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European Campaign Pt.IV - A Measure of Revenge
The Battle of Dompaire
by Paul Rohrbaugh

Background

The panzer division in modern warfare today holds the former place of cavalry as the decisive arm of combat. Tank officers must carry on in the tradition of cavalry…therefore take note of Marshall Blucher’s motto, “Forward and through!”
--Excerpt from Panzer’s Vorwarts (Panzers Forward).

Following the liberation of Paris on August 26th, the 2nd Free French Armored Division, under the leadership of Genera LeClerc, helped lead the advance of Patton’s Third Army eastward. In a desperate bid to retrieve the situation on the West Front, Hitler rushed reinforcements and ordered a series of counterattacks. Despite the protestations of recently installed General Gerd von Rundstedt that the newly-formed panzer brigades were not yet ready for action, they had just been instated on September 4th, the attack orders stood. After all, Hitler retorted with disdain, they will only be attacking the French.

The Free French 2nd Armored Division was made up of American-made tanks, manned by seasoned veterans, some of whom first fought in their homeland in May 1940. The 112th Panzer Brigade had many powerful new tanks, but these were manned with new recruits. The armored clash at Dompaire on the 12th and 13th of September confirmed that the French had learned well the lessons of war, and that Allied victory in the West now was now at hand.

Scenario EU-4: A Measure of Revenge

Aftermath

Vive la France! Vive Leclerc!
--Troops of the Free French 2nd Armored Division on September 12th, 1944.

Alerted by units of the Maquis (French partisans) the Germans were about to attack, General Leclerc quickly gathered up the scattered units of the 2nd Free French Armored to meet the Boche. The Germans were harassed by the Maquis on their march to the front, constantly having to stop to clear felled trees and contend with sniping attacks. As the evening of the 12th approached the harassed and frustrated Germans sent a Kampfgruppe (battle group) ahead to seize the town of Dompaire and the bridge over the Sielle River. A head-on clash of armor resulted. Although eventually successful in taking Dompaire, the Germans failed in their bid to breakthrough.

On the 13th both sides amassed their forces for a knock-down, drag-out fight. However, these were not the panzertruppen of 1940, and the French tankers had four or more years of fighting experience on their side, as well as complete air superiority. The result was a slaughter of the 112th Panzer Brigade. It was only with the intervention of a kampfgruppe from the 21st Panzer that the survivors were saved from annihilation.










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