The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense of Fortress Europe

By Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
D-DAY

On the eve of its greatest battle, OB West was weaker than German planners had hoped it would be, but nevertheless it represented a formidable military force. Field Marshal von Rundstedt had 58 combat divisions, of which 33 were either static or reserve, suitable only for defensive missions. Of the 24 divisions classified as fit for duty in the East, 13 were mobile infantry, two were parachute, four were panzer, four were SS panzer, and one (the 17th) was an SS panzer grenadier division. One Army panzer division (the 21st) was classified as unfit for duty on the Russian Front, because it was largely equipped with inferior, captured material. The U.S. Army's official history assessed OB West's condition this way: "The steady drain of the Eastern Front left to Rundstedt on the eve of his great battle two kinds of units: old divisions which had lost much of their best personnel and equipment, and new divisions, some of excellent combat value, some only partially equipped and partially trained." 1Map 2.1 shows German dispositions on the Western Front on June 5, 1944.

The panzer divisions varied as greatly in numbers and strengths as did the infantry divisions. They ranged from 12,768 men in the 9th Panzer to 21,386 in the recently rebuilt 1st SS Panzer. All the panzer divisions were larger than their American and British counterparts, with the 1st SS Panzer ( Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler) being twice as large. On the other hand, they all had fewer tanks than the Allied armored divisions. All the SS panzer divisions had six panzer grenadier (i.e., motorized or mechanized infantry) battalions, as opposed to four in the Wehrmacht's armored divisions. Therefore, all SS panzer divisions were larger than their Army counterparts, at least in terms of their tables of organization.

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The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense of Fortress Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Atlantic Wall 1
  • Chapter 2 - D-Day 57
  • Chapter 3 - Holding Fast 93
  • Chapter 4 - Cherbourg 129
  • Chapter 5 - The Crumbling Fortress 141
  • Chapter 6 - A pitiless Destiny 179
  • Appendix I - Table of Equivalent Ranks 203
  • Appendix II - German Staff Abbreviations 205
  • Appendix III - Characteristics of Opposing Tanks 207
  • Appendix IV - Rommel's Schedule, March 23-June 4, 1944 209
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 219
  • About the Author *
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