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Fighting at the Pas De La Selle, 21 July 1944


Летом 1944 немецкое командование провело карательную акцию против французского Сопротивления в районе французских Альп, на юго-востоке Франции, где существовала партизанская Свободная республика Веркор.

Горнострелковым частям был поручен захват четырех крутых склонов в юго-восточной части массива Веркор.
На иллюстрации показаны бои на самом южном перевале Pas De La Selle 21.07.1944

As a consequence of their experience in the Alps during World War I the German army formed Gebirgsjäger units which specialized in mountain warfare. Overall ten mountain divisions were raised during World War II, but they were mostly used as ordinary infantry and saw action in mountainous areas only on a few occasions, most notably in the Caucasus in 1942–43. Another example was the combat against the French Resistance in the Alps in 1944, where Reserve Gebirgsjäger Regiment 1 of 157. Reserve Division was deployed. The division and regiment were normally training formations for young recruits with battle-experienced cadres. For the Vercors operation the Gebirgsjäger were tasked with seizing four steep mountain passes in the south-east of the Vercors massif. The artwork shows the fighting at the most southern of these passes, the Pas de la Selle, on 21 July 1944. In the late afternoon Gebirgsjäger of 8. Kompanie/Reserve Gebirgsjäger Bataillon II/98, together with four attached machine-gun sections from 9. Kompanie as well as a heavy mortar and an infantry support gun section from 10. Kompanie climbed the pass. The battalion headquarters under Hauptmann Graf Clemens Rességuier de Miremont also followed 8. Kompanie. When the force had almost reached the Pas de la Selle the French Maquis of Compagnie André started to fire from above and a fierce battle ensued. The two most forward German platoons, platoon Wilhelm and platoon Hilche, have stalled and cannot move any farther. For the time being the third platoon under the command of Oberleutnant Hans Schlemmer cannot join the battle. In this critical situation the officer commanding 8. Kompanie, Leutnant Stefan Ritter, orders the deployment of the attached heavy weapons. But it takes almost an hour for these to be brought forward. When they open fire a hail of mortar and machine-gun fire rains down on the French defenders. Effectively directed by non-commissioned officers, the heavy machine guns from 9. Kompanie turn out to be a crucial factor. The amount of firepower and the following swift advance of the left forward platoon finally tips the battle in favour of the Germans. At 2115hrs the Gebirgsjäger finally seize the pass from the heavily outnumbered French defenders. Since Reserve Gebirgsjäger Regiment 1 was only a training formation, it was not issued with the most recent equipment. Instead of the modern MG42 the young recruits had to rely on the older MG34. Despite the Wehrmacht’s advanced communication technology in their armoured forces, their infantry units normally had only radios from battalion and sometimes company level upwards. Communication on the lower tactical levels had to be done by runners.
рисунок Fighting at the Pas De La Selle, 21 July 1944
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