|D-Day Campaign Pt. 6 - Flanking Le Hamel|
Editor's Note: We are release scenarios DD-6, and later, DD-7, prior to releasing Scenario DD-5. This is because scenario DD-5 requires new Omaha Beach maps and extra time to prepare the scenario for the web.
At 0730 hours, the 231st brigade landed on the beaches of Jig Sector, Gold Beach. All of the landing craft of the brigade came ashore well to the east of their designated landing zones. The Hamphires had wound up facing the beach objective of the Dorsets, the strong point at La Cabane des Douanes. With no viable alternative for movement, and not wanting to leave the strongpoint for others to fight, the Hampshires assaulted the strongpoint and captured it, but only after suffering serious casualties to its forward companies. With this section of the beach and its exits secure, the Hampshires realized that there was hardly a presence on the beaches where they were supposed to land.
What remained was their initial objective at Le Hamel. The heavy 75mm and 88mm guns were still there, raking the beaches and knocking out more vehicles as they landed. More over, they were protected by a massive concrete casemate built out of the local sanatorium. The thickness of the concrete casemate had resisted all aerial bombing and naval assault leaving its façade defiantly marked by the impact of massive shells and bombs. The 75 mm gun alone had knocked out six of the flail and AVRE tanks that had reached the beaches. The sanatorium also had an array of defenses meant to thwart invaders on the beach. To protect the front of the casemate, several smaller bunkers were built between it and the beach and a vast minefield was erected.
All of these factors made it impossible for the Hampshires to assault Le Hamel head on. The decision was made to have the Hampshires swing around the fields past the beaches to the rear of Le Hamel and take the sanatorium complex from the rear. This entailed securing the beach exits and clearing out the remaining defenders in the surrounding fields, all while under a withering rain of shell and mortar they couldn’t yet do anything about. It would be early afternoon by the time the Hampshires were properly organized and situated, but other responsibilities and objective beckoned as well.
Needing to achieve their other objectives, the Hampshires split their forces, allowing A and D companies to continue onward to Arromanches in the hope of eventually linking up with American soldiers from Omaha Beach at Port en Bessin. The remaining C and B companies set themselves upon the town and opened up a deadly street by street fight for Le Hamel. The intense fighting would wear on for hours with neither side achieving any decisive success. Ships were diverted elsewhere so that their cargoes of vehicles and supplies would not be destroyed. The afternoon was getting short and little progress was to be had. It would be a disaster if Le Hamel was still in German hands by nightfall. The decision was made to enact one final lunge at the Sanatorium and subdue it. Calling up passing tanks of the Royal Engineers the Hampshires plotted out their final assault for the day against Le Hamel.
Scenario DD-6: Flanking Le Hamel
At 1500 after a long day of fighting around the outskirts of Le Hamel, B and C Company of the 1st Hampshires make a final lunge at the sanatorium complex that still commands Jig Sector of Gold beach. The Hampshires must fight house by house with the determined German garrison to break the defense of the French town..
It is late afternoon and time is running out. Relief must be brought to the beaches in Jig Sector. Fortunately this situation also aids the attacker; the guns at the sanatorium can only be directed at the beach. However, expect an intense bombardment from German mortars. The two companies will be split and attacking the town from quadrants. A way must be found to coordinate and combine the two forces when and where possible.
If Le Hamel is held, it will be all but impossible for continued landings at Jig Sector due to the intense fire of the German guns. A continued German presence in Le Hamel would put the western flank of Gold beach in a precarious position, especially so given its proximity to the equally tenuous Allied hold on Omaha Beach. With a two pronged attack on Le Hamel, the opportunity is there to delay one force while crushing the other.
The sanatorium and its guns have exacted a heavy toll on the Hampshires and Dorsets since they landed. The difficulty in subduing the fortified structure had slowed down the advance in the sector and maintained that beaches remained hazardous throughout the day. As the final push of the Hampshires’ brought down the sanatorium, the threat to the beaches was over. However, their remained the task of clearing out the rest of Le Hamel which would not be fully completed until nightfall. (Allies 10 – 5)