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Exaggerated Fighter-bomber Claims

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  • Exaggerated Fighter-bomber Claims

  • #2
    This from Zetterling's linked page:

    "These events took place during operation Epsom and there is another effort by heavy bombers that warrant discussion. During the night between 29 and 30 June about 1 000 tons of bombs were dropped on Villers-Bocage and its immediate surroundings. It has been said that this prevented units mainly from 9. SS-Pz.Div. to attack since they had to approach through Villers-Bocage. This view is however very peculiar, since the combat units of 9. SS-Pz.Div. were already north of Villers-Bocage. Possibly the allied bombing may have brought difficulties for supply transports to the division and it may also have hampered movements by tanks that had been repaired in workshops and were to rejoin their units. In fact the unit histories of the German formations involved do not mention this bombing at all.32 According to the OB West war diary the attacks by II. SS-Pz.Korps were halted by the very intensive enemy artillery fire. The bombing of Villers-Bocage is not mentioned at all.33 "

    The notes for 32 and 33/34

    It has been written that "Bombing was more succesful in causing obstruction. On 30 June 1944, for example, 266 aircraft of Bomber Command delivered 1,100 tons of bombs on a road junction at Villers-Bocage in Normandy through which tanks of the German 2nd and 9th Panzer Divisions would have to pass in order to counter-attack the Allied beachhead. The resulting obstruction ensured that no such attack took place. This was an example of what heavy bombing alone could achieve but in close support the causing of such obstruction also hindered the progress of Allied troops."(I. Gooderson: Air Power at the Battlefront. Allied Close Air Support in Europe 1943-1945 (Frank Cass, London 1998) p. 158; Gooderson refer to Middlebrook and Everitt: The Bomber Command War Diaries p. 536).
    Arthur Harris wrote: "On June 30th it was learned that the 2nd and 9th Panzers division were moving up through Villers Bocage to make an attack that night; there was a network of roads here which it would be almost impossible for the enemy to by-pass and it was therefore the obvious place in which to bomb the Panzer divisions and their equipment - the enemy had also established a supply point there. This time Bomber Command attacked in daylight and dropped 1100 tons of bombs; the Panzer divisions had to call off the planned attack." (A. Harris, Bombe r Offensive, Greenhill Books, London 1990, p. 210).
    As is clear from the passages above, it is not clear that the bombing took place during the night between 29 and 30 June. It may have occured somewhat later. However this would just have given the German panzer divisions even more time to pass through Villers-Bocage. Also the bombing is still not mentioned by the German sources given here.

    Some years back it was shown that Zetterling's conclusions about this Villers Bocage Air Raid was wrong;

    There're numerous reports about the Villers-Bocage bombing raid, just not the right date:
    -KTB PzAOK5/Morgenmeldung 1.7..1944/Anlagen (Klapdor, p.238):
    "Ein um 20.00 Uhr unter Jagdschutz geflogener Angriff von 200 4 mot.Bombern gegen den Raum Villers-Bocage zerschlägt die Bereitstellungen der 9.SS-Pz.Div."

    -KTB AOK7/57351/1 - 30.6.1944 - (Weidinger, DR Bd.V, p.191):
    "Unter dem feuer der feindlichen Schiffsartillerie, die auf die auf die Einbruchstelle eingeschossen ist, das eine bisher unerreichte Stärke angenommen hat, ist der Angriff besonders schwierig.[...] Bei der 9.SS-Pz.Div. wurde die eigene Bereitstellung zum Angriff von 20.00 bis 20.10 Uhr durch einen zusammengefaßten Angriff von 100 viermotorigen Bombern und 20-30 Jabos sowie durch zusammengefaßtes feindliches Vernichtungsfeuer vereitelt."

    -Report from the I.SS-Pz.Korps to the AOK7 (2.7.1944) - Lehmann&Tiemann, LSSAH IV/1, p.126 - regarding the II.SS-Pz.Korps' actions:
    "just outside of Baron under heavy artillery fire, including naval artillery of the largest caliber. It was also subject to a rainstorm of bombs from about two hundred four-engine bombers.."

    -from (I belive this excerpt is from Chester Wilmot's The Struggle for Europe)
    "I can speak of that air attack from personal experience, for I was in the vicinity when it took place," recalled General Bittrich, who was then commanding II SS Panzer Corps, coming in as reinforcements behind the front line. "The bombardment fell on the Panzer Battalion, which was strung out along the road towards Villers-Bocage, and it was hit there. But in spite of casualties and damage, the Battalion continued its march through the plowed up little town into the assembly area allotted to it." And thus, German armoured reinforcements did make their way, albeit slowly, to the front lines of operation Epsom, where the enemy held their ground.

    Also interested are the casualty reports for SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.20, with regards to the suffered losses in the attack (20KIA+40WIA and around 20% of vehicles heavily damaged or destroyed), the numbers are all from Fürbringer:
    - for 29.6.1944 (p.283): 1 Flak gun plus another one damaged, 1 m.Gr.W. and 1 s.MG;
    - the divisional casualties till (including) 30.6.1944 (p.286): 62KIA+74WIA+15MIA=151 [as you can see the personnel casualties are low and this would mean that this small and unimportant bombing raid (not mentioned in the Ger records) caused around 33% of all dead and over 50% of wounded in the two days of action], operational vehicles (30.6.1944-evening report): 6 SPWs [this figure is highly debatable but if true would not only mean the attack did happen but also that it was highly successful], 22 stugs, 9 Pz.IV and 27 Panthers;
    - the divisional casualties till and including 1.7.1944 (as you'll see this was probably one of the bloodiest days in Normandy) (p.294-295): 1,145 KIA+WIA+MIA (not including casualties of KG Weidinger, which lost till 1.7.1944 (only two Pz.Gren.Btl.s with support companies) - 633 KIA+WIA+MIA). The numbers for SS-PGR20 are 49KIA+224WIA+11MIA. Equipment losses (only SS-PGR20): 1 light infantry gun, 3 s.MG, 4 m.Gr.W. (1 in repair), 1 2cm-Flak(Sf), 1 SPW; .

    It is best to check all sources before taking an authors conclusions at face value.


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