Rommel had been firmly of the opinion that when the invasion came the German forces should throw their Panzers into battle at the earliest opportunity, to take advantage of the early weakness of the invading force. However, Hitler had reserved the release of the Panzers to himself.
Even though 21st Panzer Division has only recently moved to Caen and were right on top of the eastern end of the invasion area, they were to spend the night waiting for clearance from the High Command to move.
Colonel von Luck had had his men on alert since shortly after midnight, but they were denied permission to move:
Gradually we were becoming filled with anger. The clearance for an immediate night attack, so as to take advantage of the initial confusion among our opponents, had still not come, although our reports via division to the corps and to Army Group B (Rommel) must have long since been on hand.
We made a thorough calculation of our chances of successfully pushing through to the coast and preventing the formation of a bridgehead, or at least making it more difficult.
The hours passed. We had set up a defensive front where we had been condemned to inactivity. The rest of the division, with the Panzer regiment and Panzer Grenadier Regiment 192, was equally immobilized, though in the highest state of alert.
My adjutant telephoned once more to division. Major Forster, IC and responsible for the reception of prisoners, came to the phone. He too was unable to alter the established orders.
Army Group B merely informed us that it was a matter of a diversionary maneuver: the British had thrown out straw dummies on parachutes. At daybreak, I sent my adjutant to ask divisional command post to secure us immediate clearance for a counterattack.
On his arrival, Liebeskind witnessed a heated telephone conversation which Feuchtinger was evidently having with the army: “General, I have just come back from Paris and I’ve seen a gigantic armada off the west coast of Cabourg, warships, supply ships, and landing craft. I want to attack at once with the entire division east of the Orne in order to push through to the coast.”
But clearance was strictly denied. Hitler, who used to work far into the night, was still asleep that early morning.
At the command post, I paced up and down and clenched my fists at the indecision of the Supreme Command…