24th Lancers - Tessel Wood (c25th June 1944)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Around the 25th-26th June 1944 the 24th Lancers were fairly heavily engaged around the Tessel Woods.

    This feels a bit like a third thread for the "Battle of Rauray" - and occurred around the time of the capture of Rauray by allied forces (See thread: The Capture of Rauray (Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry et alia) ), but as it isn't actually there, but was nearby, I've separated it from those actions to hopefully simplify things a bit!

    Rm.


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28179]
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some links for "Tessel Wood"

    Plan: objective "Walrus" at Tessel Wood on the spur north of Vendes: Operation Martlet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Battle for Tessel Wood (La Grande Ferme): The Creully Club - Newsletter

    Operation Epsom overview: Operation Epsom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    War diaries of for example: 24th Lancers, 4/7th RDG, 12th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps, 1st Battalion Tyne Scottish, the Hallamshires.

    The Hallamshires: Hallamshire Battalion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Books

    "None Had Lances" - The story of the 24th Lancers by Leonard Willis:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/None-Had-Lances-Story-Lancers/dp/0951071807
    9780951071809: None Had Lances: The Story of the 24th Lancers - AbeBooks - Willis, Leonard: 0951071807

    "The Normandy Campaign 1944: Sixty Years On" edited by John Buckley The Normandy Campaign 1944

    Heimdal book 'La Bataille De L'Odon' by Georges Bernage (in French) - (note from "m kenny", and see note by "sheldrake "post#38" below) La Bataille de L'Odon by Georges Bernage: Editions Heimdal 9782840482499 Hardback - THE SAINT BOOKSTORE

    "The First and Last. The Story of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards1939-1945" by Major J D P Stirling

    "Steel Inferno 1 SS Panzer in Normandy" by Michael Reynolds

    "The 12th SS - Volume 1" - By Hubert Meyer [/SIZE]The 12TH SS Volume One

    "Hill 112" by Major How - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hill-112-Cornerstone-Normandy-Campaign/dp/0921991819

    Dob Scott 'The Polar Bears from Sheffield' about the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancs (who spent 3 weeks dug in around Tessel wood from the 26/27th June). (Note from "Badger123" in post # 43 below)

    ..............................................................................................

    "The Hell of a Day" - The Battle for Tessel Wood (An "historically based" wargame scenario)
    Complete Scenario Listing, with Descriptions | Operation Dauntless: The Battles for Fontenay and Rauray, France, June 1944 | BoardGameGeek
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Some events around Tessel Woods:

    On Sunday 25th June 1944

    c3am - the 24th Lancers moved from the vicinity of Hervieu towards the Tessel Woods

    c3.30am - artillery barrage and thick fog

    +3.30am - Reports that a squadron of 24th L destroyed a German Mark III tank and the 24th L regiment crossed an east-west river (Bas de Fontenay). Thereafter, 2nd supporting artillery barrage and with infantry clearing the northern half of Tessel Wood.

    "A" Squadron 24L on Fontenay – Juvigny road facing East/West, "B" Squadron 24L in the north west and "C" Squadron 24L operating in the East of Tessel Wood. Enemy mortar fire throughout and 24L casualties sustained. Lieut. Hart's tank of 4th Troop, "A" Sqn 24L - knocks out a German tank in the village of Fontenay.

    circa last light - 24th L less "C" Sqn, moves to a position just North of the Fontenay Road. "C" squadron remained guarding the flank on the Western edge of the wood overnight, and the Officer commanding "C" squadron took one of his troops to cover an infantry patrol in the south eastern corner of the wood. It was whilst here that the troop was attacked by 3 Panthers, and a further allied troop was sent out in support, resulting in 1 Panther destroyed for the loss of one 24L tank (thought p'haps to be of "C" squadron?). The other German tanks pulled back after being hit repeatedly by allied gun fire.

    2230 hours - Panthers later moved up on ‘C’ Squadron from the east behind hedgerows. "C" squadron moved into suitably concealed positions and switched engines off. By the time the Panthers were within range it was too dark to use the sights but one of ‘C’ Sqns tanks blew up a Panther at a distance of only 25 yards. The Squadron continued to fire on what tanks they could see but the darkness prevented any accuracy and the remaining Panthers elected to slip away.

    Also on this date (but at time n/a?):
    "B" Squadron - 24th Lancer tank "Buccaneer" - brewed up at Tessel Wood Normandy 25th June 1944

    On Monday 26th June 1944

    The battle on the 26th June 1944 was actually for the hamlet of Tessel (shown as Le Manoir on WW2 maps) - described by the CO of the 24L at the time as a "Bloody Day" around Tessel Wood, with a number of tanks lost as well as considerable casualties.

    There is a quite detailed account here: http://www.creullyclub.freeuk.com/feb12.htm (about 40% down the webpage) - from the perspective of how bad a day the 4/7th RDG seem to have had i.e. the 4/7th RDG were to attack at first light with the 24th Lancers, 1st Tyneside Scottish, (late start) 12th KRRC & 4th/7th RDG down the valley of the River BORDEL. High ground to the east dominated by Panther tanks of the 12th SS. Likened to a 1 st WW battle. Twelve 4th/7th killed and seven wounded, Sixteen KRRC killed, five 24th Lancers and eight Tyneside Scottish.

    "A" squad 24L were to support 12 KRRC southeast towards Le Manoir and Tessel Bretteville with "B" squad to their rear facing east while "C" were to stay on the western edge of the woods guarding that direction.

    Also on this date (but at time n/a?):
    Sergeant Paddy Caulfield's (24L "A" Squadron, tank commander, 2nd tank, 4th troop) - Firefly helped to destroy four German Panthers for which he was awarded the Military Medal (MM).
    According to None Had Lances "On 26th June 1944, Sgt Caulfield was commanding a 17-pdr Sherman at Tessel Wood. He was ordered to investigate and silence an anti-tank weapon which was firing at his Squadrons tanks and which could not be located. He found five Panthers and with the assistance of another tank he destroyed two of them and forced the rest to take cover. He was then ordered to assist a Troop of Sherman 75mms which could see some enemy tanks but was unable to engage them successfully. By moving from position to position he succeeded in destroying two Panthers and probably damaging others. By the bold and skilful handling of his tank this NCO inflicted a heavy loss upon the enemy" (reference page 218-219 Chapter 22 Citations None Had Lances).

    Later in the evening the most of the 24th L regiment moved on to Parc de Bois Londe, whilst part remained to guard the Tessel Woods.

    On Tuesday 27th June 1944 - The 24th L was partly in Tessel Woods whilst part remained in Parc de Bois Londe.

    On Wednesday 28th June 1944 - The 24th L moved out of the Tessel Wood feature and on to Les Hauts Vents.

    On Thursday 29th June 1944 - Les Hauts Vents and in evening on to Pt. 102, at 8769 (map ref.).

    On Friday 30th June 1944 - The 24th L moved to the Rauray area. Rauray at this time was in allied hands but was threatened by axis patrols and an enemy counterattack on Rauray was thought imminent...

    An account of the defence of Rauray will be attempted to be made in the following thread: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/57169-defence-of-rauray-by-the-24th-lancers-tyneside-scottish-et-alia/
     
  4. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Another tough battle for 24L et alia that started in a heavy mist at the same time as the Germans were attacking in the opposite direction. The attack started with a creeping artillery barrage augmented by naval gunfire from HMS Rodney. The slope from the Juvigny to Fontenay road up to Tessel Wood is deceptively steep. When I visited Tessel Wood in about 1999, the shell craters left by HMS Rodney were still readily visible albeit then only about 30ft in diameter and filled with water. The Wood also sounded of birdsong and smelled of wild garlic.....oh so different when the 24L and members of 49th Division were there all those years earlier.

    The battle on the 26th June 1944 was actually for the hamlet of Tessel ( shown as Le Manoir on WW2 maps) rather than just the woods themselves. A number of casualties on the day and these are commemorated on a plaque installed next to the main door of Tessel church and a scroll with the actual names hanging inside the church. The left flank of the operation was performed by the 4/7RDG while the SRY, located to the east, focussed on the move towards Rauray. Lots more stories about this attack (some repeatable in public some not) and I'm still in contact with at least one surviving member of a crew who lost his Sherman comrades at the Vendes crossroads. The father of another member of this forum was also in the same crew and also survived albeit badly injured....the same guy as who shot out the steeple of Audrieu church.
     
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Quick question?

    ...is "attacking in the opposite direction" German for retreat? ;)

    And isn't co-opting a battleship a bit of a dangerous way to dig a pond? :eek: Quick though B) And better than using a shovel!
     
  6. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    My understanding is that the Axis forces were planning to occupy what was the start line for the 24L and the regiments of the 49th Divisions 70th(?) Brigade. This was just to the north side of the stream that runs to the north of the Juvigny-Fontenay road. Very close countryside even now and with the chill morning air and the valley making the most even thicker and longer lasting.

    The naval barrage was from about 20(?) miles away and with the shells falling only about 500(?) yards in front of the leading troops. That's what, I guess, they call 'high risk but accurate'. Imagine what an effect even a light swell would have had on that shellfire! Apparently, apart from the Nebelwerfers, the biggest sound was of the naval shells going overhead.
     
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Consideration of lines for further Tessel Wood research

    # Links above - are there enough there?

    # Events above - bit more work required - is there enough in the war diaries to cover all of this, is it enough to read those ourselves, or is it better if they are transcribed and posted here in highlight or more in full?

    # Maps of dispositions: are these needed or even possible here?

    # Pictures 1944 and current times - thanks "m kenny"

    # German perspective?

    # And is there anything about the Battle for the Tessel Woods that is really not as yet known? But there is still hope of finding out?

    # Specific questions: Is there any more detail available of how "B" Squadron - 24th Lancer tank "Buccaneer" - was "brewed up" in Tessel Wood Normandy 25th June 1944?

    # Specific questions: Is there any more detail to how Sergeant Paddy Caulfield's (24L "A" Squadron, tank commander, 2nd tank, 4th troop) - Firefly helped to destroy four German Panthers for which he was awarded the Military Medal (MM) ? (Nb. Now largely answered in the posts below)
     
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi all, (Nb. this post has now largely been answered in the posts below, but if there is more information available it would be welcome!)

    I'm looking for any specific references to this at the mo.

    On 26th June 1944
    Sergeant Paddy Caulfield's (24L "A" Squadron, tank commander, 2nd tank, 4th troop) - Firefly helped to destroy four German Panthers for which he was awarded the Military Medal (MM).

    For example from the wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Martlet in the paragraph that mentions the 24th L is this:

    In the centre, the 1st Tyneside Scottish and the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards prepared to attack la Grande Ferme, with the right flank guarded by the 24th Lancers and the 12th (Motorised) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps (12th KRRC) of the 8th Armoured Brigade making an advance towards Tessel-Bretteville.

    &

    Beyond le Bordel Rau stream, four dug-in tanks had held up the attack, a company of infantry garrisoned la Grande Ferme and infantry reinforcements from the 21st Panzer Division dug in around Tessel Wood. The battalion crossed the stream at midday but were then pinned down and six Dragoon Guard tanks were knocked out attacking the farm.

    Refers to 4 dug in tanks, but then mentions six tanks of the Dragoon Guard. This looks like two separate things separated with a full stop, so I'm sort of assuming that the tanks Sgt.Caulfield fought were in the 1st sentence whilst "something" else took out the "six Dragoon Guard tanks" - although i guess both possibilities also might be true :)

    I'm starting to think a map is probably really going to help ;) in understanding this one.

    All the best,

    Rm.


    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28184]
     
  9. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    June 24 1944. Blue is Le Bordel Rau. Red La Grand Ferme. Yellow the woods.

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    Ramiles likes this.
  10. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    [​IMG]
     
    dbf likes this.
  11. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    What's with the 892678? If it's a map reference, it's wrong according to my period map of the area, in which case what is it?

    According to my reckoning (direct off Caen 1:50000 sheet), the map reference would be 867664.

    Incidentally, I have a photo taken at exactly that spot last June looking down towards Tessel (Le Manoir) Church. Straight view down to the church nowadays as the orchards have gone. I will try to post the photos later (pressed for time today).

    In the case of Sgt Paddy Caulfield, I'm not sure of the source of your (Ramilles) information but, bearing in mind that Troops of tanks generally fought together, you may get more background by looking for the tanks of Lt Hart (tank 1) and Sgt Jones (tank 3). 'A' Squadron 4th Troop was indeed the Firefly Tp).
     
    Ramiles likes this.
  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Steve, No probs.

    Monty's Marauders: The 4th and 8th Armoured Brigades in the Second World War [SIZE=10.789999961853px]By Patrick Delaforce[/SIZE]
    inks here: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=v7LgAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA158&lpg=PA158&dq=Sgt+Paddy+Caulfield+24th+Lancer&source=bl&ots=k9YMwpDX98&sig=djg40loN3qGMIKU5fMlrNbr3gzs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=pW8hVZXqO4HTsAHng4CYCQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Caulfield&f=false

    Just crossing the page from 158 to 159 : on eitherside of the pic of the 12th KRRC near Caen : "24th L 's Sgt. Paddy Caulfield's Firefly." etc.
     
  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    M Kenny

    What is the source of those photos? Been looking for period images of that area for years.
     
  14. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Ramiles

    Delaforce likely lifted the information from None Had Lances and then conflated two distinct events. Caulfield did indeed knock out four Panthers on the 26th but it was in two separate incidents. According to None Had Lances "On 26th June 1944, Sgt Caulfield was commanding a 17-pdr Sherman at Tessel Wood. He was ordered to investigate and silence an anti-tank weapon which was firing at his Squadrons tanks and which could not be located. He found five Panthers and with the assistance of another tank he destroyed two of them and forced the rest to take cover. He was then ordered to assist a Troop of Sherman 75mms which could see some enemy tanks but was unable to engage them successfully. By moving from position to position he succeeded in destroying two Panthers and probably damaging others. By the bold and skilful handling of his tank this NCO inflicted a heavy loss upon the enemy" (reference page 218-219 Chapter 22 Citations None Had Lances).
     
    Ramiles likes this.
  15. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hum, and so thus "history was made" - as it was written so shall it have been thought to have been
    (Great to have cleared up another case!!!) ;)

    It's interesting finding that the Sherman Firefly's were proving so successful in this case. It never really feels like their effectiveness has been quite lauded enough....

    It looks like "892678" is some "code" for the crossroads. By the number of shell holes in the recon photos they were really pounding the place and there must have been some troop placements there at some point presenting a target that someone was after. Couldn't see any smoking tanks though. And if these photos were taken on June 24 1944 that seems to place them to just before the 24th L et. all arrived.

    Great stuff!

    Rm. :)

    BTW - m kenny the recon picture is an absolutely superb fit to the map but there's def. something wrong with where the east-west track or road on the right hand side takes its course, on the recon it sits about a 100-150mm meters or so further north. Perhaps the road was re-sited though before the map was drawn, or it's just a bit off and that's all there is to that.
    Also are these taken with the type of camera that takes side by side shots so that a "3D" view can also be given of the terrain? I'm not sure what % of recon photos at that time were shot in that way. It might have been for just special shots where such "extra" detail was required.
     
  16. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Ramiles

    Which East-west road are you referring to?
     
  17. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    The track/farm road from the river by the farm that heads roughly east (in a direction about 10 degrees north of east) and is a dotted line on the base map, it doesn't quite fit the recon as they've nudged it to go around the farm building on the map but this isn't necessary, it doesn't really do that in the recon pic.

    And by doing that the track is actually quite a fair way out. It lines up well on the left (west) but not so well on the east (of course the reconplane might have been tilted slightly so if the recon pic isn't a flat version of the "world" that could explain it a little as well. i.e. if the right wing of the plane were lower than the left the pic would take a "slightly" warped view of the lay of the ground.... however the river matches and the roads at the top and bottom its just that track that's gone "out". It looks like the farm track would converge with lower road (in about 3km if it continued) on the map whereas in the recon it seems more in parallel to the south (e/w road) where they both meet the n/s/ road/track on the far left.

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28184]

    [sharedmedia=gallery:images:28179]
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  18. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Understood, I think! If it's the road I think, if you assume you are driving from La Grande Ferme eastwards along that track/road, it now continues all the way to the main Fontenay Le Pesnel to Rauray road which it meets adjacent to the 49th Division Memorial and then continues a little further to the CWGC Cemetery. Been there many times but not all roads are metalled and definitely not all passable to lots of cars ( including mine....as I nearly learnt the hard way last June).

    I agree, the map is slightly wrong with the line of that track.
     
  19. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Fontenay

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  20. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Yes, threw me a bit when I was trying to align things :) I could match it perfectly on the left but when I tried to align it on the right I had to shrink the recon pic from there by about 80%, you often see this sort of things on maps though where buildings are a bit too big and roads have to go around them on maps (where they actually don't in real life) things like roundabouts have to be huge on maps. It always surprises me on recon pics how tiny rivers and streams are - when they are made to stand out like sore thumbs on maps. I guess it matter's more if you're the poor so-and-so that's gonna have to cross them to actually know where they are. They are often not that distinct on a photo from above.

    Oddly there's not a jot of mention about Sgt. Caulfield in the 24th L war diary that I could see for that date - but a long quote from an "A" squad sergeant that I guess might have been him.

    Still looking for info. on Buccaneer.

    Rm.

    BTW Wow, thanks for the pics "m kenny" ! Very sad. A poor German soldier I guess :poppy: :poppy: though it's hard to tell in B&W and without his helmet. Did you/do you know someone that was there?
     

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