a 2ª campanha do jogo ToV

Prior to the Allied landings in Normandy, the German army had months to turn this hedgerow laden country into a defensive stronghold. Months to plan, months to build, months to fortify; time was on Germany's side. One such defensive tactic that the army employed was to change the natural landscape by flooding vast areas of it. This defensive flooding was used extensively by the German army in the farmlands just beyond the Normandy beaches and served a number of defensive purposes in 1944 as the Allies planned their invasion. Large flat tracks of land were turned into swamp so that they were unsuitable to be used for airborne landings and they were impassible by vehicles coming up from the beaches where the Allies would be landing. This environmental engineering added further importance to roads and bridges through these flooded areas and resulted in some bitter fighting to prevent the Allied advance into France. While the Normandy bocage was already a deadly maze of hedges, the Germans turned it into a more frightening nightmare of swamps and chokepoints.

One such area, just beyond Utah beach, was the inspiration for the second campaign in Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor, Causeway. It is based on the fight for the La Fière Causeway and the area surrounding it. Securing this causeway was one of the objectives of the 82nd Airborne when they made their jump in the very early hours on June 6th, 1944, before Allied troops began landing on the beaches in Normandy. The Causeway was made up of a raised road through a flooded region, and a small stone bridge that crossed the Mederet River. It not only served as a link from Utah beach into France but also a link between drop zones for the airborne troops who were landing on both sides of the flooded region.

As the fighting unfolded on D-day, an attack by elements of the 91st Luftlande Division on the western side of the Causeway was successful in seizing it from about a dozen paratroopers who had been left to guard the area. More paratroopers were meant to cross from the eastern side of the Causeway but this didn’t happen quickly enough to ensure the 82nd Airborne held the objective in the chaotic and fluid inland fighting. The result was a two day struggle for control of the La Fière Causeway.

Initial fighting saw the 91st Luftlande Division using several Hotchkiss H-39 light tanks to spearhead their charge across the causeway to capture the eastern side where more paratroopers were gathering. Bazookas were employed against the light armor and the German attacks were halted from capturing the causeway. Fierce fighting continued into June 7th and 8th, including a truce to remove the wounded. Attacks across the approximately 500 yards of open ground from one end of the causeway to the other were taking a high toll on both sides.

There are a number of stories of individual heroism from this battle, but on June 9, with the American 4th Infantry Division moving towards the La Fière Causeway, the paratroopers made the headlong rush across to secure the western side so the Allied advance from the beaches could continue. Captain John Sauls lead the charge, never looking back to see how many were following him or being hit by enemy fire along the way. He reached the far side despite heavy fire for the 500 yard run, others weren’t so lucky. Casualties were heavy and sprawling soldiers littered the path Sauls had just run, slowing the advance of those still trying to make their way forward.

To paratroopers on the eastern side of the Causeway, the situation looked bad and reserves were sent up to make the run across. Thanks to Sauls and the few who made it across in the initial wave, German fire began to dissipate and the second wave of paratroopers made it across with far fewer casualties. The western end of La Fiere Causeway had been captured and a vital link established in to France and the other drop zones where paratroopers were still fighting. In our next developer diary, Lead Designer, Brian Wood, will discuss how the charge of one man and the fighting around La Fière in June 1944 translates into a campaign.