Fighting Experiences: Tilly-sur-Seulles, Villers Bocage and Operation Goodwood
Before the landings Montgomery said that he wanted two armoured brigades to advance inland to disrupt the enemy’s build-up beyond Caen and Villers Bocage. They were not to seize ground but to enable the assault divisions to stake out a deep bridgehead. He described them as ‘cracking about’. That was not what the first armour ashore did. The 8th brigade in XXX Corps came ashore on D-day. On D + 1 it made for Villers Bocage but ran into Panzer Lehr holding Tilly-sur-Seulles. Thereafter it supported 50th Division’s slow advance in that sector. 27th, delayed by traffic congestion and fighting behind Sword beach in the I Corps sector, never started to fulfil Montgomery’s idea. It supported the 3rd Division, which was responsible for taking Caen. But 3rd landed on a narrow, one-brigade front west of Ouistreham and the congestion that delayed 27th Brigade prevented an armoured and infantry attack on Caen developing. 3rd Divisional commander was over-sensitive about his flanks and never drove his brigades forward. In fact, neither armoured brigade was trained to ‘crack about’ in the enemy rear, but to support infantry. In the circumstances that was the role to which both brigades were committed.
KeywordsWestern Desert West Flank Fighting Experience Heavy Casualty Fire Plan
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