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D-Day Campaign Pt. 7 - The Ambush of the First Hussars
Patrick Graham

Background

As the evening approached on D-Day, many Allied units were still clearing out tenacious defenders, often single riflemen or small groups, who wished to fight to the death, even against such impossible odds. The end of the day objectives across all of the sectors seemed more and more distant as companies and regiments were held up with constant harassment from pockets of German soldiers. By the afternoon the German defenses in Normandy began to stiffen, and the resourceful German soldiers would reoccupy cleared out strong points and positions to continue their harassment of the confused Allies. Where fighting was the worst, at places like Omaha Beach, it was entirely uncertain whether a stable beachhead would be established before night fall.

It is at this point that the final objectives of Caen and Carpiquet Airport seemed out of reach for the soldiers who landed at Juno Beach. Many units were struggling just to meet their intermediate objectives. Nonetheless, the tankers of the First Hussars were convinced that little to no opposition lay between them and the final day objectives if they could just get past the enemy concentrations closest to the beach. They were mostly correct. It was only at 1300 hours that the SS reserves were finally committed to the sector around the Orne River. There was a total lack of coordination from German command at all levels, so many units had to make decisions and operate somewhat independently. This made for a Norman landscape that was relatively free of German resistance in some places and potential points for disaster in others.

After the hard fight in Courselles, the Regina Rifles still had not reached their intermediate objective at the River Seulles. B Squadron of the First Hussars, the same that helped win the beaches at Nan Green, was charged with spearheading the advance and scouting out the valley ahead. The Canadian units were suffering their own difficulties in coordinating their attacks. The radio net that was to support and organize the Allied advance at Juno now had holes in it as units moved out of range or radio nodes failed. Normally the tanks would have the infantry support at close hand via the radio, but here they would have to move into the valley alone and hopefully return safely with news as to enemy activity. It was not to turn out that way as the tankers moved out at 1800 hours.

Scenario DD-7: The Ambush of the First Hussars

At 1800 hours on June 6th 1944, the tanks of B Squadron of the First Hussars roll out to reconnoiter the countryside south of Riviers. German anti-tank soldiers wait around the fringes of the valley, hoping to ambush any Allied soldiers that emerge.

Allied Objectives

B Squadron of the First Hussars must reconnoiter the valley south of Riviers ahead of the Regina Rifles. There will most likely be German soldiers waiting in ambush. To make matters worse, the radio net is down, so the tanks will have to move ahead without support and return to report on enemy activity in the area. The tanks should cover as much ground as possible, destroying any pockets of resistance, and return to Riviers to join up with the Regina Rifles.

Axis Objectives

By now it is apparent to all ranks at Normandy what is really underway, a massive invasion of France via the coast that they were supposed to defend. Reserve divisions have just been released and may soon begin counter-attacks against the Allied beach-heads. It is essential that all German forces in the areas continue to harass, reduce and hold-up the Allied forces. If the Allies are kept close to the coast, they can be demolished when the time for a new German counter-offensive comes.

Aftermath

As B Squadron moved out, everything seemed to go without a hitch. However, upon entering the valley, heavy mortars had opened up, hoping to hit the vulnerable top and rear armor of the Hussars’ Shermans. They made copious use of smoke rounds to conceal themselves from observers. Suddenly a German 88 also opened fire on the tanks as a sniper shot dead any tanker that popped his head out of the turret hatch. After the melee petered out, all of the B Squadron tanks were knocked out. To their credit, they had also silenced all of the enemy soldiers and their guns. In some cases they exited their tanks to fight hand to hand. Without tanks, they trudged back to join the Regina Rifles as they marched toward the River Seulles. They would reach their intermediate objective, but the cost for the unit was staggering.

It would be ‘C’ squadron that would find little resistance on their own drive southward, being the only allied unit that landed on the beaches to reach their end-day objective. They would make it all the way to the almost deserted Carpiquet Airport, but turn back for lack of support. It would be the site of a hard battle in July, as the Canadians fought to claim what was almost theirs a month ago. While D-Day had been carried for the Allies, the great battle for France had only just begun. Sheer force and determination were the only things that would finally shatter Fortress Europe. Axis (12-9)

Editor's Note: Because this scenario makes use of hidden units, we have included a third page to the scenario that has a black & white map to facilitate noting where hidden units have been placed.










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