|The Soviets begin the attack.|
On the 28th May forward elements of a Free Soviet Heavy Guards Tank Division smashed into the Axis front line on the flanks of the Hungarian forces; it was the start of Operation Paris the awaited Allied counter attack. The attack made good ground and by that evening the Soviets had advanced 15 miles and making a wedge 3 miles wide. The following day the Hungarian and German forces on either side of the wedge were ordered to attack and cut off the Soviets advance. Initially the attacks stalled against determined Soviet defences, but by the afternoon the Germans had advanced a mile and the Soviets held open a one mile wide corridor at the base of the salient. On the 30th the Axis forces made a concentrated attack to cut off the salient, the Soviets reacted quickly and deployed Heavy Tanks detachments in many vital areas. The Hungarian assault was based around the village of Malmesbury and came across one of these Soviet Heavy Armoured strong points. The Hungarians had little equipment that could penetrate the amour of the KV’s and the attack failed to link up with the Germans on the other side of the salient. The failure of the attack to crush the salient forced the Axis in Wiltshire onto the defencive.
|Fallschirmjager of the 6th Division examine a knocked out
Soviet Sherman at the Battle of the Avon River
Two days later the Allies launched another assault on Wiltshire and the pressure on the Axis front line started to get results. The Hungarian 26th Hungarian Assault Gun Division broke later that evening and exposed the flanks of the 1st Hungarian Armoured Division forcing them to join the retreat. By the morning of the 1st June the whole line has falling back. Sensing an opportunity the Free Soviets sent in there reserves and turned the retreat into a rout. At this point the whole Western front was in danger of collapsing, the Axis had one chance to hold the line at the River Avon. The Germans rushed units from any where they could find them and under the exciting young General Von Trost formed Kampfgruppen Von Trost, this included Von Trost own 6th Fallschirmjager Division, elements of the 509th Schwere Panzer-Abteilung and the Panzer Lehr plus a few small formations from reserve units. These units had just got into place along the banks of the River Avon, when the Soviets assaulted. The battle was short but bloody, Kampfgruppen Von Trost waited until the Free Soviets were crossing the river before opening fire, caught in the open the Soviet loses were heavy. Where the Soviets were able to force a crossing they were quickly counter attacked by the Tigers of the 509th and by the mobile elements of the Panzer Lehr. The Allies keep the pressure up for the whole day but by night fall the Allied forces were spent and called off any further attacks.
|German infantry support Hungarian Panthers during the
fighting in Wiltshire June 1944. As you can see in the
Picture ground is very muddy as a result of the
|Hungarian Infantry examine the wreckage of 2 Soviet
KV-85’s after the failed Soviet counter attack on the
Operation Rapier quickly lost momentum and after three days of fighting with little gain, the Axis high command called off the attack. Seizing this opportunity the Hungarians were pulled out of the frontline for some much needed rest and refitting after 24 days of continuous hard fighting. General Jány would use this time to try and get his forces moved to the London front, but with the failed Fallschirmjager operation to encircle London and stubborn resistance from repeated US lead counter attacks, the Axis high commanded gave him orders to move back into the Worcestershire front the keep pressure on the Allies in this area.
As always thank you for reading. Ben