July 12, 2019

How Americas 30th Infantry Division Laid Waste to Nazi Panzers at Mortain
When American relief troops reached the area seven days later they discovered a panzer graveyard. A Column of German Mark V Panther tanks advanced through a thick fog north of the French town of Mortain, blindly firing their machine guns. Suddenly, the lead tank took a hit from an unseen American antitank round, penetrating the frontal armor and stopping it. A tank retriever approached the smoking tank only to come under fire. Then, crews of three tanks dismounted and gathered to discuss options. As they spoke, an American bazooka man fired a round into the group, killing some and scattering the rest. The bazooka man then dispatched two of the three stationary tanks. The 1st SS Panzer Division’s attack ground to a halt. What was supposed to be Adolf Hitler’s master stroke to cut off the American drive across France met an unexpected powerful resistance from the men of the American 30th Infantry Division—the “Old Hickory” division. The German attack successfully encircled Mortain on August 7, 1944, but resistance at places like the crossroads town of St. Barthelemy bled the Germans dry. Some 700 Old Hickory Americans of Lt. Col. Robert Ernest Frankland’s 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry Regiment, and 200 more of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, armed with rifles, machine guns, bazookas, and four M5 three-inch antitank guns, exacted a heavy toll on the panzers.



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