Until operation Cobra the division remained in the area west and northwest of St. Lô.On 20 July the Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 130 and the II./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 902 were withdrawn forrefitting.
These were placed in the Percy area.
On 21 July the division had the following artillery: I./Pz.Art.Rgt. 130 with 1-3. (3 lFHeach); II./Pz.Art.Rgt. 130 with 4. (3 x Wespe), 5. (5 x Wespe) and 6. (2 x Hummel);III./Pz.Art.Rgt. 130 with 7. (3 x 15,2 cm H), 8. (2 x sFH) and 9. (4 x 10 cm Kan);311. Flak-Abt. (1-3. with 6 x 8,8 cm each).
Two days later the division had three battalions rated as "schwach" and two wererated as "abgekämpft". Also five other battalions were subordinated to Pz.Lehr.
During 24 and 25 July heavy bombers targeted the positions held by Pz.Lehr to pavethe way for the ground units attacking within the framework of operation Cobra. Theeffects of this carpet-bombing have evoked much controversy.
According to the post-war manuscript by Bayerlein the division lost about 950 men24-25 July, while other units subordinated to the division lost another 1 200 men.
He also estimated that about 50 % of the soldiers killed and wounded during thosetwo days were the result of the carpet-bombing.
However most of the losses duringthese two days were probably mainly recorded as missing. During July the Pz.Lehrdivision lost 347 men killed in action, 1 144 wounded and 1 480 missing.
It wasexplicitly stated that the majority of the missing were incurred due to the carpet-bombings.
Probably most casualties were not men killed or wounded by the bombing, ratherthey were stunned and taken prisoner when the US ground forces advanced.According to Ritgen, who at the time commanded the Pz.Kpf.Wg. IV battalion
, no PzIV was hit by the bombardment since they had been withdrawn to constitute areserve
. Also he asserts that only very few Panthers and tank destroyers weredestroyed during the bombardment.
Again it seems that carpet-bombings did not kill and wound large numbers of soldiers and neither does the available evidence indicate large-scale destruction of equipment. The important effect was the disruption caused and the effect on themorale of the men subjected to such an air attack. In fact the short bombings on 24and 25 June caused almost 900 casualties on the US side.
Probably this was not farfrom the losses inflicted on the Germans.
Already before operation Cobra the Pz.Lehr was seriously depleted. Casualties duringJune and July totaled 5 943 officers and men. During the same period 3 437replacements and convalescents arrived at the division.
Consequently it was shortof 2 506 men compared to 1 June 1944. Since the infantry endured the vast majorityof the casualties the division was almost deprived of riflemen. This meant that thetanks and the artillery constituted the backbone of the defense. However these twoarms suffered from serious shortages of ammunition and fuel.
Consequently thePz.Lehr and its sub-ordinat-ed units, disrupted by the bombardment, could not resistthe 140 000 men assembled for operation Cobra.
There was a tank repair workshop at Cerisy-le-Selle, where about 30 tanks had beenassembled for repairs. Most of these had to be abandoned on 27 July when US forcesclosed in.
When the American units advanced towards Avranches the Pz.Lehr wassubordinated to the 47. Pz.Korps.
On 1 August the Pz.Lehr had a strength of 11 018 men and had 33 tanks and assaultguns operational and a further 44 in workshops. Artillery was more scarce. The