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

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

CHAPTER 5
THE CRUMBLING FORTRESS

As the U.S. VII Corps advanced on Cherbourg, Erwin Rommel desperately hung on to the hedgerow country against the sledgehammerlike blows of the British 2nd and American 1st Armies. He held out pretty much with his own resources, for little help was sent by Berlin. From D-Day to the third week in July, Rommel lost 2,722 officers and 110,357 men, of which only 10,078 were replaced. In the same period the Allies lost 117,000 men. These casualties were more than fully replaced. 1

As resistance in Cherbourg deteriorated from furious to weak, more German divisions sat idle between the Seine and the Scheldt than were fighting in Normandy. The reason for this situation was that, even at this late date, Adolf Hitler refused to believe that the invasion had come! As incredible as it may seem, the Fuehrer and OKW still believed that the Normandy landings were a diversion, and that the main blow would come at the Pas de Calais. Even more incredibly this view had considerable support from the Abwehr--OKW's military intelligence service, which had recently been taken over by the SS.

As we have seen, the German intelligence estimates on the potential sites of the Allied landings were based on little more than educated guesswork. At the same time, Allied security and intelligence countermeasures were extremely effective, and Luftwaffe reconnaissance flights over England were now little less than suicide missions. In addition, the Allied deception plan was brilliant. German intelligence estimated that General Patton's 1st Army Group had a strength of about 25 divisions. In reality, it did not control a single combat unit. All of its forces were bogus, as was the fictitious radio traffic between its "divisions." In early 1944 the Abwehr estimated that there were 90 Allied divisions and 22 independent brigades in the United Kingdom. Actually,

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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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