To stop any game and return to the Command screen without exiting
Close Combat, you use the Abort Battle command. Stopping a game
carries no penalty to the side choosing to stop; unlike ending a battle,
the side choosing to stop does not automatically suffer a defeat.
Instead, the Command screen appears, and no victor is determined. If
playing a Campaign, the stopped battle is not saved.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
51
To stop a game
1 From the Game menu (Windows 95) or File menu (Macintosh),
choose Abort Battle.
A popup appears asking if you’re sure you want to stop the battle.
2 In the popup, click OK.
The popup and the Game screen disappear, and the Command
screen appears.
To stop a game using the
keyboard without exiting Close
Combat, press ALT, G, A or
CTRL+A (Windows 95), or
COMMAND+A (Macintosh).
Exiting Close Combat
You can exit Close Combat at any time. The procedure differs slightly
depending on whether you are playing in Windows 95 or on the
Macintosh.
To exit Close Combat from Windows 95
1 From the Game menu, choose Exit.
A popup appears asking you if you’re sure you want to exit
Close Combat.
2 In the popup, click Exit.
The popup and the Game screen disappear, and Close Combat exits.
–or–
• Press ALT+F4.
To exit Close Combat from the Macintosh
1 From the File menu, choose Quit.
A popup appears asking you if you’re sure you want to quit
Close Combat.
2 In the popup, click Quit.
The popup and the Game screen disappear, and Close Combat
quits.
Saving Games
You can save any Close Combat battle as a Replay. You can create
Replays at the end of a battle, or when you choose End Battle from the
Toolbar. Replays are created using the Save Replay button on the
Debriefing screen.
To exit Close Combat using the
keyboard, press ALT, G, X or
ALT+F4 (Windows 95), or
COMMAND+Q (Macintosh).
52
Close Combat
Campaigns are automatically saved at the end of each battle as a saved Campaign.
You can also save a Campaign battle as a Replay; however, you can replay only
the last completed battle of the Campaign. For example, if you complete the
Hedgerows! 3 battle during a Campaign (named Campaign1) and save it as a
Replay named Replay1, then Hedgerows! 3 (Replay1) is the only battle you can
replay. (Replay1 appears in the scrollable list when you click the Replay button.)
Campaign1 is saved in the scrollable list of Campaigns.
To save a battle as a Replay
1 When the Debriefing screen appears at the end of a battle, or after you’ve
chosen End Battle from the Toolbar, click Save Replay.
The Name The Replay dialog box appears.
2 Type the name you want to assign to the Replay.
Replay names and Campaign names are governed by the same rules: You are
limited to 31 alphanumeric characters.
3 Click OK.
The dialog box disappears; the Debriefing screen is still displayed. You can
continue playing or exit Close Combat. When you display the Command
screen, your Replay is added to the scrollable list of Replays.
Remember, when you save a Campaign battle as a Replay, only the
just-completed battle is saved as a Replay.
Using the Options Menu
You can specify various options and preferences to give Close Combat the look
and feel you prefer. You can turn sound, music, videos, and other features on or
off at any time.
To choose options in Windows 95
1 Click the Options menu (or press ALT+O).
2 On the Options menu, click the option you want to turn on or off, as described
in the following sections.
To choose options on the Macintosh
1 Click the Options menu.
2 Choose the option you want to turn on or off, as described in the following
sections.
Chapter 2
Turning Sound On/Off
You can turn game sounds (gunfire, soldiers’ voices, and other sounds)
on or off.
To turn game sound on/off
1 Using the mouse, choose Sound from the Options menu.
2 To turn sound back on, repeat the process.
-or1 Using the keyboard, press ALT, O, S (Windows 95).
2 To turn sound back on, repeat the process.
Turning Music On/Off
You can turn game music (the drum roll that plays when the Command
screen is displayed) on or off.
To turn music on/off
1 Using the mouse, choose Music from the Options menu.
2 To turn music back on, repeat the process.
-or1 Using the keyboard, press ALT, O, M (Windows 95).
2 To turn music back on, repeat the process.
Turning Videos On/Off
You can turn videos (Introduction, Force Deployment, What Really
Happened, and Game End) on or off.
To turn videos on/off
1 Using the mouse, choose Videos from the Options menu.
2 To turn videos back on, repeat the process.
-or1 Using the keyboard, press ALT, O, V (Windows 95).
2 To turn videos back on, repeat the process.
Expanding the View Area to Use the Entire Screen
You can expand the View Area (which shows the game play area) to
fill the screen, hiding all the monitors.
Setup and Game Play
53
54
Close Combat
To expand the View Area to use the entire screen
If you want to see the entire
map, click Zoom Out. on the
toolbar. To return to the
previous view, click Zoom In.
•
•
•
Choose Expand View Area on the Options menu. To view all game
monitors and return the play area to the previous view, repeat the
process.
–or–
In Windows 95, press ALT, O, G or CTRL+G.
On the Macintosh, press COMMAND+G.
Removing/Displaying Trees from the Map
You can remove trees from the View Area at any time during a game.
To remove trees from the map
•
•
•
Click Remove Trees on the Options menu. To display the trees on the
screen again, repeat the process.
–or–
In Windows 95, press ALT, O, T or press CTRL+T.
On the Macintosh, press COMMAND+T.
Removing/Displaying Soldiers Killed In Action
You can remove soldiers killed in action at any time during a game.
To remove soldiers killed in action from the map
•
•
•
Click Remove KIA Soldiers on the Options menu. To again display
the soldiers killed in action, repeat the process.
–or–
In Windows 95, press ALT, O, K or press CTRL+K.
On the Macintosh, press COMMAND+K.
Minimizing Close Combat
You can minimize Close Combat at any time.
To minimize Close Combat
•
•
In Windows 95, click the minimize button, or press ALT, SPACEBAR, N.
On the Macintosh, choose Hide Close Combat from the Finder menu
on the right side of the menu bar. To resume play, choose Close
Combat from the Finder menu.
Chapter 2
Setup and Game Play
Playing Head-to-Head
For information on head-to-head play, see the README file on the Close
Combat CD-ROM, or look in the online Help Head-to-Head topic.
Troubleshooting
For more troubleshooting information, see the README file on the Close
Combat CD-ROM, or look in the online Help Troubleshooting topic.
Getting Help
Close Combat provides two kinds of Help information:
•
•
The online Help file with general information on a large number of
game-related topics, including extensive information on weapons.
Context-sensitive Help on specific game features. The Help file
supplements these brief pop-up descriptions.
Finding a Topic in the Help File
•
•
•
From the Help menu, choose Help Contents, or press F1.
Click the Help Contents tab to browse through topics by category.
To view the index of Help topics, click the Index tab, then scroll
through the list, or type the word you’re looking for and press
ENTER.
Getting Context-Sensitive Help
While you’re playing, you may want information about Close Combat
screen features, including game controls, weapons, and terrain. Using
context-sensitive Help, you click an area or feature on the game screen
to display a specific Help topic in a small text box. To get that information quickly:
•
•
•
Point at the feature.
In Windows 95, click the right mouse button.
On the Macintosh, hold down the Option key and click the mouse
button.
To close the text box
•
Press ESC or click anywhere on the screen.
You can also access Help by
pressing F1 (Windows 95) or
COMMAND+H (Macintosh).
55
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Close Combat
Chapter 3
Chapter 3
Tactics
This chapter describes tactics and provides game tips you can use while playing
Close Combat.
Basic Tactics
You can use three basic tactics in Close Combat:
• Flanking
• Shoot it out
• Frontal assault
Flanking
The first basic tactic you can use is to try and flank the enemyattack them from
the side. For example, suppose an enemy rifle team is positioned behind a stone
wall. The wall offers excellent protection against rifle, machine gun, and light
artillery fire. However, using these weapons against the team behind the wall
suppresses themit makes them keep their heads down and minimizes return
fire. After the enemy is suppressed, you can send another team around the
enemy’s flank. When your flanking team reaches its position, it can enfilade the
enemy’s position.
Shoot It Out
The second basic tactic is to just “shoot it out” with the enemy. You should use
this tactic when you can bring superior forces and firepower against the enemy;
all other things being equal, the side with superiority in numbers and firepower
will eventually prevail.
Frontal Assault
The third basic tactic is the frontal assault. This tactic exposes your troops to the
greatest risk, but can be successful if you can get your team (or teams) within
grenade range without taking heavy losses. If you choose to make a frontal
assault, you should first deploy teams to provide suppression fire. Next, you
should fire smoke rounds along the path of the assault. After you’ve laid a smoke
screen, you can send a team (or several teams) charging at the position you want
to capture.
Tactics
57
58
Close Combat
When you fire smoke rounds, the smoke lasts approximately one minute; the
smoke is thickest when the rounds first go off. Smoke plumes are as wide as they
are tall. Because the game assumes that a light wind is blowing from west to east,
you should try to keep the smoke between your troops and the enemy. Time your
smoke rounds and assault with these factors in mind.
As the German commander, you shouldn’t defend positions to the last man.
Defend a position as long as you can inflict more casualties than you receive, then
move to another position; force the Americans to attack you and look for opportunities to counterattack.
Game Play Tips
This section lists game play tips according to the following categories:
•
•
•
•
Infantry tips
Vehicle tips
Weapons tips
General tips
Infantry Tips
You can use the tips in this section when issuing commands to your infantry
teams. For information on the factors affecting infantry team effectiveness and
performance, see “Monitoring the Game” in Chapter 2, “Setup and Game Play.”
• Don’t order your infantry teams to move through open terrain within the
enemy’s line of sight unless you provide suppression fire.
• Don’t order an assault against an enemy position unless you have numerical
or firepower superiority. You should not order a team of five soldiers with
rifles to assault a position held by 10 enemy soldiers with a machine gun.
• Use smoke to cover the movements of your attacking team or teams. Providing a covering smoke screen diminishes the enemy’s ability to hit the attackers. This keeps your team’s effectiveness and morale high, which increases
your chances of success.
• Use smoke whenever you can; fire into any smoke that the enemy creates.
• Don’t order mortar or machine gun teams to move as part of an assault. When
teams move mortars and machine guns, their fatigue levels go up; increased
fatigue means the team will respond more slowly to an order to fire and the
fire will be less accurate than that of a well-rested team. You should consider
the deployment of such teams carefully; you’ll want to position them where
they can provide suppression fire for more than one infantry team.
Chapter 3
• Don’t order units too far in advance of Victory Locations until these locations
have been neutralized. Doing so is asking for an ambush.
• Make sure you order adequate fire against Victory Locations. Remember, you
don’t necessarily need to hit enemy soldiers to drive them from a position; a
high volume of fire can reduce the morale and effectiveness of an enemy team
to make them panic and run.
• Don’t keep your teams too close together. This makes them more susceptible
to casualties from grenades, mortars, and artillery. Close proximity can create
another problem; if one teams panics, those in close proximity may panic, too.
• Move only one team at a time. This is not an ironclad rule; there may be times
when ordering more than one team to move is an advantage. However, you
want to use as much suppression fire as possible, and teams fire more effectively when they’re not moving.
• Use short moves to protect your teams. Teams that move long distances are
more susceptible to ambush; the enemy may react to a long move by assaulting the moving team’s flank. Ambushes and flanking fire reduce effectiveness
and morale. Orders to move a long distance also increase fatigue, which in
turn reduces the team’s effectiveness.
• Don’t order a team to move or fire if their condition is not conducive to the
order. For example, if you order a fatigued team to move fast for a long
distance, their effectiveness, performance, and team quality will drop. The
team is more likely to cower or break; the team’s accuracy of fire will drop.
• Move teams to locations that provide adequate cover. If soldier units feel
overexposed or vulnerable, they may not go to the exact point you’ve
designated.
• Moving fast over short distances allows soldiers to recover and keeps them
from early fatigue. Remember that some foot soldiers can be carrying up to
70 pounds of gear. Running will tire them quickly.
• Note that many Recon (Reconnaissance) team members are armed with
submachine guns. These weapons have a high rate of fire but their effective
range is limited.
Tactics
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Close Combat
Vehicle Tips
You can use the tips in this section when issuing commands to your vehicle
teams. For information on the factors affecting vehicle effectiveness and performance, the following table may prove useful.
Attribute
Armor
Gun
Fire-Angle
Exposed
Rotation rates
Mount type
Mount hit
Acceleration
Max speed
Move type
Size
Gyrostabilizer
Description
The strength and thickness of the armor is rated in eight
horizontal angles and three vertical angles, in addition to
the top and bottom armor. The slope of the armor is
factored into calculation of armor effectiveness. The
vehicle is rated for both the hull and turret armor (if the
vehicle has one). In addition, the passengers and crew are
given protection values based on the type of vehicle (open
top, open rear, unarmored).
Each vehicle can support up to three weapons on both the
hull and the turret. Each of the guns is fired independently
by the vehicular crew.
Each gun on the vehicle is rated for what angle the gun can
fire at (360 degrees, 180 degrees, 90 degrees, and so on).
Fire outside of that arc will cause the soldier firing that
gun to rotate the hull or turret as necessary in order to fire.
Each gun is denoted as to whether or not the soldier must
be exposed in order to fire that particular weapon. Being
exposed makes the soldier much more vulnerable to
enemy fire.
The speeds with which the hull and turret can rotate.
Whether the mount exists, is a fixed mount, or can rotate.
A mount is either the hull or turret.
Chance of the hull versus the turret being hit.
Rate at which the vehicle accelerates.
Top off-road speed of the vehicle.
How the vehicle moves (tracked, wheeled, and so on)
Profile given the enemy; affects ease of being hit.
Identifies whether or not the vehicle is equipped with a
gyrostabilized gun. A gyrostabilizer improves main gun
accuracy when the vehicle is on the move.
Chapter 3
Schurzen
Integrity
Identifies whether or not the vehicle is equipped with
Schurzen plating (thin metal plates set a few inches out
from the hull to detonate rounds before they hit the hull) to
protect against HEAT ammo rounds.
How well the vehicle can withstand being hit (brewups,
spalling).
Specific tips for vehicles are as follows:
• The Close Combat game design accurately reflects the Normandy Campaign
regarding vehicles. Specifically, the majority of German vehicles can defeat
the majority of like American vehicles in a one-on-one fight. Consequently, if
a American vehicle gets too close to any German position, it is in danger of
being destroyed; remember, even German rifle teams have antitank weapons
(Panzerfausts) capable of destroying every American vehicle. As the
American commander, the only way you can successfully use your vehicles is
to use numerical superiority (pit two or three Shermans against one Panther or
Tiger) or flanking tactics.
• If you’re the German commander, you should try to conserve your resources;
this is especially true when playing a Campaign because the Americans will
receive far more reinforcements than you (again reflecting the history of the
Normandy Campaign).
• Halftracks, armored cars, and other vehicles are fast but vulnerable. Use them
for rapid maneuvers where tanks and antitank weapons are not likely to be
deployed. For example, you can use a halftrack to support an infantry assault
against another infantry team.
• Don’t order your tanks, tank destroyers, or other vehicles within range of
known or suspected enemy antitank weapons. This is especially true for
American commanders; remember, the Germans make American armor a
priority target. And the Germans have more antitank firepower; both the
Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust can destroy all American armor with a
head-on shot. The Bazooka can only knock out heavily armored tanks and
tank destroyers with a side or rear shot.
• When you order your tanks, tank destroyers, or vehicles to advance, use
infantry support to provide suppression fire against antitank teams.
• Although you can send a tank over a hedgerow, doing so leaves the tank
vulnerable to enemy antitank fire.
Tactics
61
62
Close Combat
Weapons Tips
You can use the tips in this section when issuing commands to your vehicle
teams. For information on the factors affecting vehicle effectiveness and performance, the following table may prove useful.
Attribute
Rounds/clip
Firing time
Chamber load
Clip reload
Burst rounds
Weight
Clip weight
Heat rate
Cool rate
Quality
Bayoneted
Assault fire
Back blast
Blast size
Blast radius
Min range
Accuracy
Affect
Blast
Description
The number of ammo rounds in a clip.
Time for the shot effect to occur (short for direct fire,
longer for indirect fire).
Time to load a round into the chamber (very short for
automatic weapons, longer for bolt action).
Time to load a new clip into the gun.
Number of rounds typically fired in one burst for that
weapon.
Weight of the gun.
Weight of each clip.
Rate at which the weapon gains heat while firing.
Rate at which the weapon loses heat while not firing.
Likelihood of the weapon jamming or malfunctioning.
Chances are increased as heat builds up.
Whether or not the weapon has a bayonet.
Whether or not the weapon can be used on the run.
Whether or not the weapon causes a back blast.
This is rated by ammo type and determines how big a
crater the shot makes. Ammo types are AP, HE, Special,
Smoke, or HEAT. Special refers to unique ammo types
such as APCR, APDS, Canister, and so on.
This is rated by ammo and affects the range at which
soldiers can be affected by the blast.
How far away the target must be in order to use the
weapon.
The base chance to hit a target with the weapon moderated
by range and ammo type.
What type of damage the shot does versus soldiers,
vehicles, or terrain; rated by ammo and range.
What type of damage the blast from the shot does versus
soldiers, vehicles, or terrain; rated by ammo and range
from the point of the blast.
Chapter 3
Specific tips for weapons are as follows:
• Don’t order your mortars to fire at infantry hiding in bunkers or buildings
because bunkers have very thick roofs; you can expend all of your mortar
ammunition trying to blast your way through without killing or wounding the
enemy. While you might be able to blast through the roofs of buildings, this
still isn’t an efficient use of ammunition.
• Because mortars lob a shell in an arcing rather than flat trajectory, you should
use mortars against troops in the open, troops under trees (where airbursts can
be deadly), or troops with protection only on one side (behind a stone wall).
• Don’t order your antitank teams to fire at infantry. You’ll want to save your
antitank weapons (American Bazooka, German Panzerfaust and
Panzerschreck) for enemy tanks and other vehicles. However, you may want
to use an antitank team occasionally if the enemy infantry is hiding in a
building or bunker.
• If you’re the American commander, don’t order an infantry team armed with
rifles to fire at a tank and expect the tank to be disabled. Remember, Close
Combat reflects the reality of the Normandy Campaign; you’ll need either
numerical superiority or superior firepower to engage German tanks.
• Don’t order your machine gun teams to fire at a fixed target too long when
you want suppression fire. You should switch the target at least once to
maximize the effect of the suppression fire.
• If cover for both sides is equal, the team or teams with the most firepower
wins. For example, if American and German rifle teams are both behind stone
walls and firing at each other, the Americans will win (all other things being
equal). This is because they are armed with Garand semiautomatic rifles,
which have a faster rate of fire (rounds per minute or rpm) than the Gewehr 98
bolt action rifles the Germans use.
• When a mortar team is out of ammunition, you can send them to the front line
to throw their smoke grenades and use their carbines.
• When you want to place a smoke screen, use your mortar teams first to place
smoke for their ability to lob smoke over tall terrain. Smoke screens are the
most useful coverage for open areas.
• Keep your antitank infantry teams (Bazookas or Panzerschrecks and
Panzerfausts) spread out; deploying them too closely means one shell could
wipe them out.
Tactics
63
64
Close Combat
General Tips
• When a team is shot at or spots an enemy for the first time, the team cancels
its goal. For example, if you issue a Move command and the team is fired on
for the first time, the Move command is canceled.
• If the team leader is wounded or killed, the team’s goal is canceled.
• The more intense the suppression fire, the closer safe terrain must be for a
team to move to that terrain.
• You cannot place individual soldiers, but you can issue a Defend order with a
very narrow scan arc in the direction you want the team to cover. This causes
the team to reevaluate their cover based on the new scan arc, and position
themselves better.
• Rallying troops doesn’t happen immediately. Any leader can help to rally
a soldier; the chance of doing so is based on the leader’s proximity and
leadership ability. A soldier can also rally himself given enough time.
• When you have no specific plan, put troops into defending mode.
• Don’t assume that because you can see the enemy, your soldiers can, too. Hide
your team, but don’t forget about them.
• Set up your teams to enfilade the enemy (catch them in a crossfire)
whenever possible.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
65
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign
in Close Combat
The Normandy campaign is a six-week series of battles that takes place
in northwestern France. There, soldiers of General Omar Bradley’s First
Army attempt to fight their way from Omaha Beach to Saint-Lô, a
strategic road and rail hub. Saint-Lô is the key to breaking out of the
confining beachhead area. If Bradley’s forces can capture this important
town, they will finally be able to move onto ground that will allow them
to take full advantage of their formidable mechanized and armored
forces in a war of maneuver.
“War is the last of all things to
go according to plan.”
Thucydides
Standing in the way of the Americans and their objective are German
army and paratroop units who have put up fierce opposition to the
invading forces—first on the beaches, then inland through coastal
villages, then at the river Aure, and finally in the hedgerows, marshes,
hills, and draws. After six weeks, 20 miles, and 200,000 casualties, the
two armies face off in the bombed-out rubble of Saint-Lô. An American
victory here will allow the First Army to launch a drive across France
and into Germany. But if the Germans can stop the Americans, they
may be able to keep the
invaders bottled up in
Normandy: June 6, 1944
northwestern France,
jeopardizing their precarious
U.S. First Army
British Second Army
toehold on the European
(Bradley)
(Dempsey)
Cherbourg
continent.
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Carentan
SW
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66
Close Combat
The Evolution of Operation Overlord
“We must prepare to fight
Germany by . . . defeating her
ground forces and definitely
breaking her will to combat. . . .
adequate ground forces must
be available to close with and
destroy the enemy inside his
citadel.”
Maj. Albert Wedemeyer, in his
“Victory Program”
U.S. General
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Normandy Campaign is the end result of more than two-and-a-half
years of planning, training, and preparation. The initial invasion plan
that will eventually be called Operation Overlord is formulated before
the United States even enters the war. It is the brainchild of Major
Albert Wedemeyer, a war plans expert on the U.S. War Department
General Staff, who had attended the German Kriegesakademie (War
College), from which he graduated in 1938. This unique background
gives Wedemeyer a keen understanding of the German philosophy of
total war. His plan, aptly titled the “Victory Program,” calls for a
massive invasion of northwest Europe and a decisive confrontation with
the German army.
Wedemeyer submits his Victory Program on September 21, 1941.
Within three months, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and German
Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s subsequent declaration of war forces the U.S.
entry into World War II. At the Anglo-American Arcadia conference,
held in Washington D.C. from December 22, 1941 to January 7, 1942,
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Chiefs of Staff make it
clear that, despite the Japanese aggression, they accept the principle of
“Germany first.” They believe that the German war machine represents
the greatest threat to the Allies (Britain, the U.S., and the U.S.S.R.), and
determine that the bulk of the U.S. Army will fight Germany and Italy,
while the task of combating Japan will be the primary responsibility of
the U.S. Navy.
In early 1942, Wedemeyer’s Victory Program finds a strong supporter
in General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who submits a revised version to
Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall on March 25. That same day,
Marshall presents the plan to Roosevelt, who decides that it should get
direct approval from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the
British military leadership. To win the British over,
Eisenhower redrafts the plan, proposing an invasion of the
French coast between Le Havre and Boulogne by 1.5 million
American and British troops on April 1, 1943. Marshall
submits the plan—now called the Marshall Memorandum—
to Churchill and his General Staff. On April 13, they commit
to the plan’s key concept, a full-scale invasion of western
Europe. Two months later, in Moscow, the Anglo-American
commitment is announced at a meeting of the Supreme
Soviet of the U.S.S.R., whose Premier, Josef Stalin, has
been pressing the U.S. and Britain for the creation of a
second front to relieve the Axis pressure on the besieged
Soviet Union.
U.S. General Omar Bradley
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
67
Soon after the Allies commit to the invasion of France, it becomes clear
that an adequate troop and supply buildup for the landings will take
longer than anticipated. In the interim, the Americans agree to join the
British in invading North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. At the Trident
conference, held in Washington in May 1943, the date for the invasion
of France, known as “D-Day” is tentatively reset for May 1, 1944. Six
months after the conference, Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied
Commander, in charge of overall operations for the invasion. He then
chooses British General Bernard Montgomery to head the combined
Anglo-American ground forces, known as the 21st Army Group. Under
Montgomery’s command are U.S. General Omar Bradley, who leads the
U.S. First Army, and General Miles Dempsey, who is in charge of the
British Second Army. These men will command the troops that will
attempt to storm the invasion beaches and press inland.
Preparations for Operation Overlord
Over the next twelve months, southern England resembles an enormous
armed camp, as it becomes the site of the biggest buildup of men and
materiel ever assembled for a military operation. By June 1944 nearly
three million Allied troops have gathered under Eisenhower’s command. The invasion now has a new codename: Operation Overlord,
which Churchill has selected from a list compiled by his Chiefs of Staff.
It also has a new location: the Calvados coast in Normandy, roughly
between the town of Cabourg and the Cotentin Peninsula in northwestern France. Although this stretch of coastline is a greater distance from
England than the Pas de Calais and the Cotentin Peninsula, it is less
fortified and has fewer natural obstacles and better beaches for landing
craft than either of those locations. The Normandy beaches are also
within range of Allied fighter cover from airfields in southern England.
In the months before the invasion, the U.S. and British forces conduct
training exercises that focus on the difficulties of amphibious landing
operations. The training for the advance inland, held on the moors of
southern England, relies on textbook tactics, notably the open order
advance, two companies forward. Unfortunately, this training virtually
ignores the actual hazards that await those who survive the assault on
the beach. The Allied troops learn little about tactics for infiltrating the
Norman hedgerow country, the bocage, with its small fields bounded by
tall, dense hedges, an art the Germans have mastered. The invaders will
pay a heavy price for this oversight.
British General Bernard
Montgomery
“. . . the [bocage] area will not
be an easy one for forces to
advance through rapidly in the
face of determined resistance . .
. . The tactics employed in
fighting through the bocage
country should be given
considerable study.”
Supreme Headquarters, Allied
Expeditionary Force (SHAEF),
April 1944
“We simply did not expect to
remain in the bocage long
enough to justify studying it as a
major tactical problem.”
An American senior staff officer,
quoted by Max Hastings in
Overlord: D-Day and the Battle
for Normandy
68
Close Combat
The German Forces in Normandy
As the German High Command realizes that an invasion in the West is
imminent, the number of combat divisions in France is increased from 46
in November of 1943 to 58 by June 1944. However, many of these
divisions are below full strength. Some of them have had troops siphoned
off to the war against the Soviets; others are shifted from the Eastern
Front to France to rest and refit, their ranks decimated by combat with
the Red Army. Many battalions are partially made up of Polish and
Russian prisoners, known as Osttruppen, or “Eastern troops,” most of
whom lack any desire to fight for Germany. Allied deceptions have
convinced the Germans to reinforce the Pas de Calais, which depletes the
concentration of forces in Normandy even further.
German Field Marshal
Erwin Rommel
In January, 1944 German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is named head of
Army Group B, which covers the Seventh and the Fifteenth Armies in
northern France, and takes over the responsibility for defenses there.
Although construction of a fortified coastal defense system, known as the
“Atlantic Wall,” had begun in 1942, Rommel immediately begins to
strengthen it with mines, underwater obstacles, and concrete gun emplacements. This is in keeping with his belief that the only way to repulse
Fooling the Germans with “Fortitude”
While Rommel speeded his preparations, German
forces in France increased to 55 divisions, many
of them far from Normandy. In particular, the
German Fifteenth Army remained in the Pas de
Calais to repel an invasion force that would never
strike there. This was partially due to a brilliant
Allied deception called “Operation Fortitude.” Its
deceptions took a number of forms, all intended to
divert German attention from the real invasion
preparations in the south of England to a carefully
orchestrated and entirely bogus buildup in the
southeast, opposite the Pas de Calais.
German reconnaissance aircraft were allowed
to fly over sites crammed with dummy tanks,
trucks, and landing craft made of rubber, plywood,
and canvas. Inflatable Sherman tanks that four
men could easily carry looked real enough from
the air, and the net effect was to trick the Germans
into thinking they had found the growing stockpile
for the coming invasion. Meanwhile false radio
traffic convinced them that General Patton was
preparing the fictitious “U.S. First Army Group” for
an invasion at the Pas de Calais. For a month or
more after D-Day, much of the German leadership
continued in the conviction that the invasion in
Normandy was merely a feint, and that the “real”
invasion would soon fall where they had always
known it would.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
69
an Allied invasion is with a rapid counterattack on the beaches from
behind a fortified coastal strip. However, Rommel’s superior, Field
Marshal Gert von Runstedt opposes his defensive philosophy. Believing
that nothing can stop the Allied invasion, von Runstedt thinks that the
majority of German defenses should be moved inland, away from
Allied naval guns. From there, German tanks will be better able to
strike at the invaders as they attempt to establish beachheads and supply
lines. Because the German chain of command is unclear even at the
highest levels, it is never determined whether Rommel or von Runstedt
will control the battle after the invasion, and neither one gets all the
defenses or forces he wants.
Preparation of the German defenses on the Normandy coast is
hampered by shortages, and by the Allied air forces. Their bombing
attacks on Germany have caused the German air force, the Luftwaffe, to
largely abandon France to protect German skies. The knowledge that
the Allies control the skies above western France adds fuel to Rommel’s
argument. In early 1944, German troop and supply movement is further
hindered by an Allied aerial bombing campaign known as the Transportation Plan, which targets railroads and marshaling yards in western
France.
Despite these numerous difficulties, six infantry divisions of the
German Seventh Army, commanded by Colonel General Friedrich
Dollmann and covering Normandy and Brittany, are available to oppose
the Allied invasion. A single Panzer division is in reserve near Caen,
with three more held inland—and effectively out of Rommel’s reach—
by the German High Command. These divisions can be released only
under orders from Hitler himself, who wants to save them in case of an
invasion at the Pas de Calais. Although Rommel’s beach defenses are
incomplete, they are still formidable, and have strong Panzer forces
waiting behind them. The Germans have more than enough firepower
and manpower to make the Allied invasion force pay a heavy price.
The Allies Invade on D-Day
After being pushed back a month to June 5, and then further delayed
by bad weather for another day, the greatest armed assault ever
attempted—the long-awaited Allied invasion of France—finally gets
underway on June 6. The first troops to land on French soil are from
three U.S. and British airborne divisions, which are dropped at night
to seize towns and bridgeheads behind the invasion beaches. Simultaneously, an armada of 5,300 landing craft, supply vessels, and warships
carrying over 150,000 Allied troops head across the English Channel
for the Calvados coast.
“The war will be won or lost on
the beaches. We’ll have only one
chance to stop the enemy and
that’s while he’s in the water.”
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
70
Close Combat
U.S. soldiers crammed into landing craft
“Everything was confusion.
Units are mixed up, many of
them leaderless, most of them
not being where they were
supposed to be. Shells were
coming in all the time; boats
burning; vehicles with nowhere
to go bogging down, getting hit;
supplies getting wet; boats
trying to come in all the time,
some hitting mines,
exploding...everything jammed
together like a junkyard.”
Sgt. Ralph G. Martin, in Yank
U.S. soldiers landing on Omaha Beach
The next morning, following a fierce air and naval bombardment, the
first assault waves from five Allied divisions storm the five Normandy
invasion beaches, code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.
On the left flank of the invasion force, the British Second Army storms
Gold and Sword beaches, then pushes southeast in an attempt to take
the city of Caen and the airfield nearby at Carentan. At Juno beach, the
Canadians come ashore. On the right flank of the invasion force, Utah,
the westernmost of the Normandy beaches, is captured by the Fourth
Infantry Division of the First Army’s VII Corps. Its plan is to head to
the northwest to cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and capture Cherbourg,
which will give the Allies a major port for bringing in additional
supplies.
Because Hitler is asleep during the morning of the invasion and has
given orders not to be awakened, he does not release the German
Panzer reserves until the afternoon. By then it is too late to stem the
invasion. German resistance on the four landing beaches is relatively
light, and although the Allied troops do not push as far inland as they
had planned, they suffer fewer casualties than they had expected. But it
is a far different story for the Americans who land at the beach codenamed Omaha.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
71
“Bloody Omaha” and Beyond
Of the vast number of Allied troops that wade or parachute into
Normandy on June 6, the Americans who land on Omaha Beach
have the toughest time of all. The beach itself has natural defenses in
the form of high bluffs at either end, and only five exits, which the
Germans have mined and wired. Concrete blockhouses and positions on
the bluffs pour a murderous concentration of fire along every inch of
the beach. The defenses are manned by the crack 352nd Infantry, a fullstrength attack division brought in from the Eastern Front, and made up
of some of the most combat-tested troops in the German army. By a
quirk of fate, the Americans are also pitted against an extra German
infantry division that is in the area practicing anti-invasion tactics. The
German defenders get an additional break when the Allied naval
bombardment before the landings is too brief to do much damage.
As the smoke from the bombardment clears, the first U.S. invasion
craft head for shore, carrying troops from the 29th and 1st Infantry
Divisions. At first, confusion reigns as landing craft and vehicles,
scattered by the rough seas they have just crossed, pile onto the beach.
As the now-seasick soldiers disembark, they are blasted by well-aimed
German gunfire. By 0915, as U.S. casualties mount, General Bradley
fears he will have to call off the Omaha landing, as his forces are
pinned down on the beach, huddled behind a seawall for survival.
“There are only two kinds of
people on this beach: the dead
and those about to die. So let’s
get the hell out of here!”
Colonel George Taylor, at
Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944
“You know what I see up there?
I see my old mother sitting on
the porch waving my insurance
policy at me.”
A GI on Omaha Beach to Life
photographer Robert Capa
Slowly, inexplicably, the tide of battle turns, as scattered groups of U.S.
soldiers press forward, prompted by
their own bravery, by the desire simply
to survive or, in some cases, by the
brandished weapon of a fellow soldier.
OMA
U.S
HA
Since nearly all of the U.S. amphibious
. 1s
t Ar
my
tanks have sunk after being launched,
Gro
up
the troops have to advance across open
ground under heavy fire without
Aure River
Carentan
German 916th
supporting armor. Finally, as individual
German 914th
Regiment
Navy destroyers move in and pound
Regiment
the German defenses at close range,
German 352nd
small units begin to ram their way
Bayeux
Division
through Rommel’s beach obstacles and
er
scale the cliffs. The Germans of the
t
Riv
s
e
re
m
352nd, who by now are running low on
Fo
Dro
y
s
ammunition and reinforcements, are
ri
Ce
Vir
e
Riv
er
Omaha Beachhead: June 7, 1944
SaintÐL™
72
Close Combat
“The beach became strewn with
dead, wounded, and shelterseeking soldiers. They reached
the low stone wall, but the
safety offered there was
temporary. Our mortar crews
had waited for this moment and
began to lay deadly fire on
preset coordinates along the
sea wall. Mortar rounds with
impact fuses exploded on
target. The shell splinters, wall
fragments, and stones inflicted
severe casualties. The waves of
attackers broke against our
defenses.”
Grenadier Franz Gockel,
describing the carnage
at Omaha Beach
eventually overwhelmed by the increasing numbers of U.S. soldiers.
By late afternoon, the Americans have captured the bluffs and secured
the exits from the beach that will later be called “Bloody Omaha,” in
recognition of the 2,000 casualties that the U.S. has suffered there.
After taking Omaha Beach, the objective of the 29th is to proceed
toward the river Aure, in the direction of their eventual goal, Saint-Lô.
Scattered American units find themselves intermingled as they make
their way inland. Just a few thousand yards from the beach, they
encounter stiff German resistance in the villages of Vierville,
Saint-Laurent, and Colleville. Although the fighting initially slows
their advance, the Americans press on toward a line between
Trévières in the east and Isigny in the west.
The following day, June 7, beach engineers are able to clear enough
of the wreckage from D-Day to unload some supplies. A day later,
U.S. soldiers taking cover
behind seawall on Omaha Beach
Off The Beach
Between midday on June 6 and the evening of
June 7, elements of the 115th and 116th Infantry
Regiments fight their way inland to the high
ground beyond Omaha Beach. They clear the
towns of Vierville, Saint Laurent, and Colleville on
the coast road, then probe towards the BayeuxIsigny highway and beyond—to the river Aure. The
Americans outman and outgun the Germans.
Although German resistance is fierce, the lack of
centralized control hinders their efforts to organize
resistance against the Americans.
Close Combat Operation: German Side
A “last man defense” will lead to a disaster for the
German commander’s teams. However, the stone
walls, stone buildings, narrow roads, and
hedgerows that are typical of the Norman countryside all provide excellent positions for German
strongpoints.
Close Combat Operation: U.S. Side
The action starts with the 29th Division already
moving into the terrain beyond Omaha Beach.
Although the Americans have more men and
supporting armor, the U.S. teams are about to bite
into their first taste of the confining terrain of the
Norman countryside—and the German defenses
lurking within.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
73
1,429 tons of supplies are moved, increasing to 7,000 tons a day by
D-Day plus five. The paratroopers inland are resupplied by air drops
from U.S. cargo planes. To prevent the Germans from moving
reinforcements up, Allied fighter-bombers attack several river bridges
and marshaling yards, although heavy cloud cover hinders their efforts
and causes the cancellation of hundreds of missions.
By June 8, D-Day plus two, enemy defenses along the Trévières-Isigny
line collapse as the 29th Division’s 175th Infantry Regiment makes a
determined and rapid advance, covering 12 miles in 36 hours. Assisted
by two companies of tanks from the 747th Tank Battalion, the
Americans fight through antitank gunfire at La Cambe and mobile
88-mm guns and infantry near Saint-Germain du Pert. At 0300 hours on
June 9, Isigny falls to the onrushing Americans, who then capture the
bridge over the Aure intact.
The loss of Isigny prevents the German 352nd Infantry Division from
driving a wedge between Omaha and Utah beaches, and deprives the
Germans of the defensive and artillery positions they have counted on
to keep the U.S. forces from advancing far inland. The 175th Division’s
victory thwarts Rommel’s plan to stop the invasion on the beaches.
Three days later, Omaha and Utah beaches are linked together.
After capturing Isigny, American units cross the river Aure at various
points along the line, many of them slogging across areas previously
Allied supplies pour inland
from the Normandy beachhead
Across The Aure
On the morning of June 9, the 115th Infantry
Regiment is ordered to cross the river Aure. With
help from the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion,
the Third Battalion makes a swampy crossing
from Canchy to a point west of Colombieres. The
First Battalion tries to cross the bridge just south
of Ecrammeville. German machine gun and rifle
fire from positions west of Trévières drives the
Americans back; the First Battalion then marches
to Canchy and follows the Third Battalion across
the Aure.
Close Combat Operation: German Side
The German commander’s teams are bolstered
by armor and a deadly array of artillery, and
can make the bridge an obstacle instead of an
opportunity.
Close Combat Operation: U.S. Side
The American commander has an opportunity to
change history by capturing the bridge across the
river Aure near Trévières. Additional armor now
supports the American heavy weapons and
infantry teams.
Close Combat
74
flooded by the Germans. But if the troops of Bradley’s First Army think
they will now have a few days’ triumphant progress inland to Saint-Lô,
they are mistaken.
“I had no intention of pinning
down forces at Saint-Lô until
Cherbourg was safely in hand .
. . . Not until a few days before
the breakout did I lift the
prohibition on Saint-Lô.”
Gen. Omar Bradley
The British Take The Heat Off
On D-Day, and in the days following the invasion, the British Second
Army makes a determined assault on Caen. This convinces the
Germans that this city, situated amid good tank terrain, is the Allies’
major invasion objective, the key to a future Allied breakout across the
plain running south to Falaise. But Montgomery’s actual objective is
to attract and hold as much German armor in the British sector as
possible. Tying up the Germans on the Allies’ eastern flank will free the
American forces on the western flank to take the port of Cherbourg,
then proceed south, and
pivot to break out onto
Normandy: June 13, 1944
the high ground east of
Saint-Lô.
U.S. 82nd
Airborne Division
U.S. 4th
Infantry Division
U.S. 101st
Airborne Division
er
r
ive
eR
Vir
Tau
iv
te R
Aure River
U.S. 1st
Division
U.S. 29th
Division
U.S. 2nd
t
es
Division
or
yF
ris
Ce
German
352nd Division
Bayeux
r
me
e
Riv
Caen
Dro
Panzer Lehr
SaintÐL™ German 3rd
Parachute Division
“Even though we fell back other
parts of our regiment were still
fighting in the hedgerows.
Sometimes it was only a
handful of men, but here that
could hold up a company.”
Obergrenadier Karl Wegner,
352nd Infantry Division
Or
ne
Ri
ve
r
Carentan
Montgomery’s plan works
well, as the Germans deploy
eight Panzer divisions with
500 to 700 tanks to defend
Caen, making that area their
center of resistance against
the Allies. As a result,
between June 15 and July
25, there are never more than
190 serviceable German
tanks opposite the American
sector.
The initial Allied assaults are
also aided by the belief of
many German commanders,
including Hitler, that the Normandy invasion is a diversion. The main
invasion, they insist, is still to come at the Pas de Calais. Because of
this, German Fifteenth Army troops that could fight in Normandy
remain stuck in Calais, defending against a landing that never comes.
Reinforcements for those German Seventh Army troops who are
actively combating the U.S. and British forces come slowly and
sporadically, due to Allied air superiority and the infrastructure damage
it causes.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
75
German Defenses in the Bocage
Standing between Bradley’s First Army and its goal of Saint-Lô are six
German divisions of the Seventh Army, several of which are made up of
units that have been shattered on D-Day. One of these, the 91st, has
been reinforced by the Sixth Parachute Regiment, an élite volunteer
group whose average age is 17. The 352nd Infantry, which opposed the
Americans so fiercely at Omaha Beach, has been pulled back along the
valley of the river Vire, which flows past Saint-Lô and between the two
U.S. invasion beaches. The other German divisions in the area are the
Third Parachute Division, the 353rd Division, and the 17th SS
Panzergrenadier, although none of these is strong enough to mount an
effective counterattack.
“Every field a fort” is a phrase that recurs
throughout the literature of the Normandy
Campaign. It sounds like poetic exaggeration,
but it’s true. Allied troops advancing into a
hedgerow enclosure are walking into an area soon
to be covered by pre-planned fields of direct and
indirect fire. Using the ideal camouflage and
concealment of the bocage to their advantage,
the Germans disperse small, heavily armed
antipersonnel and antitank units through it, dug in
at the bases of the hedgerows and nearly invisible
to the oncoming Americans. Out of the silence a
sudden, tearing burst of fire from an MG 42
machine gun, the chatter of a machine pistol, the
detonation of a Panzerfaust antitank round,
incoming mortar fire, or a single sniper shot is
usually the first sign of the enemy’s presence.
Heavy German machine guns are dug into
“Make every field a
fortress.”
Obergefreiter Paul Kalb,
352nd Infantry Division
200-400 yds
200-400 yds
The best German defenses in Normandy weren’t put there by Rommel
in 1944, but by Celtic farmers more than a thousand years earlier. The
Norman hedgerow country, or bocage, consists of small, irregularly
shaped fields, only about 200 by 400 meters, enclosed by ancient,
overgrown hedges that grow from earthen mounds flanked by drainage
ditches. The hedgerows reach a height of 15 feet, limiting visibility to
one field at a time. They are impenetrably
dense—even for tanks. The hedgerows form a
thousand square miles of tough patchwork
terrain, connected by a network of dirt roads
sunken far below field level by centuries of use.
The towering hedges shade these roads, further
decreasing visibility.
“We were flabbergasted by the
bocage. . . . Our infantry had
become paralyzed. It has never
been adequately described how
immobilized they were by the
sound of small-arms fire among
those hedges.”
General Elwood Quesada, U.S.
IXth Tactical Air Command
Hedgerows
Heavy machine gun
Light machine gun
Direction of fire
German hedgerow defenses
Preplanned mortar
targets
American infantry
platoon
Antitank weapon
76
Close Combat
opposite hedgerow corners at the back of the field to immobilize attacking infantry. Light machine guns and machine
pistols in the hedgerows along the sides of the field can fire
on soldiers seeking cover. An interconnected series of such
strongholds forms a forward defensive line, behind which the
Germans prepare a belt of battle positions with tanks and
assault guns to add muscle to counterattacks. In these ideal
defensive positions, small German units can sometimes
repulse attacking forces five times as large.
American GI's examining German
positions in the bocage
“The Allied soldier never
seemed to be trained as we
were, always to try to do more
than had been asked of us.”
Obergefreiter Adolf Hohenstein,
276th Infantry Division
The German bocage defenses are equally hazardous to tanks.
Any tank that takes to the sunken roads between fields is in
serious danger. Often, it can’t turn around or traverse its gun
in such a tight space. Attempting to climb over the embankment between fields will expose the tank’s vulnerable
underbelly to antitank weapons. Any tank crew unwary
enough to motor into an enclosure unprotected will be
blasted by antitank weapons. German 88-mm guns on the
main roads pose a constant threat, and since the Germans
have fortified the stoutly built stone houses of the villages along those
roads, it is dangerous to move at all. Tanks and troops remain equally
vulnerable in the bocage until the Allies develop tactics to enhance
mobility and improve tank-infantry cooperation.
First Encounters in the Bocage
To reach Saint-Lô, the Americans have to traverse 20 miles of what
Bradley calls “the damnedest country I’ve seen.” Upon encountering
the bocage, Allied infantry tend to stick to tactics learned in training,
advancing two companies forward into a hedgerow enclosure. The
Hedgerow Hell
Close Combat Operation: German Side
By June 10, the 29th Division has crossed the
river Aure and is pushing south into the heart of
the Norman hedgerow country—the bocage. Allied
planners estimate it will take a few days to fight
through the bocage; instead it takes weeks. The
distance the division pushes forward is not
measured in miles, but in yards.
Now it is the German commander’s turn to try to
“change history” by bogging the Americans down in
the bocage. He can deploy a full complement of
armor, artillery, and heavy weapons to inflict
maximum casualties on the Americans.
Close Combat Operation: U.S. Side
The American commander faces the same challenge faced by the 29th’s commander—push
through the bocage without decimating his unit.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
Germans have mastered the advance by infiltration, sending small
parties to turn the flank of the enemy advance. This means that U.S.
soldiers suddenly find themselves under fire from three sides. Once
U.S. forces are pinned down in the open, the Germans open up on them
with pre-planned mortar and artillery fire. For the Americans, calling
for artillery support in such close quarters is risky, because even
accurate supporting fire can injure friendly troops.
Advancing through the hedgerows is an unnerving experience for the
U.S. troops. The sense of isolation from comrades, the disorientation
caused by moving from one small enclosure to another, and the dramatic contrast of silence punctuated by sudden bursts of deadly fire
from well-hidden German defenders, all take their toll on morale.
Inexperienced U.S. soldiers fling themselves flat when they come under
fire; in some cases a German sniper can pick off several prone and
immobilized victims.
“Sometimes you hold one end of
a field and the enemy holds the
other, and you maneuver around
in two- or three-man patrols until
either you or the enemy is thrown
out. This kind of war is paradise
for the sniper, the rifleman, the
automatic weapons man, the
bazooka man. Conversely, it’s
death on tanks and armored
cars.”
Sgt. Bill Davidson, in Yank
In the constricted bocage landscape of small, enclosed fields, American
units grope forward through terrain that seldom allows more than a
hundred yards visibility. Most of this
vicious small-unit fighting takes place at
distances of less than 300 yards. Worst
of all, after penetrating one hedgerow,
the U.S. troops are faced with the task of
taking another, then another, then
another. After two weeks of heavy
casualties, the 29th grinds to a halt,
exhausted. Clearly, they need to
devise new tactics to keep the hedgerow
battle from degenerating into a bloody
stalemate.
The hedgerows aren’t the only natural
phenomenon that hinders the Allied
advance. The weather, although overcast
part of the time, was better than expected for the two weeks following the
invasion. During this period, two
artificial harbors, called “Mulberries,”
were installed at Omaha and Gold beaches to make up for the lack of a
natural harbor on the Calvados coast. But as the Mulberries near
completion on June 19, a severe storm strikes and rages for nearly a
week, damaging the Omaha Beach Mulberry facilities beyond repair.
When the storm finally subsides, U.S. ships are forced to use the lessdamaged British Mulberry. The storm and the damage it causes delay
supplies, and force the U.S. armies to ration ammunition. However,
77
U.S. troops under fire in
the bocage
78
Close Combat
they quickly master the art of unloading directly onto Omaha and Utah
beaches, and after a few days are actually moving more supplies than
the British. For Montgomery, the storm has the additional consequence
of delaying his plan to launch a new offensive against the Germans at
Caen.
“Give me ten infantrymen in
this terrain with the proper
combination of small arms,
and we will hold up a battalion
for 24 hours.”
Lt. Jack Shea, from Yank
“This was about as bad a place
to mount an infantry assault as
could be imagined, as bad as
clearing out a town house-byhouse or room-by-room, as bad
as attacking a World War I
trench system. But it had to
be done.”
Stephen Ambrose, in Band of
Brothers
Allied Improvisation in the Bocage
As the fighting through the Norman hedgerows drags into weeks of
close and vicious combat, the immobilized Americans devise new
methods and equipment to deal with the bocage. “Dozer tanks”—
Sherman tanks with a bulldozer blade in front—can cut through any
hedgerow, but too few are available to support large-scale operations.
The 29th tries sending engineer squads to place two 24-pound (later
50-pound) explosive charges in the embankment beneath a hedge.
Initial results are promising, but experience in the bocage quickly
reveals that this method is impractical for large-scale operations. One
informal field study shows that a tank company moving 1.5 miles
through the bocage will come up against 34 separate hedgerows,
requiring 17 tons of explosives to do the job.
A more efficient, and more practical, technique is devised, in which
tanks are used to bury smaller charges deeply in an embankment to
increase their explosive force. Crews weld a pair of four-foot-long,
6½-inch-diameter steel pipes to the front of a Sherman tank. When they
ram the tank into an embankment, then back away, the pipes leave two
deep holes for explosive charges. Packing the explosives into empty
artillery shell cases before placing them in the holes focuses the
explosions even more effectively. However, blowing holes in the
hedgerows involves one big drawback: The explosions announce to the
Germans when and where an attack is beginning, and provide a handy
aiming point for all types of defensive fire. Any tank that appears in the
newly opened breach is a perfectly framed target.
The Americans try other methods. Some tankers weld bumpers made of
railroad tracks to their Shermans and use them to ram through
hedgerows. Even more successful is a hedgerow cutter devised by
Sergeant Curtis Culin of the 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron.
It consists of scrap iron blades welded to the front of a Sherman tank.
Equipped with these tusklike appendages, the retrofitted Shermans
come to be called “rhino tanks,” a name that proves appropriate, as the
rhinos are nearly unstoppable. At a demonstration of the “Culin
Device,” General Bradley is impressed when he sees newly equipped
tanks slice through hedgerows “as though they were pasteboard,
throwing the bushes and brush into the air.”
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
79
But all these technical advances aren’t enough to keep the hedgerow
battle from dragging on too slowly. The Americans need a new combination of technology, tactics, and techniques to speed their progress.
Breaking the Impasse
When the 29th finds itself stymied in the bocage, General Charles
Gerhardt orders Brigadier-General Norman Cota, a veteran of the
landings in North Africa, to devise new tactics for this hostile terrain.
Cota decides to use small teams composed of a tank equipped with
pipe devices in front to aid in the placement of explosive charges and a
telephone on its rear deck for communication with infantrymen, an
engineer team, an infantry squad, a BAR, and a 60-mm mortar. To
begin the attack, the tank pushes into a hedgerow, then fires white
phosphorus rounds from its main gun into the corners of the opposite
hedgerow to suppress the German heavy machine guns. The tank
then lays down machine gun fire along the base of the hedgerow.
Meanwhile, the mortar team drops high explosive
rounds into the fields behind the German posiPhase I
tions, and smoke rounds to block the enemy’s
view. When the tank opens fire with its machine
gun, the infantry attacks, moving across the field
well away from the hedgerows on either side, and
throwing grenades over the hedgerow to disrupt
defenders on the other side.
When the infantry has advanced far enough to
block the tank’s field of fire, the tank backs away,
and the engineers place and detonate explosives in
the holes the pipes leave in the embankment. The
tank then rolls through the resulting hole, providing close support for the infantry, while the
infantry suppresses antitank fire. Using this
approach, the Second Battalion of the 116th
Infantry makes better progress than ever in its
push toward Saint-Lô.
The Third Armored Division devises an approach
for larger-scale hedgerow operations, coordinating
the efforts of a tank company and an infantry
company to attack across a front three fields wide.
The attack begins by penetrating the hedgerows of
the two outer fields. When they are taken, the
team moves to breach the hedgerows that border
“Every goddam field in
this hedgerow country is
a battlefield.”
Pfc. Bob Sloane, in Yank
Tanks lay down suppressive fire as
infantry moves through hedgerow.
Phase II
As infantry close on enemy and
mask tank's fire, tank backs away
and engineers emplace charges.
Phase III
Phase IV
Demolitions gap hedgerow as
infantry assaults the objective.
Tank advances to help infantry clear
objectives. Other elements displace forward and prepare to continue the attack.
Sherman tank
60-mm mortar
Hedgerow assualt tactics
Engineer team
Infantrymen
Mortar observer
80
Close Combat
the center field and attack the flanks of the German positions there. This
allows the U.S. soldiers to take more territory while facing less direct
enemy fire.
The local dairy herd was a casualty
in the Normandy Campaign
Overall, the Americans are developing
bocage tactics that enhance their
mobility and improve tank-infantry
communication and cooperation. Out
goes the rulebook tactic of infantry and
armor advancing separately. Instead
they begin to attack simultaneously,
with small units of infantry going after
German antitank crews and taking
ground while the tanks take on enemy
firing positions and strong points too
tough for infantry to handle. Artillery spotter aircraft are an enormous
help, since the limited line of sight in the hedgerows makes the job of
forward observers on the ground almost impossible. With these tactical
refinements, the Allied attack becomes as sophisticated and as effective
as the determined German defense.
The increasing savvy of the now-veteran American units, combined
with an increasing flow of Allied men and materiel into France, propels
them through the bocage toward Saint-Lô.
Going for the High Ground: Hill 192 and
Purple Heart Draw
While the 29th battles its way through the bocage, VII Corps is slowly
advancing up the Cotentin Peninsula toward the heavily defended port
of Cherbourg. Contradictory orders from the confused German chain of
command make it unclear whether the defenders on the Cotentin are to
head north to make a stand at Cherbourg, or head south to rejoin other
German units. This confusion aids the Americans, who begin making
rapid progress. On June 27, after five days of fierce fighting, Cherbourg
falls to the U.S. troops, but the Germans sabotage the port facilities,
knocking them out of action for three weeks. Three U.S. divisions that
have helped capture Cherbourg are now ordered to move south, and
assist in the hedgerow battle.
As the situation for the Germans in France worsens, Hitler relieves von
Runstedt and replaces him with Marshal Gunther von Kluge on July 5.
General Friedrich Dollmann, the commander of the Seventh Army,
commits suicide after Hitler orders him court-martialed for the loss of
Cherbourg. Meanwhile, as the Americans advance toward Saint-Lô,
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
Seventh Army troops in the vicinity dig into defensive positions,
including foxholes and even tunnels. The town itself is set in a
depression next to the river Vire, surrounded by rolling hills and ridges,
which are heavily fortified by the Germans. Any gaps between the hills
are well-covered by German guns.
To the Americans, it soon becomes clear that approaching the German
defenses around Saint-Lô indirectly is preferable to a frontal assault. As
Bradley later notes in his memoirs, “I’d just as soon settle for the high
ground east and west of Saint-Lô. . . we’re not going to spend a division
just to take a place name.” This alternative calls for three divisions of
the First Army to drive along a 10-mile front through the hills around
Saint-Lô, then into the city itself. As part of this assault, the Americans
will have to overrun the German defenders on Hill 192 and Purple
Heart Draw, tactical strongpoints east of Saint-Lô that threaten any
approaching Allied force. In both locations, the Germans hold the high
ground, and the U.S. troops will have to fight their way uphill through a
dauntingly vertical variation of the bocage.
81
“The Germans adjusted much
better to new conditions than
we did.”
British intelligence officer
Brigadier Bill Williams
Vir
eR
ive
r
Earlier U.S. efforts to take Hill 192 in mid-June failed in the face of the
formidable German resistance. The Seventh Army troops on the hill
were aided by the fact that they could
see everything from the coast to SaintLô, including the attacking Americans.
U.S. 23rd Division
Instead of forming a defensive line, the
U.S. 38th Division
Germans had built a series of
U.S. 29th Division
strongpoints that could support the gaps
Purple
between them with covering fire. All
Hill 192
Purple Heart Draw
The American Second Division reaches the foot of
Hill 192 on June 12; two unsuccessful attacks
result in over 1,200 U.S. casualties. Between June
16 and July 10, the Second Division receives
intensive training in bocage tactics; on July 11,
they renew the assault against Hill 192. The drive
through Purple Heart Draw, on the northeast side
of the hill, falls to the First Battalion, 23rd Infantry
Regiment. After fierce fighting, in which one
platoon is nearly wiped out crossing the draw, the
battalion advances nearly a mile, within sight of
the Saint-Lô–Bayeux highway.
SaintÐL™
Balleroy
Heart
Draw
Attack on the High Ground
July 11, 1944
Close Combat Operation: German Side
The draw is the perfect natural obstacle for
stopping the Americans. It is wide enough to
hinder tanks from crossing it. If U.S. soldiers
climb down to the bottom to get across it, they
can be easily picked off from above.
Close Combat Operation: U.S. Side
Since this draw is standing between the U.S.
and its objective, Hill 192, it must be crossed or
flanked. With the Germans holding the upper
section of the hill, neither will be easy.
82
Close Combat
approaches to the hill were targeted with artillery, mortars, antitank
weapons, and machine guns, and the German defenders, mainly from
the Third Parachute Division, were well dug in.
Nearly a month later, on July 11, the Americans resume their attack on
Hill 192, using their new hedgerow tactics to coordinate the efforts of
infantry and armor. To the Second Division’s 38th Infantry goes the task
of capturing Hill 192. Because the weather that day is hazy and visibility is poor, the Allies cannot use air support. The Second Division
advances up the gradual slope of Hill 192 behind a rolling artillery
barrage. Those German strongpoints that survive the shelling put up
fierce resistance, and the struggle for Hill 192 becomes a field-by-field
battle. In the villages of Cloville and le Soulaire, which have been
blasted by U.S. artillery, German troops dig into the rubble, and are
cleared out only after hours of house-to-house fighting. The Norman
terrain, coupled with fierce fire from German antitank guns and
Panzerfausts, hinders the advance of U.S. tanks. In one area, six tanks
are knocked out by German mortar and artillery fire in the first 30
minutes of an assault.
“Throughout the fighting, French
farmers and their families live in
holes dug into their cellars while
the farmhouses are destroyed
over their heads.”
Sgt. Bill Davidson, in Yank
One of the obstacles that impedes the U.S. troops as they inch their way
up Hill 192 is a narrow ravine they call “Purple Heart Draw.” It is
nearly wide enough to prevent tanks from crossing it, and is heavily
fortified by the Germans. Supported by four tanks that are stopped at
the edge of the draw, one platoon attempts to cross it. German mortar
and artillery hold their fire until the Americans have reached the bottom
of the draw, then open up, nearly wiping out the platoon. Another
platoon attempts to outflank the defenses in the draw, and the U.S. tanks
turn their attention to German defenders inside several nearby houses,
firing on them from 30 yards away. When the defenders are silenced,
the second platoon finds the survivors of the first platoon at the bottom
of the draw, and the two platoons move up out of the ravine. Despite
heavy mortar fire, the outflanking maneuver is a success, and by the
end of the day, the Americans who have survived “Purple Heart Draw”
have taken nearly all of the deadly ravine.
Throughout July 11, the German Seventh Army troops on Hill 192 are
blasted by 20,000 rounds of artillery fire. While this does not destroy
the sturdier German emplacements, it keeps the defenders pinned in
their trenches, and helps speed up the U.S. advance. As the day ends,
nearly all of the remaining German defenses on Hill 192 have been
badly damaged, and several German units have been cut off and
decimated. One U.S. battalion has captured a section of the Saint-Lô–
Bayeux highway, which bisects the remaining German-held positions at
the top of the hill, and other battalions have closed in on this key
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
83
roadway by nightfall. With the Seventh Army occupied on so many
fronts, no reserves are left to reinforce the surviving Germans on
Hill 192.
“Eisenhower found as I did that
the well-springs of compassion
lie in the field.
. . . There, like the others of us,
he could see the war for what it
was, a wretched debasement of
all the thin pretensions of
civilization. In the rear areas
war may sometimes assume
the mask of an adventure. On
the front it seldom lapses far
from what General Sherman
declared it to be.”
Gen. Omar Bradley in
A Soldier’s Story
The following day, July 12, the fighting on Hill 192 is almost anticlimactic. After shelling the U.S. positions during the night, the Germans launch
a counterattack, which is quickly repulsed, and the Second Division soon
secures the hill. At a price of 69 dead, 328 wounded, and eight missing,
Bradley’s troops now hold the high ground above Saint-Lô.
Taking Saint-Lô at Last
With the capture of Hill 192, the stage is set for the U.S. assault on
Saint-Lô. As planned, the three divisions of the First Army close in on
the town from the east, north, and west. However, the 29th Division,
which is responsible for the main American attack, will have to push
along three parallel ridges east of Saint-Lô. These ridges are fiercely
defended by members of the German Third Paratroop Division, who
are dug in behind an endless series of hedgerows and new defensive
lines. The 35th Division, which is to move in on Saint-Lô from the north,
is opposed by the German 352nd Infantry, which inflicted so many
casualties on the U.S. assault waves at Omaha Beach. Finally, the 30th
Division needs to advance through four miles of heavily fortified ridges
and valleys west of Saint-Lô, opposed by German Panzers.
For the 29th Division, progress along the eastern ridges is slow. Many
airstrikes must be canceled due to bad weather, and although the
advancing U.S. troops are aided by artillery, they are slowed by German
Hill 192
The main assault on Hill 192 falls to the First and
Second Battalions, 38th Infantry Regiment.
Following 100 meters behind a rolling barrage, the
two battalions start up the hill at 0630 hours.
Resistance is fierce around the hamlet of Cloville,
where a self-propelled gun and Mark IV tank slow
the advance. A Sherman knocks out both, and by
1700 hours elements of the 38th have pushed
their way over the hill to the Saint-Lô–Bayeux
highway.
Close Combat Operation: German Side
As the German commander, you can muster more
armor and firepower than your campaign counterpart to hold Hill 192. This can keep the Americans
from closing in on the strategic high ground east
of Saint-Lô.
Close Combat Operation: U.S. Side
As the American commander, you can use
superior tactics to take the hill more quickly and
move on Saint-Lô ahead of schedule.
84
Close Combat
mortar and artillery fire. In the north, the 35th Division is
fought to a virtual standstill by a sophisticated series of
German defenses, and makes a breakthrough only after
several days of fighting, by using tank destroyers to blast
the fortified hedgerow positions. West of Saint-Lô, the 30th
Division has its hands full with brutal counterattacks from
Panzer Lehr—an elite armored unit—and the Third
Parachute Division.
The ruins of Saint-Lô
“. . . officers who have received
the best peacetime training
available find themselves
surprised and confused by the
difference between conditions
as pictured in map problems
and those they encounter in the
campaign. . . . In our schools
we generally assume that the
organizations are well-trained
and at full strength, that
subordinates are competent,
that supply arrangements
function, that communications
work, that orders are carried
out. In war many or all of these
conditions may be absent. The
veteran knows that this is
normal and his mental
processes are not paralyzed
by it. . . .”
Gen. George C. Marshall,
Infantry in Battle, 1934
Over the next few days, the Americans begin to make steady
progress against the entrenched German defenders. Supplies
begin to reach the embattled U.S. divisions from the newly
cleared port of Cherbourg, while the Seventh Army is
experiencing acute resupply and reinforcement problems.
Two battalions of the 29th make isolated advances on the key
town of la Madeleine, near the Martinville Ridge, and when
German troops fail to destroy them after cutting them off,
other elements of the 29th make a renewed push, supported
by artillery and air strikes. By July 17, the 29th has reached
the eastern outskirts of Saint-Lô. The 35th keeps the pressure on the
depleted German 352nd, which is gradually giving ground. When a
Panzer Lehr counterattack on the advancing 30th Division fails on July
17, the deteriorating situation in the west finally makes the Germans
think about withdrawing from the vicinity of Saint-Lô. Fearful of being
trapped against the river Vire by the American forces, whose artillery
has destroyed many of the river bridges, the bulk of the German
defenders pull back to an area south of Saint-Lô, leaving a few pockets
of determined resistance in and near the town itself.
On the morning of July 18, a task force of the 29th Division is
assembled under Brigadier-General Norman Cota to move into
Saint-Lô, which is in ruins after an intense U.S. aerial bombardment.
Despite resistance by the Second Paratroop Corps, no reserves remain
to support the defending Germans, and the U.S. task force quickly
enters the town. The Americans capture a square near the town
cemetery that has survived the bombing, then fan out on foot through
streets too choked with rubble to allow much vehicle traffic. German
artillery positions south of Saint-Lô shell the task force with artillery
and mortar fire as it moves through the rubble, but the rapid advance of
the U.S. task force has caught the Germans off guard. By 1900 hours on
July 18, after a series of hot skirmishes and house-to-house fighting,
U.S. troops have secured Saint-Lô. Shelling from the German defensive
positions south of the town will continue for several more days, and the
Germans even organize a counterattack on June 19, which U.S. troops
break up.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
For the Americans, the cost of capturing Saint-Lô and the surrounding
countryside is steep: Nearly 11,000 U.S. troops are killed, wounded, or
missing between July 7 and July 22. However, Bradley’s forces now
have the terrain they need to launch the breakout into the long-sought
war of maneuver against the Third Reich.
Epilogue: Operation Cobra and
the Allied Breakout
85
“I have the honor to announce
to the Corps Commander that
Task Force C of the 29th
Division secured the city of
Saint-Lô after 43 days of
continual combat from the
beaches to Saint-Lô.”
Gen. Charles Gerhardt, U.S.
29th Infantry Division
While Bradley’s troops are attacking Saint-Lô, the long British assault
on Caen finally comes to an end with the capture of that city on July 8.
The Germans suffer another
loss on July 17: Rommel is
seriously wounded when a
British Royal Air Force
fighter strafes his staff car,
and von Kluge takes over his
command. The next day, the
British launch Operation
After the battle:
Street scene in
Saint-Lô
Saint-Lô
After providing flanking
support during the assault on
Hill 192, the three regiments
of the 29th turn west toward Saint-Lô. The 116th
and 175th advance on a front astride the ridges
east of the town; by July 17, they fight their way
over Hill 147, clear Martinville, and take up an
advance position near la Madeleine.
For days the Americans pound Saint-Lô and the
surrounding area with air strikes and up to 14,000
artillery rounds a day. On July 18, General Cota
assembles Task Force C—a force consisting of
reconnaissance, tank, tank destroyer, and engineer units—to race down the Saint-Lô–Isigny road
and capture Saint-Lô. The task force rolls at 1500
hours, with infantry units joining along the way. By
1900 hours, after encountering pockets of resistance in what remains of the town, the 29th
Division secures Saint-Lô.
Close Combat Operation: German Side
As the German commander, you can choose to
defend Saint-Lô to the last man, in house-to-house
fighting, and hope that reinforcements show up in
time—or at all.
Close Combat Operation: U.S. Side
As the American commander, you have no more
hedgerows to deal with—only blasted buildings,
rubble-filled streets, and a shell-cratered cemetery.
The Germans are holding out in the ruins, waiting
for reserve troops to reinforce them. If you don’t
take Saint-Lô quickly, you may lose it altogether.
86
Close Combat
“I did not feel we owed an
apology to anyone for our gains.
At the end of one week ashore
we had linked beachheads.
During the second we cut the
Cotentin. In the third we
captured Cherbourg. During the
fourth we attacked out of the
neck. And when the fifth rolled
around, we had put together our
Cobra plan and were already
edging toward a breakout.”
—Gen. Omar Bradley, in
A Soldier’s Story
“It was one terrible bloodletting.”
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s
terse summary of the Normandy
Campaign
Goodwood, pushing the Germans east of Caen. Although the British
suffer severe tank losses, the attack draws even more German troops
into the vicinity of Caenand away from the Americans.
Bradley characterizes the hedgerow battle as “. . . a slugger’s match, too
slow a process.” To end the stalemate once and for all, he launches
Operation Cobra. Bad weather delays the breakout for a week until July
25, when German positions five miles west of Saint-Lô are hit with a
massive aerial bombardment by 2,500 Allied aircraft. The countryside
quickly becomes a moonscape as this carpet bombing blasts several
gaps in the German lines and decimates Panzer Lehr, but some of the
bombs fall short, causing hundreds of American casualties. Next, the
Americans launch a concentrated attack from the ground they have
recently captured east of Saint-Lô. This attack initially meets with little
success as the advancing troops are slowed by the vast number of bomb
craters, and by the evacuation of casualties. Veterans of the hedgerow
fighting also have trouble overcoming the caution learned in two
months in the bocage, but “rhino tanks” play a significant role in the
ongoing attack by speeding the process of penetrating the hedgerows.
German opposition is no longer organized in depth, and forms only
a very tough but discontinuous crust against the onslaught. Those
German soldiers who have survived the bombing repeatedly find
themselves outflanked or bypassed. Since a significant portion of the
German forces are still engaged against the British and Canadians to the
east, there are no reserve troops or Panzers to fill in any holes in the
front line near Saint-Lô. The Americans soon begin to make rapid
progress, pushing 56 kilometers east toward Brittany, and capturing the
coastal town of Avranches on July 31.
By the beginning of August, Cobra has clearly proved to be a success.
The Avranches breakout frees the Americans from the bocage, and
propels them into the battle of maneuver they have longed for.
Patton Unleashed
Following the success of Cobra, U.S. General George S. Patton’s Third
Army becomes operational on August 1, and takes its position on the
Allies’ right flank. Patton’s troops quickly overrun much of Brittany,
then head south toward the Loire valley. On August 4, Montgomery
makes the first major change in the Overlord plan, ordering the Third
Army to drive east toward Le Mans, while the First Army is to swing
eastward to encircle the Germans. Montgomery also organizes a drive
by British and Canadian forces south from Caen.
Chapter 4
The Normandy Campaign in Close Combat
87
While Bradley’s First Army threatens only the Germans in Normandy,
Patton’s Third Army threatens all German forces west of the Seine.
Hitler himself decides to launch a major counterattack against the Third
Army near Mortain, to push Patton’s troops back to Avranches. He
orders von Kluge to send all ten available Panzer divisions in
Normandy on a strike toward the Atlantic to cut off the Allied breakout
and, with luck, perhaps even to destroy the Normandy beachhead.
Unfortunately for the Germans, the Allies intercept and decrypt von
Kluge’s orders, and when the counterattack begins, American troops
stymie it, assisted by Allied air strikes.
Trapped in the Falaise “Pocket”
The German defeat at Mortain leaves the Seventh Army vulnerable to a
counterattack that could encircle itand finish it off in Normandy once
and for all. After the Third Army takes Le Mans on August 9,
Montgomery orders Patton’s forces to proceed to the north, on the
eastern flank of the battered Panzers at Mortain. On August 13, the
American XV Corps reaches Argentan. Meanwhile, since the Germans
have pulled troops away from Caen for their unsuccessful Mortain
counterattack, more British and Canadian troops are able to move south
from Caen, and the Canadian First Army captures Falaise on August 15.
As the American and Canadian armies converge from the north, south,
and west, virtually all the German troops in Normandy are trapped
between them, in the ever-shrinking Falaise “pocket”a 24-kilometer–
wide salient along the river Orne. The only hope of escape for the
remnants of the fifty divisions of the Seventh Army is to retreat to the
east. As the Allied armies move in, the retreat becomes a rout, and
within five days the pocket is closed. Strafed by Allied fighters and
hampered by the narrow roads that they have used to their advantage in
the preceding weeks, some 10,000 German soldiers are killed in what
will later be called le Couloir de la Mort, or “Corridor of Death.” An
additional 50,000 Germans are taken prisoner. Perhaps 20,000 manage
to escape across the Seine, alone or in small groups, leaving much of
their equipment, especially vehicles, behind them.
With the closing of the Falaise pocket and the German retreat across the
Seine, the chase is on, and the outcome of the war is no longer in doubt.
The casualty figures for the 77 days of the Battle of Normandy are
staggering: The Germans lose 450,000 men, including 240,000 killed or
wounded. The Allies take 209,672 casualties, with 36,976 killed.
“We must strike like lightning.
When we reach the sea the
American spearheads will be
cut off. . . . we might even be
able to cut off their entire
beachhead. We mustn’t get
bogged down with mopping up
the Americans who have broken
through—their turn will come
later.”
Adolf Hitler, shortly before
launching the ill-fated German
counterattack at Mortain on
August 6, 1944
88
Close Combat
Casualty rates for the Allied and Axis sides, along with French civilians,
average 10,000 a day, making the Battle of Normandy one of the
bloodiest battles ever fought. With these momentous events, the first
phase of the invasion is overand the race to the Rhine is on.
The Falaise Pocket: August 13Ð20, 1944
Cherbourg
Seine River
U.S. 12th Army
Group
(Bradley)
British 21st
Army Group
(Montgomery)
Lisieux
Caen
River
Dives
Vire River
Falaise
German
5th Panzer Army
Panzer Group Eberbach
Argentan
er
iv
Orne R
Chapter 5
Weapons
89
Chapter 5
Weapons
Colt .45 model 1911
Walther P 38
Operation Semiautomatic
Caliber .45 (11.4 mm)
Muzzle velocity 253 mps (830 fps)
Capacity 7-round detachable box magazine
Weight 1.1 kg (2.43 lbs)
Overall length 21.9 cm (8.62 in.)
Effective range 30 m (32 yds)
The most famous American handgun of World War II
was the Model 1911 .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol
invented by John M. Browning. This pistol was born
out of the U.S military’s frustration with the limited
stopping power of smaller-caliber revolvers during
the Spanish-American War. Both Colt and the
Springfield Armory produced the pistol between
1911 and 1915, and by the end of World War I over
60 percent of the American soldiers in France were
issued Colt 45s. After World War I, slight modifications were made to the trigger, hammer, grip, and
frame. Although it was issued to officers and squad
leaders, the .45 was not standard issue for infantrymen during World War II. This didn’t keep many
front line soldiers from obtaining them, and the
regulation against their carrying pistols was rarely
enforced. The Colt was recognized as a weapon of
last resort—most soldiers had more effective
weapons available, but no one denied the feeling of
security the weighty .45 provided. It remained the
standard U.S. sidearm until 1984.
Operation Semiautomatic
Caliber 9-mm Parabellum (.354 in.)
Muzzle velocity 350 mps (1,149 fps)
Capacity 8-round magazine
Weight 0.96 kg (2 lbs)
Overall length 21.3 cm (8.25 in.)
Effective range 30 m (32 yds)
The Walther P 38 semiautomatic pistol, which
eventually replaced the Luger P 08 as the standard
German military sidearm, entered production in
1939. It was designed to be more quickly, cheaply,
and easily manufactured than the P 08. In addition to
these virtues, the sophisticated yet robust P 38 added
several features that made it more convenient and
safer than the Luger, which had been designed at the
end of the previous century. The P 38 was a doubleaction firearm—after it was cocked and loaded, the
user could lower the hammer, and then at any time
pull back the hammer and press the trigger to fire the
chambered round; in an emergency in which aim
was less important than speed, simply pulling the
trigger would cock the hammer and fire the
chambered round. By the end of the war more
than a million P 38s had been produced. In 1957
Walther resumed production of the P 38 in a slightly
lightened version called the P 1, which was the
standard German military sidearm until 1980. The
P 38 remained in service in several countries into
the 1990s.
90
Close Combat
Mauser Kar 98
Operation Manual, bolt-action
Caliber 7.92 mm (.31 in.)
Muzzle velocity 745 mps (2,445 fps)
Capacity 5-round magazine
Weight 3.9 kg (8.5 lbs)
Overall length 111 cm (43.75 in.)
Effective range 550 m (600 yds)
The Mauser Gewehr 98 (rifle, model 1898) was the
archetype of most bolt-action rifles built in the 20th
century, including the American Springfield model
1903 rifle. Its 7.92-mm Mauser cartridge was
introduced in 1888 and is still in use today. Variants
of the Gewehr 98 remained in general use in the
German army through both world wars because it
worked so well and so reliably. The Kar 98 carbine,
about six inches shorter than the standard rifle, was
issued to most German infantrymen in World War II.
Springfield ’03 Rifle
Operation Manual, bolt-action
Caliber .30 (7.62 mm)
Muzzle velocity 853 mps (2,800 fps)
Capacity 5-round internal magazine
Weight 4.2 kg (9.38 lbs) M1903A4
sniper model with scope
Overall length 110.5 cm (43.5 in.)
Range 550 m (600 yds)
Officially designated “U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model
of 1903,” it was better known as the Springfield, the
Springfield ’03, or simply the ’03. This bolt-action
rifle was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1903 and
remained the standard issue rifle of America’s armed
forces until 1936. In 1906, the .30-caliber cartridge
was modified and designated the “M1906
Cartridge”; it became widely known as the .30-06.
This cartridge was the standard U.S. rifle and
machine gun cartridge for the next fifty years. In
1936, the Springfield ’03 was replaced by the M1
Garand, but many Springfields saw service in World
War II. In the Normandy Campaign, the Springfield
was used primarily as a sniper weapon; the vast
majority of infantrymen preferred semiautomatic and
automatic weapons to the bolt-action rifle. Any
advantage the Springfield may have had in accuracy
was more than offset by the rate of fire the Garand,
M1 Carbine, and BAR offered.
Chapter 5
Weapons
91
Gewehr 43
Semiautomatic Rifle
Garand Rifle
Operation Semiautomatic
Caliber .30 (7.62 mm)
Muzzle velocity 853 mps (2,800 fps)
Capacity 8-shot clip
Weight 4.3 kg (9.5 lbs)
Overall length 110.7 cm (43.6 in.)
Effective range 550 m (600 yds)
The U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1—or Garand—was
the standard issue rifle for American infantry. Named
after its inventor, John C. Garand, it was the first
semiautomatic rifle widely used in combat. Although
it was adopted by the Army in 1936, the Garand was
in short supply until 1943, but by the end of the war
over four million had been produced. The Garand
was easy to disassemble and clean, and its combination of caliber, muzzle velocity, and semiautomatic
operation provided superior firepower over boltaction rifles. Its only weakness was that partially
fired clips were so difficult to reload that GIs tended
to simply fire off the remaining rounds and insert a
new clip.
Operation Semiautomatic
Caliber 7.92 mm (.31 in.)
Muzzle velocity 745 mps (2,445 fps)
Capacity two 5-round magazines
Weight 4.55 kg (10 lbs)
Overall length 114.3 cm (45 in.)
Effective range 550 m (600 yds)
The Germans produced many superb weapons of
almost every type, but their efforts to produce a
semiautomatic rifle to match the performance of the
American M1 Garand fell short. The semiautomatic
Gewehr 43 (rifle, model 1943) improved upon the
gas-operated, self-cocking mechanism of Carl
Walther’s G41 semiautomatic rifle, but both models
were heavier, more complex, and less well-balanced
or reliable than the Garand; neither supplanted the
venerable bolt-action Mauser Kar 98 as the primary
German infantry weapon.
92
Close Combat
Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)
M1 Carbine
Operation M1 & M1A1: semiautomatic;
M2: selective fire (fully and semiautomatic)
Caliber .30 (7.62 mm)
Muzzle velocity 600 mps (1,970 fps)
Capacity 15- and 30-round detachable
box magazines
Weight 2.3 kg (5 lbs)
Overall length 90.4 cm (35.6 in.)
Effective range 75 m (83 yds)
Operation M1918A1: selective fire (fully and
semiautomatic); M1918A2: fully automatic
Caliber .30 (7.62 mm)
Muzzle velocity 853.4 mps (2,800 fps)
Capacity 20-round detachable box magazine
Weight 8.33 kg (18.5 lbs)
Overall length 119.4 cm (47 in.)
Rate of fire 550 rounds per minute
Range 550 m (600 yds)
The initial M1918A1 version of the Browning
Automatic Rifle (BAR) was first used in combat by
American soldiers during World War I, and many
saw service in World War II. The BAR received high
The M1 carbine was developed in response to the
praise for its reliability under adverse conditions. In
Germans’ blitzkrieg tactics; the use of rapid mecha1940, the model M1918A2 was adopted. Unlike
nized divisions and airborne troops showed the
earlier models, it could only be fired in two autoAmericans that fixed fortifications and static front
matic modes—slow (300 to 450 rpm) or fast (500 to
lines were outmoded. Blitzkrieg tactics meant that rear 650 rpm)—but not in semiautomatic mode. Both
echelon personnel could find themselves under attack versions were widely used in the second world war.
with little or no warning, and a light rifle was needed The BAR was a popular weapon in all theaters
to replace the standard issue pistol. However, the M1 because it was reliable and offered an excellent
carbine proved so versatile that over six million were combination of rapid fire and penetrating power.
produced by the end of the war. The M1 carbine was The BAR’s only serious drawback was its lack
easier to master than a pistol, more effective at
of a quick-change barrel to reduce the chances
medium-to-long range than a submachine gun, and
of overheating.
well suited as the small arm for mortar, machine gun,
and bazooka teams. The M1A1 variant, with its
folding stock, was specifically designed for
paratroops.
Chapter 5
Weapons
93
Thompson Submachine Gun
Operation Selective fire (fully and
semiautomatic)
Caliber .45 (11.4 mm)
Muzzle velocity 280 mps (920 fps)
Capacity 50-round drum
20- and 30-round detachable
box magazine
Weight 4.9 kg (11 lbs)
Overall length 85.6 cm (33.7 in.)
Rate of fire 600 to 725 rounds per minute
Effective range 50 m (55 yds)
John T. Thompson, who helped develop the M1903
Springfield rifle and M1911 .45 caliber pistol, began
work on a “trench broom” for close quarters combat
shortly after his retirement from the Army in 1918.
He recognized that the .45-caliber slug used in the
M1911 pistol would be devastating when used in a
fully automatic weapon. By the spring of 1920,
Thompson’s company (Auto-Ordnance) produced a
prototype capable of firing 800 rounds per minute.
Despite its excellent test performance, the Thompson
was not adopted for use by either the U.S. Army or
Marine Corps. Still, Thompson contracted with Colt
for the manufacture of 15,000 guns, designated
“Thompson Submachine Gun, Model of 1921.” The
15,000 guns manufactured by Colt lasted until the
eve of World War II. In 1940, the U.S. Army ordered
20,000 Thompson submachine guns; in 1941 the
Army ordered an additional 319,000. One of the
main assets of the Thompson submachine gun was
reliability; it performed better than most submachine
guns when exposed to dirt, mud, and rain. The main
complaints against the Thompson were its weight
(over ten pounds), its inaccuracy at ranges over 50
yards, and its lack of penetrating power (a common
complaint with all submachine guns).
MP40 Machine Pistol
Operation Fully automatic
Caliber 9 mm (.354 in.)
Muzzle velocity 380 mps (1,247 fps)
Capacity 32-round magazine
Weight 3.97 kg (8.7 lbs)
Overall length 83.2 cm (32.75 in. with
stock extended)
Rate of fire 500 rounds per minute
Effective range 100 m (110 yds)
The MP40 machine pistol was based on the prewar
MP38, modifying the earlier design to make it more
suitable for mass production; more than a million
were produced during the war. Its folding metal
stock made it compact and easy to carry, even in
cramped circumstances; its startling staccato bursts
of fire shattered the silence in many a Norman
hedgerow. The MP40 won the admiration of Allied
soldiers, who often referred to the MP40 as the
“Schmeisser,” despite the fact that firearms engineer
Hugo Schmeisser, designer of the Bergmann MP18
submachine gun in 1918, was not involved in the
design of either the MP38 or the MP40.
94
Close Combat
.30-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun
(M1919A4)
MG 42 Machine Gun
Operation Fully automatic, air-cooled
Caliber .30 (7.62 mm)
Muzzle velocity 853.4 mps (2,800 fps)
Capacity 250-round belt
Weight 18.5 kg (41 lbs) with tripod
Overall length 104.1 cm (41 in.)
Rate of fire 400 to 550 rounds per minute
Effective range 1,000 m (1,100 yds)
Before the end of World War I, the U.S. Ordnance
Department recognized that water-cooled machine
guns took up too much space inside a tank. Consequently, the water-cooled M1917 was converted to
an air-cooled model by surrounding the barrel
with a perforated metal jacket. As World War II
approached, the Ordnance Department was
committed to developing an air-cooled machine gun
for infantry use. The result was the M1919A4. At 41
lbs for gun and tripod, the M1919A4 was much
lighter than the water-cooled M1917A1 (93 lbs for
gun and tripod). Consequently, it was used more as
an offensive weapon than the water-cooled guns.
Although unable to maintain the same level of
sustained fire as the water-cooled M1917A1, the
M1919A4 air-cooled machine gun was truly one of
the workhorse weapons of the American infantry.
Operation Fully automatic
Caliber 7.92 mm (.31 in.)
Muzzle velocity 755 mps (2,478 fps)
Capacity 50-round belt
Weight 11.5 kg (25.3 lbs)
Overall length 121.9 cm (48 in.)
Rate of fire 1,200 rounds per minute
Range 1,000 m (1,100 yds)
The MG 42 was one of the best light machine guns
ever made; variants of this weapon are still in
widespread use today. Its very high rate of fire made
the MG 42 an intimidating weapon; those who faced
its deadly hail of fire were equally impressed by the
sound it made—“like ripping canvas.” Its barrel
could be quickly changed, and its design, using
stamped and pressed steel, was well suited to mass
production. The MG 42 was more reliable, and
almost as versatile, as the MG 34 that it generally
replaced, allowing use on bipod, tripod, and dual
antiaircraft mounts. However, because the square
barrel housing of the MG 42 was inappropriate for
use as secondary tank armament, the MG 34
continued in that role. An assault variant of the MG
42 used a 75-round twin drum magazine like that
made for the MG 34. The original design of the MG
42 was so successful that it was updated in the
1950s. The newer version, designated MG3, is still
in use by a number of nations, including Germany.
Chapter 5
Weapons
95
.50-caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun
(M2-HB)
Operation Selective fire (fully or semiautomatic),
air-cooled
Caliber .50 (12.7 mm)
Muzzle velocity 893 mps (2,930 fps)
Capacity 110-round belt
Weight 57.6 kg (128 lbs) with tripod
Overall length 165.4 cm (65.1 in.)
Rate of fire 450 to 550 rounds per minute
Range 1,800 m (1,970 yds)
The predecessors of the .50-caliber machine gun
were German 12.7- and 13.2-mm antitank rifles
used in World War I. Early tanks had thin armor
that was easily pierced by such rounds. The U.S.
Ordnance Department turned to John Browning to
design a machine gun that would use a high-velocity
.50-caliber cartridge, and Browning delivered a
prototype gun the day after the Armistice was
signed. While the vast majority of U.S. .50-caliber
machine guns (both air- and water-cooled) were used
in aircraft or mounted on vehicles (tanks, halftracks,
jeeps, and trucks), the M2-HB air-cooled model was
issued to infantry units. Weighing nearly 130 pounds
(with tripod), the M2-HB was used mainly as a
defensive weapon.
96
Close Combat
Panzerfaust Antitank
Grenade Launcher
Operation Grenade launcher, percussion fired
Caliber 44 mm (1.73 in.)
Weight 5 to 7 kg (11 to 15.4 lbs)
Overall length approx. 104 cm
(40.95 in.)
Range up to 80 m (88 yds)
Armor penetration 240 mm (9.4 in.)
Like the American Bazooka, the German
Panzerfaust (“Tank Fist”) was a simple device that
delivered a potent punch. In the course of the war a
series of models was produced, ending with the
Panzerfaust 100. All Panzerfaust models consisted
of a steel tube that contained a propellant charge. As
in all small arms cartridges (and unlike the electrically fired Bazooka and Panzerschreck launchers),
the charge in the tube was ignited by percussion,
firing a 44-mm hollow-charge antitank grenade from
the tube. When the grenade left the tube, spring-steel
fins deployed to stabilize its flight. Early models
were effective only at close range—about 30 meters.
Later models improved the range, first up to 80
meters, and finally up to 150 meters. Allied tank
crews trapped in the blind enclosures of the Norman
bocage country often became aware of concealed
Panzerfaust teams only when their vehicles were
struck by exploding antitank grenades.
Chapter 5
Weapons
97
Bazooka
Operation Rocket launcher, electrically fired
Caliber 2.36 in. (60 mm)
Muzzle velocity 84 mps (275 fps)
Weight 8.1 kg (18 lbs)
Overall length 154.9 cm (61 in.)
Range 455 m (500 yds)
In response to the need for an infantry antitank
weapon, Leslie A. Skinner and Edward G. Uhl
of the Ordnance Department developed the
bazooka—a metal tube that used an electrical firing
mechanism—by early 1942. Until then American
infantry had lacked an antitank rocket capable of
stopping a tank. Another member of the Ordnance
Department, Henry H. Mohaupt, had been working
on a shaped charge grenade for use by infantry
against tanks. Mohaupt’s M10 grenade weighed over
3.5 lbs, making it nearly impossible to throw
effectively. However, when Skinner and Uhl
attached one of Mohaupt’s grenades to a rocket, then
hit a tank on three successive shots during testing,
the Ordnance Department immediately recognized
the value of this new weapon. Many bazookas were
shipped to America’s allies; in fact, when the
Germans captured one from the Russians, they
copied the design to produce the Panzerschreck
(“Tank Terror”). The bazooka was named for a
musical contraption devised by comedian
Bob Burns.
Panzerschreck Antitank
Rocket Launcher
Operation Rocket launcher, electrically fired
Caliber 88 mm (3.46 in.)
Weight 9.3 kg (20.5 lbs)
Overall length 163.8 cm (64.5 in.)
Range 120 meters (130 yds)
Armor penetration 230 mm (9 in.)
The German Panzerschreck (“Tank Terror”) was a
larger, more powerful antitank weapon than the more
common Panzerfaust. Instead of firing an antitank
grenade with a propellant charge inside the launcher
tube, the Panzerschreck, like the American Bazooka,
fired an antitank rocket electrically. The
Panzerschreck consisted of a steel tube and a
dry-cell electrical firing mechanism. An 88-mm
hollow-charge rocket projectile was inserted into the
rear end of the tube; pressing the trigger closed the
contacts and ignited the propellant in the back of the
rocket, firing the 3.2-kilogram projectile.
98
Close Combat
German Hand Grenades
American Hand Grenades
Mark II Fragmentation Grenade
Grenade weight .59 kg (21 oz)
Charge weight .14 kg (5 oz)
Overall length 139.7 mm (5 in.)
Range 45 m (50 yds) maximum
American soldiers used many types of hand grenades
during World War II, but the primary hand grenade
issued to GIs was the Mark II fragmentation grenade. The Mark II was egg-shaped and constructed
of cast iron. The outside of the Mark II was serrated
to produce more fragments when it exploded.
The specifications for the Mark II called for a TNT
filler, but because TNT was in short supply when the
war started, many early Mark IIs were filled with a
nitrostarch compound. The time delay on the Mark
II’s fuse was 4 to 4.8 seconds. The Mark II’s killing
radius was 5 to 10 yards, but fragments could kill at
up to 50 yards. Because the accepted throwing range
was 35 to 40 yards, soldiers were ordered to keep
their heads down until after the grenade exploded.
Of the other types of hand grenades issued to GIs in
Europe, the two most common were smoke and
phosphorus grenades. Both these grenades were used
to mask movements or mark artillery and groundsupport aircraft targets.
Stick Grenade
Grenade weight 0.61 kg (1.36 lb)
Charge weight .17 kg (6 oz)
Overall length 355.6 mm (14 in.)
Egg Grenade Specifications
Grenade weight 0.23 kg (0.5 lb)
Charge weight 0.115 kg (0.25 lb)
Overall length 134.6 mm (5.3 in.)
As they did with almost every other weapons type,
the Germans developed a number of different hand
grenades. There were, however, two primary types of
German high-explosive hand grenades: the
Stielhandgranate 24 (“stick hand grenade, model
24”), and the smaller, egg-shaped Eihandgranate 39
(“egg hand grenade model 39”).
The stick grenade was the more familiar of the two,
having seen widespread use in World War I, and
undergoing various improvements in the interwar
years. It consisted of a thin sheet-metal can containing a TNT charge, mounted on a hollow wooden
handle. The handle provided leverage that made this
grenade easier to throw than other egg- or pineappleshaped German and Allied grenades. The stick
grenade was armed by unscrewing the metal cap on
the bottom of the handle to expose a porcelain bead
attached to a cord in the handle. Pulling the bead
actuated a friction igniter, and the TNT charge
exploded after a four- to five-second delay. Late in
the war variant stick grenade models substituted a
concrete or wooden charge container for the original
metal head.
The smaller, lighter, and less powerful egg
grenade encased a TNT charge in a thin sheet-metal
container. The grenade was armed by unscrewing a
metal cap on the top and pulling the exposed ring
of the friction igniter. As with the stick grenade,
the TNT charge exploded after a four- to
five-second delay.
Chapter 5
Weapons
60-mm Mortar (Mortar 60-mm,
M2 and Mount M2)
Caliber 60-mm (2.36 in.)
Muzzle velocity 163 mps (535 fps)
Weight 18.9 kg (42 lbs)
Overall length 72.6 cm (28.6 in.)
Rate of fire 18 rounds per minute (normal),
35 rounds per minute (maximum)
Range 1,806 m (1,975 yds)
Mortars were the lightest and most mobile form of
artillery used in World War II. The mortars used
during the war ranged in size from the 50-mm
mortar used extensively by the Japanese to a
mammoth 305-mm mortar used by the Russian
Army. The largest mortars that saw extensive use in
combat were 120-mm mortars (usually mounted on
wheels) used by both the Germans and Russians. The
smallest mortar used by American troops was the
60-mm mortar. Like most mortars, it consisted of a
smooth-bore barrel (or tube), base plate, and bipod.
Designated “Mortar 60mm, M2 and Mount M2,” the
60-mm mortar was almost identical in design,
construction, and operation to the 81-mm mortar.
However, the 60-mm mortar was considerably
lighter. The tube weighed 12.8 pounds, the base plate
12.8 pounds, and the bipod 16.4 pounds—a total
weight of 42 pounds compared to the 81-mm
mortar’s 136 pounds. The base plate was often left
attached to facilitate rapid setup.
99
100
Close Combat
81-mm Mortar (81-mm Mortar,
M1 with Mount M1)
Standard and Short 8-cm Mortars
Caliber 81.4 mm (3.2 in.)
Weight 56.4 kg (124 lbs)/28.2 kg (62 lbs)
Overall length 123 cm (48 in.)/96 cm (37.8 in.)
Rate of fire 18 to 35 rounds per minute
Range 2,400 m (2,625 yds)/1,100 m (1,200 yds)
When the war began, the German army’s primary
mortar was the 8-cm Schwerer Granatenwerfer 34
(8-cm heavy mortar, model 34). As the war progressed, the Germans developed a short 81-mm
mortar, the 8-cm Kurzer Granatenwerfer 42 (8-cm
short mortar, model 42) in order to retain the
firepower of the standard 8-cm mortar in a lighter,
more easily portable weapon. Weighing half as much
as the standard mortar, this shorter weapon had about
half its range, but all of its destructive power.
Weapons like this were ideal for close-in artillery
support and for laying down harassing fire in the
constricted hedgerow country of Normandy.
Caliber 81 mm (3.18 in.)
Muzzle velocity 213 mps (700 fps)
Weight 61.2 kg (136 lbs)
Overall length 115.6 cm (45.5 in.)
Rate of fire 18 rounds per minute (normal),
35 rounds per minute (maximum)
Range 2,994 m (3,290 yds)
The 81-mm mortar used by the Americans had its
roots in the mortar invented by Sir Frederick Wilfrid
Scott Stokes, known as the “British Stokes” mortar.
This earlier mortar consisted of a smoothbore tube
with a fixed firing pin at the bottom. The tube was
fitted into a base plate that rested on the ground; the
plate helped dissipate the recoil shock. A bipod,
which was adjustable for elevation, supported the
front end of the tube. The 81-mm mortar used during
World War II was similar to the Stokes, although this
newer mortar embodied a number of important
improvements. The tube was strengthened to handle
the higher pressures created by modern ammunition,
a cross-leveling mechanism was added, and the sight
was much improved. The mortar crew usually
consisted of three men, although two men could
carry, set up, and fire this mortar. Hand carts were
often issued with the 81-mm mortar; some were even
mounted on halftracks.
Chapter 5
Weapons
101
50-mm Antitank Gun (Pak 38)
Caliber 50 mm (1.97 in.)
Muzzle velocity 550 to 1,200 mps
(1,800 to 3,940 fps)
Weight 916 kg (2,016 lbs)
Barrel length 3.17 m (10 ft 4.96 in.)
Armor penetration 159 mm (6.25 in.) at
100 m (110 yds)
The German 50-mm Pak 38 antitank gun, introduced
in 1941, replaced the earlier 37-mm gun in an effort
to keep pace with the increasing thickness of tank
armor. The Pak 38 was mounted on a carriage with
solid rubber tires, and provided a crew shield made
of two 4-mm armor plates spaced 2.5 cm apart.
Ammunition types included high-explosive and
armor-piercing rounds.
M1 57-mm Antitank Gun
Caliber 57 mm (2.24 in.)
Muzzle velocity 823 mps (2,700 fps)
Weight 1,215 kg (2,700 lbs)
Armor penetration 120 mm (4.7 in.)
at 100 m (110 yds)
Based on the British six-pounder, the M1 57-mm
antitank gun was the successor to the M3A1 37-mm
antitank gun. It fired an armor-piercing round that
could penetrate 70 mm of armor at 910 meters (1,000
yards). The 57 mm was light enough (1,215 kg/2,700
lbs) to be manhandled by a crew; however, it was
often mounted on the M3 Halftrack and T49 GMC
(Gun Motor Carriage) to provide improved mobility.
102
Close Combat
75-mm Antitank Gun (Pak 40)
Caliber 75 mm (2.95 in.)
Muzzle velocity 450 to 990 mps
(1,476 to 3,250 fps)
Weight 1,425 kg (3,136 lbs)
Barrel length 3.45 meters (11 ft 4 in.)
Armor penetration 174 mm (6.88 in.)
at 100 m (110 yds)
The German 75-mm Pak 40 antitank gun, introduced
in 1942, was one of several larger-bore antitank guns
introduced that year to deal more effectively with
increasingly well-armored Allied tanks. It was
somewhat more effective than another weapon
Germany introduced that year, an updated version of
the venerable but still potent “French 75” (75-mm
gun, model 1897) mounted on a Pak 38 carriage.
Like that ancient gun, the Pak 40 could fire armorpiercing, high-explosive, and hollow-charge rounds
at fairly high velocities.
3-inch Gun M5
Caliber 76.2 mm (3 in.)
Weight 2,215 kg (4,875 lbs)
Muzzle velocity 792 mps (2,600 fps)
Armor penetration 122 mm (4.8 in.)
at 100 m (110 yds)
The 3-inch Gun M5, which was adopted by the U.S.
Army in 1939, used the same carriage as the new M2
105-mm Howitzer; both new guns were first used in
combat in North Africa in 1942. Officially a light
field gun, the M5 was often called the “3-inch
antitank gun.” It could fire high-explosive, armorpiercing, HEAT, and smoke rounds, and was used in
both roles until the end of the war. At that time the
U.S. Army discontinued use of the M5 and
rebarreled many of them as 105-mm Howitzers.
Chapter 5
Weapons
103
88-mm Antitank Gun (Pak 43)
Caliber 88 mm (3.46 in.)
Muzzle velocity up to 1,130 mps (3,705 fps)
Weight 3,636 kg (8,000 lbs)
Barrel length 6.58 meters (21 ft 7.25 in.)
Armor penetration 206 mm (8.1 in.)
at 100 m (110 yds)
The most famous—and the most feared—antitank
weapon of the war was the German 88-mm gun.
Introduced in 1934 as a mobile antiaircraft gun (in
models designated Flak 18, 36, and 37), its effectiveness against ground targets was soon recognized. In
the course of the war other models followed, notably
the Flak 41 for use against air, ground, and sea
targets, and the Pak 43 antitank gun. The “88” could
throw a 16-pound armor-piercing projectile at over
3,700 feet per second; whether used as a standalone
antitank gun or mounted in Tiger tanks and
Jagdpanther tank destroyers, the effect of the 88 on
even the heaviest Allied tanks was devastating.
I.G. 18 7.5-cm Light Infantry Gun
Caliber 75 mm (2.95 in.)
Muzzle velocity 221 mps (725 fps)
Weight 400 kg (880 lbs)
Barrel length 883 mm (34.75 in.)
Range 3,566 m (3,900 yds)
Armor penetration 96 mm (3.8 in.)
at 100 m (110 yds)
The 7.5 cm leicht Infanterie Geschutz 18 (7.5-cm
light infantry gun, model 1918) was a short-barreled,
close-support weapon that fired high-explosive and
hollow-charge rounds. Although more sophisticated
light artillery designs became available in 1938, the
I.G. 18 continued in service throughout the war.
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Close Combat
Panzer III L Medium Tank
M5A1 Light Tank
Weight 19,800 kg (43,659 lbs)
Maximum speed 40 km/h (25 mph)
Main gun 50 mm (1.97 in.) L/60
Armor 12 to 50 mm (0.31 to 3.15 in.)
Weight 15,380 kg (33,912 lb)
Maximum speed 60 km/h (37.2 mph)
Main gun 37 mm (1.46 in.)
Armor 12 to 67 mm (0.47 to 2.64 in.)
The M5 light tank, introduced in 1942, was fitted
with a larger turret and additional radio equipment
early in 1943 to become the M5A1. Both were
powered by twin Cadillac V-8s coupled to the
Cadillac Hydra-matic transmission. The M5 became
the basis of several variants, generally substituting
other weapons for the 37-mm gun originally fitted in
the M5 turret. Chief among these were the Howitzer
Motor Carriage M8, which mounted a short 75-mm
howitzer; and the T8 reconnaissance vehicle, with a
.50-caliber (12.7-mm) machine gun on a mounting
ring in place of the standard M5 turret. Both of these
soldiered on until the end of the war.
The German Panzer III medium tank, manufactured
from 1936 to 1943, was the primary German tank at
the beginning of the war. Main armament in early
models was a 37-mm gun; to meet the realities of
armored warfare, later models substituted 5-cm and
finally 7.5-cm guns. For the same reason, armor
thickness was increased from 30 mm to 50 mm.
Long after the Panzer III was superseded by more
formidable medium and heavy tanks, its excellent
chassis remained as the basis for numerous selfpropelled artillery pieces (such as the StuG IIIG)
and a variety of special-purpose vehicles, including
flame-throwers, recovery vehicles, and a
“swimming” version for a cross-channel invasion
of England.
Chapter 5
Weapons
105
M4A1 (75-mm) “Sherman” Tank
Panzer IV H Tank
Weight 30,160 kg (66,352 lbs)
Maximum speed 38 km/h (23 mph)
Main gun 75 mm (2.95 in.)
Armor 25 to 51 mm (0.98 to 2 in.)
The American M4 medium tank, nicknamed the
“Sherman,” was the primary tank of the Allied
armies; between 1941 and 1946 over 40,000 were
built. Although more reliable than most German
tanks, the Sherman was handicapped by its high
profile, thin armor, and inadequate main gun. M4A1
Shermans were routinely knocked out and set ablaze
by hand-held antitank rockets, antitank guns, and
88-mm armor-piercing rounds, while shells from
their own 75-mm guns simply bounced off German
Panthers and Tigers. Many crews added sandbags or
logs to their tanks’ armor. American tankers often
referred to the Sherman as the “Ronson” (a popular
cigarette lighter) because of its tendency to catch fire
when hit. While this was commonly attributed to the
Sherman’s gasoline engine (rather than diesel, as
used in German tanks), the main cause was the
ammunition inside the tank. As the war progressed,
the model M4A3 Sherman (described separately)
was developed to counter the threat of increasingly
heavy and powerful German tanks.
Weight 25,000 kg (55,000 lbs)
Maximum speed 38 km/h (23 mph)
Main gun 75-mm (2.95-in.) L/48
Armor 8 to 80 mm (0.31 to 3.15 in.)
The German Panzer IV medium tank, introduced in
1937, was manufactured in larger numbers, over a
longer period, and in a greater number of variants,
than any other German tank. It remained in production until 1945. Early models were armed with a
short-barreled 75-mm gun; models F and later
mounted a long-barreled, high-velocity version.
The Panzer IV chassis also carried a variety of
self-propelled guns and special-purpose vehicles.
Despite its inferiority in firepower and armor to
later German tanks, the Panzer IV provided a mix
of mobility, armament, and armor that kept it in
production throughout the war.
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Close Combat
M4A3 (76.2-mm) “Sherman” Tank
Panzer V “Panther” Medium Tank
Weight 32,285 kg (71,027 lbs)
Maximum speed 47 km/h (28.7 mph)
Main gun 76.2 mm (3 in.) or 105 mm (4.13 in.)
Armor 38 to 63.5 mm (1.5 to 2.5 in.)
The American M4A3 “Sherman” medium tank was
a better-armored version of the original M4A1
medium tank. Many M4A3s mounted a 3-inch (76.2
mm) gun; its HVAP (high-velocity armor-piercing)
round made this upgunned Sherman a match for
German tanks that the 75-mm version could not take
on. One M4A3 variant mounted a 105-mm howitzer.
While the Sherman was far from the finest of World
War II tanks, its durability and sheer weight of
numbers made it a major contributor to Allied
victory.
Weight 45,500 kg (100,100 lbs)
Maximum speed 46 km/h (28 mph)
Main gun 75-mm (2.95-in.) L/70
Armor 30 to 110 mm (1.18 to 4.33 in.)
The German Panther medium tank, introduced in
1943, was probably the best tank built during WWII.
Designed in response to the Soviet T-34 medium
tank, the Panther was larger, heavier, more powerful,
and better armed and armored. Its excellent chassis
and suspension gave the Panther speed over varying
terrain to match its long-range firepower. In open
country the American-built Sherman tank was no
match for the Panther, but in the constricted
hedgerow country of Normandy the Panther could
not take full advantage of its superiority. Panther
variants included the formidable Jagdpanther
(“Hunting Panther”) tank destroyer, which carried an
88-mm gun.
Chapter 5
Weapons
107
StuG IIIG/StuH 42
Infantry Support Tanks
Tiger I Heavy Tank
Weight 57,000 kg (125,685 lbs)
Maximum speed 37 km/h (23 mph)
Main gun 88-mm (3.46-in.) L/56
Armor 25 to 100 mm (0.98 to 3.94 in.)
Introduced in 1942, the Tiger I heavy tank was larger,
heavier, better armed, and better armored than any
previous German tank. For most of the war it was
more than a match for any Allied tank. What it lacked
in speed, mobility, and fuel economy, the lumbering
Tiger made up in firepower and armor protection.
With 100 mm of frontal armor and its formidable
88-mm gun (in a very slow-traversing turret), the
Tiger was far too dangerous for the American
Sherman tank to fight head-on, although it was
vulnerable to attack from the rear. The appearance
of the American M36 tank destroyer with its highvelocity 90-mm gun meant that the mighty Tiger was
no longer invincible. By late in 1944, 1,354 Tigers
had been manufactured.
Weight 23,900 kg (52,580 lbs)
Maximum speed 40 km/h (24.4 mph)
Main gun StuG IIIG: 75 mm (2.95 in.) L/48;
StuH 42: 10.5 cm (4.13 in.) L/28
Armor 11 to 50 mm (0.43 to 1.97 in.)
Introduced in 1940 to provide supporting fire for
infantry, the StuG (short for Sturmgeschutz—
“assault gun”) mounted a 75-mm main gun on a
Panzer III tank chassis. Many Panzer III tanks were
eventually converted to StuG specifications. The
StuH variant mounted a 10.5-cm L/28 main gun.
Their relatively heavy armor and low profile made
these vehicles formidable weapons and difficult
targets in their intended role. However, the limited
traverse of their main guns put them at a disadvantage in combat against other tanks that could
command a wider field of fire. Other StuG variants
mounted larger guns, including the 150-mm
howitzer, as main armament.
108
Close Combat
Marder III Self-Propelled Antitank Gun
Weight 9,700 kg (21,340 lbs)
Maximum speed 42 km/h (26 mph)
Main gun 76.2-mm Pak 36
Armor 10 to 50 mm (0.4 to 1.97 in.)
M10 Tank Destroyer
The Marder III was one of several German selfpropelled artillery designs based on the Czech
LT-38 light tank chassis. Its 76.2-mm Pak 36
antitank gun was actually a captured Russian
FK296 gun modified to fire the German Pak 40
artillery round. The Germans built 344 of these
hybrid vehicles in 1942 and made 19 more by
modifying existing tanks. The Marder III first
served in the North African campaign in 1942.
Weight 29,938 kg (66,013 lb)
Maximum speed 48 km/h (29.8 mph)
Main gun 76.2 mm (3 in.)
Armor 12 mm to 37 mm (0.47 to 1.46 in.)
The Gun Motor Carriage M10 was a tank destroyer
based on the M4A2 (and later the M4A3) Sherman
tank. The top of the hull was flattened to lower the
profile, and lighter armor gave the M10 increased
mobility. Its open-topped turret carried a converted
76.2-mm antiaircraft gun. Between June 1942 and
December 1943, 7,000 M10s were built; they figured
prominently in the fighting in Normandy, where their
mobility and firepower were put to the test.
Chapter 5
Weapons
109
M36 Tank Destroyer
Weight 28,120 kg (62,004 lbs)
Maximum speed 48 km/h (29.8 mph)
Main gun 90 mm (3.54 in.)
Armor 12 to 50 mm (0.47 to 1.97 in.)
The Gun Motor Carriage M36 tank destroyer was the
most powerful American antitank weapon of World
War II. Its modified 90-mm high-velocity antiaircraft
gun, in a newly designed turret, ended the reign of
the German “88” as the dominant antitank gun of the
war in Europe. Mounted on the Sherman M4A3 tank
chassis, the big gun and its armor-piercing rounds
proved more than a match for German Panther and
Tiger tanks, even at long ranges. A variant model
(the M36B2) mounted the new M36 turret and
90-mm gun on otherwise unmodified M4A3
Sherman tanks. The M36 soon superseded the
successful M10 tank destroyer and established an
impressive record against enemy armor.
Jagdpanther (“Hunting Panther”)
Tank Destroyer
Weight 46,000 kg (101,200 lbs)
Maximum speed 46 km/h (28 mph)
Main gun 88 mm (3.46 in.)
Armor 25 to 100 mm (0.98 to 3.94 in.)
The Jagdpanther tank destroyer, introduced just in
time for deployment against the Allied invasion in
Normandy in mid-1944, combined two formidable
weapons: the Panther tank chassis and the very
powerful Pak 43 88-mm antitank gun. The
Jagdpanther could maneuver rapidly across most
types of terrain, and it could stand off a thousand
meters or more and destroy enemy tanks while
remaining out of range of most antitank weapons. In
the hedgerow country of Normandy, however,
Jagdpanthers could not use these capabilities to best
advantage. Some tank battalions used Jagdpanthers
instead of tanks, but as with most self-propelled
artillery, the limited traverse of the main gun proved
to be a liability.
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Close Combat
SdKfz 250 Light Armored
Troop Carrier
M3A1 Halftrack
Weight 6,660 kg (14,800 lbs)
Maximum speed 74 kph (45 mph)
Armament Various
Armor 6 mm (.24 in.)
The American military used a variety of halftracks
during World War II; these half-tank, half-truck
vehicles were used both as infantry carriers and
weapons carriers because halftracks could traverse
terrain that trucks could not, and they enabled
infantry to be moved into combat with relative
safety. The two most widely used were the M2
(later M5) and M3 (later M9). The M3 (M3A1)
was powered by a White 147-hp engine. This
model could carry 13 soldiers.
Halftracks were also used extensively as weapons
carriers, mounting machine guns (both .30 and .50
caliber), mortars (81 mm and 4.2 in.), antitank guns
(37 and 57 mm), and other armaments (40-mm
antiaircraft, and 75- and 105-mm howitzers).
Weight 5,909 kg (13,000 lbs)
Maximum speed 74 km/h (45 mph)
Armament MG 34 machine gun
Armor 6 to 10 mm (.24 to .4 in.)
The SdKfz 250 was a light halftrack troop carrier
with light sloping armor based on the SdKfz 10
one-ton prime mover chassis. It provided a lower
profile than its predecessor and omitted its windshield. This model, which carried a crew of eight,
was one of several variants based on the one-ton
chassis; others included an armored ammunition
carrier and an armored observation post. A similar,
but heavier, vehicle was the SdKfz 251 medium
halftrack troop carrier, based on the SdKfz 11 threeton prime mover chassis.
Chapter 5
Weapons
111
SdKfz 231 Armored Car
Weight 7,590 kg (16,700 lbs)
Maximum speed 32 km/h (51 mph)
Armament one 2 cm-gun (Kw.K30 or 38) and
one 7.92-mm MG 34 machine gun
Armor 8 to 18 mm (0.3 to 0.7 in.)
The SdKfz 231 heavy eight-wheeled armored car
was manufactured from 1937 to 1942. It mounted
one heavy machine gun and one light machine gun
in a rotating turret, and carried a four-man crew.
Variants and successors included radio communications, antitank, and assault vehicles.
112
Close Combat
Jeep
Kfz 1 Kübelwagen
Weight 1,090 kg (2,400 lbs)
Maximum speed 105 km/h (65 mph)
Engine 2,200 cc (134.2 cu. in.) 72 hp 4-cyl
Weight 986 kg (2,170 lbs)
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
Engine 1,131 cc (69 cu. in.) 25 hp
4-cyl (rear-mounted, horizontally opposed,
air-cooled)
Built by Volkswagen, the simple and reliable
Kübelwagen (“bucket car”) was the German
equivalent of the U.S. Jeep. This nimble four-seater,
based on Ferdinand Porsche’s original “People’s
Car” design of the 1930s, used the same rearmounted, air-cooled engine driving the rear wheels.
Some standard models mounted an MG 42 machine
gun, giving the innocuous Kübelwagen a deadly
sting. Other variants included the amphibious
Schwimmwagen, as well as radio communications,
maintenance, ambulance, and survey versions. The
Kübelwagen design survived the war to reappear in
the 1970s as a Mexican-built Volkswagen sportutility model called “The Thing.”
First produced for the American armed forces in
1940, the Jeep probably derived its name from the
designation “GP” for General Purpose vehicle. Small
and nimble but stoutly constructed and relatively
powerful, this four-wheel-drive open vehicle served
with American, British, and Soviet forces in every
theater of operations. It could haul a half-ton load
over nearly any surface or terrain, and many carried a
.50-caliber Browning machine gun, which gave the
humble Jeep a long reach and a powerful punch.
More than 650,000 Jeeps were produced from July
1941 to the end of 1945. U.S. Army Chief of Staff
George Marshall said the Jeep was America’s
greatest contribution to modern warfare; Eisenhower
believed that three basic tools helped to win the war
for the Allies: the Douglas Dakota (DC3/C47)
aircraft, the landing craft—and the Jeep.
Chapter 6
Terrain
113
Chapter 6
Terrain
You fight battles on game maps that consist of interlocking tiles 40 pixels by 40 pixels large (or 8
meters by 8 meters in game scale). Each tile is composed of terrain elements reflecting the actual terrain
found in the Norman countryside in 1944.
Basic Terrain
The basic terrain elements are those that occur naturally, such as grass, water, and trees.
Dirt
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Grass
Height: Flat
Concealment: Poor
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Tall Grass
Height: Short
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Fair
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Wheat
Height: Short
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Fair
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Mud
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Fair
114
Close Combat
Marsh
Height: Flat
Concealment: Poor
Visual hindrance: Poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Fair
Deep Water
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: None
Protection from aimed fire: None
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Stream
Height: Flat
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Good
Protection from HE shells: Excellent
Gully
Height: Flat
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Good
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Woods
Height: Very tall
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Very good
Protection from aimed fire: Poor
Protection from HE shells: Very poor
Brush
Height: Short
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Very good
Protection from aimed fire: Poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Civilian Terrain
Civilian terrain elements are those created by the Norman farmers and villagers,
such as plowed dirt, stone fences, and bocage.
Plowed Dirt
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Chapter 6
Orchard
Height: Very tall
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Very poor
Bocage
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Excellent
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Hedge Fence
Height: Short
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Stone Fence
Height: Short
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Dirt Road
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: None
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Paved Road
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: None
Protection from aimed fire: None
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Bridge
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: Fair
Protection from aimed fire: None
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Terrain
115
116
Close Combat
Break in
Bocage
Height: Short
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Military Terrain
Military terrain elements are those created by the war being fought in the Norman
countryside, such as barbed wire, shellholes, obstacles, and rubble.
Barbed Wire
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very poor
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Rifle Trench
Height: Flat
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Foxhole
Height: Flat
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Fortified
Foxhole
Height: Flat
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Excellent
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Bocage
Rifle Pit
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Excellent
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Fortified
Bocage
Rifle Pit
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Very good
Chapter 6
Shellhole
Height: Flat
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Very poor
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Good
Wooden
Barrier
Height: Short
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Fair
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Wood Rubble
Height: Medium
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Fair
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Stone Barrier
Height: Short
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Stone Rubble
Height: Medium
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Fair
Metal Barrier
Height: Short
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Dead Animal
Height: Flat
Concealment: Good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Fair
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Terrain
117
118
Close Combat
Structures
Structures are buildings constructed by the Norman farmers and villagers, by the
German Army, or by the United States Army.
Wood Buildings
Wood buildings consist of civilian structures such as houses,
barns, and outbuildings. These buildings also include those
built by the military, such as barracks.
Interior (Floor)
Height: Flat
Concealment: Poor
Visual hindrance: Fair
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Wall
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Fair
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Door
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Fair
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Fortified Door
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Window
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Fair
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Fortified
Window
Height: Tall
Concealment: Excellent
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Chapter 6
Stone Buildings
Stone buildings include civilian structures such as houses,
churches, and shops.
Interior (Floor)
Height: Flat
Concealment: Poor
Visual hindrance: Fair
Protection from aimed fire: Very poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Wall
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Fair
Door
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Fortified Door
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Excellent
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Window
Height: Tall
Concealment: Very good
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Very good
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Fortified
Height: Tall
Window
Concealment: Excellent
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Excellent
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Terrain
119
120
Close Combat
Bunkers
Bunkers are structures built by the military specifically for
defensive purposes.
Interior (Floor)
Height: Flat
Concealment: Fair
Visual hindrance: Fair
Protection from aimed fire: Poor
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Wall
Height: Tall
Concealment: Excellent
Visual hindrance: Blocks view
Protection from aimed fire: Excellent
Protection from HE shells: Poor
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
Chapter 7
The Big Picture:
A Short History of World War II
The seeds of World War II were sown at the end of World War Ithe
“war to end all wars.” The armistice signed by Germany (the Versailles
Treaty) contains provisions that restrict its territory, limit German
military buildups, and impose reparations. These reparations are the
most devastating blow; the Allies essentially force Germany to pay the
victor’s war debts. The strain on the German economy causes widespread unemployment and rampant inflationa wheelbarrow of paper
money might buy a loaf of bread.
This grim economic climate proves ripe for the growth of a fiercely
nationalistic party called the National Socialists. Led by a former
German Army corporal, Adolph Hitler, the National Socialist movement
gains popularity and power throughout the late 1920s. When Hitler
becomes chancellor in 1933, he quickly consolidates his power. In
August 1934, he proclaims himself Führerleaderand forces
Germany’s military to proclaim personal loyalty to him.
In March 1936, German troops occupy the Rhineland, a direct violation
of the Versailles Treaty. The German High Command opposes the
occupation, but Hitler envisions a passive Allied response; when there
is no military action by the British or French, Hitler is proven right. The
Führer assumes supremacy over his military commanders.
In January 1937, Hitler formally renounces the Versailles Treaty in
a speech at the Reichstag. He claims that no great world power can
accept such restrictions. In November, Hitler explains his intentions
for Germany at a party conference. His chief aim is to obtain
Lebensraum“room for living”in Eastern Europe. He knows it
will be necessary to use force; his first targets are Austria and
Czechoslovakia. The Führer has no specific timetable, preferring to
wait for a ripe opportunity.
In March 1938, Germany annexes Austria. One year later,
Czechoslovakia comes under German control. Now Hitler looks
easttoward Poland.
"Peace in our time": British Prime Minister
Neville Chamberlain returns from Munich
121
122
Close Combat
Let Loose the Dogs of War: World War II Begins
On August 23, 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union sign a nonaggression pact that
secretly divides Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia between them.
Neither side announces the pact’s existence for almost a month.
World War II begins at 0445 hours on September 1, 1939 when 53 German
divisions smash into Poland from the west. The attacking Germans introduce a
new word to the world vocabulary: blitzkrieg—a “lightning war” of movement,
using an overwhelming combination of armor, air power, and mobile infantry. By
September 8, the German Tenth Army is fighting in the suburbs of Warsaw.
The Poles refuse a demand for their surrender on September 16. The next day,
Soviet forces attack from the east, knifing through Polish units pared of troops to
fight the Germans. By October 3 Polish resistance is crushed. About 900,000
Polish soldiers are taken prisoner; the number killed, wounded, or missing in
action is unknown. The Germans report only 40,000 casualties, the Soviets
far fewer.
Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics prove devastatingly effective. While tanks play a
leading role in the conquest of Poland, official reports give more credit to
traditional infantry forces.
German armor on the
road into Poland
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
Russia Invades Finland
Finland, one of the countries apportioned to the Soviet Union as part of the pact
with Germany, becomes the next battleground. When the Soviets invade Finland
on November 30, 1939, the attacking Red Army forces dwarf the Finnish army;
there is every reason to expect a quick Soviet victory.
However, the Finns quickly learn how to stymie Soviet advances. Tanks are
allowed to penetrate the Finnish lines during the daytime, while the Soviet infantry
is held at bay. When night falls, the Finns emerge from hiding places and pick off
the trapped Soviet tanks one by one. In other places, the Finns use highly mobile
ski units to surround Soviet columns as they pass through dense forests; entire Red
Army divisions are surrounded and beaten by the lightly armed Finns. But, after
weeks of fierce fighting, the sheer weight of Soviet numbers begins to tell. On
March 13, 1940, Finland signs a peace treaty in Moscow.
The Finnish Army never has more than 200,000 men in the field compared to the
Red Army’s 1,200,000; yet the Finns kill 48,000 and wound 158,000 Soviet
soldiers. Because the Soviets have performed dismally given the disparity of
resources, Allied and Axis observers see the Red Army as ineffective. Hitler
decides Germany can defeat the Soviets; the Allies see no point in sending
supplies to an army that will surely be beaten.
Events will prove both sides wrong.
Germany Blitzes West
After Germany’s success in Poland, Hitler looks
west and sees the next victims if the
blitzkriegFrance, Belgium, Holland, and
Denmark. Hitler believes the defeat of these
countries, along with the defeat of the British
Expeditionary Force (BEF), will make Great
Britain sue for peace. With England out of the
war, he can focus Germany’s armies on his
ultimate goalconquering Russia. Winston
Churchill ultimately spoils Hitler’s plan; Great
Britain refuses to negotiate a peace with Germany.
The German plan of attack calls for assaults by
German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
three army groups. The three group commanders,
Field Marshals Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, Gerd
von Rundstedt, and Fedor von Bock achieve stunning success, although all will be
dismissed from command within two years for failures on the Eastern Front.
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Close Combat
Field Marshal Rundstedt’s Army Group A roars across the French border on
May 10 against light resistance. General Heinz Guderian, a leading proponent of
German tank tactics, leads one of the Panzer corps driving into France. Bock’s
Army Group B races across Holland and Denmark.
On May 12, the French Seventh Army clashes with the Germans near Tilburg, but
the French wither before a rain of German attacks. French troops are demoralized
by the Germans’ lightning-quick armored attacks; they are further harassed by
attacks from German Stuka dive bombers.
Both Guderian and the commander of the Seventh Panzer Division, Erwin
Rommel, show the world how the tank has changed the modern battlefield. Many
in the German High Command believe rapid advances by armored units will leave
exposed flanks that invite counterattack. In fact, the Panzer units are often ordered
to halt so the rest of the army can catch up. In Western Europe, the rapidly moving
armored columns do indeed expose their flanks, but these columns breed so much
confusion and panic that counterattacks are impossible to organize.
On May 15, the Dutch surrender. Churchill, visiting Paris to meet with French
leaders, asks where the reserves are. He is appalled at the answer: There are no
reserves. On May 17, the Germans enter Brussels, the next day Antwerp. Three
days later, Guderian’s Panzers reach the coast.
The Germans have mowed a swath 20 miles wide from the Ardennes to the
Atlantic. The French and British try to slice through the swath before it can be
strengthened and widened. Rommel’s division is attacked by British Matilda
heavy tanks near Arras. These tanks make good progress because they can withstand most of the Germans’ conventional antitank weapons. When the Germans
are on the verge of defeat, some of their antiaircraft gun crews depress the barrels
of their 88-mm guns, take aim at the Matildas, and fire. The result is disaster for
the Britishthe 88-mm gun proves to be deadly against tanks. The British attack
is blasted to a halt.
By May 26, it is clear the Belgian army is finished, and British units begin to fall
back on the town of Dunkirk on the French coast. Belgium surrenders on May 28;
British and French units race to cover the approaches to Dunkirk.
Confusion and misunderstanding among the German commanders prevent a
coordinated assault on the Dunkirk perimeter. Ultimately the Panzer divisions are
shifted from Dunkirk south to continue the attack toward Paris. The final push at
Dunkirk falls to the infantry and the German air forcethe Luftwaffe.
British and French units at Dunkirk put up a heroic fight while every available
ship and boat is put to use evacuating troops to England. Over 220,000 British and
112,000 French soldiers are evacuated; but when the Germans reach Dunkirk early
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
Allied troops massed on the
beach at Dunkirk
on the morning of June 4, they still capture some 40,000 men. While the success
of the evacuation has exceeded Churchill’s expectations, the troops arriving in
England have lost virtually all their heavy equipment and weapons.
On June 5, the German attack on the Somme River Line begins. The French
have reorganized their forces, but there is little they can do to stop the Germans.
On June 6, the line is breached between Amiens and the coast. Eight days later
Paris falls.
German troops marching
through the Arch de
Triomphe in Paris
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126
Close Combat
“To make union with England
was fusion with a corpse.”
Marshal Henri Pétain, who
capitulated to Germany rather
than participate in what he
saw as a doomed alliance
with Britain
French signing armistice in 1940 with Germany—in the same
railway car where the Germans signed their surrender in 1918
On June 22, the French sign an armistice with Germany. The Germans have
wonthey have crushed four Allied armies and driven a fifth, the British
Expeditionary Force (BEF), off the continent.
The Allied armies have learned that they are unprepared for Germany’s blitzkrieg
tactics. They have inadequate tanks and antitank weapons; this inadequacy is
compounded by poor deployments. The Germans mass their armor into divisions
and even armies, while the Allies deploy armor in small units spread across wide
fronts. The Allies also learn that they will need a force several orders of magnitude
larger than those that “blitzed” in France to defeat Germany.
The Battle of Britain
England’s victory in the Battle of Britain is one of the turning points of World War
II, and an important factor in the ultimate success of Operation Overlord. The
Allies’ first victory boosts morale immeasurably and lays the foundation for the
Allied air superiority that will play a crucial role in the Normandy Campaign.
Perhaps most importantly, Churchill’s gamble that the RAF can defeat the
Luftwaffe keeps England in the war. With the British Isles available for marshaling
the men, machines, and materiel necessary to carry out Operation Overlord, the
logistics of the operation will be infinitely less complicated.
The idea of invading England has been broached to Hitler by several high-ranking
officers. Hitler initially wanted a treaty with the British, but the unqualified
success of the offensive against France, Belgium, and the Netherlands changed his
mind. The German air offensive is intended to be the first step towards the
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127
eventual invasion of Great Britainan operation dubbed Sealion. The
Luftwaffe’s orders are to destroy the RAF.
In preparing for the expected German air attacks, the British develop
an effective network of radar stations, observation posts, and radio
listening stations tied into an equally efficient communications and
command structure. This system, the first modern integrated air defense
and command network, proves devastatingly effective against the
Luftwaffe.
The Luftwaffe is also hampered by several internal factors. The primary
German fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, lacks the range necessary to
escort bombers over England, allowing British Spitfires and Hurricanes
to attack German bomber formations with impunity. The Luftwaffe also
lacks bombers capable of carrying effective payloads; this problem is
compounded when bombers and crew lost over England cannot be
replaced rapidly enough. The Luftwaffe underestimates the effectiveness
of British radar, and make a further mistake in believing they have
destroyed most of the British radar installations before launching the
major offensive in August.
The Germans start the battle in early July 1940 with numerical
superiority in both fighters and bombers. On July 4, German Stuka dive
bombers attack a column of nine British ships in the English Channel,
sinking five. Between July 10 and July 24, the Luftwaffe’s effort is
aimed at shipping in the Channel. Both sides suffer losses: 48 RAF and
93 Luftwaffe planes are blown from the sky. The Germans do not
aggressively push their numerical superiority, which gives the British
vital time to build up their forces.
“Never in the field of human
endeavor was so much owed by
so many to so few.”
Winston Churchill on the RAF’s
performance during the Battle of
Britain
From mid-July through the early days of August, the Germans lose
more planes than the British, but because the Luftwaffe has numerical
superiority a war of attrition in the sky favors the Germans. However,
by the time Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering can get the Luftwaffe’s air
offensive off the ground, the British enjoy an advantage in fighter
planesan advantage that increases as the battle wears on.
Finally, Adlertag (Eagle Day) arrives on August 13. The Luftwaffe
launches its twice-delayed all-out air offensive
against England. The German goal is to drive the
RAF out of the skies over southern England in
One of the non-combat heroes of the Battle of
four days and destroy the RAF completely in four
Britain is Lord Maxwell Beaverbrook, named
weeks. The British recognize that they must
Minister of Aircraft Production by Churchill. By
maximize the effectiveness of their resources. Air
simplifying fighter production and through
Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding decides that the most
sheer force of will, Beaverbrook keeps British
fighter production ahead of losses during the
critical summer months. Between May 1 and
early August, more than 1,200 fighters roll off
British assembly lines.
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Close Combat
Agents of the Italian Servizio
Informazione Militare steal the “Black
Code” from the U.S. Embassy in
Rome. This is the code used by the
U.S. Military Attache in Cairo to send
accurate and detailed reports to the
U.S. War Department concerning the
British Eighth Army’s plans. This
intelligence source will prove invaluable to Rommel for almost a year.
effective strategy is to send small fighter formations to disrupt and harry the German bombers.
It is a decision that proves correct; the British
conserve valuable fighters while ravaging the
German bomber formations.
On Eagle Day the Luftwaffe loses 45 planes while
the British lose only 13. More importantly, of the
13 planes shot down, six of the pilots return to fly
again; German crews escaping their damaged
planes land on enemy soil and are out of the war.
But over the next week, German bomber and
fighter pilots fly over 5,000 sorties. As August
draws to a close, the scales of victory are tipping
in favor of the Luftwaffe; on August 31, the RAF loses 39 planes while the
Luftwaffe loses 41.
The first week of September proves pivotal in the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe
has succeeded in knocking out many RAF airfields but, perhaps due to intelligence
failures, they inexplicably leave some airfields virtually untouched. Consequently,
the Luftwaffe shifts its bombing efforts to industrial targets. This shift enables the
British to bring some of their airfields back into operation. The Germans continue
night raids against military, industrial, and civilian targets.
On September 3, the operational orders for Operation Sealion, the German
invasion of Great Britain, are cut in Berlin. The invasion is scheduled for
September 21; the decision to go will be made on September 10. The British lose
120 planes in the first week of September, and the Germans lose 148. It appears
that the Germans are still winning the battle of attrition, but the British keep
sending fighters up to meet the Luftwaffe; it is clear the British are not yet beaten.
Between September 7 and 15, the Germans launch several major bombing raids
against targets in Great Britain. The first major daylight raid500 bombers and
600 fightersis aimed at London. Another 250 bombers, guided by the fires
started during the day, hit the city at night. British civilians refer to the air raids as
“the Blitz.” To combat these large formations, Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons
are combined into larger forces; these larger fighter groups succeed in breaking up
most of the German formations.
On September 10, Hitler postpones his decision on Operation Sealion. He does not
feel the Luftwaffe has won supremacy in the air. He postpones his decision again
on September 14.
The Germans make another major effort against London on September 15. British
fighters swarm upon the Luftwaffe formations on the incoming and return legs of
the morning and afternoon raids. The battle between fighters is a draw, with both
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
sides losing about 25 planes, but the RAF stings the Luftwaffe by swatting 35
bombers out of the sky and damaging scores more. The raids on September 15
mark the last major effort by the Luftwaffe to destroy the RAF. On September 17,
Hitler postpones Operation Sealion indefinitely. The scales of victory are now
tipped in favor of the RAF.
During the last weeks of September and into October, the Germans continue
nightly bombing of British cities. While there is much damage and loss of life, the
effect is much less than the English government and military anticipated. Although
German bombing of England will continue until March 1941, the Luftwaffe’s effort
to destroy the RAF has failed.
The British victory in the Battle of Britain changes the course of the war. The
RAF’s triumph points out the weaknesses of the Luftwaffe and Goering’s leadership, and makes possible the next phase of the European air warthe Allied
bombing of Fortress Europe.
The Desert FoxThe North Africa Campaign
Starting in early 1941, Axis and Allied forces surge back and forth across Egypt,
Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia for nearly 18 months. The prize is control of
the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East and, most importantly, enough oil fields to
slake the victor’s thirst for fuel.
This campaign is important for several reasons. It involves a number of the
key players in the Normandy Campaign, including Eisenhower, Rommel,
Montgomery, Bradley, and Patton. It is the first combat that pits American soldiers
against German soldiers. The campaign reaffirms
the power of the tank, the advantages of air
superiority, and the need for effective supply lines.
General Erwin Rommel, with the sweet taste of
his victories in France and Belgium still lingering,
is given command of the Deutsches Afrika Korps
(Afrika Korps). Rommel immediately begins
pushing east from Tripoli on February 12, 1941.
By April 11, Rommel has performed brilliantly; he
has disregarded orders from above and driven the
British all the way from El Agheila to Tobruk.
There are attacks and counterattacks around
Tobruk, but the British are compelled to retreat
into Egypt on June 17. Rommel’s performance is
masterful; he is now known as the Desert Fox.
General Erwin Rommel in North Africa
129
130
Close Combat
From late June until early November, the British regroup and resupply. By late
November, they are ready to launch a counterattack. Operation Crusader, aimed at
retaking Tobruk, begins on November 28. The British outnumber the Germans in
men, armor, and planes, and the Eighth Army pushes Rommel’s forces back. By
the end of 1941, the British have relieved the German siege around Tobruk.
Barbarossa BeginsGermany Attacks Russia
The war between Germany and the Soviet Union plays a crucial role in the
Normandy Campaignthe Eastern (First) Front siphons most of Germany’s forces
away from Western Europe. When the Allies land in France only about 60 German
divisions remain in Western Europe, while over 200 German divisions are fighting
on the Eastern Front. The Americans and British also learn tactical lessons from
the fighting between Germany and Russia, namely
that it is futile to engage German tanks in anything
approaching an even fight. The only way to defeat
Directive 21
Germany’s armored forces is through numerical
On December 18, 1940, Hitler releases
superiority.
Directive 21“The German Armed Forces
Comparison to the Normandy Campaign shows
must be prepared, even before the concluthe immensity of the combat on the Eastern Front.
sion of the war against England, to crush
In Normandy, the battle front during the drive to
Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign.” The
Saint-Lô will extend less than 50 miles; in Russia
campaign is code-named Barbarossa. The
the front stretches over 1,000 miles from Leningrad
target date is May 15, 1941.
to the Caucasus Mountains.
The conquest of Russia is a major goal of the
National Socialists in Germany. It is a land of vast resourcesiron ore, coal, and
oilthat will fuel German industry. It has a large population that will provide
cheap labor. And there is Lebensraumroom for Germany to grow, and room to
exile the enemies of National Socialism. Perhaps Hitler recalls his visit to
Napoleon’s tomb in Paris, now that he is attempting what the great French
emperor could not doconquer Russia. The key to Operation Barbarossa is
movement; the Germans must triumph before the autumn rains turn the Russian
countryside into a sea of mud. Beyond the rains looms the killing cold of the
Russian winter.
By mid-June 1941, nearly 140 German divisions are ready to smash eastward into
the USSR. These forces are split into three army groups. One is poised to capture
Leningrad; another to capture Smolensk, then Moscow; the third, Kiev. German
units from Norway, along with 21 Finnish divisions, also join in the attack.
Opposing the German forces are approximately 130 Soviet divisionsnearly
2,900,000 menbut many are not deployed effectively. Also, the Soviet tanks are
dispersed among infantry units and are thus no match for the massed armor of the
Chapter 7
German Panzer armies. Still, the Red Army has a
two-to-one advantage in tanks, including the
superior T-34 and KV1 models. The Soviets also
enjoy a nearly three-to-one advantage in aircraft,
but German air strikes knock out communications
and destroy many Soviet aircraft on the ground. In
the first seven hours, the Soviets lose over 1,000
aircraft and the Germans quickly establish air
supremacy over the battlefields. This supremacy
cripples Soviet efforts to move men and materiel
to meet the German offensive. Perhaps more
importantly, Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s have
stripped away many experienced Soviet commanders; in their place are political generals with
little or no experience. This lack of experienced
commanders plagued the Red Army in Finland,
and it will plague them again at the start of
Barbarossa.
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
Scale of Forces
The scale of the fighting between the Soviet
Union and Germany dwarfs the Normandy
Campaign. The Allied forces amassed for the
Normandy Campaign number approximately
1,500,000 men; by June 12, 1944 over 325,000
men are ashore.
In contrast, over 3,000,000 men are assembled
for Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union, along
with 7,100 guns, 3,300 tanks, and 625,000
horses. The Soviets gather over 500,000 men
for their counterattack at Stalingrad. At the Battle
of Kursk, the Soviets and Germans together
concentrate over 2,000,000 men and 6,000
tanks.
At 0300 hours on June 22, Germany looses its blitzkrieg on the Soviet Union. The
Soviets are taken by surprise. Some German units advance 40 miles the first day.
In a week General Guderian’s Second Panzer Group pushes nearly 300 miles and
traps the Soviet Third and Tenth Armies. The story is much the same all along the
front: Rapid German advances trap many Red Army units, and wholesale surrenders begin. By July 9, more than 40 Red Army divisions are out of action, and
300,000 Soviet soldiers are captured. On July 12, the Germans bomb Moscow for
the first time. It appears that Hitler’s dream of conquering Russia may become a
reality.
Then in late August, Hitler makes his
first mistake of the campaign. He
orders Guderian’s Second Panzer
Group and the Second Army to link up
with Army Group South. Most generals disagree with the ordersthey
believe the drive to Moscow should
continue rolling because the rapid
capture of Moscow is one of the keys
to the success of Barbarossa. In the
short term, the move is a success;
within three weeks the linkup is
complete and another 600,000 Soviet
troops are encircled. But the drive
toward Moscow slows.
Germans advancing into Russia
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Close Combat
Still, the Germans continue to taste nothing but success while the Soviets swallow
the bitterness of defeat. The Germans capture Kiev at a cost of 100,000 casualties;
the Soviets suffer 500,000 casualties. By early October, Army Group South has
bottled up and destroyed Soviet units composed of 700,000 men.
Operation Typhoonthe final drive on Moscowbegins on October 2, 1941.
Guderian’s force turns north to join the other Panzer groups grinding toward the
Soviet capital. But the autumn rains begin; German mobility falters in the mud
while Soviet resistance stiffens.
In Moscow, diplomats and government officials begin leaving the city on October
16, but Stalin announces that he will remain. Work on the city’s defenses continues
at a feverish pace while the German forces are bogged down in Russian mud.
By early November, the ground is frozen enough for the Germans to again press
the attack on Moscow, but the icy weather is scarcely an asset. It is one of the
coldest winters on record in the Soviet Union. Motor oil freezes solid and rifle
bolts become so brittle they break. The German soldiers’ clothing is inadequate in
the bitter cold, further sapping morale.
The Red Army is content to fight a holding action. Reinforcements are arriving
daily from Siberia; tanks, guns, and supplies have been hoarded for the counteroffensive Stalin longs to launch. On November 18, Guderian’s forces are hit by the
first Soviet counterattack. Red Army troops fresh from Siberia attack the Germans
several times over the next few days, blunting the German drive on Moscow.
By November 27, the Germans push to within 30 miles of Moscow. Two days
later, Panzer units fight their way across the Moscow-Volga Canal. By December
2, German infantry units reach Moscow’s northern suburbsthe Germans are
less than 20 miles from the Kremlin, but they face even colder weather and
winter storms.
Hitler and the Wehrmacht:
Problems of Command
By the time the Allies land in Normandy, the
German command structure has been badly
fractured. Hitler has made a practice of
dismissing or demoting generals who do not
follow orders or fail to achieve victories. As the
defeats mount, Hitler tightens his control over
the German military. By the time of the
Normandy Campaign (June 1944), he
personally controls the vast majority of Panzer
units in Western Europe. Consequently, when
the invasion comes, the commanders in the
field must send requests for armor to Berlin; by
the time Hitler authorizes these requests, it is
too late.
Two of the key commanders in Western Europe
are Rundstedt and Rommel. Each has a plan to
repel the Allied invasion—Rommel on the
beaches, Rundstedt with a massive counterattack inland. Neither gets his way as Hitler
withholds the armor that either plan requires to
succeed.
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133
Finally, on December 5 Hitler agrees with his commandershe must suspend the
offensive against Moscow. The next day, Stalin orders a counteroffensive. The
Soviets attack all along the 500-mile front. Their objective is to quickly drive two
wedges deep into Army Group Center, isolate the Germans, then beat them in
detail. From the beginning the attacks meet with success; the Germans are
exhausted and overextended.
Enraged by the turn of events on the Eastern Front, Hitler replaces both Rundstedt
and Bock. Then he dismisses General Walter von Brauchitsch as Commander in
Chief of the German Army; Hitler himself takes the post. From this point forward,
he will personally direct the German Army.
At first Hitler makes a wise move: He commands
all units in Russia to stand fast and defend their
ground. This stiffens resolve and prevents the Red
Army from routing the Germans, who are able to
fall back and establish defensive positions they
will hold until spring. But this success leads
Hitler to believe that his commanders are worthless; from now on he will often disregard their
advice.
By year’s end, the losses on the Eastern Front are
staggering. The Red Army has endured at least
5,000,000 casualties and the Germans have taken
3,000,000 prisoners. The loss of materiel is also
immense30,000 guns and 20,000 tanks. The
Wehrmacht (German Army) has also suffered
huge losses. The difference is that the Germans
have not destroyed the Soviets’ ability to rearm,
both from within and through Lend-Lease
shipments from the United States.
Sunday SurpriseThe Japanese Bomb Pearl Harbor
A form of National Socialism took root in Japan in the 1920s; by the late
mid-1930s Japan has invaded Manchuria in search of resources and cheap labor.
Tensions escalate as the United States uses trade sanctions to cut off oil supplies to
Japan. While negotiations continue between Tokyo and Washington, the Japanese
mobilize for war. When diplomatic efforts fail to produce results acceptable to
both sides, the Japanese government decides to take action.
On Sunday, December 7 at 0755 local time, Japanese carrier-based planes attack
the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese achieve complete
surprise. Resistance is token; the Japanese lose only 29 planes. In a matter of
hours, five American battleships, three cruisers, and three destroyers are sunk, and
Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941
134
Close Combat
188 American aircraft are destroyed. But not all goes as the Japanese planned. By
coincidence, the U.S. Navy’s three aircraft carriers are not in port and escape
destruction. And contrary to orders, the massive fuel oil storage tanks at Pearl
Harbor are not destroyed. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the Pearl
Harbor attack, estimates that it will set the Americans back only six months; he
states that Japan cannot win an all-out war with the U.S. The Japanese gamble that
the war in Europe will distract the Americans from focusing their war effort
against Japan. Consequently, Japan can conquer the territory it needs to supply raw
materials for war production, then present the U.S. and Britain with a ring of steel
so formidable that they will sue for peace. On December 8, 1941 the United States
and Britain declare war on Japan.
Germany and Italy Declare War on the United States
In support of their Axis ally Japan, Germany and Italy declare war on the United
States on December 11. This is one of the biggest mistakes Germany makes during
the war. Until this time, the outcome of the war in Europe is still very much in
doubt. Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program has kept the Allies in the war, but now
the full weight of America’s industrial power will be brought to bear. More
importantly, the American armed forces will add fresh troops to the battle-thinned
ranks of the Allied armies. However, the United States faces a dilemmahow to
fight a war on two fronts.
Omar Nelson Bradley
(1893-1981). Although
Bradley was not flamboyant
or showy, he was a master
of infantry tactics;
Eisenhower called Bradley
“the greatest battle-line commander I have met
in this war.”
Bradley was a West Point classmate of Dwight
Eisenhower; both graduated in 1915, and
neither saw action in World War I. By 1941
Bradley was a brigadier general in charge of
the U.S. Army Infantry School, and became a
major general in 1942. In 1943 under
Eisenhower he succeeded Patton in command
of the U.S. II Corps in North Africa. After the
invasion of Sicily he was promoted to the rank
of lieutenant general.
In 1944 Bradley was named senior commander
of U.S. ground troops for the invasion of
Europe. He commanded the U.S. First Army
during the Normandy Campaign, then led the
U.S. Twelfth Army Group for the remainder of
the war. His coolness even in crises like the
Battle of the Bulge won the confidence of his
superiors, and his willingness to share danger
and discomfort with his men earned him their
respect; war correspondent Ernie Pyle called
Bradley “the G.I. General.”
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135
The Allies Agree to “Beat Germany First”
In the months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. is in no
position to actively pursue the war in Europe. Its army is far below the strength
required for the task, there are no U.S. forces in Europe, and the shipping needed
to transport a massive invasion force does not exist. Despite these problems,
Churchill meets with Roosevelt at the Arcadia Conference in Washington, D.C.,
where they agree on a “beat Germany first” strategy. The American leadership
acknowledges that the bulk of Allied ground forces will have to confront the
German threat as soon and as decisively as possible. From Pearl Harbor to
D-Day, American determination to confront the German army never wavers, but
events make it clear that half-measures will not lead to victory. In particular, the
disastrous British raid on the French port of Dieppe in August 1942, in which half
of the attacking force of 6,000 become casualties, shows that only a massive,
coordinated Allied invasion will provide a firm foothold on the continent.
The Dieppe Debacle
Despite their commitment to a full-scale
invasion, the British launch an ill-conceived
cross-channel raid in August 1942 on the
French port of Dieppe. This attack by 6,000
mostly Canadian soldiers is intended to
provide combat experience and information
about German coastal defenses. The plan is
to seize and briefly hold the port, then return
to England.
The raid is indeed a learning experience,
imparting some bitter lessons. The Canadians
are repulsed with heavy losses (about 50
percent), dampening British ardor for a largescale invasion of France in 1943. Fortress
Europe will remain firmly shut to the Allies for
almost two more years, until they can accumulate the men, machines, and materialand the
willto mount Operation Overlord and kick the
door down.
136
Close Combat
The Long Road to Normandy
With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into the war, the
conflict is now truly global. Over the next 30 months it will be fought on frozen
plains, on steamy jungle-covered mountains, high in the sky, and under the sea.
The Axis powers try to conquer territory for their empires; the Allies strive to push
Germany, Italy, and Japan back within their borders. All the while the Allies plan
and prepare for the decisive battlethe invasion of Europe.
Convoys and Wolfpacksthe Battle of the Atlantic
The Battle of the Atlantic revolves around the Allied need to ship men, machines,
and materiel from the United States to Great Britain, Russia, and the
Mediterraneanand the Axis efforts to disrupt the flow of supplies. Early in the
war, the Germans used both surface ships and land-based aircraft to attack shipping in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, but the bulk of the German effort was
made by submarinesthe U-boats.
By the beginning of 1942, the U-boats are using the Rudeltaktikwolfpacks
consisting of as many as 40 submarinesto attack Allied convoys. While this
tactic helps minimize the losses of experienced crews, it also pits the U-boats
against Allied escorts. Over the next 18 months the escorts will steadily improve
their submarine fighting capabilities.
Throughout 1942, the Allies make strides in improving their convoy system. They
also begin installing radio direction finders to locate U-boats; the Germans counter
by installing radar search receivers that detect Allied signals before the U-boat
generates a return signal. Between August and December 1942, the Allies lose
over 100 ships per month.
The Battle of the Atlantic crests in 1943. Axis subs sink 100 Allied ships in both
January and February. Each side strives to gain an edge. The Allies begin equipping B-24s with new 10-cm radar sets that prove effective at finding U-boats;
the radar search receivers installed on German submarines work only on the
1.5-meter radar.
The British Admiralty estimates that the Germans come closest to defeating the
Allied convoy system during the first 20 days of March 1943. When the Allies
lose 72 ships in the Atlantic to U-boats.
In April U-boats sink over 50 ships, but the Allies sink 15 U-boats. May proves
pivotal; the Allies lose another 50 ships to subs, but the Germans lose 41 subs. The
Germans attempt to regain the initiative, sending wolfpacks after the Atlantic
convoys, but they lose 17 U-boats in June, 37 in July, and 25 in August—and the
Battle of the Atlantic is essentially over. The remaining U-boats are ordered to
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137
perform holding actions while the Germans develop a new generation of
submarines.
The victory in the Battle of the Atlantic is critical to the success of Operation
Overlord. The buildup of men, machines, and materiel necessary to launch the
Second Front can now be marshaled in Great Britain, with relative impunity from
the U-boat threat.
Germany Blitzes East Again
By March 1942, the German High Command estimates that the German Army has
suffered 1,500,000 casualties in Barbarossa, and more than 250,000 in the first
twelve weeks of 1942. The Germans are able to make up some of the loss; in
The War in the Pacific
Although the Pacific Theater takes a back seat
to the efforts against Germany, America’s initial
battles are fought against the Japanese. One
factor in America’s favor is sea power; the size
of the theater makes naval superiority a must
for the victor.
When the Japanese fail to destroy the Pacific
Fleet’s aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbor, they
seek a decisive battle to finish off the U.S.
Navy. In early June 1942, the Japanese navy
gets the decisive battle it seeksand is dealt a
vicious blow when it loses four heavy aircraft
carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu) in one
day during the Battle of Midway. The Americans
lose the carrier Yorktown, but the American
victory at Midway marks the beginning of the
end for Japanese dreams of an empire in the
Pacific.
By August 1944, the Americans have regained
control of much of the territory lost to the
Japanese in the first months of the war. New
Guinea, the Solomon Islands (including
Guadalcanal), Gilbert Islands (including
Tarawa), Marshall Islands (including Kwajalein),
Guam, and Saipan are all retaken. The
Americans learn a great deal about amphibious
landings in the process, primarily the value of
pre-invasion bombardment from the sea and
air. They will use this knowledge during
Operation Overlord.
Guadalcanal is noteworthy because it is one of
the first places American troops see combat in
World War II. The battle proves quickly that the
Americans can fightand fight well. It is also a
proving ground for many American weapons.
The Garand rifle rapidly becomes a favorite
among GIs and Marines alike. The Browning
Automatic Rifle (BAR) reestablishes itself as a
favored weapon; its mobility and rate of fire
make it an excellent assault rifle. Air-cooled
machine guns are found to be much easier to
move and maintain than water-cooled models.
However, the Americans gain little tactical
experience beyond amphibious landings; the
nature of the terrain throughout the theater and
the radical contrast between Japanese and
German combat tactics makes many lessons
learned in the Pacific meaningless when
applied in North Africa, Italy, and Normandy.
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Close Combat
April, 51 divisions from Italy, Rumania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Spain arrive on
the Eastern Front.
In preparation for the summer offensive, the Germans reorganize their forces in
the south. Army Group South is divided into Army Groups A and B. Army Group
A is to capture Rostov-on-Don, and drive southeast to Baku on the Caspian Sea.
The prize: oil fields that can supply most of Germany’s petroleum needs. Army
Group B is to protect Army Group A’s flank.
The offensive begins in early July. Initial success leads Hitler to change the plan
on July 13; Army Group B’s objective is now to capture Stalingrad. Hitler again
meddles in the offensive on July 17, shifting Panzer units to Army Group A.
The Germans push steadily toward Stalingrad; they are within 16 miles of the city
by the end of August. By mid-September, the Germans establish a 30-mile front
surrounding the city. But there is a change in command for the Soviets; General
Vasili Chuikov takes command of the 62nd Army and orders a close-quarters style
of fighting that stymies the Germans. Chuikov’s character is also a plus; he is firm
and abrasive, but he exudes confidence that the Red Army will prevail. There is a
change in the German command as well: on September 9, Hitler takes personal
command of Army Group A.
On October 4, the Germans begin what they hope is the final drive on Stalingrad.
The Luftwaffe flies thousands of sorties, dive bombing and strafing targets
throughout the city. The Soviets counter by luring many advancing German units
into prearranged killing zones, where they are decimated by automatic weapons,
mortar, tank, and artillery fire. By October 18, the Red Army has fought the
Germans to a standstill, and they have done so with a minimum commitment of
reinforcements; they are hoarding resources for a counterattack at Stalingrad.
German intelligence reports a buildup of Soviet units north of Stalingrad; General
Friedrich Paulus, commander of the German Sixth Army, orders what turns out to
be the final German attack on the port city of Stalingrad. Over the next six days
Stalingrad reverberates with the sounds of fighting. Casualties are heavy on both
sides. The Soviets are able to splinter the German attacks; some units make slow
and costly progress but most are stopped cold. A few units push to the River
Volga. But the Germans cannot maintain central control over their advancing
infantry and the battle degenerates into a series of unconnected firefights. The Red
Army’s small-unit, close-quarter tactics prevail.
The Axis CracksThe German Defeat At Stalingrad
By November 1942, the German Army is badly overextended and its troops are
exhausted. Every available German soldier has been thrown into the killing
cauldron at Stalingrad. The Soviet counterattack calls for a pincer movement; one
force attacking from the north and another attacking from the south.
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Russian soldiers in winter camouflage on the attack
By being thrifty with reinforcements and resources, the Soviets have amassed
500,000 infantrymen and huge artillery batteries. More than 1,000 attack planes
are poised to strike. And there are 900 new T34 tanks to spearhead the
Soviet attack.
On November 23, forces forming the north pincer launch their attack against the
exhausted and frozen Germans. In a matter of days the German siege of Stalingrad
becomes a siege of the German Sixth Army. The Soviets trap 300,000 Germans in
Stalingrad. The Soviet plan is to turn on the Germans and destroy them in detail.
Hitler summons Field Marshal Erich von Manstein to Army Group A headquarters
and orders him to relieve the troops at Stalingrad. These orders seem hollow;
Manstein has no troops and has to beg and cajole other commanders for men and
machines. Even if he is able to assemble Army Group Don (named after the River
Don) as ordered, Manstein fears he cannot accomplish his mission; there are more
than 1,000 antitank guns between him and Stalingrad. Any attempt to break out the
Sixth Army will leave Army Group Don open to another Soviet encirclement.
Despite all this, Hitler orders General Paulus to hold out; Goering has promised
that the Luftwaffe can keep the encircled troops supplied. It is a promise soon
broken. The Luftwaffe has too few planes and too few airfields; almost 500 of its
aircraft are shot down trying to fly in supplies or fly out wounded. Over the next
few weeks, Manstein assembles what forces he can while the Soviets tighten the
noose around Stalingrad.
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Close Combat
On December 12, Manstein launches Army Group Don’s 13 divisions toward
Stalingrad. Manstein’s fear fast becomes a reality; Soviet antitank weapons
decimate German armor. On December 19, Manstein orders Paulus to attempt a
breakout immediately; Paulus refuses. Army Group Don’s progress is grinding to a
halt. On December 21, Manstein appeals to Hitler to change Paulus’ mind; Hitler
cites Paulus’ report that he has insufficient fuel for a breakout. Finally, on
December 23, the relieving force is stopped at the Myshkova River; the German
troops in Stalingrad can hear their comrades fighting, but relief never comes.
The Soviets launch counterattacks against Army Group Don; Manstein’s forces
are retreating by Christmas. Everywhere along the Eastern Front the Soviets are
advancing; it is an advance that will end only in Berlin.
On January 8, 1943, the Soviets demand surrender; Paulus ignores their demand.
Two days later the Soviets attack. The Germans have more troops, but the Soviet
troops are better fed, clothed, and suppliedand the Soviet soldiers sense victory.
Preceded by a heavy artillery barrage, the Soviet attack further constricts the
German perimeter.
By January 21, the Soviets recapture both airfields in Stalingrad; the Germans are
completely cut off. Four days later, the Soviet forces attacking the city meet in the
middle of Stalingrad. Only two pockets of German resistance remain. On January
31, Paulus surrenders the southern pocket; the northern pocket surrenders on
February 2. All across the Eastern Front, those German units not cut off or
encircled are retreating. The tide of Operation Barbarossa has crested.
About 40,000 Germans are evacuated from Stalingrad, most of them seriously
wounded. Another 90,000 are taken prisoner; only 5,000 of the prisoners survive
to return home, the last in 1955. The remaining Germans, about 150,000, are dead
or missing. The Soviets report removing 147,000 German and 47,000 Soviet
bodies for burial. The defeat enrages Hitler, saddens the German populace, and
heartens Russia’s allies.
The Germans retreat back across the Soviet Union throughout the winter and
spring. Their chance for a counterattack comes when a huge bulge appears in the
eastern frontthe Kursk salient. German plans call for slicing through the base of
the salient, cutting off several Soviet armies, then destroying them in detail. If the
Germans succeed, they may turn the tide of the war. By mid-June, the Germans
have 900,000 men, 2,700 tanks, and 1,800 aircraft ready for the attack.
On the evening of July 4, while the German units are assembling for their attacks,
the Soviets begin the largest counter-preparation barrage of the war. The Soviet
plan is to soak up the German advance in a massive web of defensive positions,
make them pay for every meter of ground, then counterattack with armor.
Although Kursk is the largest tank battle of World War II, it is Soviet artillery and
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infantry that make the difference. A bloody toll is extracted from the
German forces. Those not killed or wounded in the barrage are badly
shaken; the attack itself is beset with problems. Many new Panther
tanks break down with teething problems. Those Panthers still running,
along with Tigers and other tanks, are met by coordinated antitank
batteries that concentrate fire on one tank at a time. After five days of
fighting, the German units attacking from the south advance only 20
miles. The story is worse on the north side of the Kursk salient. After
five days of fighting, the Germans advance only eight miles.
When the Soviets commit their own armor, the German attacks are
broken; the Germans surrender the initiative on the Eastern Front for
good. Between now and the end of the war, the war on the Eastern
Front is one long fighting withdrawal for the German Army; the Red
Army doesn’t stop until it reaches Berlin.
The lessons of the Eastern Front are hard ones for both sides. The
Germans have lost over 1,000,000 men; the Soviets have lost far more,
but the Soviet Union can absorb its losses and Germany cannot.
The impact of the fighting in Russia on Operation Overlord is undeniable. Many of the German units that will meet the Allies in Normandy
have been transferred there to recuperate from the fighting in Russia.
Other German divisions are conscripted from countries to the east, and
have little incentive to fight the Allies. Perhaps most importantly, the
Eastern Front is a constant crisis the German High Command must deal
with throughout the Normandy Campaign. When the Allies land,
Germany has 59 divisions in France and the Low Countries; there are
190 German divisions still on the Eastern Front.
Monty and TorchThe North Africa Campaign
After pushing the British into Egypt,
the Afrika Korps has retreated before
the forces of Operation Crusader since
late November 1941. But as 1942
opens, the British have overextended
themselves. The Desert FoxField
Marshal Erwin Rommelseizes the
opportunity to counterattack.
British soldiers in North Africa
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Close Combat
The Afrika Korps advances cautiously at first, but press their advantage
when they discover the poor disposition of the British troops. By the
end of January, Field Marshal Rommel’s troops capture all the territory
the British fought so hard to take in late 1941. There is a lull in the
fighting while both sides accumulate supplies.
“I tell you no one on God’s earth
can follow what’s going on. The
boys are just weaving in and
out… There’s everything in the
airtracers, shells, bullets,
ricochets, incendiaries, and bits
of red-hot metal whanging off
the burning tanks. Some of the
tanks are blowing right up into
the air, their petrol exploding,
their ammunition popping off in
every direction.”
British officer on tank combat
near El Alamein
On May 26, Rommel renews his offensive; he does not have enough
fuel but has been promised more by German High Command. Throughout the battle, both sides lose many tanks, but the British are better able
to sustain the losses. On May 28, the German’s lack of fuel begins to
tellsome of Rommel’s tanks run out of gas in the desert.
Still, the Germans meet with more success. By June 21, Rommel
recaptures Tobruk, taking 30,000 prisoners. More importantly, he
captures a mountain of suppliesover 3,000,000 rations and 500,000
gallons of gasoline. Rommel sends a request to Berlin for permission to
chase the British Eighth Army back into Egypt. He receives permission
and a promotion to Field Marshal. On June 23, German forces cross the
Egyptian border; the Eighth Army continues to retreat. Field Marshal
Harold Auchinleck, the Eighth Army’s commander, decides to make a
stand at El Alamein.
The German advance reaches the El Alamein defensive perimeter on
July 1. There is fierce fighting over the next few weeks, but the British
focus their counterattacks on Italian troops rather than the Afrika Corps
itself. As a result the Afrika Korps consumes precious fuel trying to
reinforce the Italians. On July 21, British intelligence intercepts
Rommel’s reports on troop strength and supplies. When they learn
Rommel has only 100 tanks compared to their 300, the British mount a
major counteroffensive. The infantry, particularly the Australians and
New Zealanders, make good progress initially. But again the British
armor does not arrive at the right place at the right time, and the gains
cannot be exploited. Although the British lose heavily in the counteroffensive, Rommel and Auchinleck both decide to hold their ground to
rest and refit.
While in London, Roosevelt agrees with Churchill that there will be
no Second Front in 1942. The President agrees with the Britishthey
must find “another place for U.S. troops to fight in 1942.” A plan for
amphibious landings in North Africa, previously rejected, is quickly
reworked and agreed upon. It is also renamedOperation Torch. On
August 14, General Dwight D. Eisenhower sets up headquarters in
London to command the operation.
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143
Rommel’s forces are again desperately short of supplies, but after receiving
promises that supplies will arrive soon, he decides to attack. As usual, Rommel’s
tanks lead the attack east. After traversing British minefields, Rommel’s tanks turn
north toward the Alam Halfa ridge. The attack is stopped at the ridge when British
airplanes and artillery pound the German positions. The Germans try again on
September 1, but the lack of fuel is debilitatingone Panzer division has no fuel
at all. However, the German antitank guns continue to be effective against British
armor. Two days later the New Zealand Division tries to cut off the German
withdrawal, but is too heavily engaged to make any progress. Both sides settle in
again to rest and refit.
In keeping with his ever-analytical character, General Bernard Montgomery, now
commander of the British Eighth Army, spends over a month carefully planning
his attack on Rommel. Shortly after midnight on October 23, “Monty” launches
his attack. Despite all the training and elaborate timetables, the attack quickly lags
Erwin Rommel (18911944). Perhaps the best
known and most charismatic
German General of World
War II, Rommel won the
respect of friend and foe
alike during the desert campaigns in North
Africa. Rommel’s military career began in 1910,
and he finished the First World War as a
captain, having won Germany’s highest award
for valor, the Pour le Mérite. In 1940 Rommel
brilliantly led a panzer division in the campaign
that led to the fall of France. Early in 1941 he
was promoted to lieutenant-general and took
charge of the fledgling Afrika Korps. Over the
next 18 months his legend grew with his
success in driving the British out of Libya. In
June 1942 he captured Tobruk and became
Germany’s youngest field marshal. Even when
the tide turned and the British under Montgomery defeated Rommel’s forces in the second
battle of El Alamein, his strategic retreat
showed that the “Desert Fox,” as he had come
to be known, was a master of defensive as well
as offensive tactics.
His defeat of an Anglo-American force at
Kasserine Pass in Tunisia in February 1943
was the Americans’ first encounter with
Rommel, but by no means the last. In January
1944 he was sent to France to strengthen
northern coastal defenses against the impending Allied invasion; his preparations made the
Allies’ task far more difficult and more costly,
but the German High Command would not
allow him to deploy the forces he felt would be
necessary to stop the invaders on the beaches
of Normandy.
Rommel was wounded In July 1944 when a
British fighter strafed his car, and he was
returned to Germany. Although he had not
taken an active role in the failed attempt to
assassinate Hitler, Rommel was implicated in
the plot. Hitler offered him a grim choice:
commit suicide and leave his family and his
reputation intact, or face charges in a Nazi
“Peoples’ Court.” He took poison and received
a hero’s funeral, the government announcing
that he had died of his wounds.
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Close Combat
behind schedule. On October 25, Monty personally intervenes in the battle to
make sure that the advance is vigorous. The British have more men, tanks, and
ammunition, as well as dominance of the airspace over the battlefield. By the end
of the day the British have lost 250 tanks, but the Germans have only 40 tanks left.
When the British renew the offensive against the middle of the German lines, there
are again heavy losses among the British tanks, but these are losses they can
absorb. On November 2, Rommel sends a message to Berlin stating that he cannot
prevent a breakout and must withdraw. By November 6, the Battle of El Alamein
is over; the Germans are retreating west toward Libya. The Eighth Army destroys
hundreds of tanks, takes 30,000 prisoners, and captures 1,000 guns while suffering
only 13,500 casualties and losing 150 tanks. By November 19, the Eighth has
pushed the Germans back 600 miles.
Bernard L. Montgomery
(1887-1976). Montgomery
was one of the greatest—
and most difficult—of the
Allied commanders in World
War II, best known for his
successes in North Africa and for the major role
he played in the Allied invasion of Europe.
Montgomery joined the British army in 1908,
was severely wounded in 1914, and finished
the First World War as a captain. His almost
monastic devotion to the science of war was
counterbalanced by an arrogant and abrasive
personality. His egocentricity made him almost
incapable of the kind of cooperation on which
the Allied war effort depended, but his own men
loved the flamboyant “Monty,” who knew how to
talk to them soldier-to-soldier in terms they
could understand.
In 1942 Montgomery took command of the
British Eighth Army in North Africa. His army
was soon receiving modern equipment and
ample reinforcements, while his opponent,
German General Erwin Rommel, had rapidly
advanced beyond his own supply line. Montgomery dealt defeats to Rommel’s forces at El
Alamein in Egypt, and eventually drove Axis
forces from Libya and Tunisia. His success at El
Alamein was the first major British victory of the
war. It made Montgomery’s reputation, won him
promotion to Field Marshal, and in 1946 was
commemorated in the title bestowed on him,
“First Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.”
Under Eisenhower’s command, Montgomery led
forces in Sicily and Italy, and in January 1944 he
was recalled to England to help in the planning
of Operation Overlord, the D-Day invasion. He
forcefully made the case for a larger, more
powerful initial assault. For the Overlord
invasion Montgomery was named operational
commander in charge of Allied ground forces.
His protracted effort to take Caen reinforced the
view of some that Montgomery was overcautious, and the failure of his ill-fated attempt to
seize a bridgehead at Arnehm in Holland
(Operation Market-Garden) further tarnished his
reputation. His role in the Ardennes campaign
and the subsequent crossing of the Rhine again
demonstrated his ability, but Montgomery’s
tendency to lecture even his superiors, and his
inclination to rewrite history in order to prove
himself right, have diminished his rightfully
earned reputation as one of the great Allied
commanders.
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On November 5, 1942, General Eisenhower arrives in Gibraltar to command
Operation Torch. On November 8 three task forces begin landing troops in North
Africa. The Western Task Force, commanded by General George Patton, lands on
a 200-mile front between Safi and Port Lyautey. Within two days the Americans
have secured their beachheads at Casablanca and Port Lyautey. The landing of the
Center Task Force near Oran does not go well, but the task force establishes a
secure beachhead and captures the airfield at Tafaraiu by nightfall; Americanpiloted Spitfires begin flying sorties from the airfield the next day. The Eastern
Task Force lands at Algiers, and the town is quickly captured.
The Germans respond to Operation Torch by sending reinforcements to North
Africa. By November 15, there are 10,000 German troops in Tunisia and 100
combat planes. The Germans use established French airfields with all-weather
runways; the Allies must use temporary runways that are farther from the front.
As 1943 begins, the supply and manpower problems for the Axis forces in North
Africa become acute because the U.S. has joined the fight. Without the presence of
the Americans, the Germans would be facing only Montgomery. And the British
troops in Operation Torch could have reached Montgomery only by running the
gauntlet through German-held territory. With the Americans in the fray, the
Germans are now badly outmanned and outgunned.
As the British Eighth Army continues to advance westward, the Germans evacuate
large quantities of supplies out of Tripoli and demolish many of the port facilities.
On January 26, after arguments with his nominal commanders (the Italians),
Rommel is relieved of command. He is to be succeeded by General Messe of the
Italian Army, but Rommel refuses to hand over command.
Axis forces mount a major attack against the US II Corps west of Faid. The attack
begins only after Rommel argues over the plan of attack with his superiors; the
Desert Fox wants to risk all to win all. However, Rommel’s superiors order a more
conservative plan. Regardless, the attack smashes through the inexperienced
Americans, destroying two-thirds of the First Armored Division. Rommel quickly
requests permission to step up the attacks, but there is no quick decision from
Berlin. When the attack does begin again on February 19, it is aimed at Le Kef at
the insistence of the Italians. The attack on Le Kef is what the Allies expect, and
the two passes leading there are well defended. The attacks near Sbiba are fought
off by British and American units. But at Kasserine Pass, the Americans initially
hold the Germans, then break in panic.
By early March, the Germans have consolidated enough forces to attack near
Medenine. The attack is a failure. The Germans have little spirit left; in fact, the
veteran British and New Zealand units cannot believe they are fighting the same
foe that drove them back into Egypt. British antitank gunners destroy 50 German
tanks, leaving Rommel with only 100.
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Close Combat
On March 9 Rommel leaves North Africa for good. On his way back to Germany
he meets with Mussolini in Rome and Hitler in East Prussia; despite his best
efforts, neither leader agrees to withdraw from North Africa.
Throughout March and early April, the Allies attack the Germans in North Africa
on every front. By April 7, the fight has irrevocably turned against the Axis forces,
and they begin to retreat. One week later, the Germans establish their final defensive line. They make two massive air transport efforts to resupply the Axis troops,
but well over half the planes are shot down.
Using the support of artillery and air attacks, the American V Corps smashes into
what is left of the 15th Panzer Division and drives toward Tunis. Further north, the
Americans break through the Axis line in three places. The next day the German
line crumples. Before the Afrika Korps can concentrate, the Eighth Armored
Division slams into the retreating columns and panic ensues. There is no hope for
evacuation, and mass surrenders begin.
The campaign in North Africa is over. For the Allies, it has been a successful
campaign in many ways. Not only have they defeated the Axis forces in North
Africa, they have defeated one of Germany’s best field commanders, Rommel.
Perhaps more importantly, the Allies have learned a great deal that they will apply
in Normandy. The British have learned how to better coordinate infantry and
armor, something Rommel mastered before arriving in North Africa. The British
have also learned how to use their artillery effectively, massing batteries rather
than dispersing them along the front. Finally, they have realized the importance of
air superiority over the battlefield and beyond. British air superiority has contributed greatly toward preventing German reinforcements and supplies from reaching
the front.
The Allies have also learned a great deal about their opponents’ weapons. German
antitank guns took a heavy toll in North Africa, while Allied antitank weapons
often proved too light to stop many Panzers. This situation will still exist when the
Allies land in Normandy.
The Germans have learned some lessons, too. They were astonished at the richness
of the equipment they found abandoned by American troops. One German soldier
said that fighting the Soviets was man against man, but fighting the Americans
was man against machine. Clearly, the industrial might of the United States made
itself felt in North Africa; without American industry the British could not have
maintained numerical superiority in tanks. And American manpower helped tip the
balance; American troops faced German troops for the first time in North Africa.
While the Americans were inexperienced, they learned quicklyand they had
manpower reserves the Germans could not match.
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The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
The Long FormationThe Air War In Europe
The air war raging over Western Europe turns in the Allies’ favor in
1944. Three factors contribute to this turnabout. First, both the RAF and
USAAF finally have enough long-range bombers to increase the
monthly tonnage dropped to over 40,000 metric tons. Second, the P-51
Mustang becomes the first successful Allied long-range fighter escort.
And, finally, the Allies make the Luftwaffe a primary target.
During January, the USAAF is still losing too many bombers; during a
raid on Oschersleben, more than 75 of the 238 bombers are shot down,
but the Allies’ focus on aircraft manufacturing is beginning to hurt the
German war effort. In February, the Luftwaffe tries to counterpunch by
bombing targets in Great Britain; the effort, largely ineffective, is
known as the “Little Blitz.”
On February 20, the “Big Week” begins. The USAAF launches major
attacks against the German aircraft industry. Over 900 bombers and 700
fighter escorts (most of them Mustangs) hit targets in Brunswick,
Leipzig, and Regensburg. Another 800 bombers hit aircraft manufacturing targets on February 25. Between February 20 and 26, medium
bombers and fighters attack Luftwaffe installations in France, Belgium,
and Holland; many German aircraft are destroyed in the air, on the
ground, and even while being transported to the front. The Luftwaffe is
now clearly taking a beating. By the summer of 1944, German air
forces are so reduced that Allied bombers and fighters roam freely
across the skies of Europe.
The air superiority gained by the Allies during the first few months of
1944 is critical to the success of Operation Overlord. Air superiority
means the Allies can hit strategic and
tactical targets that reduce the Germans’
ability to repel the invasion and move
reinforcements to the front. Throughout
the spring of 1944, heavy bombers
continue to pound the German aircraft and
fuel industries. However, many heavy
bombers are diverted to other targets, such
as railroads and bridges. Medium bombers
and fighters add their weight to the attack.
Some fighter squadrons lose more pilots to
debris blown into the air from exploding
locomotives, ammunition dumps, and
airplanes in hangers than to enemy fire.
Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill at Tehran
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Close Combat
“Major Martin”
There is an interesting prelude to the launch
of Operation Husky. In late April, the British
submarine HMS Seraph releases the body of
“Major Martin” of the Royal Marines into the
sea off the Spanish port of Huelva. Major
Martin carries letters from the Vice Chief of
the British General Staff and Chief of Combined Operations to Eisenhower and his staff
outlining the Allied invasion of Greece. The
Allies hope the Germans will recover the body
and read the letters, because the body is not
that of Royal Marine Major Martin. The letters
are fakes intended to deceive the Germans
as to the real invasion target, Italy. The
deception works; the Germans recover the
body, read the letters, and remain uncertain
about Allied intentions.
By June 6, Allied air superiority makes it impossible for the Germans to move reinforcements to
the front intact. It takes some units four days to
travel distances that should take only one; other
units, especially motorized units, are badly mauled
before they even reach the front.
Allied air superiority also pays dividends to the
soldiers on the ground. After campaigns in North
Africa, Italy, and the Pacific, the Allied armies
have developed excellent ground support tactics.
Tens of thousands of ground support sorties are
flown during the Normandy Campaign while
German aircraft are seldom seen.
A Foothold in EuropeThe
Landings in Sicily
In January 1943, Allied strategy is again put to the
test at the Casablanca Conference. Churchill meets
with Roosevelt to discuss the next phase of Allied operations. When the meeting is
over, they have agreed to a Second Front, a subsidiary operation in Italy, a major
operation against U-boats, and the Combined Bomber Offensive against Germany.
At their next meeting, in Washington, Churchill and Roosevelt set the invasion of
northwest Europe for May 1, 1944.
General Dwight Eisenhower commands the offensive in Sicilycode named
Operation Husky, with General Harold Alexander commanding the landing forces.
General George Patton commands the U.S. Seventh Army landing west of Cape
Passero; General Bernard Montgomery commands the British Eighth Army
landing east of Cape Passero. Both Patton and Montgomery are veterans of the
war in North Africa; both go on to play major roles in Overlord and the fighting
in France.
These armies will face General Guzzoni’s Italian Sixth Army. Guzzoni
commands roughly 250,000 men, including about 75,000 Germans. The Italian
troops are poorly equipped and demoralized from their mauling in North Africa.
Guzzoni compounds his problems by tying up many units defending static
coastal positions.
The assault on Sicily begins on the evening of July 9, 1943. General Matthew
Ridgeway’s 82nd Airborne Division drops over too large an area and cannot
consolidate to take all its objectives. The British paratroopers fare betterbut
one-third of the British gliders are released too early and crash at sea. Still, the
disruption caused by the airborne assault helps the seaborne assault the next day.
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
On July 10, General Patton’s forces land, smash through light resistance, and
quickly take Gela, Licata, and Vittoria; Montgomery’s troops land unopposed and
capture Syracuse by the end of the day.
The landing forces use, for the first time, two craft that will play important roles in
the Normandy invasion: the landing ship, tank (LST) and landing craft, tank
(LCT), which enable the Allies to land armor with the first wave of infantry.
Patton’s forces swing west and capture Palermo on July 22; they surround 50,000
Italian soldiers, although motorized units, including most of the Germans, escape
toward the northeast corner of the island.
On July 25 Mussolini is overthrown. Marshal Badoglio forms a new cabinet; he
declares martial law and promises Germany that he will not negotiate a peace with
the Allies. But Badoglio immediately breaks his promise. An armistice is signed
on August 3 and announced to the public on August 8. Hitler responds by sending
reinforcements to Italy.
The Americans use small amphibious landings on the north coast of Sicily to push
the Axis forces back. There are landings at Santa Agata (August 8), Brolo (August
11), and Cape Milazzo (August 15); each compels the Germans and Italians to pull
farther back. When American and British units capture Randazzo on the north side
of Mount Etna on August 14, Axis defenses begin to crumble.
On August 17, Patton’s troops enter Messina; British units a few hours later, and
the campaign for Sicily is over. The Germans and Italians have evacuated more
than 100,000 men across the Messina Strait. German casualties exceed 10,000 and
the Italians lose over 100,000, mostly as prisoners. The Allies suffer 7,000 dead
and 15,000 wounded, but their success in Sicily convinces many that the offensive
in the Mediterranean should continue.
Fierce EncountersThe
Landings in Italy
The campaigns in Sicily and Italy teach
the Allies a number of important
lessons that they will apply in France in
1944. Many of the commanders who
bring units ashore here, including
Eisenhower, Montgomery, Patton,
General Omar Bradley, and General
Norman Cota, will play major roles in
Operation Overlord.
American First Division fighting in Italy
149
150
Close Combat
With the collapse of Sicily, Eisenhower wants to land on the Italian
mainland. When he receives permission to proceed, he plans a
diversionary attack across the Strait of Messina, carried out by
Montgomery’s Eighth Army on September 3. While there is good
progress initially, Montgomery is cautiousa trait the Germans
capitalize on by fighting an effective rear guard action. Eisenhower’s
main assault is an amphibious landing near Salerno on September 9.
General Mark Clark commands the U.S. Fifth Army, which includes
both American and British divisions.
The British First Airborne Division lands by sea at Taranto and captures
the port city without opposition. The main landings near Salerno face
strong resistance, but as more troops land, the beachheads are quickly
expanded. Montgomery’s advance is still slowed by poor roads and
German demolition crews who blow up bridges and other structures to
slow the Eighth Army’s advance. By September 11 a pattern begins to
emerge: the Allies make progress early in the day, but are pushed back
by the end of the day. Morale among the Allied troops begins to flag in
the face of tough German resistance.
“Corporal Joseph Toporski, a
paratrooper from Milwaukee,
shot two snipers and was
looking for a third when an
Italian girl named Marissa
tapped him on the shoulder as
he peered around a building
and asked him if he would like
to go to her apartment and
listen to American phonograph
records. Corporal Toporski took
an hour off for recreation. He
got the third sniper on the way
back to his unit.”
From Yank, an American
military publication
By September 13, the Germans believe they can drive a wedge between
the American and British sectors of the Salerno Beachhead. Units from
the 16th Panzer and 29th Panzergrenadier Divisions slam into the
Allied lines, and some German units drive to within one mile of the
beach. But concentrated naval fire prevents the Germans from gaining a
decisive victory; as the Allied lines stabilize, Eisenhower and Alexander
agree on rapid reinforcement of the beachhead. On September 13 and
14, General Ridgeway’s 82nd Airborne Division parachutes onto the
beach. While the Germans continue to pound the Allied lines, air
support and naval fire again prevent them from breaking through. They
regroup on September 15, and the next day again try unsuccessfully to
crack the Allied lines.
By the end of the month, the Allied armies are making steady progress
north; the Germans fight delaying actions in several places, giving
many of their units time to withdraw to the predetermined defensive
lines. They blow up bridges and leave booby traps to further delay the
Allied advance, but on October 1 Naples falls to the Fifth Army.
The Germans plan to fall back to two intermediate defensive lines
before they reach their primary defensive positions at the Gustav Line
(which runs from the mouth of the River Garigliano in the west to the
mouth of the River Sangro in the east). The hilly terrain is excellent for
defensethe Allies are funneled into valleys or forced to fight their
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
way up and over mountains, hills, and ridges. When the
Germans do withdraw they do so in an orderly
mannerthere are no panicked mobs fleeing the front.
Bridges are blown, mines sown, and booby traps rigged;
the Germans do everything that can be done to slow the
Allied advance.
On November 5 the Fifth Army begins attacking one of the
Germans’ intermediate defensive lines. The XIV Panzer
Corps makes a brilliant stand, using the terrain and bad
weather to maximum advantage, stalling the American
advance. Attacks and counterattacks rage in the mountains.
Still, the Allies slowly grind their way forward.
Then, as experienced units are pulled out of the line and sent
to England to prepare for Operation Overlord, the advance
begins to slow. By the end of 1943, both Allied armies find
themselves bogged down by determined German defense
and winter rain.
Despite the Allied advances since the September landings
and heavy losses on both sides, the Germans remain ready
and able to fight. None of their forces have been mauled, the
terrain favors the defender in Italy, and the Germans use the
terrain very well.
151
Problems of Supply
Both the Allies and Germans labor
under supply problems during the
Normandy Campaign. However,
the German problems are much
more acute. One problem the
Germans face is dividing men,
machines, and materiel between
three frontsRussia, Italy, and
Normandy. Another is the systematic destruction of the German
industrial base by Allied bombing.
The most immediate problem in
supplying the German forces in
Normandy is Allied air superiority.
Throughout the Normandy
Campaign, columns of reinforcements and supplies are ravaged
from the air; troop movements
which should take one day stretch
to three or four because of a lack
of motor transport, damaged
railroads, and constant air attacks.
On To Rome
The fighting in Italy plays an important strategic role in the European Theater; it
holds down a large number of German forcesforces that cannot be shifted to
France. There are tactical lessons as well. The Allies learn more about amphibious
landings. They learn more about German tactics: the use of strongpoints, infiltration and counterattack and, in the face of a superior force, the fighting withdrawal.
They also discover that, even in the most dire circumstances, the Germans never
break and run.
With Field Marshal Albrecht Kesselring’s Tenth Army strongly entrenched behind
the Gustav Line, the Allies face the prospect of attacking straight into the teeth of
the German defense. There are changes in the Allied command structure as both
Eisenhower and Montgomery leave to take their positions in Operation Overlord.
Alexander takes overall command; his plan calls for the Fifth Army to smash
through the German defenses into the River Liri valley and then move on Rome.
The plan also calls for another landingthis time near Anziofrom which there
will be a quick drive for Rome. With an Allied force behind them, Alexander
believes the Germans will be compelled to fall back.
152
Close Combat
“Actually, I believe our
fondness for the BAR was more
concerned with the type of fire
than with the weapon itself. We
would have been equally
pleased with the Bren
gunperhaps more so. What
we yearned for was a good gun
to throw a lot of lead, faster and
harder than the Tommy Gun.
This the Browning did…”
From Shots Fired in Anger by
Lt. Col. John George
Over the first two weeks of January, both the Eighth and Fifth Armies
close on the Gustav Line. On January 15, the II Corps captures Monte
Trocchio, the last major obstacle between the River Rapido valley and
Monte Cassino. The Fifth Army has now achieved contact with the
Gustav Line along its entire front. During the next week, the British will
make gains along the west coast, but near Monte Cassino the Americans
are unable to maintain a foothold on the north bank of the Rapido.
Several times small forces succeed in crossing the river, but all are
subjected to vicious counterattacks which either drive the Americans
back across the river or wipe them out. However, this offensive achieves
one of its objectivesit pulls German forces away from Anzio.
The Anzio landings begin on January 22. General Lucas commands the
U.S. VI Corps, which includes four American and four British divisions
along with Commando and Ranger units. The landings are conducted in
textbook stylethere are only a handful of casualties as 36,000 men
come ashore on the first day. The port at Anzio is captured intact and by
the end of the day on January 23, there are 50,000 troops ashore.
Still, Lucas is cautious in his advance. The Allies push inland only a few
miles, consolidating their gains as they advance, rather than racing for
Rome. This lack of aggressiveness enables Kesselring to organize
reinforcements, which he orders rushed to Anzio. These reinforcements
begin to contest the Allied advance.
Elsewhere, the Fifth Army continues to hammer at the Gustav Line. The
U.S. 34th Division keeps trying to establish a foothold across the Rapido;
they finally succeed on January 26. Four days later, the British Fifth
Division finally cracks the Gustav Line by capturing Monte Natale. On
the same day (January 30), the Allies begin attacking the German defensive perimeter around Anzio. They suffer heavy losses and gain very
little; only six members of the Ranger battalion leading the attack survive
and evade capture. While the attack is called off on February 2, the attack
does prevent the Germans from launching their own counterattack.
After regrouping, the Germans launch a major offensive against the
Anzio beachhead. The Luftwaffe joins the attack, hitting targets on the
ground and in the harbor. The Germans make some gains, but Allied
artillery and naval fire slow, then stop the attack. It now becomes apparent to Kesselring that he cannot eliminate the Allied beachhead. Both
sides settle in to rest and refit; the Anzio front is quiet for ten days.
On February 29, the Germans again try to break the Allied lines at Anzio.
Elements of four German divisions hit the U.S. Third Division. Again the
fighting is fierce and the casualties high, but again the Germans fail to
break through. When a final attack on March 3 fails, the Germans go on
the defensive.
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
153
When the Allies renew the offensive on May 11, four corps are thrown
forwardthe U.S. II, the Polish II, the British XIII, and the French
Expeditionary Force. The twelve attacking divisions face only six
German divisions. While there is general progress all along the Gustav
Line, it is the French who finally crack the line for good. On May 14,
they break into the Ausente Valley and race towards the next German
line; they hope to crack this line before the Germans can settle into their
defensive positions. By May 16, only the Poles face determined
resistance, at the ruins of a monastery in Cassino; everywhere else the
Germans are falling back to their next line of defense. The Poles finally
capture the monastery at Cassino on May 18.
On May 23, the U.S. VI Corps slams into the German defenders at
Anzio. No breakthrough is achieved, but the Germans are pushed
steadily back. By May 25, the U.S. II Corps links up with the U.S. VI
Corps from Anzio; the threat of the Anzio forces on their flank causes
the Germans to withdraw further north.
Once the Allied forces begin to advance, General Clark shifts the axis
of the attacks toward Rome. This ensures the liberation of Rome in
early June, and also allows that Kesselring’s forces escape to their next
line of defense, the Viterbo Line north of Rome.
On June 5, 1944, the Allies roll into Rome. The thousands of Allied
vehicles entering the city cause a traffic jam so bad that the Allies are
unable to use their full strength to chase the retreating Germans. The
next line of defense for the Germans is the Gothic Line, 150 miles north
of Rome. By August 15, the Eighth and Fifth Armies are in contact with
the this line. However, the drain on resources for Operation Anvil (the
amphibious landings in southern France) forces the Allies to wait before
any attacks can be launched.
The value of air attacks and naval bombardment before landing is
proved in Italythe toughest landing takes place where Clark has
ordered that naval bombardment not be used in order to achieve
surprise. Ground support from the air and bombing of the enemy’s
approaches to the battlefield continues to prove invaluable; the side
that commands air superiority over the battlefield definitely has the
advantage.
The Allies again encounter an enemy who is giving ground, but doing
so grudgingly. The Germans have not been routed. They prove to be
masterful at using terrain where a small force can easily hold up a much
larger one. This tacticusing the terrain to maximize the effectiveness
of small unitswill be a major factor in the Normandy invasion. The
ferocity of the German troops is also a factor both in Italy and France;
not only do they contest ground stubbornly, they withdraw leaving
blasted bridges, land mines, and booby traps.
“Garand rifles giving superior
service to Springfield, no
mechanical defects reported or
stoppages due to dust and dirt
from foxhole use. Good gun oil
required as lubricant to prevent
gumming, but have been used
in foxhole fighting day and night
for a week without cleaning and
lubricating. All these weapons
are excellent ones...”
General Douglas MacArthur in
cablegram to General George
Marshall (February 20, 1942)
154
Close Combat
Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1890-1969). Eisenhower’s
distinguished military career
began with his graduation
from West Point in 1915.
Although he was forced to
remain in the U.S. throughout World War I, he formed
America’s first tank corps in 1918. By the end
of the war he commanded 10,000 men. He
performed brilliantly at the Army Command and
General Staff College, then served as Chief of
Staff to General MacArthur in the Philippines.
By 1941 Eisenhower was promoted to Brigadier General and became Chief of Staff of the
Third Army. In 1942 General George Marshall
passed over hundreds of more senior officers
to make Eisenhower a major general in charge
of the Operations Branch in Washington.
Eisenhower was sent to Britain to lead the U.S.
Army staff there, and then was chosen to lead
the Allied landings in French North Africa,
where for the first time he heard shots fired in
anger. In December 1943 Eisenhower was
named Supreme Allied Commander in charge
of the impending invasion of Europe—Operation Overlord; eventually he commanded a
force of more than 4.5 million men.
As Supreme Allied Commander, Eisenhower
performed a task of supreme importance:
keeping the Alliance and its many forceful
personalities—most notably Montgomery and
Patton—focused not on their differences, but
on working together to win the war against
Germany. He said that he did not mind someone being called a son-of-a-bitch, but he was
damned if he would have them called a British
or an American son-of-a-bitch. He brought to
this task a unique combination of intelligence,
tact, toughness, diplomacy, patience, and
personal charm.
Weapons are also put to the test of battle in Italy. The Garand rifle sees its first
widespread use in the European Theater. The Garand is the only widely used
semiautomatic infantry rifle in World War II; despite initial resistance because of
its weight, the Garand quickly becomes a beloved weapon. Its semiautomatic
operation and high muzzle velocity more than make up for its weight, and it
proves to be extremely durable and easy to maintain in the field.
In Italy both the Americans and British find their tanks inferior to their German
counterparts. A single Sherman stands little chance of defeating a single Panzer
IV; the Allies instead rely on strength in numbers. And numerical advantages are
something the Allies continue to achieve.
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
On the Eve of Operation Overlord
By May 1944, Germany has seen its fortunes fade; they are losing on every front.
The promise of 1940 and 1941 is crushed under the reality of 1942, 1943, and the
first six months of 1944. The Battle of Britain costs the Luftwaffe air superiority
over Western Europe, and keeps Britain in the war. The Battle of the Atlantic robs
Germany of the power to blockade the British; it enables the Allies to turn Britain
into the largest marshaling area in history.
The North African campaigns take Germany’s ally, Italy, out of the war, and give
the U.S. Army its first combat experience of the war. The campaigns in Sicily and
Italy cost the Germans more men and resources, but more importantly, they tie
down forces that could be used in Russia or France. The Strategic Bomber
Offensive damages German industry and civilian morale, and destroys the
Luftwaffe when long-range fighters (the P-51 Mustang) make their appearance
in early 1944.
America’s victories in the Pacific are achieved with limited resources, ensuring
that the creation of the Second Front remains the primary goal. Most importantly,
Operation Barbarossa has turned out to be a hollow gamble; Hitler can do no
better in Russia than Napoleon did. By the time Operation Overlord is taking
place, the relentless pressure of the Red Army is never far from the minds in the
German High Command.
The End of Festung Europa
With the breakout from Normandy, the Allies now have the German army on the
run. The Germans will throw a final counterpunch in the Ardennes, but it will be
too little too late.
Racing Toward the Rhine
The Germans who escape the Falaise Pocket after the Allied breakout now become
victims of Allied air superiority. Fighters and fighter bombers roam the summer
sky, strafing troop concentrations and attacking anything with wheels. The roads
leading north are strewn with blasted and burning equipment and dead German
soldiers. When the retreating Germans aren’t being ravaged from the air, Allied
infantry and armor are biting at their heels.
On August 19, U.S. Third Army units cross the Seine at Mantes. On the same day,
French resistance groups stage an uprising in Paris; the German response is token,
and a plan to destroy bridges and public works goes unexecuted. Six days later the
French Second Armored Division liberates the city.
155
Close Combat
The Collapse of Festung Europa
NETHERLANDS
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BELGIUM
Riv
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GERMANY
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Cherbourg
Mo
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Close Combat
Game Area
Luxemborg
SaarbrŸcken
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Colmar
ve
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FRANCE
Strasburg
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River
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Riv
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Loire
River
Ri
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156
Bern
SWITZE
Allied
Forces
ITA
While the Allies are
breaking out in
Normandy, more Allied
troops came ashore in
Operation Anvil, a
landing in the south of
France. These forces
(Seventh Army) drive
north through the Rhone
river valley to link up
with the forces from
Normandy. By late
August, leading units are
closing on Grenoble. On
September 11 units of the
Seventh Army link up
with the Third Army
near Dijon.
The Red Army Marches To Vengeance
By April 1944, the Soviets have been on the offensive for four months. On the
southern portion of the front, the German armies are destroyed. In the far north,
the Red Army drives relentlessly from Leningrad. Hitler expects the Russians to
overextend their resources; other commanders expect the spring “season of mud”
to slow the Soviet advance. Neither occursthe Red Army slows only to gather
itself for the next strike west.
On the morning of June 23, the Red Army begins attacking Army Group Center;
the Soviet intent is to crush the last major force on the Eastern front. The Germans
face 1,200,000 Soviet troops supported by 31,000 guns and mortars, 5,200 tanks,
and 5,000 airplanes. By July 4, most of the German forces are surrounded or
retreating; by July 20 the surrounded forces have been destroyed. Throughout the
battle, German commanders request permission to withdraw to save their units,
but Hitler orders positions held to the last round and the last man. His order
ensures the destruction of 17 divisions, and another 50 divisions lose half their
strength. By the end of August the Red Army has pushed into Poland and
East Prussia.
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
157
The Soviet campaigns of 1943−1944 have proved decisive. Russia regains most of
the territory lost in 1941 and 1942; more importantly, the Soviets have destroyed
entire German armies. Hitler contributes significantly to these losses, refusing to
allow withdrawals that could have saved hundreds of thousands of soldiers for a
final defense of Germany. Instead, the Red Army is now rolling inexorably toward
Berlin.
The Last BlitzkriegThe Battle of the Bulge
Even as Germany reels from blows from the east and west, Hitler looks for an
opportunity to counterattack. He orders garrisons in port cities in France to hold
out, and he stations forces in the mouth of the River Scheldt. This latter move
prevents the Allies from using the harbor at Antwerp, even though the Allies
capture the city on September 4. Hitler also orders the formation of 25 new
Volksgrenadier divisions to man his western defenses.
The planned counterattack, code-named Autumn Mist, is intended to drive an
armored wedge through the Ardennes forests, across the River Meuse, all the way
to Antwerp. This wedge will divide the British and Canadian forces in the north
from the Americans in the south. Hitler believes Autumn Mist will create enough
confusion and buy enough time to transfer German forces east to launch a similar
blow against the Red Army.
Rundstedt and Model disagree with Hitler, but to no avail. Eight Panzer divisions
are re-equipped and ready to spearhead the assault, aimed at four inexperienced
or worn-out American divisions. The Germans maintain strict radio silence
concerning Autumn Mist, so for once there is no warning from the Allied
codebreakers. Even when forward units report
increased activity on their fronts, Allied comScale of Area
manders discount the reports; they believe the
Ardennes forests are far too difficult for the
The geographic area encompassed by
Germans to advance through them.
the Normandy Campaign is minuscule
compared to the Eastern Front. From
The weather plays a crucial role in the German
Cherbourg to Caen is less than 80
attack. The winter of 1944 proves to be one of the
kilometers by air, and it is less than 35
coldest on record. More importantly, the spell of
kilometers from Omaha Beach to
bad weather the Germans had been hoping fora
Saint-Lôroughly the distance between
heavy cloud cover to minimize Allied air
Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.
powerfinally arrives in mid-December.
At the height of the fighting between
On December 16, the Germans launch their last
Germany and the Soviet Union, the Eastern
blitzkrieg. The Americans in front of the assault
Front stretched from Leningrad in the north
are soon overrun, but their unexpectedly stiff
to the Caucasus Mountains in the south.
defense slows the German time table. Eisenhower
This distanceapproximately 1,900
kilometersis roughly the same as the
distance between New York City and
Bismarck, North Dakota.
158
Close Combat
reacts quickly,
sending the Seventh
Armored and 101st
Airborne Divisions
to hold the road
junctions at Saint
Vith and Bastogne.
The Germans capture
Saint Vith, but not
before determined
American resistance
further slows the
German attack. The
Germans surround
Bastogne, and the
American tank rolls past wrecked tanks from both armies
German commander
sends a demand for surrender. American General McAuliffe sends back a oneword answer“Nuts”and the paratroopers settle in to hold Bastogne until they
are relieved.
By Christmas Eve, the German advance is stopped. Fuel supplies are low, and the
fuel dumps they hoped to capture remain out of reach. The Allies begin counterattacking on Christmas Day; the next day Patton’s Third Army relieves Bastogne.
Montgomery attacks from the north, cutting off the retreat of many German units.
Finally, the weather clears and Allied fighters and fighter bombers take to the
skies.
Allied aircraft prey on German formations from
the clear winter skies; the Luftwaffe is no longer a
factor. Fighters ravage armored columns and, as
in the disaster at Falaise, they attack anything
with wheels.
While the Germans manage to withdraw some
troops back into Germany, they lose 100,000 men
and 600 tanks. Allied casualties exceed 75,000,
but the last blitzkrieg has been stopped. For his
losses, Hitler has delayed the Allied advance by
six weeks, but his last remaining armored
divisions are destroyed.
American tanks on
the move in Germany
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
The Road to Berlin
After the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans have only 26 divisions on the Second
Front; most are either far below strength or consist of old men and young boys.
Facing them are 57 infantry, 23 armored, and five airborne divisions, all at full
strength. Eisenhower’s three-phase plan calls for Montgomery’s forces to clear the
lower Rhine valley, Bradley’s forces to clear the middle reaches of the Rhine, and
finally encirclement of the German armies while other units race to link up with
the Soviets near the Elbe.
Eisenhower’s plan goes forward as planned, with one unexpected change. On
March 7, the U.S. First Army surprises the Germans at Remagen on the Rhine; the
Americans capture the bridge before the Germans can destroy it. American troops
pour over the bridge, creating a lodgment from which they launch an attack on
March 25.
German units begin to surrender en masse. Army Group B surrenders on April 18.
Less than a week later, American units meet Soviet units on the Elbe near Torgau.
Eisenhower has already decided to let the Soviets take Berlin; he believes that
casualties for British, Canadian, and American units will be too high if he tries to
take the German capital.
Red Sky in the Eastthe Soviets Capture Berlin
In early April, Stalin meets with his commanders (Marshals Koniev and Zhukov)
to plan the final assault on Berlin. The Germans have prepared three major lines of
defense; the Soviets fly hundreds of reconnaissance flights
and photograph every sector. Zhukov has a scale model
of Berlin built to plan artillery barrages and infantry
movements. On Zhukov’s front alone, the Soviets haul
in over 7,000,000 artillery rounds. On April 16, the Red
Army attacks.
Koniev’s forces make good progress from the outset, but
Zhukov’s forces are stalled by fierce German resistance.
Against orders from Stalin, Zhukov orders his armor forward
to break the deadlock. By April 19, he has cracked all three
German defensive lines. The next day, the bombardment of
Berlin is well underway; the shelling is so intense that some
civilians hiding in cellars are driven insane.
Berlin is completely surrounded by April 25. The next day,
500,000 Soviet troops converge on the center of Berlin.
Finally, an assault on the Reichstag itself begins. At 1425
hours on April 30, two Red Army sergeants wave the Soviet
American and Russian soldiers
159
160
Close Combat
flag from a second story window of the Reichstag. An hour later, Hitler commits
suicide. At 2250 hours, Soviet flags fly from the Reichstag’s roof.
Negotiations between the Soviets and the Germans begin. They break off in the
middle of the day on May 1; Marshal Chuikov (one of the heroes of Stalingrad) is
exasperated and orders artillery fire to resume. Finally, early on May 2, the
commander of force in Berlin drafts a surrender, which the Soviets accept. The
Red Army ceases firing at 1500 hours. Berlin has fallen.
The Final SurrenderAnd Beyond
After Hitler’s death and the fall of Berlin, the Third Reich collapses. The Germans
sign an unconditional surrender at Rheims on May 7, but Army Group Center
fights on. Surrounded by the Soviets near Prague, they ignore broadcast appeals to
give up. Marshal Koniev orders a massive artillery barrage, followed by the
German General Jodl
signing surrender
Photostat of German surrender with Jodl's signature
Chapter 7
The Big Picture: A Short History of World War II
advance of the Fourth Guards Tank Army. This force reaches Prague to find the
Germans have gone.
The Russians finally bring Army Group Center to bay on May 10. Over the next
two days, the Soviets pound German positions with every available weapon; those
Germans not killed begin to surrender. On May 12 it is official: Army Group
Center surrenders, and the last major German fighting force is no more. The war in
Europe is over.
With the end of hostilities in Europe, the Allies turn their focus to defeating Japan.
By May 1945, the Americans have already captured Iwo Jima and made strides
toward capturing Okinawa. Although Japanese resistance in the Philippines
continues, the battle there is no longer in doubt.
By late July, President Harry S Truman issues a surrender demand through the
Japanese Embassy in Moscow. The Japanese respond with conditions that the
Allies interpret as a refusal. Truman has already decided that if the Japanese fail to
surrender, he will use America’s most powerful and most secret weaponthe
atomic bomb.
On August 6, the Enola Gay (a B-29 bomber
named after the pilot’s mother) drops the first
atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The resulting explosion has the force of over 18,000 metric tons of
TNT, destroying 60 percent of the city and killing
80,000 inhabitants. When Japan again fails to
surrender, Truman orders a second bomb to
be dropped.
Three days after the first atomic bomb is dropped,
another B-29 (Bock’s Car) drops the second bomb
on Nagasaki. The result is the same: devastation
and death on the ground. Still Japan’s military
leaders refuse to surrender. They insist that the
Emperor’s sovereignty must be maintained; the
Allies refuse. Finally, Emperor Hirohito himself
orders that the war end. He records a message for
broadcast that asks the people of Japan to “. . .
bear the unbearable . . .” When it is broadcast on
August 15, it is the first time the vast majority of
Japanese citizens hear their emperor’s voice.
World War II is over.
World War II ends—and the Cold War begins
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Close Combat
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