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December 18, 2012

By Jim Werbaneth


The Battle of Mortain, in early August 1944, was critical to the larger campaign in Normandy.  Easily overshadowed by the great tank battles in the British and Canadian sector, the killing ground of Falaise, and for that matter the D-Day landings.  Yet Mortain was key, as it marked a failure of the Germans to counter the American breakout, consequent to Operation Cobra.  Furthermore, the Germans ended up with the worst of both worlds after Mortain―They failed to achieve their objectives, but were overextended, and lost enough men and machines, to set themselves up for the even greater disaster of the Falaise Pocket.

In some ways, the Mortain counteroffensive was the kind of battle that should have favored Germany: It saw the concentration of large Wehrmacht and SS formations against American forces centered on straight-leg infantry, supported by armor.  Yet American artillery proved to be a great equalizer.  Furthermore, critical contributions came from Allied airpower, British as well as American.

Still, victory cannot be credited solely to the defenders’ copious firepower support, or even to a highly ambitious German plan.  Even the less experienced American formations fought well enough to win, and could be described as overachieving at times.  If anything, Mortain stands out as a battle in which the Americans showed that they could fight on terms chosen by the enemy, sustain losses, and still have the resilience and skill to win.  


Coming ashore on 6 June was only the start of the campaign for Northwestern Europe.  The Allies had to expand and consolidate their bridgeheads in Normandy, fighting through the broken bocage country, and at least break out from the hedgerows into the more open ground of France.  Further, the German army could be expected to do even more than contest its ground reactively; it might also counterattack.

In fact, counterattack was a keystone of the German defense plans, starting in 1943.  The Army Group B commander, the famous Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, insisted that the panzer reserves in the west be positioned close to the invasion beaches, so that they could counter the Allied landings as soon as possible.  Rommel believed that to be effective in the face of Allied airpower, these reserves should be positioned just far enough back from the beaches to avoid the worst of the pre-invasion bombardment, and yet close enough to enter combat within twenty-four hours.  However, in the face of a complaint from the overall commander in the West and thus Rommel’s superior in the West, Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt, Adolf Hitler reversed his initial approval of Rommel’s proposal.  Hitler’s reasoning was that no officer should control all the mechanized reserves, and therefore formed a centralized reserve, in addition to the three panzer divisions allocated to Rommel’s Army Group B.[1]

General der Panzertruppen Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg advocated a static defense on the coast, with the mechanized forces making a massed, mobile counterattack inland.  Geyr’s vision was of a counterattack between the Seine and the Loire, with the Luftwaffe committed to this mobile battle, instead of to a futile defense along the Channel coast.  However, this was not seriously considered by Rundstedt; the Field Marshal instead anticipated counterattacks near the coast, instead of gambling everything on a massive panzer battle inland.[2]  However, in time Rundstedt altered his views, on grounds that one could not dependably project where the Allies would land; rather than gamble on the invasion beaches, deployment of the panzers inland would allow a more flexible response.  The coastal defenses would slow the invaders, softening them up for a concentrated counterattack.  As Rundstedt stated: “No dispersion, no piecemeal commitment, no thin soup!”[3]  Accordingly, in November the central panzer reserve was concentrated under Geyr’s command in November 1943, as Panzer Group West.[4]

The dispute over the employment of the panzers was paralleled in command dispute between Rommel on one side, and Rundstedt and Geyr on the other.  In March 1944 Rommel demanded an extension of his authority that would have made both of the other officers virtually irrelevant.  Vacillating between supporting Rommel and Rundstedt, Hitler finally arrived at a solution that satisfied no one: Rommel would maintain control of three panzer divisions as the reserves for Army Group B, while Geyr retained three panzer and one panzergrenadier divisions in Panzer Group West.  Furthermore, Geyr would be responsible for the training and organization of all mechanized divisions in the West, regardless of to whom they answered.[5]

Germany aggravated the disorganization, and committed a further sin against the principle of unity of command, through the final disposition of Panzer Group West’s command structure.  Geyr was in charge, but could not commit his divisions without the approval of Adolf Hitler himself.[6]  Therefore the leader of a panzer group in France could not support an army group commander, or answer to a theater commander, in the event of an enemy invasion; his ability to react to events depended on the decisions of an increasingly erratic Führer, far away in Berlin.  In practice this was every bit as bad as it sounds, as Rundstedt attempted to order two divisions to the Normandy Coast on the morning of 6 June, only to find that Hitler was asleep, and no one would wake him up.  This sent Rundstedt into such a rage that his chief of operations recorded his speech as unintelligible.  By 1000 that morning, Rundstedt had conditional approval to move the 12th SS Panzer Division, just as long as it did not go into action without Hitler’s approval.  He also requested commitment of the Wehrmacht’s Panzer Lehr Division, but was rejected.[7]

Thus from the morning of 6 June, the German plan for a massed armored counterstrike was undone.  There were local counterattacks by Army Group B’s own armored reserves.  The 21st Panzer Division was released to attack the British 6th Airborne Division east of the Orne after dawn on the day of invasion, despite early indecision on the part of the Seventh Army.  Though this division was in action much earlier than those of the OKW reserve, its officers would have preferred to move even earlier, preferably after the first news of the Allied air drops, leading to a great deal of frustration on their part.[8]

The Germans were incapable of mounting anything close to the concentrated armored counterstroke of their plans.  Instead of attacking the Allied beachheads, the panzer and panzergrenadier divisions were released to defend, mainly in the east, against the British and Canadians.  This part of Normandy, with more open and thus tank-friendly ground than the bocage country where the Americans fought, was the site of a series of Anglo-Canadian offensives, calculated to expand the Allied lodgment and then achieve a breakthrough.  Therefore it received most of the German mechanized forces; in turn these had to fight a series of more defensive battles.[9]  According to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the centerpiece of this fighting was the city of Caen, needed to maintain a connection between the troops in Normandy and the Fifteenth Army in the Pas de Calais, as yet uncommitted.  Wrote the Allied supreme commander: “If he lost that city his [the Germans] two principle forces would be divided and could thenceforth operate together only if both executed a long withdrawal.  So to Caen he hurried his strongest and best divisions, and made every possible preparation to hold it to the end.”[10]

As the German units were subject to every-more stress in their efforts to contain the Allies in Normandy, their command structure, already subject to self-inflicted confusion, underwent further turmoil.  On 29 June, Rundstedt was relieved of command and replaced by Günther von Kluge.[11]  Then on 15 July, Rommel was severely wounded by a Royal Air Force attack on his car, and had to return to Germany to convalesce.[12]    Kluge then added to his duties by taking over direct command of Army Group B in place of Rommel.[13]  Further, on 20 July, a conspiracy of German officers attempted to assassinate Hitler; when the bomb planted by Graf Claus von Stauffenberg failed to kill the Führer, the result was a purge of the officer corps of elements regarded as disloyal.[14]

Even before the assassination attempt, Hitler was already replacing senior Wehrmacht officers with members of the SS seen as more faithful to the National Socialist cause.  After the fall of Cherbourg to the Americans on 22 June, the commander of the Seventh Army, Colonel General Friedrich Dollman was relieved, and replaced by SS Oberstgruppenführer und General der Waffen Paul Hausser.  Though an experienced and skilled tactician, as well as a committed Nazi, Hausser lacked the perspective needed for high command, and soon ran afoul of Kluge, who criticized his reactions to the Americans’ breakout into Britanny.[15]

This breakout was the result of Operation Cobra, launched on 25 July.  By the end of the month, the American 1st Army forced a hole in the overstretched enemy lines on their western flank, exploited by the newly activated Third Army under George S. Patton.[16] Patton’s troops drove in two directions; west into Brittany, in order to take the ports there, and to the east, threatening Paris and the rear of the Germans facing the British and Canadians in the neighborhood of Caen.

Thus as July turned to August, the Germans in Normandy faced a rapidly developing, multi-faceted crisis.  In the West, the Americans were irrupting out of the bocage country, with little to stop them.  In the east, the forces facing the British and Canadian armies were worn and fixed in place.  To deal with this, the Germans decided upon a measure consistent with their pre-invasion plans: A multi-divisional mechanized counteroffensive.


The counterattack at Mortain was dubbed Unternehmen Lüttich, or Operation Liége.[17]  It was handicapped from the beginning by heavy losses during the post-D-Day battles, with eight divisions practically destroyed during the month of July alone.[18]  Further, no offensive against the Americans could be made in isolation, as there was a compelling need to hold against the British on the opposite flank.  The long battles in the bocage might have been costly to the Allies, but the Germans could afford their losses even less.  Thus a campaign of attrition in the hedgerows favored the Americans in the long run.[19]

Going into Normandy, the only US Army divisions had combat experience: The 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions, 82nd Airborne and the 2nd Armored Division.  The rest had to learn the lessons of combat the hard way, paying in increased casualties.  However, in the process American units honed their skills at integrated tanks and infantry in combined operations, a noteworthy shortcoming at the start of the campaign.[20]

In addition, the Allies were the beneficiaries of the Ultra intelligence program, though its impact on the Mortain offensive was limited.   Before the attack began, the decryption service at Bletchley Park alerted 12th Army Group commander Omar Bradley of the offensive, enabling him to realign his forces to meet it.  Then, as the Germans started Lüttich on the night of 6-7 August, Bletchley Park forwarded more intercepts to Bradley, clarifying the German timetable and initial objectives.[21]  Unfortunately though, most of the Ultra intelligence was late in coming, vague and not disseminated to lower command levels, for reasons of operational security.  Thus, on a tactical level, Ultra had little or no effect.[22]

Finally, Kluge had a personal stake in the battle that lent it an element of desperation.  The failed officers’ plot to kill Hitler made senior members of the Wehrmacht determined to redeem the dishonor of their service.  In personal terms, no one wanted to appear as a defeatist.[23]  Kluge himself was complicit in the plot, as was Rommel.  On 1 August, Hitler disclosed to Alfred Jodl that he had proof that both Field Marshalls were guilty, and that as soon as the offensive at Mortain was finished, so was Kluge.[24]  Therefore Kluge was not just fighting for Germany, but also for what remained of his own future.  Simply put, he could not afford to lose.

The Germans attempted to counter the Allied advantages through the principle of concentration.  Initially, the forces involved were to consist of the 2nd and 116th Panzer Divisions, and the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich,” under command of the XLVII Panzer Corps.[25]  The Corps was led by General der Panzertruppen Hans von Funck.  A competent officer with Eastern Front experience who had also performed well against the Canadians at Caen, he was highly disliked by his subordinates and enlisted men, on the grounds that he hounded them relentlessly, and yet never visited the front line.[26]

Kluge attempted to gather more panzer divisions for Operation Lüttich, but was frustrated due to the advance of the British, Canadian and Polish divisions from Caen toward Falaise.  The panzers would have to be taken from that end of the front and transferred to face the Americans, a move that required both giving up territory to shorten the line, and substituting less capable infantry and paratrooper units for mechanized forces to be assembled for the offensive.  All the while, this had to be accomplished in the face not just of the American breakout, but of increasing Anglo-Canadian pressure.  This impeded the departure of the 1st SS Panzer Division “Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler,” so that it departed the front piecemeal, and thus arrived to participate in Operation Lüttich similarly.[27]

The objectives for the attack were territorial, rather than destroying American units directly.  The axis of advance would be south of the See River; this was relatively lightly defended, and the river could function as an obstacle to large American counterattacks to the German flanks.  Moreover, the terrain north of the river was that of the hedgerows, providing more impediments to American movement.  High ground south of the Sée would give good visibility to German artillery observers, and the road net facilitated mobility for the panzers.[28]

At the same time that geography aided the Germans, it made the Americans vulnerable.  The 3rd Army’s two-pronged breakout into Brittany and towards Paris passed through a thin bottleneck, and with the passage of Patton’s army, its logistics went down a single, highly congested north-south road.[29]  Cutting this road, in the neighborhood of Avranches and Pontaubault, would cut Patton’s lines of communication without engaging him directly.

By 6 August, the panzer divisions assigned to Lüttich were assembled east of Mortain, ready to move west under the cover of darkness.  However, that day Adolf Hitler called Kluge several times; the Führer had changed his mind from a determination to attack, to a desire for delay.  Whereas Kluge had been a reluctant party early on, he was now the one driven to strike.  Patton’s troops were threatening Le Mans, and with it an even greater envelopment of Kluge’s entire position.  Coupled with that, the British were pushing at Caumont, west of Caen.  Plus, Kluge’s preparations were so far advanced that they had past the point of no return.  He suspected that the Allies might have caught wind of his intentions―a major understatement considering the insights provided by Ultra―and if he was right, then Allied airpower could destroy his forces in their assembly areas. [30]


The counteroffensive began before dawn on 7 August.  In the north, the 116th Panzer Division moved along the north bank of the Sée River, without prior assembly, and echeloned to the right rear, in order to protect the north flank.  Making the main effort in the center was the 2nd Panzer Division, reinforced by one panzer battalion each from the 116th and 1st SS Panzer Divisions.   Its principle avenue of advance was along the Sée’s south bank, and the St.-Barthélemy-Reffuveille road.  Attacking through Mortain, and covering the southern flank, was the 2nd SS Panzer Division, augmented by the 17th SS Panzer Division, reduced by combat to the strength of a regiment.  The 1st SS Panzer Division was to follow the leading units closely, ready to exploit success and capture Avranches.[31]

The Germans expected a favorable situation in the morning, with fog predicted in the morning, expected to aid the attack.   Should the fog clear later in the day, the Luftwaffe promised Hausser’s Seventh Army that it would support the attack with three hundred fighter planes.  The Germans identified just two enemy divisions in the Mortain, the 30th Infantry and 3rd Armored.[32]

The first day’s action was not an unqualified success for the Germans.  The southern columns achieved some surprise, and overran the 30th Infantry Division’s roadblocks en route to Mortain.[33]  Particularly hard hit was the 1st Battalion of the 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division.  The regiment’s 2nd Battalion took up defensive positions on the nearby Hill 317, though isolated.[34]

Despite the defeat of the 1st Battalion and the isolation of the 2nd, the German advance did not achieve anything close to a decisive breakthrough.  Most galling to the Germans was the lack of offensive ardor in the 116th Panzer Division, especially its commander, Lieutenant General Gerhard Graf von Schwerin.  According to the US Army’s official history, Schwerin was afraid of encirclement by the Americans, and withheld the attack order from his subordinates.  In addition, he held back a tank battalion that was supposed to reinforce the 2nd Panzer Division.  Apparently too, he had lost all hope for victory, and was also involved in the conspiracy against Hitler; thus he engaged in what the official history calls “a blatant case of disobedience.”  By 1600 on the first day of the battle, he was relieved of command, and replaced by Funck’s chief of staff, Colonel Walter Reinhard. [35]

Nor was he the only German to fail on 7 August.  Kluge himself made an error in committing the Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler north of Mortain instead of south of St.-Hilaire, where American resistance was virtually nonexistent.  Generally too, it seemed to the Führer that the entire attack had been launched in a hasty, careless manner; perhaps if Kluge had waited for three more panzer divisions to assemble and aid the attack, it would have gone better.[36]

Another failure was courtesy of the Luftwaffe.  Despite its promises, it was not a factor in the fighting of 7 August.  Rather, the battlefield was dominated by Allied airpower.  Allied fighters patrolling around Paris kept their German counterparts occupied, and away from Mortain.  Closer to Normandy, American medium bombers interdicted the roads used by the attackers, and British Hawker Typhoon fighter bombers, armed with rockets, flew 294 sorties between noon and dusk, mainly against the 2nd Panzer Division north of Mortain.[37]

The air attacks were a combined effort by the British and Americans.  The latter were fully aware that the American 9th Air Force did not possess many of the rocket-armed planes ideally suited for anti-tank strikes; most American fighter bombers were solely capable of dropping bombs, which was not as effective against moving vehicles.  Thus the Americans asked the British to send as many of their rocket-armed Typhoons to the St.-Barthélemy area.[38]

One cost of the prodigious Anglo-American air support on 7 August was measured in friendly fire incidents.  I Company, 119th Infantry, was strafed by American P-47D Thunderbolts, while British Typhoons attacked supporting tanks.  This was possibly the result of a German ruse, firing red smoke shells, used by the Allies to designate targets for air attack.  More likely, it was the result of observers from nearby divisions mistaking the 30th Division men for Germans.[39]

Effectively, Operation Lüttich was over by the afternoon of its first day.  The initiative passed to the Americans, who went on the attack themselves.  Not only were the Germans subject to Allied airpower, but artillery played a key role in the battle.  Control of Hill 317 played a major role, as the Germans diverted troops to try to destroy the American pocket.[40]  This proved impossible, in large part due to the efforts of Lieutenant Robert L. Weiss, a forward observer for B Battery, 230th Field Artillery Battalion, who was positioned on the hill before Operation Lüttich began.[41]  Weiss’s biggest problem was not so much accessing the heavy firepower of American artillery, or even maintaining his position on a hill that became the object of the Germans’ lethal attentions; it was keeping his radio operating with just two sets of depleted batteries.[42]

There were other problems with the American artillery too, especially in terms of coordination at different command levels.  For example, VII Corps allocated its artillery support the 30th Infantry Division’s actions, and yet these guns were rarely used; fire missions by the division’s artillery outnumbered those by the VII Corps batteries by five to one.  Especially considering that the division was reluctant to call in air support, the failure to efficiently exploit the artillery at its disposal was a nagging and unnecessary handicap.[43]


The Germans were able to hold on to most of the territory taken in Operation Lüttich through 10 August, despite American counterattacks.  But nothing occurs in a vacuum, and actions elsewhere were creating a crisis for the German army.  In the northeast, the Canadians launched Operation Totalize on 7 August, pushing south.[44]  Furthermore, Patton’s Third Army was driving north , threatening to make contact with the Canadians and bag the German 7th Army and the 5th Panzer Army (renamed from Panzer Group West) in a giant pocket.[45]  Ultimately, the Germans could not renew the attack toward Avranches and defend against a combination of the Commonwealth and Patton.

On 12 August, Lieutenant Weiss called in his last fire missions.  On the same day, the isolated battalion on Hill 314 was relieved by a battalion of the 119th Infantry, from the 30th Infantry Division, and elements of the 35th Infantry Division.[46]  With that the last stage of Operation Lüttich came to an end.

By then, the German army was much more concerned with its own survival than anything resembling an offensive.  The great killing ground that would be known as the Falaise Pocket was taking shape.  It was not completely closed, in part due to a deliberate decision by Bradley, who doubted that the four available Allied divisions could hold its eastern end closed in the face of nineteen desperate, though understrength, German divisions bent on escape.[47]

Despite this, the destruction within the pocket was vast.  By the end of 17 August, it contained about 100,000 troops, confined in an area only twenty miles wide by ten miles deep.  The Germans attempted to retreat down one road, finally closed on 20 August, and cohesion broke down, replaced by confusion and traffic congestion.  Ultimately about 10,000 Germans were killed and 50,000 taken prisoner.  Losses of horses and equipment were similarly high.  Something between 20,000 and 40,000 Germans managed to escape, though many were non-combat troops ordered out early.[48]

Operation Lüttrich actually accelerated the destruction of the German armies in the Falaise Pocket, as mechanized units that should have been used to defend against the British and Canadians were thrown against the Americans in a rushed, long shot offensive.  As the Germans attempted to gain concentration around Mortain, they had to concede economy of force around Caen and Falaise, which proved inadequate.  Thus even before sustaining casualties in men and machines, the forces committed to Operation Lüttich were denied to a more critical position, and finally were out of position to defend against the formation of the Falaise Pocket.  By this perspective, the German offensive was poorly conceived in its basic premise.

It also exhibits some major misconceptions about Allied capabilities to resist.  By August 1944, the German leadership should have had a better appreciation of the power of American artillery to influence a battle.  Further, the dominance of American and British tactical airpower was no secret, and thus should not have been a surprise on the afternoon of 7 August.  Ultra intercepts were a closely-guarded secret, and would remain so for three decades after the war, and so the Germans naturally could not integrate them into their calculations.  Ironically though, despite the readiness of modern historians to credit Ultra with winning the war, it had little direct effect on combat during Operation Lüttich.

One has to give more credit to the differences in performance between the Germans and Americans.  Though less experienced, the American units had learned enough since 6 June to perform credibly.  By contrast, the vaunted Wehrmacht and SS did not meet their usual standards or reputation.  Schwerin’s inactivity on the first day of the offensive is just the start, as the operations officer for the 30th Infantry Division observed that many Germans acted more concerned with escape and survival than pressing the offensive.[49]

Finally, just as the offensive did not take place in a military victim, it was not completely divorced from politics.  Both Kluge and Schwerin, like the absent Rommel, were implicated in the officers’ plot to kill Hitler, and while they acted in different ways, their actions and inactions were influenced by the failed assassination attempt.  Kluge formulated an offensive in part to save his reputation and perhaps his life, while Schwerin basically took his division out of the battle, and for that matter the war, at a critical time.

It was because of the plot that one became a casualty of sorts.  Hitler decided to replace Kluge with Field Marshal Walter Model, a dependable loyalist.  Model arrived in France on 17 August, in the midst of the battles around the Falaise Pocket.  Called back to Germany two days later, Kluge committed suicide by cyanide capsule.  Less than a year later, Model too would kill himself, during the last days of the Reich.[50]

In the end, the concept of Operation Lüttich was a good one, perhaps if it was executed as a staff exercise or wargame.  It had an advantage too of being reminiscent of the pre-invasion plans for a massed panzer counteroffensive against the beachheads, so the Germans were planning on familiar terms.  Further, its viability might increase if one can ignore the events on in the Caen-Falaise area especially, but also Patton’s operations to the south; of course though, one cannot.  Finally, one should not disregard the tumultuous and dangerous environment of German political and military life after the failed attempt to kill Hitler.  The counteroffensive owed something to this environment, as well as to purely military considerations, and so did its outcome.

The Battle of Mortain was not an especially large one compared to D-Day or Falaise, and the British offensives around Caen, especially Operation Goodwood, overshadow it in terms of sheer, short term intensity.  Nonetheless, it was an important chapter in the battles in Normandy in 1944, and especially as a transition between the American breakout and the Allied victories at Falaise.  It also represents an important, and perhaps underrated, episode in which the American army showed that it could fight the Germans’ battle, and win.


[1] Thomas E. Griess (ed.), The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean (Wayne, NJ: Avery Publishing Group, 1989), 270-271.

[2] Gordon A. Harrison, Cross-Channel Attack (Washington: Office of Military History, 1993), 153.

[3] Ibid., 155.

[4] Ibid., 247.

[5] Ibid., 248.

[6] Griess, 293.

[7] Ibid., 293-294.

[8] Hans von Luck, Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Hans von Luck (New York: Dell, 1989), 171-177.

[9] Griess, 329.

[10] Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948), 258.

[11] C. Peter Chen, “Günther von Kluge,” World War II Database,, accessed 18 April 2012.

[12] C. Peter Chen, “Erwin Rommel,” World War II Database,, accessed 18 April 2012.

[13] Mark J. Reardon, Victory at Mortain: Stopping Hitler’s Panzer Counteroffensive (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2002), 48.

[14] Griess, 155.

[15] Reardon, 49.

[16] Martin Blumenson, Breakout and Pursuit (Washington: Office of Military History, 1989), 247-281.

[17] Reardon, 51.

[18] Blumenson, 442.

[19] Reardon, 10.

[20] Ibid., 11.

[21] John Keegan, Six Armies in Normandy (New York: Penguin, 1994), 245-246.

[22] Reardon, 94

[23] Keegan, 244.

[24] Reardon, 50.

[25] Ibid., 47.

[26] Ibid., 51.

[27] Ibid., 50-53.

[28] Ibid., 50.

[29] Ibid., 39.

[30] Keegan, 245.

[31] Blumenson, 461.

[32] Ibid., 461.

[33] Keegan, 246.

[34] Reardon, 99-101.  There are differences in the nomenclature of this hill.  The local name is Mont Joie, and the US Army official history calls it Hill 314, while later sources call it Hill 317.  In the interests of consistency, it is called Hill 314, after Blumenson, here.

[35] Blumenson, 463.

[36] Ibid., 464.

[37] Keegan, 245-246.

[38] Reardon, 137.

[39] Ibid., 138.

[40] Ibid., 294.

[41] Ibid., 83.

[42] Robert Weiss, Fire Mission!  The Siege at Mortain, Normandy, August 1944 (Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1998), 119-120.  Weiss’s book is a memoir of his role in the battle, enhanced by analysis of the artillery observer’s job.  He further includes details on individual engagements and fire missions.

[43] Reardon, 228.

[44] Colonel C.P. Stacey, Official History of the Canadian Army in World War II, Volume III: The Victory Campaign, The Operations in North-West Europe, 1944-1945 (Ottawa: Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery, 1966), 217.  HyperWar,  accessed 22 April 2012.

[45] Reardon, 233-235.

[46] Weiss, 154.

[47] Keegan, 261.

[48] Griess, 338.

[49] Keegan, 246-247.

[50] “Walter Model,” The Eastern Front,  accessed 21 April 2012.



Blumenson, Martin.  Breakout and Pursuit.  Washington: Center of Military History, 1989.


Chen, C. Peter.  “Erwin Rommel,” World War II Database,  accessed 18 April 2012.


_____.  “Günther von Kluge,” World War II Database,  accessed 18 April 2012.


Eisenhower, Dwight D.  Crusade in Europe.  Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1948.


Griess, Thomas E. (ed.).  The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean.  Wayne, NJ: Avery, 1989.

Harrison, Gordon.  Cross-Channel Attack.  Washington: Office of Military History, 1993.

Keegan, John.
  Six Armies in Normandy.  New York: Penguin, 1994.

Luck, Hans von.  Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Hans von Luck.  New York: Dell, 1989.

Reardon, Mark J.
  Victory at Mortain: Stopping Hitler’s Panzer Counteroffensive.  Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2002.

Stacey, Colonel C.P.
  Official History of the Canadian Army in World War II, Volume III: The Victory Campaign, The Operations in North-West Europe, 1944-1945.  Ottawa: Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery, 1966.  HyperWar,  accessed 22 April 2012.

“Walter Model.”
  The Eastern Front,  accessed 21 April 2012.

Weiss, Robert.  Fire Mission!  The Siege at Mortain, Normandy, August 1944.  Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1998