#0626_01: Operation Epsom - Day One - Battles of Normandy
#0626_01: Operation Epsom - Day OneBy Jeff Conner
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Fontenay-le-Pesnel, West of Caen: June 26th, 1944 (Scenario Size: Corp+. Allied Human vs Axis AI or Head to Head). By late June, the front around Caen had become a stalemate. British and Canadian attacks gained a little ground, but at a high cost. Field Marshall Montgomery believed that a direct assault on the city would be cost prohibitive and elected to try and outflank the defenses by attacking to the west. If successful, this would force the Germans to abandon Caen as indefensible. Once Caen was secure, the open plain between there and Falaise would allow for additional armored thrusts in some of the best tank ground in Normandy. Montgomery dubbed this plan Operation Epsom and it had the VIII Corps conducting the attack. For most of VIII Corps, this would be their baptism of fire. The plan called for the 15th Scottish Division to lead the attack and seize the bridges over the Odon River as well as the high ground beyond. Once this area was secure, the 11th Armoured Division would exploit the opening and push on to the Orne River and beyond. The 43rd Wessex Division would cover the flanks and be in support. Operation Epsom was to be preceded by Operation Martlet just to the west which would seize vital high ground around Raurey and hopefully divert local reserves away from the main attack. As dawn arrived on June 26th, a steady rain fell, depriving the young Scotsmen of the air support that had been planned, but the sound of more than 700 artillery pieces rent the air. Facing VIII Corps was the young, but veteran 12 SS Hitler Jugend Division. They had been in action on an almost daily basis since the invasion began almost three weeks earlier. Once they occupied Caen and the area to the west, any Allied advance became limited and very costly. But this elite division had been planned as part of the great panzer force that would force the Allies back into the sea and so far, the division had been too busy holding back the British and Canadians to do much more than launch local counterattacks. And these counterattacks had done little to stem the Allied tide and had cost the Germans dearly. Many front line units in the Hitler Jugend were at 2/3rds strength and there were no replacements in sight. Operation Martlet had driven a wedge between the Hitler Jugend and the adjacent Panzer Lehr Division. Kurt Meyer, commander of the Hitler Jugend had been ordered to close this gap and he planned a dawn attack by his panzers, supported by the recon battalion to do just that. This scenario depicts the first day of Operation Epsom as well as the second day of Operation Martlet. It has a high unit density and has significant portions of three British Divisions as well as the Hitler Jugend Division in play. Field Marshall Montgomery believed in set-piece attacks, where once the initial objectives had been reached, additional units would pass through them to continue the attack. Consequently, the Allied player will find that during the course of the day, his initial forces will become fixed, but additional forces will be available to continue the attack. The Germans had no such luxury.