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"German Defenders of the Brécourt Manor Assault" Topic


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Comments or corrections?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 10:03 a.m. PST

Can anyone point me to a definitive work that describes the Germans who were manning and protecting the artillery that was attacked by American paratroopers during the Brécourt Manor Assault? Some sources say that the guns were manned by the Luftwaffe and some say they were reinforced by elite German paratroopers, including Lt. Winters in his report. Given the light US casualties compared to, IIRC, 20 Germans killed and 15 taken prisoner, it would seem to point to the 2nd rate Luftwaffe and not elite troops.

laretenue26 Jun 2020 10:30 a.m. PST

Sorry, I cannot trace a published source for the moment, but the guns belonged to the 6th battery of the 191st Artillery Regiment. This was a Heer unit, not Luftwaffe (6th Fallschirmjaegerregiment was the only Luftwaffe element in the Division), and was equipped with 10.5cm GebH 40 mountain guns in accordance with the Division's supposedly mobile role. Not that digging them in at Brecourt is consistent with this.

I don't see that there's much scope for confusion: the gun crews at Brecourt cannot have been from 6.FJR and there were no other German airborne units in the region at that date. The trouble is that Dick Winters said they were German paras, and those who question this can come under fire from those who seem to regard this query as an attack on American virility. I'm not really interested in whether Winters inflated his achievement, deliberately or otherwise. To simply makes no sense that airborne infantry from a different regiment were hanging about a gun position at Brecourt.

By the way, beware of Ambrose, since(here again) he seems to confuse 6.FJR's movements around 6th June.

ashauace6970 Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 1:41 p.m. PST

Does Redevous with Destiny have an account?

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 7:49 p.m. PST

Ambrose confuses or just gets wrong a lot of things in that book.

Martin Rapier27 Jun 2020 1:38 a.m. PST

91st Div was originally designated as a Luftlande (airlanding) Div, like 52nd Lowland Div.

Infantry men who are air transportable into an Airfield, which might be the source of confusion.

By 1944, they were a distinctly average German infantry division, better quality than the 200 series static divisions, but hardly Panzer Lehr.

The loss ratio is hardly surprising as they were gunners being attacked by a bunch of elite specialist assault trained paratroopers. Most Wargames rules penalise artillery crews in close combat. But there were quite a lot of them, which makes it an interesting scenario (and why Lt Winters was awarded the Silver Star) . I've run it a couple of times.

Skarper27 Jun 2020 5:52 a.m. PST

Another factor in the high achievement of small groups of Paratroopers during the first few hours of the Normandy invasion is that they represented the most motivated troops.

It was very easy to wander around lost or hide out in some quiet corner if you didn't really want to get into a fight.

It is still accepted [despite the fact SLA Marshall has been discredited] that a tiny percentage of troops do most of the damage. I think Winters small group were composed of a higher proportion of these few 'killers'.

By contrast, the Germans in this encounter were not very effective troops. Attacked aggressively from the flank they mostly scattered.

It makes an interesting game and a good test of a simulation. My own rules can replicate the result quite well unless the Americans get unlucky.

Legion 427 Jun 2020 1:28 p.m. PST

Yes, Luftlande is not Falschirmjager. As the 52 Lowland Div. was not a parachute unit.

Lee49427 Jun 2020 3:52 p.m. PST

Aside from the panzer divisions there were very few tough German troops in Normandy. Most were mediocre. Even in the best units many were recycled casualties, older men or Green recruits without much training. It doesn't surprise me at all that highly trained paratroopers could walk over a rear area gun battery. The Krauts probably never knew what hit them!

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2020 6:32 a.m. PST

SLA Marshall is the reason Dick Winters didn't get the MOH.
Winters had a bad interview with Marshall for the after action report. Marshall later mixed his and Nixon's role in the later report and book.

Skarper28 Jun 2020 6:41 a.m. PST

Also read MOHs were rationed and another 101st officer was awarded the only one they wanted to give out to the division.

SLA Marshall was a sham. I first read about him in 'About Face' by Col D Hackworth. Hackworth had idolised Marshall but after meeting him and seeing him 'do his thing' despised him as a fraud.

Griefbringer29 Jun 2020 11:55 p.m. PST

It doesn't surprise me at all that highly trained paratroopers could walk over a rear area gun battery. The Krauts probably never knew what hit them!

In actions like this, the paratroopers are also likely to have an element of surprise for a while, and in a small unit action like this the other side may be unable to recover from the surprise before the action is already over.

In conventional frontal attack, the rear area gun batteries would have quite some time to prepare until attacking enemy would be able to push through the front line units to them.

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2020 2:28 p.m. PST

I don't see what about the attack warranted a MoH. Leading the attack was his duty.

laretenue04 Jul 2020 2:54 p.m. PST

Capturing a trench system with such a scratch assault force in the face of such odds was a real achievement. It shows the importance of seizing initiative and opportunity, and this action is justifiably used by the US Army as a case study in leadership. So let's denigrate Winters for this. The problem is that he insisted that he ha pulled off this coup against elite opposition. He may have believed this , then or afterwards, with complete sincerity – I don't know and I wasn't there. But the circumstantial evidence seems plain enough; the Battery was not a Luftwaffe asset, and the nearest Fallschirmjaeger units were engaged elsewhere. That elsewhere was not too far away, but they had their own fish to fry and Brecourt figures nowhere in the diary of 6. FJR for that period. So it will be clear what I think.

laretenue04 Jul 2020 2:55 p.m. PST

SORRY: Let's NOT denigrate Winters …

Skarper04 Jul 2020 5:34 p.m. PST

Yeah – Winters is not really to blame from what we can tell. Ambrose should have checked. The BoB series did not portray the defenders as FJ at least.

Where is the idea that the defenders were FJ most strongly perpetuated?

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