commanding Fifth Panzer Army
The battle for Le Mans, dated August 12th 1944
While waiting in Berlin, I received this report on the anticipated American attack near Le Mans.
My subordinate deployed on a group of hills overlooking bocage. The Panzer IVs of Panzer Lehr division occupied this ground in protected positions together with the 709th Infantry Division. The 352nd Infantry division was in reserve and guarded the command centre and supply dumps in the rear area. Minefields were placed on the flanks. The Americans attacked with two armoured and two infantry divisions on the left. The 1st Infantry division, weakened from the battle a week earlier, advanced slowly in the centre.
The units on the extreme left were halted by the minefields, those closer to the centre advanced rapidly and soon engaged Panzer Lehr. Meanwhile the American airforce pounded our positions and inflicted significant damage. After a prolonged firefight, the green American 4th Armoured division withdrew but not before forcing most of Panzer Lehr from its position on the hill. This allowed the American 2nd Infantry division to take the hill and attack the remaining units of Panzer Lehr in the flank.
Meanwhile the other American divisions (the green American 3rd Armoured division and the 90th Infantry division) had moved round the minefield, swung to their left and attacked the 352nd Infantry division. Facing them was only one battalion with attached Pak40 ATGs which was guarding the supply dumps. The ATGs forced the armour to retreat after knocking out many Shermans while the infantry battalion held off repeated attacks by the American infantry.
With our central position crumbling, the American 1st Infantry division made a cautious advance. Seeing this, the commander of the 709th Infantry Division, forming a kampfgruppe from the remaing tanks of Panzer Lehr and his own infantry, attacked the 1st division, driving a wedge between it and the 2nd division. This caused great confusion in the American forces and halted their attack.
Nevertheless the Americans have punched a hole through our line on the left, so the Corps has withdrawn to Orleans.Bottom right are elements of US 4th Armored.
Top right are elements of US 90th Infantry.
Top centre is the battalion of 352nd and the supply dump with remnants of Pz Lehr in the background.
The US 2nd Infantry are on the hill with US 1st infantry bottom left.
The 709th kampfgruppe is centre left under attack by the US airforce.