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MessagePosté le: 27/04/2017, 23:35    Sujet du message: Présentation des 18 Divisions Répondre en citant

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Présentation des 18 Divisions, 9 coté alliés, 9 coté Axe :

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Guards Armored:

2e Blindèe:

2nd Infantry:

101st Airborne:

3rd Armored:

1 Pancera:

3rd Canadian Infantry:

15th Infantry Scottish:

6th Airborne:


116. Panzer:

3. Fallschirmjäger:

716. Infanterie:

352. Infanterie:

91. Luftlande:

17. SS-Panzergrenadier:

21. Panzer:

12. SS-Panzer:

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MessagePosté le: 01/05/2017, 20:55    Sujet du message: Présentation des 18 Divisions Répondre en citant……………………

Dernière édition par Chamolboz le 21/07/2017, 17:19; édité 7 fois
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MessagePosté le: 05/05/2017, 12:58    Sujet du message: Présentation des 18 Divisions Répondre en citant

[Divisions] 352. Infanterie-Division

Let’s focus today on the German division which came closest than any other to foil the Allied landing in Normandy: the 352. Infanterie-Division.
352. ID was formed on November 5th, 1943, at Saint-Lô, in France, under Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiß (pronounced Kraiss)’s command. By a twist of fate, the division’s birthplace will also be the place of its first destruction a few months later.

Dietrich Kraiss

Although created late in the war, it wasn’t as inexperienced as other divisions formed at the same time. All its cadres and a good part of its original numbers were survivors from divisions destroyed in the Eastern Front, especially the 268. & 321. ID. Built on such solid foundations, the division quickly absorbed and trained the thousands of raw recruits, including very young ones, as well as many Volksdeutsche: “ethnic Germans” from Poland, Czechoslovakia or France. Soviet Hilfswilligen (Ukrainians, Georgians, Belorussians mostly) also formed more than 25% of the division.
Slated for deployment on the East Front once completed, the division trained its men accordingly, that is to fight defensively, to expect to be outnumbered and to repel waves of enemy infantry. And in doing so, they were given the appropriate weapon training, especially with machine-guns. Unlike most “static” or second-rate divisions in Normandy, the 352. ID was organized as a full-fledged infantry division, with its organic tank destroyers, StuGs, SP Flak, …
By all standards, 352. ID was the best infantry division in the area … hence why Generalfeldmarschall Rommel managed to retain it in France, under his Heeresgruppe B command. On March 15th, 1944, the division was moved from Saint-Lô and brought closer to the Normandy beaches, to support the over-extended 716. ID. Kraiß inserted some of its battalions among the 716. ones to bolster their resistance, with the others in reserve just behind, and started improving the minefields and shoreline’s defenses in his sector.
Although the movement was spotted by the Resistance and the information passed to London, Allied planners didn’t seem to have taken it into consideration. Thus, on D-Day, when the first wave of American troops hit the beach at Omaha, they expected to only meet light resistance from the “too old, too young” men from 716. ID.
Reality proved otherwise …
At Omaha, everything that could go wrong for the Americans went from bad to worse: the preliminary naval & aerial bombardment fell behind the beach defenses, barely scratching them; the DD tanks almost all drawn in the Channel, and the smoke screen prevented the Navy from observing the fighting and providing support.

Bloody Omaha

The men from 352. ID had been trained to fight exactly that kind of battle, and thus held their fire, letting the American landing ships approach and disembark their human cargo on the beach, at 6 AM. Only then did they open fire with every machine-gun and mortar they had. The 8-company strong first wave was instantly decimated. Unable to assess the situation due to the smoke, the armada kept sending the next wave, according to the plan, to meet the same fate.
Behind the shoreline, the 352. ID‘s mobile reserve (named Kampfgruppe Meyer after its commander) was, fortunately for the Americans, sent first in the direction of Carentan to meet the threat from the paratroopers when a counter-order sent it the other way, in the direction of Bayeux, to strike the British forces already penetrating inland from Gold Beach. Yet, even with support from the divisional assault guns, this counter-strike failed: Kampfgruppe Meyer was wiped-out, its commander killed and on the latter’s body, the British found a map locating the 352. ID‘s various positions and HQs.
But at the time, such findings proved useless to the Americans from 1st & 29th Infantry Divisions, who remained pinned and slaughtered on the beach. A few attempts by small units, mostly Rangers, managed to find or open exits within the Atlantikwall, but the bulk of the German defenses remained solid and no real penetration inland had been made. Around noon, the situation at Omaha was deemed so critical that general Bradley considered pulling the men out of Omaha, which would have put the whole Operation Overlord in jeopardy.

Up to 1 PM, the German defenders of Omaha were still reporting that the landing was defeated. But from then, their artillery started showing some lack of ammunitions while the Americans kept building up on the beach, despite heavy losses, Bradley having finally sent the third wave to join what remained of the first two. By early afternoon, under Norman Cotta’s impulse, the American troops at Omaha started pouring out of the beach through several small, often improvised exits.
By nightfall, the 352. ID‘s strongpoints still holding the shorelines had run out of ammunitions and had been bypassed. With all the mobile reserve sent against the British, there was no way to reach them. The positions were, therefore, abandoned during the night, most of the men managing to return to German lines.

352. ID lost about 1.200 men on June 6th, about 20% of its strength, although more might have been lost in the failed counter-attacks against the British than on the beach. The Americans lost three times more atOmaha but distributed among two divisions and several smaller units, and from the actions of both 352. & 716. ID.
One 352. ID veteran, Heinrich Severloh, a machine-gunner at WN (strongpoint) 62 claimed in his memoirs to have personally killed 2.000 Americans that day, thus earning the nickname “The Beast of Omaha“, although his claim isn’t regarded as credible.
From Omaha, 352. ID started retreating South, fighting delaying actions in the bocage to defend Saint-Lô.  Fielding about 13.000 men on the morning of D-Day, the division had lost over 5.000 (including the losses at Omaha) by the end of June, and 3.000 more by the end of July. It was only kept in line by the amalgamation of units in an even worse shape than its own! But on July 30th, the division was considered unfit for combat, pulled out of the line and moved to Alençon. Barely a week after being placed here for resting and refitting, 352. ID was again in contact with the vanguard of Patton’s Third Army rolling in the wake of Operation Cobra.
Once again, the division fell back, fighting delaying action on the way to Paris and losing its commander, Dietrich Kraiß, mortally wounded on August 4th. Avoiding being trapped in the Falaise pocket, the survivors managed to reach the safety of the Seine river. Reformed in September, the 352. ID was renamed 352. Volksgrenadier-Division and took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Destroyed once again in March 1945, the few survivors were reformed one more time as a mere Kampfgruppe which surrenders in May in Darmstadt.
352. ID‘s main asset is its numerous and versatile infantry: Grenadier, veteran squad leaders, cheap Osttruppen & Ertsatztruppen, Stoßtrupp East front veterans as PPShH-wielding assault squads, … It can especially rely on many and experienced s.MG 42 crew to mow down waves of enemy infantry. Unlike in armored/mechanized division, the recon troops are Füsilier, much larger and more resilient squads than the usual Aufklärer.

In phase A, although more suited and well supported for defense, it retains some mobile support, from attached Schnelle-Brigade & independent (Beute) Panzer-Abteilung, i.e. Panzer 35R(f) (French R-35 tank) & PzJäger 35R(f) (Czech. 47mm anti-tank gun on a French R-35 chassis).

352. ID slowly grows more powerful in Phase B & C, with some very strong artillery in support. Although its best “tank” is the ubiquitous StuG III G, it can also rely on a powerful and always improving array of anti-tank choices, from Marder II to PaK 43 and even a few attached late Jagdpanther.
Its recon tab also gets improvement, with the attachment during its retreat toward Paris of Sicherungs-Regiment 1 and its SPW 204(f) (French Panhard 178 armored car), including some 47mm-armed variants.

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MessagePosté le: 05/05/2017, 12:59    Sujet du message: Présentation des 18 Divisions Répondre en citant

[Divisions] 2e Blindée

Let’s focus today on France’s main contribution to the Normandy campaign: the 2e division blindée, more commonly known in France just as “the 2e DB“.
The 2e DB can trace its History to one single man who refused to give up the fight in 1940, joined general de Gaulle in London and kept fighting the Germans with the Allies. That man was named Phillipe de Hauteclocque, but History has remembered him under his nom de guerre, Philippe Leclerc.

Philippe ‘Leclerc’ de Hauteclocque

Leclerc’s saga starts during the Fall of France. A staff captain in the 4e division d’infanterie, he was captured but managed to escape, returned to French lines to fight again, was wounded and captured a second time, but escaped again from the hospital he was kept in. Then he proceeded to cross France from Champagne to the Spanish border, mostly on a bicycle, avoiding capture. From Spain, he went to London where he met general de Gaulle, the two of them instantly going along well.
De Gaulle promoted him to lieutenant colonel and gave him the mission to rally French Equatorial Africa to Free France. Changing his name to Leclerc to avoid retribution against his family in France, he set about his task. Landing with 20 men in Cameroon, in two weeks he delivered Chad & Gabon to Free France. De Gaulle promoted him once again and appointed him military commander of Chad.

With Free France now having some territorial foundations, Leclerc prepared for the next step: bringing the fight back to the enemy. In January 1941, he led a strong column of 5.000 Tirailleurs, a few camel riders and one single 75mm howitzer through 400 km of desert considered impassable to vehicles. Guided by a British Long Range Desert Group patrol, the Colonne Leclerc hit the Italians in the back, from the desert, at the Kufra oasis. On March 1st, the Italian garrison of the El Ag fort surrendered, and the Free French flag was hoisted over it. There, Leclerc and his men swore an oath “never to lay down arms until our colors, our beautiful colors, float on the Strasbourg Cathedral“.
From there, Leclerc had hoped to strike North, through the Fezzan (Southern Libya) to join hands with the British on their way to Tunisia. But in 1941, the British were driven back the other way, with Rommel on their heels. Only in late 1942, with general Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein, will they be able to drive West again. In the meantime, Leclerc & de Gaulle worked at reorganizing and beefing up the FFL (Forces Françaises Libres, a.k.a Free French) forces, all the while harassing the enemy, especially the Italians. Forming four patrols of a dozen (South African) armored cars supported by light bombers, Leclerc unleashed them in the desert: they fought a “pirate war”, navigating the dunes and striking convoys, isolated posts, supply depots, … not unlike privateers on the ocean back in the age of sails.

In December 1942, the Colonne Leclerc, over 5.000 strong, sets again in the desert for a 1500 km journey, carrying all their food, water and gas with them. Two weeks later, the whole Fezzan was in their hand and Leclerc finally met with general Montgomery at Tripoli on January 26th, 1943. Now advancing with the British as Force L, they attacked the Mareth line and entered Tunisia, then a French colony.
Briefly renamed 2e division française libre, Leclerc’s command was rebranded 2e division blindée on August 23rd, 1943, and moved to Morocco to be reorganized and equipped as an armored unit. By then, most of Leclerc’s Chadian soldiers, after two years of campaigns, have been sent back home. They were replaced with escapees from France, some Free French who had been fighting with the British Eighth Army since 1941, North African soldiers, foreign volunteers (especially Republican Spaniards) but mostly former Vichy units.
The 2e division blindée was a unique case of blending elements from the two almost antagonist French armies into a single unit. And it didn’t go without troubles! At first, the men from the 501e Régiment de Chars de Combat (FFL) tank regiment only referred to their brothers in arms from 12e Régiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique (Vichy) as “Nazis”, while members from the reconnaissance 1er Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains (FFL) were called “Thugs” by their opposites for their lack of discipline. The Spaniards gathered into the Régiment de Marche du Tchad‘s 9th company (a.k.a “La Nueve“), most of them anti-fascists or anarchists, refused to serve under a Vichy officer and would only obey an FFL one. Fist fights in bars between FFL & Vichy French on leave were commonplace. But Leclerc was dedicated to making his division into a symbol of national unity, focused on one single goal: the liberation of metropolitan France. And despite the hardships, he finally succeeded, sometimes by threatening his fellow Free French to leave them out of the Liberation if they didn’t get off their high horses …
Unlike the other traditional FFL units, which had fought with the British Eighth Army and retained British equipment, the 2e DB was to be equipped by the USA and organized as an American armored division. Yet, some changes were brought, such as the AA guns being used as portee, mounted on GMC truck, the way they were used in Jock Columns by the desert war’s veterans. Although they did not use BAR automatic rifles, Leclerc’s men were able to get, scrounge or “acquire” a great number of extra M1 Carbine (or Carabine US), a favorite weapon among the Frenchmen. An organic TD battalion, the Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers Marins manned by Navy personnel retaining their trademark hats, was added to the division TO&E.

On April 7th, 1944, the division was reviewed by general de Gaulle then shipped to England. There, the 2e DB resumed its training and collected some modern equipment, although still lacking many items it was supposed to get, such as most 76mm Shermans and many bazookas.
The Frenchmen were ready and eager to bring the fight back on French soil … yet Operation Overlord was initiated without them nor even de Gaulle being informed. For almost two months, the 2e DB champed at the bit in England, only sailing for France on July 29th and landing at Utah Beach on July 31st. For some of them, the exile had last for four long years, taking them from Norway to England via Chad & Tunisia!

2e DB soldiers feeling French sands immediately after landing

As soon as the 2e DB had landed and regrouped, it was incorporated within general Haislip’s US XVth Corps, itself part of general Patton’s Third Army. Alongside the US 5th Armored and 79th & 90th Infantry Divisions, it was to follow up on Operation Cobra to break through the German front and out of bocage country to finally revive a more mobile type of armored warfare.
Having learned his lessons from 1940 and the desert war, Leclerc used speed and maneuvers (including by misappropriating roads reserved for his American counterparts) over direct confrontation whenever he could to keep the Germans always off-balance. Its direct opponent, the German 9. Panzerdivision, brought from Southern France to secure that flank of the front, would never be able to gather its full force and mount an effective defensive line, being always outflanked or even bypassed by the 2e DB.
While the German armies in Normandy were in full retreat, a first opportunity to close the pocket on them was lost to the 2e DB on August 13th, at Argentan, but one of his battlegroups took part in the final closing of the Falaise pocket one week later.

Transferred to the US First Army while Patton was being sent to Britanny, the 2e DB resumed its drive East, with now only one goal in mind: liberating Paris. For Leclerc has learned that the capital city’s population had risen against the Germans and that it could be crushed anytime.
On August 23rd, Leclerc, with de Gaulle’s backing, managed to convince his American superiors to let him drive to Paris, and the next day the whole division was on the move. Speed being of the essence, the 2e DB raced in two columns, smashing through any defensive position frontally, without consideration for losses. Casualties were high, especially among the Spahis who opened the way.

Late on August 24th, still outside of Paris, Leclerc ordered captain Dronne, commander of the Nueve to keep driving with a platoon of his men and three tanks and sneak his way to the city before nightfall. Dronne & his small column were, therefore, the first Allied troops to reach Paris’ city hall on that same evening, galvanizing the Parisian insurgents and convincing the Germans that the Allies were already entering the city in full force.
The next day, the bulk of the 2e DB & US 4th Infantry Division entered the city, cleaning the remaining German pockets of resistance and forcing the German governor von Choltitz to capitulate.

The 2e DB was one of the few Allied division which had no problem replacing its losses. In each village, there were volunteers to enlist with Leclerc, and from Paris, several new companies were created and added to the division.
The division left Paris in early September, heading East. On September 13th, with the help from American P-47, it crushed the 112. Panzerbrigade near Dompaire, then managed to bypass the German defensive lines along the Vosges mountains right under the nose of the enemy to, finally, liberate Strasbourg on November 23rd, 1944. It was the fulfillment of the Kufra oath, made three years before.
In January-February 1945, the division took part in the heavy fightings for the Colmar pocket, then was sent to Bavaria. Once again, it raced for a prize: Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s Berghof (his house) & Kehlsteinhaus (the “Eagle’s Nest”). Unlike depicted in Band of Brothers, it was the US 3rd Infantry Division which entered Berchtesgaden first, with elements of the 2e DB with them. Since the Americans stopped there, the Free French (and as often, some Spaniards among them) kept driving and seized the Berghof. As for the Eagle’s Nest, a few Frenchmen climbed there, hoisted a French flag, but were later ousted by the 101st Airborne Division when it got there too.
Immediately after VE-Day, the 2e DB was earmarked for redeployment in Asia, to liberate French Indochina from the Japanese. But Japan surrendered while the troops were still on their way, and Leclerc represented France during the signing of its capitulation aboard USS Missouri, on September 2nd.

Leclerc on the first row, third from the right

When the 2e DB finally landed in Indochina on October 15th, it was not to liberate a French territory from Japanese invaders but to quell an anti-colonial uprising against French rule. For many Free French who had fled France or joined the Resistance to fight and liberate their country from the German occupiers, the bitter irony of their reverse situation wasn’t lost. After a short period of fighting with the nationalists (not yet called Vietminh), an armistice was signed in February 1946. It was to be only the prelude to the Indochina War.
Shortly after the armistice, on March 1946, the 2e DB was disbanded. Yet one year and a half later, veterans and vehicles from the division, gathered one last time, will escort to his resting place the body of general Leclerc, killed in an airplane crash.

The 2e DB gives everything and more than any other division in Phase A, trying to keep its opponent under pressure and off-footing as long as possible, for it will be technically outclassed in the later phases.
The Free French rely mostly on their elite recon troops, the veterans Spahis sporting their trademark scarlet cap, coming in a wider array of vehicles, from mere jeep to Stuart.

With the vanguard of the division also come the veteran Republican Spaniards from the Nueve, fighting fascists even before it was cool (1936!), scores of Stuart tanks and even GMC Bofors AA guns in portee mode. The Navy RBFM, not to be outdone, provides AM-M8 (French designation for the Greyhound) in a fire support role and even a couple of advanced TD M10A1.

In phase B & C, the division receives heavier equipment with Chars M4A2 & M4A3, yet mostly 75mm-armed ones, the M10 remaining the best way to deal with enemy tanks. Mechanized infantry, in the form of Voltigeurs, is also available in greater numbers but lack the squad bazooka from their American counterparts, this weapon being restricted to a few specialized units.
The FAFL (Free French Air Force) provides air cover with a mixture of American and British planes, mostly Spitfire, Lightning & DB-73, the latter being also used in their D-Day role as smoke-layers.

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