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By the end of July 1944, the Americans had successfully broken out of Normandy and into the open countryside to the south and southeast. The town of Mortain was taken by American forces at the beginning of August. This small …
By the end of July 1944, the Americans had successfully broken out of Normandy and into the open countryside to the south and southeast. The town of Mortain was taken by American forces at the beginning of August. This small French village became the focus of a German counterattack called Operation Luttich. The ultimate objective of this attack was the Pontaubalt Bridge at Avranches 35 kilometers to the west. Once the bridge was taken, the entire US. 3rd Army under General Patton would be cut off from General Bradley’s forces. But first the Germans needed control of the vital road network around Mortain to allow a drive to Avranches on the coast.
Operation Lüttich was a codename given to a German counter-attack during the Battle of Normandy, which took place around the American positions near Mortain in northwestern France from 7 August to 13 August 1944. The offensive is also referred to in American and British histories of the Battle of Normandy as the Mortain counterattack. The assault was ordered by Adolf Hitler, to eliminate the gains made by the First United States Army during Operation Cobra and the subsequent weeks, and by reaching the coast in the region of Avranches at the base of the Cotentin peninsula, cut off the units of the Third United States Army which had advanced into Brittany. The main German striking force was the XLVII Panzer Corps, with one and a half SS Panzer Divisions and two Heer Panzer Divisions. Although they made initial gains against the defending U.S. VII Corps, they were soon halted and the Allies inflicted severe losses on the attacking troops, eventually destroying most of the German tanks involved in the attack. Although fighting continued around Mortain for six days, the American forces had regained the initiative within a day of the opening of the German attack.
Wikipedia: Operation Lüttich