The US 2nd Infantry Division would make an assault against Hill 192 – the capture of this dominating observation point would be of prime importance in the attack on Saint-Lô. The 2nd Division’s objectives were as follows; the 38th Infantry Regiment, on the western flank, was to attack and take Hill 192 proper, the 23rd Infantry Regiment, fighting in the center, was ordered to attack the eastern slope of Hill 192, and secure the St-Lô-Bayeux highway, and the 9th Infantry Regiment, on the eastern flank of the division front, was directed to support the attack by all available fires.
The right wing of the 23rd Infantry Regiment’s assault force was the 1st Battalion, attacking from the road that ran west out of Saint-Georges-d’Elle. The 1st Battalion faced terrain that had been fought over in the early attempts against Hill 192, and which, contained a draw constituting a serious initial obstacle. “Purple Heart Draw,” as it was called, ran for 750 yards east to west along the battalion front, only 200 to 400 yards from the line of departure. It was deep enough to be almost impassable for tanks, and so well covered by enemy fires as to promise heavy losses for infantry who tried to cross.
Below the maps is a personal account of the 11 July 1944 taking of Hill 192 by Lieutenant Colonel Frank T. Mildren.
Purple Heart Draw Map
This map and action can be found in Lone Canuck Publishing’s Advanced Squad Leader historical study module: Purple Heart Draw.
Download the PHD VASL Map (v1)
Download the PHD VASL Map (v2)
The Attack of Hill 192
“At 0430 on the day of attack, July 11, the entire battalion was carefully and quietly moved out of its forward position and to the rear about 200 yards. This was for the purpose of allowing the heavy artillery preparation to cover completely the enemy front — elements that had been only about 50 yards in front of our own lines. At 0500, preparatory fires of the artillery battalions, armored artillery battalions, 4.2 mortars and our own 60 and 81 mm mortars commenced and lasted for one hour, increasing the intensity until they were placing a terrific pounding on the Germans during the last fifteen minutes.”
“At 0600 our Infantry-Tank-Engineer teams jumped off in the attack and instantly received the heaviest German artillery and mortar barrage we had encountered to that date. Our casualties were heavy in Company A on the left. Nevertheless, we managed to overrun their initial positions which happened to be a covering shell. However, Company A could not gain any ground against the main defensive position. In spite of all the fire cover, we could place in this sector, all movements by our units were met by intense and accurate small-arms fire that came from positions within the hedgerows. We could not locate those positions and could not see any Germans.”
“Every attempt at a maneuver was met by intense machine gun and rifle fire plus the constant artillery and mortar fire. Due to the cleverly concealed German positions, we could not direct artillery or tank fire on any known emplacements; consequently, we were merely shooting “in the dark” at hedgerows in general. The two tanks on Company A’s extreme right were hit by Panzerfausts and the resultant explosion of the explosives on the tanks completely blew the turrets off. Another of Company A’s tanks hit a mine and a fourth received a direct artillery hit leaving only one tank with assault elements of this company. Other tank crewmen behind the tanks that blew up suddenly decided that area was no place for them, so we could not get any tanks up in the area on A Company’s right. Several hours elapsed before we could remove all the explosives from the tanks and get them back in action.”
“By 0900 A Company had lost about 75o of its right platoon and about half of its left platoon. The support platoon of this Company was committed to the left and immediately ran into flanking fire from its left — the 23rd Infantry on our left had run into as much if not more fire than we had, and consequently had not been able to cross the line of departure for the first four hours. By 0900 A Company was ineffective due to the heavy casualties. However, C Company on the right was more fortunate. It had initially been held up by flanking fire from the German positions in front of A Company, so the company commander committed a support platoon with tanks to the left while his main attack continued forward. The support platoon accomplished its mission by diverting the enemy fire away from the main C Company attack. This support platoon also managed to overrun several Berman positions, and by using the tanks with prongs to break through the hedgerows it managed to bury the Germans in their strong points. At 0900 C Company was about 200 yards in advance of A Company.”
“At this time, 0900, I gave orders to the Company, the reserve, to move up into the gap between A and C Companies and attack the German position in front of A Company from the flank.
Up until this time our scheduled air support had been postponed due to a heavy fog, but then the sky began to clear so the planes came over and started their bombing and strafing. A couple of the first planes to bomb missed their targets — one bomb destroying my aid station and another hitting in B company area as they were attempting to move into an initial position. This turn of events plus a lot of other confusion caused B Company to use up two hours trying to get into attack position.”
“When B Company finally got into position and started its attack, it was not in the zone prescribed by me. The company had moved too far to the left; and was attacking through A Company and against the same strong points that had caused the latter company so many casualties. Ordinarily B Company should have been stopped the same as A Company, but to our surprise the advance made steady progress. As we found out much later, the Germans 17ad suffered so many casualties and C Company was slowly outflanking the strong points, that the German commander had ordered the remnants of his units to withdraw and fight a delaying action. Through B Company’s mistake we lost an opportunity to capture or kill the remaining enemy in this particular zone.”
“In the meantime C Company’s attack was progressing slowly but favorably and so was the 2nd Battalion on our right. B Company advanced against scattered resistance. By 1400 both companies had reached the top of Hill 192 and commenced the difficult move through the heavy woods on the far side of the hill. Although the enemy withdrew rapidly and our advance was meeting only artillery and mortar fire, it took the rest of the afternoon to move down the hill and cut the St Lo – Berigny highway. This slow advance was due to the condition of the woods which were reduced to piles of sticks and rubbish by our artillery and mortar fire. Also, on our right, C Company had encountered many anti-personnel mines that were located in the few sunken roads that were available for our covered approach.”
“By late afternoon our positions were consolidated and the digging-in process started. We did not receive an enemy counterattack – – the Germans being content to fire mortar and artillery concentrations on our newly won positions. As a matter of fact, during daylight hours we could not move around on the forward slope of Hill 192 because we were easily seen by the enemy, and each of our visible movements was followed by a mortar barrage from the Germans.”
“From the foregoing, it can be seen that the battalion took a very important Corps and Division objective, and in so doing eliminated the last ground position from which the Germans could observe our beach operations. Also, the terrain dominating St Lo from the East was now in our hands thus aiding the XIX Corps in its attack on the city. One hundred twenty-seven prisoners were captured by the two attacking battalions, and although we had no accurate count of enemy dead due to the fact many were buried in their dugouts, G-2 estimates placed the German 9th Parachute Regiment as non-effective due to casualties inflicted by the 2nd Division in July.”
.END OF BRIEFING.
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: Lieutenant Colonel Frank T. Mildren. “The Attack of Hill 192 by the 1st Batallion, 38th Infantry (2nd Division) July 11, 1944.” Command and Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1946-1947.
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