Monday, 25 February 2013

German defenders of the Cotentin Peninsula

There were three primary German Divisions to defend the Contentin Peninsula against the Allied Invasion. These were the; 709th Infantry Division, the 243rd Infantry Division and the 91st Airlanding (Luftlande) Division. The 709th was positioned on the east coast of the peninsula roughly from the Utah Beach area upto Cherbourg. With the 243rd Inf. Div. covering the west coast of the Contentin, and the 91st Div. covering the central area. Besides the Infantry Divisions there were also four Coastal Artillery Regiments, to defend the coast line.

The main opponents to the 101st, 82nd Airborne Divs. and the seaborne units which made up the US VII Corps, were to be the 709th and 91st Divisions, on D-Day. The German forces on the peninsula were of the LXXXIV Corps, Seventh Army, Army Group B. The 709th and 243rd Divs, were static division. This mainly meant they were, made up of older conscripts, and foreign 'Volunteers' (the Ost Battalions (White Russians), and lacked much equipment, primarily transport. Their equipment came from a arsenal of captured weapons, French, Czech, and Soviet. This was evident in the artillery allocated to these units and the attached Panzer Battalions which reinforced them. Panzer Abteilung 101 and 206 were equipped with obsolete captured French tanks.

Captured Hotchkiss H-39
Though the 243rd Div did have a Tank Destroyer Battalion equipped with Marder III and Stug III self  propelled guns. These two Divisions each had three Infantry Regiments but the 91st Div had only two Infantry Regiments. though it had been reinforced with the 'elite' 6th Fallschirmjager Regiment. N.B. The 91st Luftlande Div was an Army not an Airforce unit. The 6th FJR was of course a Luftwaffe unit. The 6FJR was probably the best unit in LXXXIV Corps, but even it suffered from shortages in terms of equipment.

In the immediate vicinity of Drop C, there was the 795th Georgian Battalion, 1st Bn 919th Inf Regt (709th Div), and elements of the 1058th Inf Regt. of the 91st Div., including batteries from the 191st Artillery Regiment of the 91st Div.. It was one of these artillery batteries postioned between Le Grand Chemin  and St. Marie-du-Mont near to Brecourt Manor, which had caused the Paratroopers of 506th PIR to come to an unexpected halt.  


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