|The Attack on Hill 192, 11 July 1944
(Photographs Copyright Mark Hannam, 2002 - used by permission)
Major General Walter M. Robertson's 2d Infantry Division in V Corps had a similar experience with hedgerow combat. During 12-16 June, the 2d Division battered itself against Hill 192, the highest terrain feature in the Saint-Lo area, which allowed the Germans to observe all major activities within the entire V and XIX Corps sectors. Hill 192 was also one of the most heavily defended German strongpoints in the entire First Army sector. After repeated assaults over a four-day period, the division failed to take Hill 192 and suffered 1,253 casualties.
In the aftermath of the June attacks, the 2d Division began to look for successful ways to attack through the hedgerows. The tactics they developed and employed varied slightly from the procedures used in the 29th Division. In small-unit actions, engineer teams accompanied each Sherman tank as well as each infantry squad. Once the infantry squad attacked and secured an enemy hedgerow, the accompanying engineers immediately began to prepare the hedgerow for demolition. Engineers with the Sherman gapped the hedgerow holding up the tank and then swept a path for the tank through the open field with mine detectors. Two infantrymen provided constant local security for the Sherman. Follow-on infantry platoons actively probed the hedgerows to look for concealed Germans and to eliminate snipers.
As part of the major offensive of 11 July, First Army ordered V Corps to attack and seize the dominating terrain east of Saint-L6. General Gerow ordered the 2d Division to once again attack and seize Hill 192. General Robertson ordered the 38th Infantry to conduct the main attack. This time, the regimental commander decided to conduct a powerful frontal assault with two battalions abreast.54
The attack started at 0630 on 11 July after a devastating twenty-minute artillery bombardment (see map 3). The 1st and 2d Battalions led the attack, supported by two tank companies from the 741st Tank Battalion and an engineer company from the 2d Engineer Combat Battalion. The Germans put up stiff resistance from the beginning. One tank company lost six Shermans to German panzerfausts. Fanatical Germans defending a position near "Kraut Corner" refused to surrender and were run over and buried alive by one of the 741st's dozer tanks. However, the 38th Infantry began to make good progress by using its new hedgerow tactics. Devastating artillery fire closely supported the infantry advance by maintaining heavy barrages in front of the attacking units. Around noon, the 38th Infantry finally reached the top of Hill 192 as the Germans disengaged and withdrew to the south. By nightfall, the 38th Infantry had cleared Hill 192 of all German defenders and was well entrenched in positions on the hill's southern slopes.
Like the 29th Division's attack against the Martinville ridge, the 2d Division's attack was an outstanding success. The principal reason was the proper use of tank-infantry-engineer teams. The infantry found that the tank's rear-deck telephones helped greatly in coordinating the attack. One battalion commander reported that because of the new hedgerow tactics, his battalion lost no troops to sniper fire, while in previous operations snipers had caused over 50 percent of all casualties. A second reason for the success on 11 July was the awesome firepower of American artillery. The 2d Division's own artillery units fired 20,000 rounds in support of the attack. All together, American artillery battalions dumped forty-five tons of high explosives on the Germans defending Hill 192.
|(Credit: Combined Arms Research Library)|
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