D-Day Plus One: Finding Scattered Paratroopers


Mission Photo Album

A screenshot photo of U.S. Army Ranger Capt. Ramsey conversing with U.S. 101st Airborne paratroopers in a house in Normandy bocage country after D-Day in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

Capt. Ramsey converses with a stranded paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division inside a house after D-Day.

During the night of June 5 – June 6, 1944, 13,348 paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions took off from British soil in 821 aircraft, destined to be dropped over the Atlantic Wall to secure locations behind Utah Beach in Normandy.

Of the 13,100 troops that actually jumped over France, many of them missed their assigned drop zones and were scattered – leaving them disorganized and (essentially) alone in the middle of German territory.

Many units completed their mission objectives anyway, though others were stranded by themselves or in small groups across the Cotentin Peninsula. In the hours and days following the Normandy landings, the troops moving inland from the beaches linked up with whatever paratroopers they encountered. In the second part of the third MOH: AA mission, that’s exactly what Lt. Mike Powell and Capt. Ramsey are doing.

A photo of the bocage on the Cotentin peninsula during WWII.

The bocage on the Cotentin peninsula during WWII.

The mission briefing notes that areas assigned to be taken by the 82nd and 101st have remained in German hands due to the scattered paratroopers. In fact, some objectives were not completed until three days after the landings. Some German strongpoints in the area held out for longer, but all were defeated within a week.

In the thick hedgerows of the bocage country behind the invasion beaches, the Germans were deeply entrenched, with overlapping defenses consisting of heavy machine guns, mortars, snipers and artillery. This terrain made the Allied tanks almost useless, and the camouflaged German positions were hard to spot from the air.

Thus, the battle in the bocage would be fought mainly by infantry, and each patch of the checkerboard landscape would be hard-won by the Allies. As such, Powell and Ramsey will be traveling on foot (their jeep is destroyed as they secure a farmhouse), as they seek out paratroopers from the 101st, who were assigned to destroy a special target between Isigny and Carentan.

Upon entering a French farmhouse, the two Rangers encounter two paratroopers from the 101st, identifiable by the “screaming eagle” shoulder patch. One is killed by a sniper, and the other, Pvt. Durden, assists Powell and Ramsey in defending the house from about 30 German soldiers that attack first the rear, then the front.

A screenshot photo of U.S. Army Ranger Capt. Ramsey standing near two dead German soldiers, a destroyed Panzer IV tank and some 101st Airborne paratroopers on a road in the bocage country of Normandy after D-Day in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

Capt. Ramsey stands near two dead German soldiers, a destroyed Panzer and a dead 101st paratrooper.

After leaving the house, the trio can only use narrow roads between thick, overgrown, hedgerows. After defeating about 10 German soldiers around two destroyed Panzers, they reach a fork in the road.

Their assigned path is blocked by an 88mm FlaK cannon that has already destroyed a Sherman tank and cannot be destroyed without air support. The other road leads to a small farm defended by an MG42 and a few other Germans.

Here, the trio incorrectly reverses the “flash-thunder” password (again) and finds Pvt. Cobb from the third battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He informs the three men that there is a sniper in a nearby silo that has killed the rest of his squad, including their radioman. Powell uses his Springfield sniper rifle to get rid of the German sniper, retrieves the radio, and the four men fight their way back to the fork, where they call in air support to destroy the FlaK 88.

Cobb’s battalion was to be dropped in Drop Zone D, about two miles from Carentan. They actually ended up anywhere between one to 16 miles from Carentan, according to this map. Ramsey and Powell came ashore at WN 72 on Omaha Beach, about 20 miles from Carentan.

Assuming that Cobb and Durden were on the plane that dropped its troops closer to Omaha than Carentan, this story is plausible. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that the two Rangers would have found these men as the U.S. V Corps on Omaha advances toward Isigny. Also, the game doesn’t say where this “special target” is, so I’ll go along with the story.

A screenshot photo of a German radar station in a field in bocage country in Normandy, France, after D-Day in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

The radar station near the anti-aircraft gun that Powell must destroy if his group is to move forward.

Behind the first FlaK 88, there is another, but this time, air support cannot be used, due to a nearby anti-aircraft gun. So, the four soldiers head down another hedgerow-bordered road until they enter a pockmarked field with a radar station, a 20 mm FlaK anti-aircraft gun and two MG42s.

One of the MG42s is in the corner of the field, a popular defensive position in the bocage, allowing the gun to cover the whole field and be protected from behind.

Once the anti-aircraft gun is destroyed, air support can destroy the last FlaK 88, clearing the road for Powell, Ramsey, Durden and Cobb. However, while Ramsey and Powell bypass the barrier of barbed wire and Czech hedgehogs via a trench, the two paratroopers stay behind.

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~ by John on August 15, 2011.

One Response to “D-Day Plus One: Finding Scattered Paratroopers”

  1. I’m a total WWII buff, and this game looks to be right up my alley! I can’t wait to check it out!

    For you fellow WWII buffs out there, I just heard about a new book coming out about Gen. Omar Bradley that sounds pretty cool. Here’s the link if you wanna check it out. http://www.regnery.com/books/omarbradley.html

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