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"The enemy air force dominates, by the number of aircraft as well as by their range, not only the main combat area, but also the approach routes and supply to a depth of 150 to 200 kilometres.

"Despite the fact that the railway network is highly developed in the West and that innumerable highways and secondary roads exist, the enemy had succeeded by concentrated and ceaseless attacks from the air in disorganising our supply to such an extent that supply has become a serious problem. In two and a half days 29,000 aircraft sorties were counted along a bridgehead about 100 kilometres wide; of them, about 2-3,000 sorties per day are by low- flying aircraft attacking with bombs and weapons any movement on the ground, even that of single soldiers.

"Rail transports, which have been cut down to a certain minimum by the general situation anyway, can hardly be brought up nearer the front than 150 to 200 kilometres; even this must be done without any definite schedule. The routes must be changed hourly, the trains must follow each other very closely if the weather permits, or they must run exclusively at night.

"Line communications within the battle zone are to all intents and purposes unusable. Apart from radio there only remains the stock mechanical means.

"The enemy assembled very strong naval forces off the coast at the beachhead. These can be employed at any time as highly mobile artillery forces wherever they are required to beat off our own attacks or in support of an enemy attack. During; the day their fire is very skilfully directed from observation balloons attached to ships, from spotting planes and advanced ground observation posts. As for as their range permits, these naval guns play an important role in the battle on account of their high rate of fire. The movement of tanks by day within the range of these naval guns and across open country is scarcely possible.

"I have purposely had these experiences drawn up in a very detailed report, because many units in the West and also newly- arrived forces are still ignorant of the practical aspect of combat proper, despite all the orders and instructions they have received."

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr

Page: Page 33