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A Company, 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry, 30th Division

Discussion in 'Those Who Served' started by Carole C Taylor, Jun 7, 2019.

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  1. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    I clicked on the link and got an error message saying, "You do not have permission to view media within this album." That may explain why you see it and we don't. :)
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Thanks! I went back and look at it and it was set to "private", which makes no sense as I did not set it like myself and none of the other photos there had that privacy setting. I hate the way this forum engine handles photos and look forward to the day we move off it. Can't be too soon.
     
  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    You might be surprised. There is actually considerable evidence that the defenders of St Barthelemy pretty much trashed the German armor sent in against them. I would have to go back and review some of my old notes on Mortain gleaned from the A2D2 study that my friend Jay Karamales worked on (resulting in a chapter in Against the Panzers), but I want to say at least a dozen Panthers were lost to the 3" AT and bazookas.
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I have several accounts and stories about panzers being killed on that first day across the battlefield, then the hulks being struck again and again by British and American fighter/bombers over the next few days, presumably being credited as a "kill" by each subsequent pilot. There is ample evidence of those towed 3 inch guns doing good work on that opening day, as well as individuals taking out some with bazookas. Any official tally giving the air corps 'X' amount of panzer kills should be taken with a grain of salt.

    .
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Found it. This is from a very old post I think I made at Tank Net, regarding the various O.R.S. reports on Mortain.

    Observations on Mortain

    There are a couple of important points that I missed in the ORS Report No. 4. The total number of German vehicles counted was determined by matching the counts of the 2 ORS team and the ORS team from 2 TAF. Thus, it is possible there was some duplication. Worse, there is some confusion in terminology. Although the total of tanks is given as 33 Panther, 10 Mark IV and 3 SP guns, the 2 ORS team actually counted 21 Panthers, 4 StG or possibly JgPz (they called them a 75mm SP on a Mark III chassis) and 2 SP 75mm guns (presumably Marders). So where did the 3 other SP guns go in the total count (4 StG and 2 Marders versus a count of 3 SP guns)? Were they counted as Mark IV tanks? I expect I’ll never be able to answer that question.

    However, plotting the locations of the 2 ORS wrecks has proven beneficial and has answered (possibly) a number of questions. As I mentioned, the wrecks appear in a number of clusters, the largest of which is to the north and northwest of St. Barthelemy. From the layout of these wrecks we can assume a number of answers, which relate to the air effectiveness question.

    One distinct group of vehicles was found along a 4 to 5 kilometer-long stretch of the road from Mortain to Barenton. When the Germans attacked, the US 2nd Armored Division (-) was in and around Barenton, so for those vehicles to get there would require traversing some backroads and trails through the Foret de Mortain and around Hill 314 (which was held by the 2nd/120th Infantry throughout the battle). US accounts indicate that only German infantry followed this route, so it is likely that these were actually destroyed prior to the battle, either to the 1st ID en route to Mayenne or earlier by Allied air. The group consists of 2 Panthers, 1 88, and 4 trucks. One Panther was on its side and was wrecked by an unknown shell, the other was wrecked by unknown causes. All the others were lost to HE, but there were no rocket or bomb craters along this stretch of road. It appears likely that all were lost to ground forces, probably before the German attack.

    A second distinct group was found along the road from Barenton to Ger. This was the right-hand boundary of the 2nd AD counterattack beginning on 7 August. It appears likely from the evidence that they were lost to artillery fire supporting this advance, although there is some evidence that air attacks may have hit this stretch of road. Two Marders, 1 88, 1 50mm AT, 2 SPW, and 5 trucks or staff cars were counted in this group. One of the Marders was hit by an AP round as may have been the other. All of the other wrecks appear to have been due to HE fire although one truck may have been bombed.

    The third group is found strung along an 8-kilometer stretch of the road between Ger and Mortain. Again, most of these appear victims to HE attacks, it may be significant that this stretch of roadway was fully exposed to observation from Hill 314. All of these were hit by HE or were abandoned, there was little or no evidence of air attack. The group includes 1 StG or JgPz (which may have been one of the two reported lost to air attack by SS-PzGRgt 4, see below), 1 Panther (undergoing track repair and abandoned), 7 trucks, 1 ambulance, 1 VW, and 1 car.

    North of the Ger-Mortain road, about three kilometers northeast of l’Abbayye Blanche is the two small clusters totaling 3 Panthers, all of which appear to have been under repair (two were being towed). About two kilometers west of there is a Bergepanther, possibly hit by a bazooka, but it sounds more like a hit by a large-caliber HEAT round – possibly from a 105mm M4 or M7 (or less likely, from a 105mm M3 of the 117th Cannon Company, see below).

    The last and most interesting groups are all around (mostly north or northwest) of St. Barthelemy. This is where the msot evidence of bomb and rocket attacks occur as well. However, there is a major problem here, most of the fighting in this area began at 0500 on 7 August and was ending by around 0900, when the village defense was collapsing. Coincidentally, that is also when most of the ground haze was burning off, and the air attacks began. Eyewitness accounts appear to place the bulk of the sorties in this area – indeed, some of the losses to 1st/A/823rd TD Battalion at l’Abbayye Blanche (about 3.5 kilometers south of this area) were inflicted by air attacks at this time. From comparing the accounts of B Company of the 823rd (which was deployed between Juvigny – 5 kilometers west of St. Barthelemy – and St. Barthelemy) it appears that many of the German tank losses accounted for in the ORS reports were as a result of the 823rd action – most were either destroyed or knocked out before the air attacks began. There are a total of 15 Panthers in this area, 2 of which appeared to only have been hit by rocket projectiles, 1 which was evidently hit by 105mm rounds by the 117th Cannon Company). The others include 2 probably destroyed by bazookas (by a team from the 117th Infantry led by a Sgt. Hardy, see “Against the Panzers”), 8 were almost assuredly victims of guns of the 823rd in St. Barthelemy, while 2 outside of le Mesnil Tove (north of Juvigny) were probably lost to guns of the 823rd there late in the morning. In and among these tanks were a collection of 10 SPW, 1 armored car and 7 trucks, VWs and cars.

    German strength and losses are difficult to determine. The units actually participating in the attack consisted of elements of the 2nd Panzer, 1st SS-Panzer, 2nd SS-Panzer, and 17th SS-Panzer Grenadier divisions. Unfortunately, Niklas’ excellent research only turned up the before and after strength for the 1st SS. They had 57 PzIV, 46 Panther and 27 StG operational on 5 August and 14 PzIV, 7 Panther, and 8 StG operational on 13 August, a decrease of 43, PzIV, 39 Panther and 19 StG. The 2nd Panzer history claimed a strength of 60 tanks and 15 JgPz before the battle and the division reported 9 PzIV, 8 Panther and 5 JgPz operational on 11 August, a possible decrease of 43 tanks and 10 JgPz. The 2nd SS-Panzer reported 37 PzIV, 41 Panther and 22 StG on 23 July and 4 PzIV, 1 Panther, and 6 StG on 11 August. According to German accounts, two of four StG attached to Der Fuehrer Regiment were lost to Allied air attacks on 7 August. However, I expect that much of the decrease was as a result of the fighting following COBRA, when the 2nd SS was desperately attempting to hold the onrush of the 2nd and 3rd Armored.

    German reports indicate that the total armor committed were 75 PzIV, 70 Panther, and 32 StG and JgPz. By 13 August there were only 28 PzIV, 18 PzV, and 21 StG and JgPz operational in these units. The ORS report gives a total of 46 tanks, StG, and JgPz lost (of which 2 may not have been lost in the battle), which leaves at least 64 unaccounted for, many of which were likely damaged or perhaps broken down en route (and I still haven’t found the mysterious Panther of 1st SS hit by the crashing Typhoon in the defile at Vente – it sounds rather Hollywoodish). Of these, it appears that as few as 2 were lost exclusively to air attack. Furthermore, the accounts of the battle indicate that the main German armor thrust between St. Barthelemy and Sourdeval was halted before the intervention of Allied airpower. Perhaps if we knew the cause of loss and locations of the 17-odd tanks counted by the ORS team of 2 TAF, we could more definitely say that the Mortain counterattack was halted by Allied air. However, the weight of the evidence is that it was halted by the action of the 117th and 120th Infantry, supported by A and B Company of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion (which lost 11 of 24 guns in the action) and the artillery of the 30th Division.
     
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  6. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    That's what they call "a feature". :D
     

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