Account, 8 CORPS: Operation Goodwood, Lieutenant General RN O'CONNOR, Corps Commander

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    CAB 106/959

    Context: War Cabinet and Cabinet Office: Historical Section: Archivist and Librarian Files: (AL Series), WAR OF 1939-1945: North West Europe (1944-1945)

    Scope and content: Operation "Goodwood": account of the break through to the south of Caen 1944 July 18-21 based on the war diary of 8th Corps, by Directorate of Tactical Investigation, War Office; includes maps*.

    Covering dates: 1944
    Note: See Cab. 106/1024; CAB 106/1061; 106/1085.

    [Please note: although the file states that maps are included, I do not have any images.]
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    (Maps in Separate Folder Attached at 1F)

    OPERATION GOODWOOD, 18 July 1944

    Transcript yet to be completed

    1. Narrative
    - 2. OWN TROOPS
    - 3. ENEMY
    - 5. TERRAIN
    - 11. SITUATION NIGHT 18/19 JULY
    - 15. GENERAL
    - 16. NOTE
    1A. 8 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 4 Operation GOODWOOD

    1B. D.A.T. (Air Ministry) Tactical Bulletin No. 38

    1C. R.A. 8 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 2 (Extract)

    1D. Notes by Commander 8 CORPS (Lieutenant-General O'CONNOR) on Operation GOODWOOD
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    From:- Captain B.H. BLISS,

    The War Office
    Directorate of Tactical Investigation
    (Questionnaire & War Diary Section)
    Flat 108, 4, Whitehall Court
    London, SW1.

    23 January, 1945


    Dear Colonel LATHAM,

    Here, as promised some time ago, are copies of the first two narratives produced by this Directorate, dealing with Operations GOODWOOD and *ASTONIA.

    The first, GOODWOOD, is taken as you will see, practically verbatim from 8 CORPS diary, but the appendix dealing with the Air-Support may be of interest.

    *The second, ASTONIA, is rather detailed study from Diaries and other sources of the capture of LE HAVRE, but you will appreciate that these narratives are primarily intended for use in Study Weeks and similar entertainments. You may be able to judge from these whether any future narratives we may produce on the same lines are likely to be of any assistance to you, or whether you would rather be spared.

    ASTONIA Narrative has, I hope, been sent in advance.

    Yours sincerely,


    Colonel H.B. LATHAM,
    Officers of the War Cabinet
    (Historical Section)
    8 Barton Street

    *[Please note this Operation is not included in file]
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    THE "GOODWOOD MEETING" 18 - 21 JULY 1944.

    (Ref Maps FRANCE 1:50,000 GSGS 4250 7 F/1 to 7F/4 2nd Edition)


    This was a SECOND ARMY plan of which the main feature was a break-through to the South of CAEN by 8 CORPS from the small bridgehead that was held by 1 CORPS East of the River ORNE and which, as withdrawn for the purpose of this operation (see para 4 (e) below), was from the River ORNE at 097733 to the Western edge of the BOIS DE BAVENT (1471) and thence to the mouth of the River ORNE (1277). (For full details of the plan see 8 CORP Operational Instruction No. 4 dated 16 July 1944 at 1.A.)

    For this operation 8 CORPS consisted of three Armoured Divisions.


    Owing to the shallowness of the then existing bridgehead and the locate of the German defences the operation presented unusual difficulties, involving an advance for the first three miles through a corridor two mils wide both flanks of which were held by the enemy. It was therefore decided to enlist, for the first time on a large scale, the aid of the Strategic Air Force in the tactical role of neutralising these menacing flanks, and other known or suspected strong points in the line of advance. (For details of air-support see D.A.T. Air Ministry Tactical Bulletin No. 38 attached at 1.B.). This in turn introduced fresh difficulties, notably, owing the the necessity of awaiting optimum weather conditions, an element of uncertainly as to the actual date of the operation which inevitably complicated planning, preparations and, above all, the concealment of such preparations from the enemy.
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    Planning on the Corps level started on 13 July 1944. The two other Corps involved in this sector were 2 Canadian Corps which was holding CAEN on the Right of 8 CORPS and 1 BRITISH CORPS on their Left. Their chief role was to hold firm bases on either flank of the advance of 8 CORPS, and also to exploit Southwards (see paras 5 and 6 of 8 CORPS O. No. 4 at 1.A.). Owing to the confined nature of the existing bridgehead and the narrowness of the corridor for the first three miles, the advance of 8 CORPS could only be made with one Division up.

    The order of march was:-


    The proposed Centre Lines were:-

    (a) 11 Armoured Division

    (b) Guards Armoured Division

    (c) 7 Armoured Division
    Available to support 11 ARMOURED DIVISION or GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and exploit success in the Centre.
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    3. ENEMY

    Information prior to the attack with regard to the enemy was as follows:

    (a) Between the BOIS DE BAVENT and the River ORNE
    16 G.A.F. Div.
    25 SS PGR (from 12 SS Pz Div)

    (b) In area BRETEVILLE-SUR-LAIZE ()0552
    1 SS Pz Div (estimated strength 100 tanks location uncertain - possibly ST. ANDRE-SUR-ORNE (0261) area).
    12 SS Pz Div (estimated 50 tanks)

    (c) Area ARGENCES (1761)
    21 Pz Div (estimated 50 tanks, 35 Assault Guns)
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    The study of the map and of British dispositions in that area at that time will show that the initial moves of 8 CORPS presented singular difficulties.

    (a) East of the River ORNE only a shallow bridgehead was held. The approaches to the river from the West, the bridges over the river, and part of the bridgehead East of the river were under enemy observation and under fire from FRANCEVILLE (1578) and from various points along the high ground running South to the BOIS DE BAVENT.

    (b) Roads to the river crossings from the West were limited and up to the time the attack started only three sets of bridges over the two water obstacles were available. There were two pairs of bridges over the CANAL DE CAEN and River ORNE at BENOUVILLE (0974) and another pair over the Canal and river in square 1176. Three more bridges were to be constructed, but the first of these was not for completion till 2000 hours on 'D' day so that the whole of 8 CORPS used the existing three pairs. In addition to the two armoured Divisions of 8 CORPS, two infantry brigades of 2 Canadian Corps had to cross the river as early as possible after H-hour, and two brigades of 3 DIVISION.

    (c) The area within the bridgehead was so limited that there was room for the assembly, prior to the start of the attack, of only a small portion of the attacking forces. Thus the bullet of the Corps had to cross the river after the attack opened and it was well within the bounds of possibility that bridges would be damaged or destroyed, or that movement would be seriously hampered by enemy fire before the bullet of the Corps was across.

    (d) The first three miles of the advance from SL (the British front line) ran through a corridor about 2 miles wide with the enemy holding both flanks. On the Left were enemy battery positions built up since D-DAY, and sited to fire in a Westerly direction. Although the dispositions of 1 CORPS who were holding this sector to some extent masked this position, enemy O.P.s overlooked 1 CORPS positions and gave command over the corridor through which 8 CORPS was to advance, and which thus ran parallel to this enemy position. This made a more formidable enfilade than would be the case where the shoulders of a breakthrough were commanded only by hasty readjustments carried out in a position designed to meet the attack from a different direction. ON the Right the factory areas of COLOMBELLES, MONDEVILLE and CORMELLES were heavily defended strong points. All the villages within the corridor and as far South at least as the ridge (0663) to LA HOGUE (0960) were known to be prepared for defence and occupied.

    (e) During the night 17/18 July the forward troops of 1 CORPS on the Southern flank of the British bridgehead were withdrawn from the general line River ORNE 0871 - STE HONORINE LA CHARDONERETTE (0970) - ESCOVILLE (1271), before the air bombardment started. The Start Line for the attack was the Southern face of the bridgehead, as withdrawn, and was the general line R. ORNE 097733 - Road and Track Junction 104728 - FERME DE LIEU HARAS 118723 - Road Junction 118721 - corner of Wood 126718 - South edge of Wood 129717. Certain covering parties of 152 BRIGADE remained just North of the road ESCOVILLE (1271) - TRIANGLE 1370. The bottleneck in the early stages of the 8 CORPS advance was aggravated by a minefield, which had been laid to cover the original Southern face of the bridgehead, through which only three gaps could be cleared in the time available.

    It was essential to obtain tactical surprise by concealing from the enemy the concentration of 8 CORPS and the subsequent maintenance of the momentum of the attack was largely dependent upon the smooth movement of the follow-up formations across the River ORNE and through the bottleneck. The plans to achieve this had to overcome the unpropitious circumstances mentioned above. They included the making of additional tracks to bridges, the construction of two additional bridges, the development of new tracks beyond the river as soon as the tactical situation permitted, and a very detailed movement plan to cover the concentration and move forward of 8 CORPS and its subsequent maintenance.

    It was considered that during the advance of the Armoured Divisions for some hours after H-hour the available routes would only carry one way, i.e. forward, traffic. This introduced difficulties over the evacuation of wounded.

    A further complication was introduced by the fact that the operation was dependent on the air plan, which was in turn dependent on the weather which was at that period by no means settled. It was stated that the decision as to the likelihood of the operation taking place could not be given more than 8 hours ahead with a final decision an hour or two later.

    If no forward move was made until it was certain that the operation was to take place the concentration would have to be rushed with increased chances of its detection by the Germans and other undesirable results. If moves were made and the operation then postponed the concentration would almost certainly be detected. Moreover, maintenance of the Corps, particularly such part as would be East of the River ORNE would be difficult. It was decided therefore to take the risk and carry out certain preliminary moves on the assumption that the operation would start on the intended day. This in the event turned out to be justified.

    Owing to the large number of enemy batteries and strong points which dominated the area of the initial advance, it was considered that the operation would not be feasible unless supported by maximum air support to augment the artillery fire plan. A feature of this air support was the selection of the types of bombs to be used for different objectives. (For details see para 6 and annexe 1.B)

    Artillery Plan
    See 8 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 4, para 16, and R.A. 8 CORPS Operation Order No. 2 (Annexure [B1.C][/B]).

    The Corps concentrated as follows:-

    On the night 16/17 July (D-2 / D-1) 159 INFANTRY BRIGADE moved East of the River ORNE to lying up area near RANVILLE (1173).

    Night 17/18 July (D-1 / D) 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE crossed River ORNE and moved direct to its forming up position on Start Line.

    Night 17/18 July (D-1 / D) GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION moved from area BAYEUX, 5 ARMOURED BRIGADE leading by two routes (special tank routes).

    Heads reached line of road between HERMANVILLE (0779) and BEUVILLE (0675) at 0500 hours where columns halted ready to follow 11 ARMOURED DIVISION.

    Night 17/18 July (D-1 / D) 7 ARMOURED DIVISION moved from area CULLY (9176) by special tank routes South of those used by GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and halted with head at 05872, ready to cross the Southern bridge at BENOUVILLE at 095743 in rear of 2 Canadian Brigade.

    H.Q. 8 CORPS moved on 17 July from LANTHEUILL (916784) to BENY-SUR-MER (000805) at 1245 hours.

    A wireless deception plan under the directions of 2 ARMY was included in the operation.
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    5. TERRAIN

    ON the main axis of the advance the country consisted of fairly open agricultural land, studded with a number of compact, well-built stone villages. The villages and their immediate surroundings are usually enclosed by highly fenced fields and orchards and closely growing large trees. At right-angles to the line of advance are two or three main roads which are fenced and lined with large trees in many places, and two railway lines which have high embankments. In the direction of the line of advance is another railway line which roughly intersects the area of the advance. This also has high embankments.

    These roads and railways mostly prove obstacles to movement, slowing up the advance and requiring preparation for smaller tracked vehicles and wheels, and they also provided the enemy with positions for weapons and observation.

    The ground rises gently from the start line of the attack in a series of slight undulations to the BRAS (0663) - BOURGEBUS (0761) ridge, which gave the enemy the benefit of complete observation over the area of the Corps advance, long fields of fire, and facilities for concealed movements, factors of which he took full advantage.

    Thus the ground, although by no means enclosed, still gave the enemy plenty of cover, particularly in the vicinity of the villages, and enabled him to site his anti-tank weapons, where full use could be made of their superior range and where it was difficult to locate them.

    The lie of the villages gave the enemy a series of natural, mutually supporting strong points, and his defensive system was based on the villages; in addition, he had prepared well-sited field defences in the intervening ground, and these were not only difficult to locate before actually being encountered, but had largely escaped the air attack, so were hard nuts to crack. The country between the villages is mainly open cornfields, but as at this time of year the crops were shoulder high they served further to restrict visibility and conceal defences.

    On the Left flank, within a few thousand yards in the early stages of the attack, and immediately adjacent in the later stages, are the heavily wooded heights of the BOIS-DE-BAVEN, still held by the enemy and the bocage in the neighbourhood of the series of villages from TOUFFREVILLE (1368) to FRENOUVILLE (1162), which were in enemy hands during the early part of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION's advance, and were not wholly cleared until p.m. 19 July.

    On the Right flank the built-up factory areas of MONDEVILLE and CORMELLES remained in enemy hands and restricted manoeuvre on that flank.

    All these areas gave the enemy good O.P.s and enabled him to locate his artillery, anti-tank weapons, and mortars well forward.
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    For full details of these see D.A.T. Air Ministry Tactical Bulletin No. 38 (Annexure 1.B). They were roughly as follows:

    - (a) COLOMBELLES from 0536 to 0604 hours, 1,166 tons H.E. (LANCASTERS and HALIFAXES).
    - (b) MONDEVILLE 0559 to 0617 hours, 1,087 tons H.E. (LANCASTERS and HALIFAXES).

    - (a) SANNERVILLE 0541 to 0557 hours, 1,086 tones H.E. (LANCASTERS and HALIFAXES).
    - (b) MANNEVILLE 0600 to 0619 hours, 1,126 tones H.E. (LANCASTERS and HALIFAXES).

    (iii) CAGNY 0615 to 0625 hours, 543 tons H.E. (LANCASTERS).

    (iv) 0700 to 0745 hours. Area of tank run carpeted by 100 lb. and fragmentation bombs (fused nose instantaneous to avoid crater) by 9 U.S. Air Fore.

    (v) 0830 to 0900 hours. Area FRENOUVILLE, LA HOGUE, BOURGEBUS, bombed by the 8 U.S. Air Force using 1,000 lb. bombs "to disrupt enemy concentrations and prevent or delay counter attack."
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    8 CORPS advanced one up, 11 ARMOURED DIVISION leading, followed in succession by GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and 7 ARMOURED DIVISION. H-hour for advance 0745 hours. In the line of advance the air and artillery bombardment largely overcame the will to resist of enemy survivors, and CUVERVILLE and DEMOUVILLE were occupied with only slight opposition, though inside the villages, badly shattered though they were, a certain amount of mopping up had to be done. In this area a number of Prisoners were taken too with no resistance. In GIBBERVILLE, which was included in the tasks of 2 Canadian Corps, the enemy was more aggressive and the village had to be contained by 8 CORPS until captured later in the day by the Canadians. Beyond the railway line just South of DEMOUVILLE, which was reached by the leading troops about 0900 hours, opposition stiffened somewhat, but only became serious with the arrival of reserves which consisted of tanks, S.P. guns (anti-tank and artillery), and motorised infantry. By 1100 hours the leading troops of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION had reached the area astride SOLIERS where they were stopped and later forced to give some ground (see below Ops of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION).

    During the advance up to this point artillery and anti-tank fire from the Left flank had proved troublesome and added to the difficulties of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION. Apart from the frontal opposition which stiffened as the advance progressed this flank fire, combined with ground obstacles, had made the advance slow after the first railway had been crossed. These last two factors also affected the pace of the advance of the following Divisions, so 11 ARMOURED DIVISION at the time when it was first held by opposition (about 1115 hours) found itself without the anticipated support on its Left flank. Shortly before this the leading elements of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION made contact with the enemy on the Northern outskirts of CAGNY. This village, although included in the air bombardment, was not sufficiently hit for the defences to be neutralised. The village and its neighbourhood proved to be strongly held and operations to deal with this situation took time to stage and develop, and delayed the deployment of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION from the bottle-neck.

    The forward movement of the leading brigade of 7 ARMOURED DIVISION (22 ARMOURED BRIGADE) which was intended to deploy between GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and 11 ARMOURED DIVISION was slow and this Brigade did not come up on to the Left flank of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION until about 1900 hours, by which time opposition in FOUR (0962) had stiffened appreciable and stopped any further progress by 22 ARMOURED BRIGADE that day.

    Meanwhile, from 1130 hours onwards, 11 ARMOURED DIVISION had become increasingly engaged in the area GRENTHEVILLE (0864) and North of the general line BRAS (0663) - SOLIERS (0862) - FOUR (0962), but while adequately dealing with enemy counter attacks, was unable to make any progress.

    The operations of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION developed as follows:

    The leading Armoured Regiment reached the Northern outskirts of CAGNY about 1030 hours, and the intention was to by-pass CAGNY and push on to VIMONT (1561). Strong opposition was, however, disclosed as these movements developed, and it was found to be necessary to occupy CAGNY to assist in further advance. Further strong opposition was encountered as the day's operations progressed, and by nightfall the advance was held on the general line excl. EMIEVILLE - excl. FRENOUVILLE. LE POIRIER (1063) remained in enemy hands.
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    Task - Vide 8 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 4, para 9. -

    The Division advance, 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE leading, directed on to BOURGUEBUS, with 159 INFANTRY BRIGADE following with the task of clearing in succession CUVERVILLE and DEMOUVILLE, then forming a firm base in rear of 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE in are GRENTHEVILLE.


    The Brigade axis of advance was:
    West of CUVERVILLE and DEMOUVILLE - GRENTHEVILLE - BOURGUEBUS. It was organised into Armoured Regiment Groups consisting of one Armoured Regiment, one Battery R.A. 25-pounder (SP), once motor company. The leading Regiment had, in addition, one Squadron "FLAILS" and one Troop AVREs.

    At H-hour it crossed the Start Line, following the barrage, which moved at the rate of 300 yards in 2 minutes. The Brigade moved One Up, 3 ROYAL TANKS leading, until it cleared the bottle-neck North West of DEMOUVILLE, when it deployed to Two Up, 3 ROYAL TANKS Right, 2 FF YEO Left. Some delay occurred at the railway which runs across the front due South of DEMOUVILLE, as it was difficult to negotiate by capital ?, and for smaller tracked vehicles, half tracks and wheels, [please note that part of the left hand margin has been rendered illegible] ?crossings had to be prepared. Up to his time opposition had been ? a number of enemy, eager to surrender, were met. Fire from ? ? flank, however, had been troublesome, and a few casualties had been incurred. A few guns and troops of tanks were dropped to piquet this flank, but they had great difficulty in locating where the fire came from, owing to the close country, and many of the enemy gun positions were out of range. While crossing the railway heavy anti-tank fire from the area SANNERVILLE (1368) - BANNEVILLE (1367) inflicted a number of tank casualties, particularly in 2 FF YEO, whose rear squadron lost 9 tanks.

    On continuing the advance South of the railway, opposition began to stiffen. All the villages contained enemy still prepared to fight, and tanks and SP guns started to make their appearance, evidently reserves coming up from the South and South East. The area of advance was dominated by the ridge due South of BRAS (0663) - BOURGUEBUS (0761). Therefore, the intention was to gain this feature before carrying out any detailed mopping up of villages. Villages were not entered during the advance, but were neutralised by fire. Among incidents in this connection was the "shooting up" of 24 NEBELWERFERs on the Western outskirts of GRENTHEVILLE by 3 ROYAL TANKS. Steady headway was made, though ground was gained only by systematic, carefully co-ordinated fire and movement. By about 1100 hours the leading squadrons of 3 ROYAL TANKS and 2 FF YEO were making progress astride SOLIERS (0863) when a tank counter-attack developed from the wooded area East of LA HOGUE (0960), moving towards SOLIERS, and supported by tanks and anti-tank weapons on the ridge which was the objective of the Brigade. Frequent harassing fire from the Left flank was still being experienced, and, on the Right the enemy still holding GIBERVILLE (0968), MONDEVILLE (0767) and CORMELLES (0665) awoke to activity at intervals. The whole area covered by the Brigade at this time was flat and featureless and completely commanded by the enemy. Therefore, a withdrawal was made to the general line, buildings 0664 - GRENTHEVILLE (0864) - LE MESNIL FREMENTEL (1065), which afforded a certain amount of cover and indifferent hull-down positions. Here, the counter-attack was driven back and a fire fight was carried on with the enemy on the BOURGUEBUS ridge. This position was maintained throughout the day against an increasing weight of anti-tank weapons on the ridge and a number of enemy attempts to infiltrate forward and round the flanks.

    About 1030 hours GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION gained contact with the Northern part of the position in the CAGNY area, and in the course of the day gained control of the immediate vicinity of that village, and these ops, as they developed, took pressure off the Left rear of 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE, but as the GUARDS' efforts were aimed at gaining ground in a South Easterly direction, they never extended South of the railway CAEN - VIMONT, so were of no direct assistance to 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE in overcoming opposition which was stopping their advance Southwards.

    During the afternoon the attempt was made to outflank the BOURGUEBUS position from the East with 23 HUSSARS, but heavy fire from the strongly held localities of LE POIRIER (1063) and FOUR (0962) caused the attempt to be abandoned. On the Right flank, GIBERVILLE was not cleared by the Canadians until about 1800 hours, and MONDEVILLE and CORMELLES remained in enemy hands throughout the day, which prevented exploitation on that flank. The enemy did not attempt any aggressive action from that direction, but contented himself with occasional harassing fire, and heavy fire when any attempt was made to move by that flank. 2 N YEO had been positioned to contain that area and to protect the Right rear of 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE.

    LE MESNIL FREMENTEL and GRENTHEVILLE were mopped up during the afternoon. About 1900 hours the leading unit of 22 ARMOURED BRIGADE (7 ARMOURED DIVISION) started to move Southward between the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION in the CAGNY area and the Left of 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE, but after making but slow progress towards FOUR (0962) was stopped about the railway to the North of that place. The remainder of the Brigade did not reach that area until about 2200 hours.

    Meanwhile 159 INFANTRY BRIGADE had moved forward and established itself in the area LE MESNIL FREMENTEL.

    It was decided to maintain the ground gained by the Armoured Brigade during the night 18/19. There were no incidents during the night except sporadic shelling and mortaring. The Brigade suffered fairly heavy casualties during the day's fighting. At the need of the day 118 tanks were reported as having been knocked out, but of these only 85 turned out to be Z cas. Losses in personnel were comparatively light, but a high proportion were Troop Leaders or Tank Commanders. Losses in other arms had been light.


    0745 hours
    The leading Battalion of the Brigade formed up between the columns of 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE and advanced at H-hour between the minefield lanes. The Brigade advanced One Up, 3 MONS. leading.

    0930 hours
    CUVERVILLE was occupied with only slight opposition, but a certain amount of mopping up was required. Most of the Germans there were only too eager to surrender, but a member of parties fought on in houses until killed or captured.

    A considerable amount of wild firing came from the orchards in 1168, so the second Battalion (HEREFORDS) was directed against this area, which was captured without difficulty and 160 Prisoners of War taken.

    1200 hours
    Leaving one company to hold the village until occupied by 154 BRIGADE 3 MONS less one company, then pushed on the DEMOUVILLE. The occupation of CUVERVILLE was delayed owing to heavy shelling and mortaring from the Left flank, but it was completed by 1200 hours.

    DEMOUVILLE was captured without difficulty, but mopping up took much longer than in CUVERVILLE, partly owing to stouter opposition and partly owing to the size of the village. 4 K.S.L.I. were moved up to clear up the Eastern outskirts of the village, and the area due East.

    The clearing up operations were again hampered by frequent heavy shelling from the Left. There were many dead and wounded in the village, apparently from the air and artillery bombardment. The counting of enemy casualties was not completed before the Brigade handed the village over, but in one sector 87 dead and 20 wounded were found.

    1800 hours
    249 Prisoners of War passed through Brigade H.Q., but a number were sent direct to the rear by the units which captured them, so the record of total Prisoners of War taken by the Brigade is incomplete. The locality was handed over to 154 BRIGADE about 1800 hours, and the Brigade concentrated preparatory to moving on to GRETHEVILLE, but at 1830 hours orders were received to move to LE MESNIL FREMENTEL and to establish a firm base there. This was established by last light. As the village was under heavy shell fire this was avoided, and the position was organised on the North, East and West sides about 500 yards clear of the village.

    INNS OF COURT (less one Squadron) were under command 11 ARMOURED DIVISION, the remaining squadron being under command GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION. Throughout the day much useful information was provided by armoured car patrols working on the front of the Armoured Division.

    At 1610 hours LA HOGUE (0960) and SECQUEVILLE CAMPAIGNE (0959) were reported to be lightly held by infantry. Also there was a strong enemy position immediately North of ST. AIGNAN DE CRAMESNIL (0956) and BOURGUEBUS (0761) appeared to be clear of the enemy.
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    Task - Vide 8 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 4, para 10 -

    During the 17/18 July the Division moved from area two miles East of BAYEUX in two columns, and halted in column of route with heads on road HERMANVILLE (0779) - BEAUVILLE (0675) read to cross River ORNE and follow 11 ARMOURED DIVISION closely through the minefield.

    The Division moved, 5 GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE leading, followed closely by 32 GUARDS INFANTRY BRIGADE.

    5 Guards Armoured Brigade

    The Brigade moved in Armoured Battalion Groups consisting of one Armoured Battalion, one Company Motor Battalion, one Troop 25-pounders (SP) and advance One Up, 2nd ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS leading.

    The original intention was to contain CAGNY (1164) from the North with a detachment from the leading Battalion Group to push on direct to the area VIMONT (1561), leaving the capture of CAGNY to 32 INFANTRY BRIGADE. On approaching CAGNY, however, the village and its vicinity and the area round EMIEVILLE (1365) was found to be held by a strong anti-tank screen which dominated the intended line of advance to VIMONT. Therefore, it was decided to clear CAGNY with the leading Armoured Battalion Group (2nd ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS) and to continue the advance to VIMONT with the remaining Battalion Groups. As will be seen, this plan also had to be changed and the Brigade was unable to reach its final objective.

    1030 hours
    About this time the leading element of 2 ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS reached the area 107656 (about midway between LE MESNIL FREMENTEL (0965) and LE PRIEURE (1165) ), which is a slight rise that had hidden CAGNY during the advance. On clearing the rise anti-tank fire came from the East, South and South West, and a few tanks were knocked out. Probing to both flanks made it evident that the enemy's dispositions in the immediate vicinity of CAGNY made it impracticable to continue the advance without first dealing with these.

    2nd ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS, therefore, were ordered to clear up the CAGNY area, while 1st ARMOURED COLDSTREAM GUARDS continued the advance on the original axis.

    The character of the country Eastwards of a line North and South of CAGNY changes suddenly from open agricultural land to close "bocage", and the close country, and fire from various directions simultaneously, made it difficult to ascertain the exact nature, location and strength of the enemy opposition, so operations went slowly but disclosed a strong anti-tank screen supported by tanks, against which little, if any, progress could be made.

    1300 hours
    By 1300 hours it was decided to give up the attempt to advance to VIMONT by the North of CAGNY, and to try West and South of that place, and orders were issued for 1st ARMOURED COLDSTREAM GUARDS to carry out this move. The Battalion moved West of LE MESNIL FREMENTEL, then swung East and started to advance in that direction with the railway on its Right. Opposition was encountered throughout this move and the Battalion finally stopped on a general line due South East of CAGNY towards LE POIRIER, thence Westwards along the railway, owing to heavy fire from the latter place and FRENOUVILLE. There were also signs of a threat developing from FOUR (0962). The Battalion maintained this position until last light when it was withdrawn to the North of CAGNY.

    1800 hours
    Meanwhile, 2nd ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS had been engaged in clearing CAGNY from the North and by 1800 hours had completed this and 32 BRIGADE was moving up to take over the place. 2nd ARMOURED IRISH GUARDS, which had been delayed in crossing the river and in its subsequent advance through the minefield, had been deployed in the gap between CAGNY and EMIEVILLE (1364) to cover the debuting of 32 GUARDS INFANTRY BRIGADE. 2nd ARMOURED RECCE WELSH GUARDS had also been deployed, under Division orders, West and South West of EMIEVILLE to contain that place, as it was evidently strongly held.

    2100 hours
    On hearing 1st ARMOURED COLDSTREAM GUARDS were stopped in this push to VIMONT by the South of CAGNY the Brigade Commander ordered 2nd ARMOURED IRISH GUARDS to renew the attempt to get forward by the North of CAGNY. Slight progress in a South Easterly direction was made, but by 2100 hours the Battalion was brought to a standstill about 1,500 yards South East of CAGNY. Two Troops had managed to get through to the Northern outskirts of BELLENGREVILLE (1461), but were withdrawn when the advance of the Battalion was stopped.

    The Battalion held the ground it had gained during night 18/19 July.

    2200 hours
    About this time 2nd ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS, having handed CAGNY over to 32 GUARDS INFANTRY BRIGADE, was withdrawn to an area 100 yards North of the village for the night.

    32 Guards Infantry Brigade

    The Brigade followed 5 GUARDS ARMOURED BRIGADE across River ORNE, thence through the minefield Southwards, and at 1350 hours had reached 1171 and was moving down to area 116, where the Brigade was to debus and advance to take over CAGNY. The leading Battalion of the Brigade entered the town at 1820 hours and as CAGNY had already been occupied by 2nd ARMOURED GRENADIER GUARDS there remained only a certain amount of mopping up to be done. The village and its vicinity was then organised for defence.
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    Task - Vide 8 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 4, para 11 -

    During night 17/18 Division moved from area CULLY, 22 ARMOURED BRIGADE leading, and halted with head at 058752, where it waited until ordered forward to follow GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION.

    22 Armoured Brigade

    The leading Armoured Regiment, 5 ROYAL TANKS, crossed River ORNE about 1000 hours and reached CUVERVILLE about 1045 hours. The situation forward of this place caused traffic congestion, and it was not until about 1900 hours that the Brigade started to deploy between GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION and 11 ARMOURED DIVISION in the area 0964. In consultation 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE a plan was made to push on to LA HOGUE (0960), but as this move started, strong opposition in FOUR (0962) was disclosed and no progress was made before daylight failed. Commander 22 ARMOURED BRIGADE announced his intention of attacking FOUR during the night, but after further probing of the position decided to postpone the attack until next day, and the Brigade harboured for the night in area 0964.

    131 Infantry Brigade

    Crossed River ORNE between 2000 hours and 2230 hours and harboured for night in area 1072 - 1073.
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    11 Armoured Division
    29 ARMOURED BRIGADE Group; general line buildings 0664 - SOUTH of GRENTHEVILLE (0864) - East of LE MESNIL FREMENTEL (1065). 159 INFANTRY BRIGADE Group; East and West of LE MESNIL FREMENTEL, about 50 yards clear of village.

    7 Armoured Division
    22 ARMOURED BRIGADE; area 064. 131 INFANTRY BRIGADE; East of River ORNE.

    Guards Armoured Division

    32 Guards Infantry Brigade

    2nd Armoured Recce Welsh Guards
    Covering EMIEVILLE from South and South West.

    Situation on Flanks of 8 Corps

    Left: 1 CORPS
    Had advanced South to about half way between BANNEVILLE LA CAMPAGNE (1367) and EMIEVILLE, thence Eastwards to Eastern outskirts of TROAN. There still remained, therefore, an enemy pocket between 8 CORPS Left and 1 CORPS.

    Right: 2 Canadian Corps
    GIBERVILLE occupied. VAUCELLES was being attacked by a flank movement from the factory area East of River ORNE, and from the North and West across River ORNE. CORMELLES (0565), however, was still in enemy hands, and continued to be an embarrassment to 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE until it was finally cleared.

    Casualties in day's ops: Recorded in "A" Branch War Diary.

    Ops during night 18/19 July
    The Canadian advance across River ORNE into VAUCELLES made it likely that the Germans would retired South during the night. Therefore, 11 ARMOURED DIVISION were ordered to send armoured cars and infantry detachments to block all roads running South on approximate grid line Northing 62. Infantry to road CAEN - FALAISE, armoured cars to roads to West (0262 and 0362).

    (Note: 11 ARMOURED DIVISION actually reported that 8 R.B. reached CAEN - FALAISE road West of BRAS (0663) with some difficulty and thought it "very unlikely that enemy use road")

    Other incidents night 18/19 July
    Sharp air attacks were carried out:

    (a) 11 ARMOURED DIVISION Main H.Q. and Division 'A' Echelon area in 1274. Personnel and vehicle casualties were sustained.

    (b) The Corps Traffic Post at 067774, Casualties sustained.

    (c) EUSTON Bridge over River ORNE. No casualties, but slight interruption in traffic.
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    8 CORPS to continue the advance South.

    General Situation, first light 19 July
    During night 18/19 the enemy reinforced his positions on the general line BRAS (0663) - HUBERT FOLIE - SOLIERS (0862) - FOUR (0962), i.e. the line of villages immediately in front of 11 and 7 ARMOURED DIVISIONS.

    IN GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION sector, LE POIRIER and FRENOUVILLE were still strongly held and tank activity East of the general line excluding CAGNY - including EMIEVILLE developed early in the day.

    Tanks and SP guns, based on the wooded areas between VIMONT and SECQUEVILLE (0959), became active shortly after daylight.

    Enemy artillery and mortars which had kept up intermittent fire throughout the night also became increasingly active after daylight.

    Operations 19 July

    0500 to 1600 hours
    A certain amount of mopping up remained to be done within the Corps area. The morning was spent in each Division sector in re-organising, recce and probing the enemy positions.

    At 1200 hours the Corps Commander issued orders at Tac H.Q. 11 ARMOURED DIVISION (095659).

    The gist of the plan was -
    NOT to continue now towards VIMONT, but to consolidate CAGNY area.

    Tac H.Q.s remained in the area until 2100 hours, various conferences taking place at the H.Q.s of GUARDS, 7 and 11 ARMOURED DIVISIONS.

    1630 hours
    7 ARMOURED and 11 ARMOURED DIVISIONS carried out the attacks with their Armoured Brigades and by 2300 hours all objectives were taken except BOURGUEBUS. This was surrounded on the North, East and West, but the capture of the village itself was not completed until the following morning. In both Brigades the various objectives were attacked with Armoured Regiment Groups.

    2350 hours
    In the case of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION, 159 INFANTRY BRIGADE, which was close at hand, moved up and took over the objectives of BRAS and HUBERT FOLIE from 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE, the latter being withdrawn on completion. 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE moved back to area 0865.

    159 BRIGADE was disposed: 3 MONS in BRAS, 4 K.S.L.I. in HUBERT FOLIE, 1 HEREFORDS, in reserve, area 065635.

    As the Infantry Brigade of 7 ARMOURED DIVISION was not yet up their objectives were held for the night by the Armoured Brigade.

    A good haul of prisoners was made in these attacks, the best being from BRAS, where 250 were taken.

    GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION attacked LE POIRIER at 1700 hours with one Infantry Battalion (1 WELSH GUARDS) supported by one squadron tanks (2 ARMOURED IRISH GUARDS) and captured the village at 1800 hours.

    During the night 19/20 dispositions were as follows:-

    - 3 IRISH GUARDS, area 120635.

    - 2 GRENADIER GUARDS, area 105640
    - 2 ARMOURED IRISH GUARDS, 115647.

    - MAIN DIVISION H.Q.: 090760
    - Tac H.Q., 103667

    - 4 CLY, SOLIERS
    - 5 ROYAL TANKS, North, West and East of BOURGUEBUS


    - 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE, Area 0865
    - 159 BRIGADE, Reorganising in area BRAS - HUBERT FOLIE.

    Summary of Ops
    Although only a short advance had been made the ground gained was of great tactical importance, and had considerably improved the position of the Corps compared with the situation at the start of the day. The positions won had entailed hard fighting and even during the morning while the "sorting out" was in progress there was a steady toll of casualties in personnel and tanks, but the total day's casualties were much less than on the previous day, particularly in 11 ARMOURED DIVISION.

    Satisfactory hauls of Prisoners of War continued to be made.

    During the afternoon and evening a "circus" of about 30 enemy fighter-bombers was active over the Corps area and carried out a number of attacks with, however, very little result.

    Enemy artillery and mortars were constantly active.

    During the night 17/18 July Tac H.Q. complete with tanks was moved across the River ORNE with H.Q. 11 ARMOURED DIVISION in order to be in a position for the Commander to join them at First Light 18 July.

    18 July
    Commander left Main Corps H.Q. and joined his Tac H.Q. at H.Q. 11 ARMOURED DIVISION at 0800 hours and conferred with Commander 11 ARMOURED DIVISION. At 1230 hours Commander and Tac H.Q. moved up to 22 ARMOURED BRIGADE at 095686 and thence to 159 BRIGADE at 097657.

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