Operation Bluecoat

Operation Bluecoat was a British operation performed during the Battle of Normandy, between July 30 and August 7, 1944, in an attempt to facilitate the American advance in Britain. Despite many problems and failures during the operation Bluecoat the main objectives were achieved, or to withdraw some troops and German reserves from the American sector and at the same time continue the advance from Caen, where they were made ​​real progress with the Operation Totalize el Operation Tractable.

Background

After the success of the least ‘operation Goodwood, the German Panzer were positioned in the area of Caen to cope with the Anglo-Canadians. On July 25, fifteen hundred bombers 8th U.S. Air Force dropped tremilaquattrocento tons of bombs in the area west of Saint-Lô, hitting the Panzer-Lehr-Division, the 3rd Fallschirmjäger Regiment and the 275th Infantry Division in Germany. Following the bombing of the General Bradley he started the ‘Operation Cobra, during which the Americans found a weak resistance.

Battle Plan

Following the ‘Operation Cobra, launched by the Americans to the west, the operation Bluecoat was necessary to continue to maintain pressure on the Germans, allowing the Americans to continue with their operations almost undisturbed. To General Dempsey was ordered to conquer the plain south of Caumont-sur-Orne and Villers-Bocage, facing the Mont Pinçon. The success would come only if the 11th Armored had broken through the German lines, crossed the Bull Bridge (Ponte Taurus) and had approached in Vire, a country crucial to the German defenses in the area. The British troops were used in the operation part of the eighth and XXX Corps, respectively, with the 11th Armored, the Armored Division of the Guard, the 15th Infantry Division “Scottish” and the 7th Armoured Division, the 43rd Infantry Division “Wessex” and the 50th Infantry Division “Northumbrian”. The objective of the VIII Corps were Saint-Martin-des-Besaces, the forest L’Eveque, Le Bény-Bocage Vire and while the goals of the XXX Corps were Villers-Bocage, Aunay-sur-Odon and finally the Mont Pinçon.

Battleground

The initial ground that the VIII Corps had crossed the bocage or cultivated fields separated by thick hedges. The fields were of various sizes, raised with respect to the road that separated from one another, which had banks of earth in both sides. On these shores were made of thick hedges grow very tall. There were also rows of tree-lined avenues, isolated farms and small villages interspersed with clumps of trees. The density of the vegetation made ​​it difficult for the movement of troops and practically impossible for the vehicles.

Offensive

Advanced initial

The operation was launched at dawn on July 30 but the area of attack was heavily mined, so during the night the Royal Engineers (British military genius) took care to clean up and mark the way through the minefields. At 06:00 the 50th Division “Northumbrian” attacked the British left flank, while two hours later, the 43rd Division “Wessex” attacked on the right side. An hour earlier, at 07:00, the 15th Division, supported by Churchill tanks of the 29th Armoured Brigade began the attack, encountering stiff resistance initially but that did not stop the German advance to continue. Some carts ended up in a minefield, where seven of them were destroyed, and small infantry units hit German anti-tank wagons British. The same movement of Allied tanks in the rugged terrain made some armored overthrow. The British Infantry of the 15th Division succeeded however, in mid-afternoon to reach the Hill 226 and Hill 309, strategically important for the German defenses and soon the German artillery pelted the hills causing heavy casualties. The German tanks attacked Hill 226, destroying a squadron of armored British and conquering the hill (which the British resumed in the night). Mistakenly believing that they have destroyed all three Jagdpanther British tanks came out of the closet to the Hill 309, finishing targeted by Churchill, however, the remaining two losses and suffering. The wagons of the 6th Armoured Brigade reached the main objective, Hill 309, and the Fouquerie (both just a few miles from Saint-Martin-des-Besaces). On their right flank the 11th Armored Division, meanwhile, advanced with relative ease reaching Dampierre and the suburbs of Saint-Martin-des-Besaces. While the soldiers were preparing for the night, they were ordered to attack the plain west of St. Martin, so the next morning, the 15th Division began the assault.

On July 31, while the 15th Division defended Hill 309 and Hill 226, the 11th Armored Division attacked St. Martin at 09:30 and 12:00, the country was in British hands, allowing an advance towards a new opportunity, cross the river Souleuvre without resistance. Bull Bridge and advanced the following

After taking St. Martin the advance continued with the vanguard of the Lieutenant Dickie Powle. North of Canville, the armored vehicles of Powle advanced to 3 km in the forest to a bridge on the helpless Souleuvre. The Germans left the bridge helpless due to a misunderstanding between the Divisions paratroopers and 326 th Infantry Division of the German people who believed that the bridge was not on his own responsibility. Powle disguised his units to remain unseen and twice, at 10:30 and at 10:35, the command warned that the bridge was helpless. The 11th Armored Division advanced so through the forest and captured the bridge at 14:00. From the bridge the VIII Corps began the advance out of the beachhead Norman.

At the dawn of 1 August, two squadrons of 23 Regiment “Hussars” moved forward through Le Beny-Bocage, in the valley of the river Souleuvre. The weak German resistance was quickly neutralized. The 8th Regiment of the Rifle Brigade and the 3rd Battalion “Monmouthshire”, supported by tanks, continued the attack towards the Ferroniere and two squadrons of the 3rd Regiment Royal Wagons with two companies of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI – Light Infantry Shropshire of the King) reached Catheolles. 05:00 some units of the 2nd Armored Battalion Irish Guards and the 5th Guards Armoured Battalion advanced towards the village of Saint-Denis-Maisoncelles, south of Saint-Martin-des-Besaces. The town was defended by the 21st Panzer Division, the 752 Regiment Grenadiers and the 326 th Infantry Division, after an intense battle, the town was finally conquered. At the end of the day the British armored entered Le Tourneur, to the south-east. While the British proceeded with the advanced, Field Marshal von Kluge ordered the II Corps SS Panzer to strengthen, with the 9th Disivione Panzer SS “Hohenstaufen” and the 10th Panzer Division-SS “Frundsberg” in the area of Caen, the German lines . At 15:25 division “Frundsberg” was in the street but because of inconsistent orders, the Division “Hohenstaufen” was not ready by 21:00.

At 02:00 on August 2, the 2nd Company of the 3rd Battalion Irish Guards and the 10th Company of the 3rd Battalion Scots Guards were sent to Le Tourneur to cross the Bull Bridge. At the C squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment maid was ordered to scout south, reaching Presles. At dawn, the reconnaissance unit of the Guards Armoured began his mission. The squadron 1 collided with the Germans near Cathoelles and had to retreat; Squadron 2 failed attempts to take Montamy, heavily defended, the squadron crossed the Ferroniere 3 instead and went to Saint-Charles-de-Percy. After crossing the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Squadron met a tenacious resistance of the 9th Panzer Division. The squadron was able to bypass Saint-Charles and continue towards the village of La Marvindière, where he was reunited with the other two squads. Following the Welsh Guards, the Group stepped up to Monchauvet British Grenadiers. Some German tank units held Drouet and surrounding hills above the valley of Catheolles. The battle that followed the meeting of the two units was tough but Drouet was finally conquered by the British. Following a German counter-attack forced the British to surrender some of their findings previously conquered. The 3rd Battalion Irish Guards, after crossing the Bull Bridge, went to La Ferronière. Just before sunset the village fell into British hands and armored continued overnight at Saint-Charles but were stopped at the intersection of La Croix Rouge.

At 02:45 on August 3, was ordained to the 153 Regiment Royal Field Artillery to have their own batteries west of Maisoncelles to support the British attack that he had to deal with the resistance of the 9th SS Panzer Division. Despite the support of armored vehicles, the British artillery was forced to retreat. At 05:30 the 4th Company of the 3rd Regiment of Irish Guards with the support of the 1st Armored Battalion advanced toward Saint-Charles-de-Percy under sniper fire of the 9th Division in Germany. Saint-Charles, however, remained in German hands until the following day. On the hill Drouet the British were bombarded all day by the artillery of the German 9th SS Panzer Regiment of Artillery, and had to resist various attacks enemies while managing to keep the positions, however, undergoing heavy losses. Meanwhile, the 2nd Armoured Battalion Irish Guards and the 5th Guards Battalion joined the Welsh Guards in La Marvindière, advancing towards Le Busq and the nearby hill. To defend the area, however, there were units of the Waffen-SS who repelled the attack.

Already from 2 August the British held their positions near the Marvindière, but the confusing situation allowed the 9th SS Panzer Division German to surround the enemy and begin the attack on August 4. Not far from Maisoncelles the Germans held the Hill 192, where we had placed the artillery units. A task force of the 3rd Battalion Scots Guards together with anti-tank and armored units were sent to conquer the hill, objective achieved without too much difficulty. After the German retreat from the area of ​​Hill Drouet, the British launched an attack towards Montchauvet. In the evening, Montchamps and Montchauvet were in Allied hands.

At 10:00 on August 5, the Scots Guards on Hill 192, near Maisoncelles, were attacked by Panther tanks of the 9th SS Panzer Regiment, which waged a tough battle with the British, but were forced to retreat suffering heavy casualties. Later in the day, the 9th SS Panzer Division withdrew from the German sector of Maisoncelles but retained control of the village of Estry. After the attack of the British Montchauvet Montchamps and advanced toward Saint-Charles, then continuing towards the Marvindière, reinforcing the surrounding area.

At 05:00 am on 6 August the 2nd Armoured Battalion Irish Guards and the 5th Battalion Royal Guards attacked the German positions at Le Busq, near Estry. Under heavy fire mortars and machine guns, the British captured the village but the Germans remained in control of the reliefs near the village itself. The British 11th Armored Division advanced on Chênedollé Vire and clashing with the 9th Division German on the left side, and the 10th SS Panzer Division “Frundsberg” on the right side. Some units of the 10th Division had been positioned on the hills around Burcy where shelled the Britons until it destroyed all the vehicles of the Norfolk Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. At 17:00, the Germans were able to break the lines of the Royal Norfolk Regiment forcing the British to retreat after that by mistake the American P-47 opened fire on the British.

XXX Corps and advanced on Mont Pinçon

Some historians claim that the battle of the XXX Corps on Mont Pinçon was one of the hardest of the whole campaign in Normandy. The moral of the 7th Armoured Division was very low as in the previous operation Goodwood the unit had suffered heavy losses and had little time to regroup. Despite this, the division began on the morning of August 6, to advance from Villers-Bocage until Aunay-sur-Odon. The division advanced through the pines and chestnut trees at the foot of the mountain, 1100 meters high. In the night between 6 and 7 August, the British conquered the woods less than 2 km from La Vallée (crossroads between Auney and Caen, and between Villers-Bocage and Conde) directed towards Les Trois Maries, on the plain behind the woods of Mont Pinçon. The top of the mountain was very well defended and the British were able to reach only with the help of artillery. On August 7, the armored squadrons of the Royal Guard and advanced toward Les Grands Bonfaits The Busq. The 2nd Squadron of the 2nd Armored Battalion Irish Guards stood on the nearby ridge when he was attacked by three German Panzer IV and artillery that forced the British to abandon their positions. Always August 7 wagons of the 7th Armoured Division and infantry Division “Wessex” reached the top of the mountain. At 12:00, however, already some 14 tanks and other vehicles were destroyed. Only after August 9 Aunay between the crest and La Vallée was completely in Allied hands.

Close

Operation Bluecoat was very difficult and asked for a large number of losses (although unspecified). Despite all this, support to ‘Operation Cobra American and other British operations around Caen was given. Once again, the Germans found themselves close to the breaking point of their defense system and was abandoned any idea of a possible counterattack against the Americans. After being advanced without difficulty on the first day of the operation, the VIII Corps crossed a fierce German resistance which caused heavy casualties on both sides. The Germans maintained the line Vire – Chênedollé – Estry until 13 August.

War in 1944

Transactions of the Western Front

Battles of World War II involving the United Kingdom

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