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bocage tactics

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Any opinions on this?

Which side is better suited for attack in

the bocage? Allies or Germans

Howabout for defense.

Since you can't defend every bocage square

as germans, what makes it difficult for the

allies to bypass various bocage squares since

it is hard for those in the bocage square

to see out of it (I assume this would mean

that the defense places troops at the edge

of the hedgerow?) perhaps anyone has

suggestions on this?


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As a defender in the bocage, you have to rely a lot on a flexible line to prevent the enemy from bypassing as you say. Setting up opservation posts into areas which you cannot look into from your main positions is essential. TRP's and artillery spotters help a lot to deny otherwise undefended fields and approaches to the enemy. Essentially, fighting in the bocage is a series of ambushes... hope this helps a little

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SMGs are good in bocage, and the Germans have more of them. Direct fire by mortars is a bit harder because of the minimum ranges. Those favor the Germans some. But mostly, bocage favors defenders over attackers.

As for how they used them, a typical German defense plan (for the infantry force type, which is mostly what they had) was to pick one intersection of fields and build a strongpoint around all the fields adjacent to that one intersection - three or four depending on how it divided. Up positions at the exterior walls of the multi-field strongpoint could be lined with MG nests or observing scouts, and these would interdict movement through the fields around the strongpoint. Fall back positions were created just by evacuating one field when necessary; the same tactic was used to dodge artillery and mortar fire. Counterattacks could be launched from one of the others after enemy were in one of the fields. The flanking positions, beyond the fields observable from the central strongpoint fields, could be mined or registered for mortar fire. A few MG nests or snipers in other fields could add some confusion about where the main strongpoint was, hopefully leading to enemy stumbling on superior strength, unprepared. The whole position stayed tight enough for mutual support and control, always difficult in the "maze". These were usually full company positions, but sometimes understrength ones, more like 2 platoons.

Part of the idea is that even enemy that hit a path through the maze that didn't bang against the strongpoint, would hardly know how to follow up its local success. They wouldn't easily be able to communicate with follow-on forces. If they cross minefields, those would tend to isolate them, as could barrage fire. And often the successful intruders would become simply disoriented, not knowing which way they were facing, which way the Germans were, etc. While the Germans were oriented about their circled-backs, single intersection. When intrusions were detected, reserve forces would put in small scale counterattacks (a platoon e.g.) from hopefully unexpected directions, preceeded where possible by mortar barrages.

They did not attempt to hold a continuous front in the sort of density you'd need to stop a set-piece attack into every field. One, they didn't have the men. Two, everybody forward like that would have created a "can't miss" target for the powerful allied artilleries. And three, they found in practice they simply didn't have to. Some places holding out plus incredible levels of confusion and small counterattacks to keep the control of each field up in the air, would serve adequately. If there were enough penetrations, the strongpoints would pull back at night and set it up all over again, giving up a few hundred yards of ground.

For the attackers, it was 3 card monty as to whether they'd hit the main German defenders. Door number one, mortar fire. Door number two, a big strongpoint with as much force for the frontage as the attacker's had, sometimes more. Door number three, a few snipers, a minefield, and a local counterattack later.

I hope this gives some ideas for bocage country defenses. Frankly it is attacking in the stuff that is really the hard part.

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