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Operation Epsom: II SS Panzer Korps Counterattack

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  • Operation Epsom: II SS Panzer Korps Counterattack

    At the tail end of Epsom, the much awaited II SS PzK counterattack was thrown against defending units of three CW divisions. The attacks were employed and were, for the most part, bogged down with poor results from Allied artillery supremacy and defensive fire from infantry. The trend of June would continue into July 1944, with fighting of a static nature, good defense on both sides but at the same time, a disappointing lack of offensive power displayed on both sides.

    One of the things I wonder about is whether or not it was physically possible for the II SS Panzer Korps and German Panzer divisions in general to actually generate enough combat power to disintegrate British formations in June- July 1944 which had 1. Air superiority/interdiction 2. Most of all, flexible artillery support and artillery superiority (in shells, in divisional commands, and in regional support), including naval artillery and other long range fire. 3. marginal numerical superiority, rough numerical parity or numerical superiority of defending forces. 4. CW infantry that was well trained enough to cling strongly to their positions in the face of infantry attacks that were supported by armor.

    Given the congested dimensions of the battlefield in Epsom and beyond, it seems like firepower was extraordinary disruptive to infantry attacks to the point that heavy massing of infantry struggled to efficiently roll up defensive positions. They quickly got bogged down and attacks on both sides routinely stopped with little results.
    Last edited by Cult Icon; 17 Jun 19, 22:23.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

  • #2
    Germany had many supply issues including fuel and spare parts while we didn't. Plus if they moved in the day a torrent of artillery, bombs, and rockets were incoming. They really didn't stand a chance by '44. The Mighty Eighth had wiped out the Luftwaffe and the remaining pilots had neither the fuel or the skills to put up a real fight.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighth_Air_Force
    Last edited by Bwaha; 17 Jun 19, 22:30.
    Credo quia absurdum.


    Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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    • #3
      to add, I believe that this attack was, on paper, the strongest german counterattack on the Western Front 44/45 outside of the Ardennes offensive.

      9.SS PzD and 10.SS PzD, shipped in from the Eastern front at approx. 75% combat strength. KG Weidinger based around 3 fresh infantry battalions and then minor elements of the 1.SS LAH performing a fixing attack.

      So it was a proper Korps-sized attack, and not the small attacks typical of this theatre.
      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

      Comment


      • #4
        Your far more of a expert on the axis than I am. Your studies of the SS and Nazis way exceeds mine. I've read various books and journals about the Allied efforts but never delved into the other side. I've got a pov that air power wins wars and there's much contention about that in even modern day combat. Sorry, I'm a Zoomie. It's a family tradition. I even have a caliper that was used in the creation of both the U-2 and the SR-71. My grandads.
        Credo quia absurdum.


        Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
          to add, I believe that this attack was, on paper, the strongest german counterattack on the Western Front 44/45 outside of the Ardennes offensive.

          9.SS PzD and 10.SS PzD, shipped in from the Eastern front at approx. 75% combat strength. KG Weidinger based around 3 fresh infantry battalions and then minor elements of the 1.SS LAH performing a fixing attack.

          So it was a proper Korps-sized attack, and not the small attacks typical of this theatre.
          You should also take account of the other supporting German divisions:

          Image result for operation epsom maps

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Aber View Post

            You should also take account of the other supporting German divisions:

            Image result for operation epsom maps
            'By Horse by Tram'.


            I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
            " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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            • #7
              I am finding all this very interesting, although being involved in a small way I have never bothered very much with the technical side of it. I now wish that I had, so that I could seriously take part. I will give you a for instance , I was attached to a commando unit for a few weeks after the landings and can vividly remember a village on the route to Caen in which the Germans were very well installed and we were having to winkle them out of every house one by one, and I do not remember the name of the place, never possibly ever took any serious note of the place name in the first instance. Never mind, you blokes carry on and I will enjoy. lcm1
              'By Horse by Tram'.


              I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
              " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Aber View Post

                You should also take account of the other supporting German divisions:
                2.Pz, 21.Pz, and 1.SSLAH were not supporting the offensive on a divisional level? They were giving support with minor elements. The core of the attack was 9 infantry battalions
                Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                Comment


                • #9
                  It looks to me that in the normandy campaign the only way to increase the rate of results on both sides was to increase the rate of attacking to several times a day and then periodically relieve exhausted divisions and infantry brigades with reserves. The German forces could not afford this but the CW could.

                  The casualties of the II SS PzK attack was of such a magnitude that the attacking battalions would have been completely burned out within a further 3-5 days of attacking if the attack continued to the end, Hill 112 and its environs would be have been defended by much weaker forces.
                  Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                  Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                  Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                  Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Germans could not have got much more favourable circumstances to attack than at Operation Epsom. Attacking a recently won salient where the British defenders had had little to no time to prepare positions had suffered considerable losses in their offensive phase and could be expected to be somewhat weary and disorganised.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                      It looks to me that in the normandy campaign the only way to increase the rate of results on both sides was to increase the rate of attacking to several times a day and then periodically relieve exhausted divisions and infantry brigades with reserves. The German forces could not afford this but the CW could.
                      The Germans could afford losses better than the British and Canadians could.
                      The main task of British 2nd Army was in Normandy was to attract and then to pin the bulk of the German forces on their front. They succeeded beyond expectation.

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                      • #12
                        The II SS PzK was heavily hit with air attacks on their approach march (most significantly one of their panther battalions) and was already taking losses to artillery fire in their assembly areas. The German accounts I've read give the impression that they were spooked by the firepower and had to approach with night cover. A lot of time was also wasted from getting spooked by fighter-bomber attacks.

                        The CW defense was hinged most on their artillery supremacy, with a vast quantity of ammunition fired to smother and suppress the attacking SS troops.
                        Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                        Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                        Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                        Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                          The Germans could afford losses better than the British and Canadians could.
                          The main task of British 2nd Army was in Normandy was to attract and then to pin the bulk of the German forces on their front. They succeeded beyond expectation.
                          Definitely not- given the CW numerical superiority in major categories in Normandy as a whole. Individual attacking SS infantry companies in the II SS PzK counterattack were unlikely to disintegrate worn out CW infantry battalions in the defense.

                          As stated before, the primary reserve of the Germans (II SS PzK) came in at 75% combat strength with its 9th and 10th SS divisions along with a regimental battlegroup from the 2.SS division. Their resources were stretched thin.

                          + to add, if the attack continued for 3 or more days it would be likely that BOTH heavily weakened 9.SS and 10.SS divisions would have to hold the line at Hill 112 with no major reserve. The subsequent Operation Jupiter would then have a higher level of success.
                          Last edited by Cult Icon; 18 Jun 19, 08:02.
                          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                            One of the things I wonder about is whether or not it was physically possible for the II SS Panzer Korps and German Panzer divisions in general to actually generate enough combat power to disintegrate British formations in June- July 1944 .
                            They struggled to do that from mid-1942.

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                            • #15
                              did the TOE of CW formations in NA have 72 or more divisional artillery pieces?
                              Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                              Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                              Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                              Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                              Comment

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