Article by: Neal Ulen
The Battle of Port-en-Bessin also known as Operation Aubery took place from 7–8 June 1944, at a small fishing harbour west of Arromanches during the Normandy landings of World War II. The village was between Omaha Beach to the west in the U.S. V Corps sector, and Gold Beach to the east in the British XXX Corps sector. An objective during Operation Overlord, the fortified port was captured by No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commando of the 4th Special Service Brigade.
This map and historical scenarios can be found in Critical Hit’s Advanced Squad Leader module: Port-en-Bessin: 47 [RM] Commando 7-8 June 1944.Download the Port-en-Bessin VASL Map
The Battle, 7–8 June 1944
The main defences of Port-en-Bessin were on 200-foot (61 m) high cliffs known as the Western and Eastern features, either side of the hollow in which the port lay. An entrenched and concreted position had been built just south of the port on the Bayeux road, with more defences in the harbour. Before the wireless was repaired to arrange covering fire, the Marines began a house-to-house battle through the port. The defensive position on the Bayeux road was charged and quickly overcome and its occupants captured. In the afternoon, after a bombardment by HMS Emerald and three squadrons of Typhoons firing RP-3 rockets, the cliff-top strong points were attacked and the base of the western feature captured. A troop advanced on the eastern feature against rifle and machine-gun fire and grenades being thrown down the open slope, which was also mined and had hidden flame-throwers. When the Marines were well up the slope, two FLAK ships in the harbour opened fire, killing twelve and wounding 17 men, more than half the troop in a few minutes, forcing it to withdraw.
German counter-attacks overran the Commando rear headquarters and an attack across the Escures–Port-en-Bessin road cut off the troop defending Escures. The strength of the commando in the port was reduced to 280 men, many of whom were wounded but an ammunition shortage was alleviated by several members of 522 Company Royal Army Service Corps, who drove supplies through German machine-gun and tank fire. The German defences in the harbour area consisted of dispersed strong points, which the Marines attacked individually and gradually cleared the harbour in a series of costly attacks. The FLAK ships continued to fire and ammunition ran low.
Marine Captain Cousins led reconnaissance patrol towards the eastern feature and found an undefended zig-zag path up to the fortifications at the top. With darkness falling Cousins led a party of four officers and 25 men up the hill unobserved and surprised the defenders, who were thrown into confusion. The Marines then encountered a concrete bunker, which Cousins and four men rushed. Cousins was killed by a grenade and the men accompanying him were wounded but the German bunker was captured. Outnumbered four to one by the Germans, they fought their way up the feature through the concrete, entrenchments, mines and barbed wire defences.
The German positions were captured one-by-one and before dawn the eastern feature had been occupied. The fall of the Eastern Feature persuaded the remaining Germans on the Western Feature to surrender. Capt Terry Cousins was nominated for the Victoria Cross for his leadership, courage and initiative but was declined much to the Commandos’ disgust. The Commandos re-occupied Escures and at 4:00 a.m. on 8 June, the garrison commander and 300 men surrendered.
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ASL Map Spotlights are meant to be quick history lessons on available historical Advanced Squad Leader actions. These short articles are meant to highlight both a short history of the battle portrayed for players unfamiliar with the setting, as well as show the ASL map on which it plays out.Citation: Wikipedia contributors. “Battle of Port-en-Bessin.” Wikipedia, 6 Nov. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Port-en-Bessin.
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