Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Thursday, 29 April 2010

PMZ Campaign: Orleans 1

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army
The battle for Orleans, dated August 28th 1944

Having returned from Berlin, I prepared for the American attack near Orleans.

Knowing they had to take an important highway, I deployed where it passed through heavily forested ground. My right was protected by a large lake and my left by marsh. On the left I deployed 21st Panzer division, on the right I deployed 709th Infantry Division with an attached SS Tiger battalion and some JgPanzer IVs. The 352nd Infantry division with some Pak 40 ATGs was in reserve and guarded the rear echelon.
The Americans attacked with one armoured and one infantry division on my left, two infantry divisions on my right and the weak 3rd Armoured division in the centre. This armoured division advanced rapidly but with the SS Tigers lining the edge of the forest were soon driven back in precipitous retreat.
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The view from behind the American positions. Elements of the 3rd Armoured are in the foreground with infantry beginning to move round towards the lake. They are under fire from the tigers lining the forest, with the 709th behind them. On the far right elements of 21st Panzer can just be seen in wooded ground with the marsh behind them.
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The units on my left advanced more cautiously and soon engaged the Panzer IVs of 21st Panzer division. A prolonged firefight ensued but the 21st were continously hit by P47Ds and heavy artillery while being outflanked. Despite the corps commander's personal intervention, they were eventually overwhelmed by the American units and forced to retreat. Unfortunately with command breaking down, they retreated in total disorder completely from the battlefield, exposing the flank of the 709th and also the rear echelons.

Meanwhile on the other side of the battlefield, the American infantry had swung round our right flank. One division assaulted the 709th while the other headed for the lake. Under intense pressure the 709th held out, refusing to be moved from this vital point. The Americans to our surprise didn't stop when they reached the lake – they had amphibious vehicles!

The 352nd now fought desperately to prevent the Americans breaking through to our rear. Despite the odds, they held out until a kampfgruppe made up of the SS Tigers and infantry battalions of the 709th counter-attacked the exhausted American infantry. This attack, together with their heavy losses, was too much for the American command who ordered a withdrawl. In the confusion, this turned into a retreat, then a rout, with the Americans streaming from the battle area, leaving vast amounts of equipment behind.

I think I am safe here now at Orleans for a some time to come, so can concentrate on the British threat.