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The grouping of the enemy was 84 Corps with under command 716, 352, 243, 709 and 91 Infantry Divisions, Corps with 711 Division and 2 Parachute Corps with 3 and 5 Parachute Divisions. The remaining divisions with which we were concerned, including the panzer divisions, were GHQ troops. With the exception of 81 Corps, which was under Fifteenth Army the whole was under the Seventh German Arm (Generaloberst DOLLMANN).

The estimated enemy strength on D-day is shown in the table at Appendix "B".

(b) Defences

The three main features of the enemy‘s defensive system were the elaborate use of underwater obstacles, the housing of all important installations and weapons in concrete emplacements, and the reliance on reserves, rather than depth to the defences, to break up the assault. Some depth, however, was given to the system by the use of underwater obstacles and by the siting of army and coastal artillery well forward in an anti-shipping role.

The beaches to be assaulted by Second Army extended from ARROMANCHES 8486 to just East of the R ORNE, a total distance of 33,500 yards. They were defended by three battalions of infantry, 300 automatic weapons, 40 anti-tank guns, 54 field medium, and heavy anti-aircraft guns; and 37 coastal type guns could bring fire to bear on or seaward of these beaches. The defences consisted of 16 major strong points formed into nine company localities flanked by a continuous line of beach obstacles from ASNELLES 8786 to East of the R ORNE, with short gaps East of BERNIERES 9985 and at ST AUBIN 0181. These obstacles were made up of Element "C", "hedgehogs", wooden ramps and stakes. With the exception of an area off COURSEULLES, where they extended to the eight feet tide level, and off LA BRECHE 0980, where they were on the seven feet level, they were generally on or above the twelve feet tide level. These underwater obstacles were thought to be mined in some way, and certainly had tellermines attached to the tops of the stakes.

The enemy was concerned to protect most strongly those areas of the coast which were fronted by good beaches and from which there were good exits, such as ARROMANCHES, BERNIERES and OUISTREHAM. Where beaches were bad, or where approach from the sea was hindered by offshore rocks, or where there were no good exits inland, he had tried to save manpower by flooding and mining the coastal belt and by prepared positions 2,000 to 6,000 yards in the rear, to cover any penetration in these areas. There were some signs, too, of the start of an inland anti-tank defence line.

Buildings and seaside facilities had not been allowed to interfere with the enemy's plans to prevent our landing. The necessary demolitions to increase fields of fire had been made and there were road blocks.

Other demolitions were planned to hinder our advance from the beaches. The enemy knew full well that we had to have ports and jetties and he prepared them for destruction.

He also realised the value to us of landing; airborne troops. To prevent this he worked energetically to cover with st: all possible landing areas for gliders and transport aircraft. There was no inland defence line, although towns, nodal points and other centres had their loo-2.1 protection consisting of road-bloc slit trenches, anti- aircraft guns, roadside shelters and. anti-tank ditches.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr

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