The Germans threw the weight of the XLVII Panzer Corps, including one and a half SS-Panzer Divisions and two Heer Panzer Divisions, at the American lines. Their left flank hit the 30th Infantry Division at Mortain. The Germans achieved surprise and managed to take the village, but were unable to push through Old Hickory’s positions.
The following week, from 7 August to 12 August, the 30th stopped every German attempt at breaking through to Avranches in vicious hand-to-hand combat. Command posts fought on the front line merely a few hundred yards from enemy tanks, artillery fired at point-blank ranges, and ambushes, flanking marches, and individual acts of heroism were the order of the day. The 30th would not be moved.
Part of the 30th’s stand against the Mortain offensive, included holding the vital Hill 314, which had a dominating view of the whole area. The hill was held by 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, and despite being surrounded and cut off, the battalion’s 700 men held against everything the SS could throw at them. They were finally relieved on 12 August, losing 300 of their own, but holding the hill against the odds.
By 13 August the Germans were driven from Mortain and after a week of fighting, Old Hickory had halted the daring German attack and sent the enemy panzers packing straight into the closing Falaise Gap.
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