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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Allied invasion of Normandy was successful, but progress moving inland has been slow. To facilitate further expansion, two primary objectives were imperative: secure the deep-water port of Cherbourg in the American sector and seize the city of Caen in the Commonwealth sector. Though the Allies failed to accomplish these objectives during their initial assault on Normandy, the Allies secured a front roughly 60 miles long and 15 miles inland. The defensible terrain has given the Germans a significant advantage.

Commonwealth forces continue their efforts to encircle and seize the German occupied city of Caen but have been repelled by constant counter-attacks. The failure to take Caen has made it possible for the Germans to get sufficient reinforcements into the battle area to contain the Allies. The Germans are successfully plugging gaps in their line before any exploits can occur. The Commonwealth has launched Operation Epsom on June 26th attempting to outflank Caen from the west.

 

In the American sector, initial German defenses were much more inadequate, easily exploited and outflanked. Once through the German lines, the Americans have made swift progress. The US First Army captured Cherbourg on June 27th and has begun a push towards the vital road junction of St-Lô. The Americans are taking advantage of the distraction caused by the Commonwealth, hoping a breakout could occur while German lines appear unstable. However, the Germans have exploited the difficult bocage terrain to exact a heavy toll on the advancing Americans.

 

Defeat of the Allies and the defense of France has come down to a handful of Panzer Divisions. With many having combat experience in the East, German units are used to operating in improvised battlegroups thrown together. Units can continue to function even when substantially reduced by casualties. They excel at local counterattacks, quickly recapturing villages and ground taken by the enemy. Time and again, small groups of German troops have effectively hindered much larger Allied units.

 

As Americans advance on St-Lô and Operation Epsom underway, Allied planners anticipate German lines to weaken in the center as they are pressured to move troops for reinforcement to maintain control. Between Caen and St-Lô where the Allied sectors meet, a joint Allied task force is formed to perforate an opening in the German line and move through like threading the eye of a needle. If successful, it could cut off German forces in St-Lô and force the Panzer Divisions to withdraw from Caen to avoid being encircled. The joint Allied operation is set to take place June 29th – code name Operation Anvil.