Cracking The Nut : Introduction

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Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army (Lieutenant General Omar Bradley) seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II. The intention was to take advantage of the distraction of the Germans by the British and Canadian attacks around Caen, in Operation Goodwood and break through the German defenses that were penning in his troops, while the Germans were unbalanced. Once a corridor had been created, the First Army would then be able to advance into Brittany, rolling up the German flanks once free of the constraints of the bocage country.

Having been delayed several times by poor weather, Operation Cobra commenced on 25 July, with a concentrated aerial bombardment from thousands of Allied aircraft. Supporting offensives had drawn the bulk of German armored reserves toward the British and Canadian sector and coupled with the general lack of men and materiel available to the Germans, it was impossible for them to form successive lines of defense. Units of the U. S. VII Corps led the initial two-division assault, while other I Army Corps mounted supporting attacks designed to pin German units in place. Progress was slow on the first day but opposition started to crumble once the defensive crust had been broken but a diamond of villages in the heart of bocage country threatened the whole operation. Successive attempts by US troops had failed to crack this nut. The villages of Azincourt, Bucamps, Bealencourt and Maisoncelle formed a diamond that troops from the 29th Infantry Division (The Blue and Grays) were tasked with taking, essentially ripping a hole in the German front that the Allies could pour through.

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Holding the villages are the 352. Infanterie-Division. The 352nd were shattered in the fighting during early June and the survivors have been amalgamated into various ad hoc battle groups and other divisions and are currently the cork in the bottle neck holding the main Allied thrust back. Having suffered countless air attacks over the previous few days the villages are all but reduced to rubble but the 352nd have dug in and the Americans are finding it very hard to dig them out.

This campaign tracks the battle as the US attempt to crack the nut and open the front.

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