Friday, July 27, 2012

After D-Day:

The Battle of the Hedgerows

After the successful Allied invasion of the German-held French coast of Normandy, the armies of the Allied forces in Europe began moving inland toward Germany. 
Although the German army lost their holdings on the coast, they put up a fight further inland. But rather than fight one pitched battle, the Allied armies fought a series of sporadic engagements in rural France in a campaign that became simply known as the battle of the Hedgerows. The name for the culminated effort was derived from the extensive cultivated hedge systems that laced the French countryside. 
A U.S. Paratrooper observes the surrounding French countryside after a summer rain.
   It was a common practice for soldiers to dig "fox holes" for protection against enemy fire when their unit temporarily halted their advance.
A U.S. Soldier digs his fox hole using a folding shovel. A hastily dug fox hole could average about four feet deep, and could accommodate one person; with a little more time, a soldier usually dug a two-man position.  

A newly dug fox hole!

The Allies were not the only ones to dig in. Here are two German soldiers (also paratroopers) in their fox hole. Note their "stick" hand grenades readily accessible laid out in front of them.

 To take a village
Scores of French towns and villages found themselves caught up in the fighting as American, British and Canadian forces clashed with the German armies for possession of Western Europe. 
Two American officers discuss operations in a tent serving as a temporarily headquarters.
The German Panther tank, an effective weapon designed to fight Soviet T-34's.
"The town is well defended by a battalion of German tanks, as well as infantry." 
Attack! Allied troops attack the village from the South side.
The Allies press steadily onward, taking over the German positions.

Take Cover! A U.S. Infantryman just escapes from the blast of a German tank shell.

Direct Hit! The German tank is in turn hit by an anti-tank rocket launcher, known commonly as the "Bazooka". The slang term comes from a musical instrument by the same name that many believed had a strong resemblance in appearance to the weapon.
 The battle of the Hedgerows, an Allied victory, lasted from late June 1944 to December 1944.