There’s a COBRA in my Hedgerow!

After nearly two months of taking heavy casualties and slowly grinding through the hedgerows in Normandy after D-Day, Allied intelligence began seeing signs that the German resistance in that sector was close to collapse. On July 24th and 25th, 1944, heavy bombers of the 8th Air Force targeted a large area south of the Periers-St. Lo road.

Tragically, instead of coming in parallel to the road from the east, they came directly from their bases in Britain, flying due south. Several bombers dropped their bomb loads too soon, killing over a hundred American soldiers. Nevertheless, the bombing had its desired effect: causing massive German casualties and disrupting their defenses completely. However, Panzer Lehr and several other veteran formations put up fierce resistance even after the bombing.

Cobra Map

Operation COBRA was spearheaded by VII Corps, commanded by Maj. General J. Lawton Collins, known as “Lightning Joe” to his men. He proved to be one of the best commanders in a campaign that saw numerous generals relieved of their commands. His divisions pushed through the remnants of the German lines and began racing to their objectives. It was at this point that American air support proved its value. Each armored column was accompanied by a dedicated forward air controller who would direct P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers against each pocket of resistance. In addition, the fighter-bombers also ran independent sorties, bombing and strafing any German unit which tried to move during daylight.

Normandy Panther
Collins sent the 1st Infantry and 3rd Armored Divisions barreling towards Coutances, a major road center on the way to Avrances. However, on the 28th, orders came from Lt. General Omar Bradley to halt in place just outside the town. The westward push of the 3rd Armored had placed it directly in the path of the 4th and 6th Armored Divisions of VIII Corps to the north. So the lead elements of the 3rd Armored stopped within sight of the church steeples of Coutances as the 4th Armored moved in.

That is the background for our Tide of Iron scenario this week, “Breakout at Coutances,” by Ron Howard (not that Ron Howard). The scenario features units and rules from the Next Wave Core Set, the Normandy campaign expansion, and Days of the Fox (which is coming later this summer).

Ready to play the Breakout at Coutances scenario for Tide of Iron?


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