Distinction between Bocage, Hedges and Walls
Thrashed to death on the Crossfire-WWII discussion forum …
Ian Hayward tried to summarise.
- there are two forms of hedge, bocage hedge and normal hedge
- bocage hedge blocks LOS, normal hedge doesn’t
- therefore you can fire at people beyond a normal hedge, but not at people
- both provide protective cover
- bocage hedge stops vehicles, normal hedge doesn’t
But Bob Swieringa saw it differently …
The distinction between bocage, hedges and walls revolves around whether you can see and fire past them if you are not in direct contact with them.
- Bocage and hedges block LOS IF you are not in direct contact with
them. To see past them, the stand must be in contact with the bocage or
hedge. (This is consistent with the general terrain rule that once you
are in a terrain feature you can see through the feature. So, you can’t
see through woods till you are in that feature but then when you are in
it you can see within it and beyond it.)
- Walls do not block LOS. Thus, a squad several inches from a wall can
still see past it without being in direct contact with it.
Consequences for line-of-fire:
- Bocage and hedges cannot be fired across unless the firer or the
target are in that bocage or hedge. (For the target to receive cover,
the LOF must cross that bocage or hedge.)
- Walls CAN be fired across from any distance. Firer or target do not
need to be in contact with the wall. (For a target to receive cover from
the wall, it will need to be in contact and the LOF must cross that wall.)
At the Shed we don’t distinguish hedges and walls – both block LOS and provide cover. We do handle Bocage differently – impassable to vehicles and guns.
I suspect there should be two types of terrain low wall/hedge (cover only) and high wall/hedge (cover and block LOS) with Bocage a variant of the latter.
Hills (2002), an allied tank commander who fought in Normandy, describes the bocage country in this manner:
The bocage was – and still is – broken country, with pieces of high ground descending into valleys and criss-crossed by numerous small rivers and streams. The main roads were few and far between, but there were many smaller roads and lanes which were usually sunk beneath high banks with thick, mostly impenetrable hedgerows on top. These hedgerows were the result of hundreds of years’ growth; they both marked the boundaries of small fields and they kept in the cattle. To make matters worse, the hedges had often curled over the top of the lanes to form a canopy. To escape from these lanes into the fields beyond, you usually had to negotiate a small gateway through which you went at your peril. There were also clumps of trees, larger woods and many apple orchards which were now in full leaf. Villages were dotted here and there, usually clusters of small farms around the church and rarely consisting of more than a dozen or so houses, with lanes coming in from three or four directions. (p. 100).
For some interesting photos of Bocage country (mainly from aircraft) then try the following web site. Click on the blobs on the map (whilst trying to ignore the irritating aircraft that follow the cursor!) :
A particular good example is at:
Apparently Micheal Doubler’s ‘Closing With the Enemy’ has an in depth discussion of combat in bocage terrain and the tactics and tools developed to deal with it. It has lots of excellent photos, maps and tactical diagrams.