August 7th, 1944 - Operation Totalize

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by canuck, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Then they were lucky not to get shot up by 144RAC and 1NY!!!! They should not have been there. If they were, they screwed up.

    The interdivisional line ran straight down the N158 to Gaumesnil. A little spot on the map, but the point at which the boundary moved off the N158 and shifted to the east. 4 Armored Brigade was supposed to move from the start line (at a point between RHLI and RRC), head between Gaumesnil and Cintheaux, cross the N158 and then turn right.

    Make up your mind whether GG were in the wrong location or whether a post-war narrator has filled in the gaps incorrectly.

    Eyewitness accounts, especially those narrated years after the event, are always the most unreliable.

    I think Stacey's words that we are discussing are directly taken from the 4 ArmdBde Ops log that I have just read through and posted excerpts from. Stacey used the same source documentation that we are. He had no access to post-war narratives - especially the SS-obsessed narratives that cloud, if not pollute, the histograph.
  2. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Maybe they were not so lucky, in the map two 88s are marked in the orchard where 3 Tp/A Sqn/1st Northants Yeo were or had been around 1300, it suffered heavy losses in combat with Pz IVs of the KG Waldmüller between 1300 and 1345. The regimental history of the 1st Northants Yeo mentions nothing on a possible combat with tanks NE or E of Gaumesnil at around 1500.

    And I missed a gun in the map in Caravaggio's PhD thesis marked just E of the highway appr 300 m straight S of the point where Wittmann's Tiger was destroyed. Only gun marked without calibre, all others are labelled as 88s or 20s.
  3. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Now I'm utterly confused.

    You seem now to be arguing that GG got held up trying to pass Gaumesnil not Cintheaux - which is saying that Stacey was 100% correct.

    I give up!

    But yes, the GG WD does indeed hint that they took the wrong route. Amy reporting 077555 is the same spot as the tanks were waiting for RRC.

    Edited to add.
    Daft as I am, I forgot that the GG WD has a map of their route. Red line is the interdivisional boundary. Blue line is, effectively, their start line. Although technically, the start line was the 'bomb line' whichtouched Gaumesnil itself. It seems they did indeed cut the corner a little.

    I can't read exactly what is written by hand, but it seems to suggest that Smith and Fischer were indeed a good bit further over the line which suggests rather poor navigation and drills.

    With this evidence, Stacey's words "But resistance about Gaumesnil, just south of the startline, held up the advance" are looking ever more accurate. GG got held up trying to get through/past Gaumesnil.
    Juha likes this.
  4. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    This is the relevant passage from the GG WD.


    Cintheaux is mentionned 3 times, Gaumesnil not once. The first two mentions of Cintheaux are probably correct, but the third surely refers Gaumesnil if the 077555 grid ref and the map annotations are accurate.

    Notice they claim the ground was covered by 88 fire from both sides.

    The next paragraph in the WD clearly deals with Cintheaux.

    The problem for you now Juha is that this engagement continued well past 1600 - after RRC claim to have entered Gaumesnil.
  5. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello Mark
    yes, tanks of both Smiths and that of Fisher were hit NE and ENE of Gaumesnil, see the map on page 185 in Caravaggio's thesis

    But my understanding is that the resistance originated from the orchard N of Cintheaux and from the small woods at 088551 on the British wartime 1:50,000 map 7F/4 St Pierre-Sur-Dives, IMHO it is possible that the 88s marked on the positions inside the area held by the 1st Northants Yeo on the morning of August 8th is a mistake orginating from the phrase in the WD "held up by 88mm fire from the wood at 0855", which could mean either the small triangle wood SW of St Aignan de Cramesnil and the orchand S of St Aignan de Cramesnil or the small wood at 088551, all 3 are inside the same map square. So not necessarily anything in Gaumesnil itself. Even the gun without calibre is on or almost on the line of fire of the northernmost 88 N of Cintheaux to the knocked out Canadian tanks. So IMHO it is possible the gun was only imaginary, mentally put there by tank crews because it was the nearest potential point from where the incoming fire could have been coming.

    The 88s N and W of Cintheaux were probably really 88 mm AA guns, four 88s and four 20 mm sounds like a Flak unit positioned as an A/T line.

    The route chosen by the CGG, I don't believe that it was a result of a navigation error more probably it was a tactical choice. Keeping on the right side of the interdivisional boundary line would have mean to drive through a narrow "alley" between the walls of the chateau grounds and the buildings and hedges on the eastern side of the highway. If the area was not positively occupied by friendly forces even a squad of infantrymen armed with panzerfausts were capable to do much harm there. Crossing the boundary line and moving well E of the "alley" was sensible even if the area there, open fields without cover, was also very dangerous as Wittmann's men had found out just before the noon.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  6. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    That was not the case with Stacey. He was highly critical of many Canadian actions.
  7. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello Mark
    Thanks a lot for the info on the interdivisional boundary line, I had read about it but completely forgot how it ran at Gaumesnil. It dawn to me why the Gaumesnil was so important for the Canadians and their vehicle movement. And why the Canadian and Pole armoured commanders complained the restrictions imposed by the narrow frontages given.

  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Gaumesnil was not just the point on the road where the divisional boundary shifted to the east, it was also, effectively, the intersection of the four divisional boundaries. In many ways, it was the key point on everybody's map. It was the point at which Simonds had to have the greatest situational awareness and control. In reality, it was the point where he showed zero awareness and control.

    Also, on the subject of Gaumesnil, I'm not sure you are clear about what German forces were there defending it.

    Why was it that Amy, having got to within 2-300m of the chateau, decides it's too dangerous to get any closer and elects rather than to skirt the edges of the property as planned, he'll send is forces back northe 500m and out 500m to the east across the divisonal boundary? Then, after his force gets clobbered by a big gun from the east, he has Smith Force follow down that same eastern route to get clobbered too - rather than take advantage of cover by the chateau. Why are GG choosing to be out east if there is no threat from the chateau?

    When the RRC finally enter the chateau and farmyard (hamlet), they only found "a few stray prisoners". What were "a few stray prisoners" doing in Gaumesnil all alone for the past 5-6 hours? If GG did indeed pass the place on the north and east, they could easily have slipped out the otherside towards Cintheaux at any time. Had they been sitting there alone all that time, or had a larger force been there and the majority slipped out the back just as the RRC arrived? Who knows?

    Edited to add.
    I have also now come around to the idea that the RRC WD times are GMT. Thus, they were ordered to take Gaumesnil at 1600 and accomplished the task around 1730. Somebody clearly viewed Gaumesnil itself as a problem.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  9. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello Mark
    you can find the Gaumesnil timeline on p. 181 in Caravaggio's thesis and from CGG WD one sees that at 1600 4th Troop/3rd Sqn/FGG was in the orchard at the SW end of Gaumesnil
  10. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Why do you keep quoting Caravaggio when the primary documentation is online?

    That's from the 10th Infantry Brigade WD. They were still waiting behind the start line for Gaumesnil to be 'pacified' before they advanced. How does that compare to Stacey's ....
    Stacey correct or incorrect?

    The same WD goes on...
    The ASH WD does not add anything to this other than to put the time of attack as 1800-1816.

    If RRC took Gaumesnil at 1530, it took ASH 2.5 hours to move forward 1km. If Gaumesnil was taken at 1730, then they took just 30mins.


    Did it take RRC 1 hour or 3 hours to "consolidate" at Gaumesnil?

    That's not what the GG WD says.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019 at 10:43 AM
  11. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    I used Caravaggio's thesis because in principle his opponent had checked his notes and Gaumesnil case isn't that important to me and what I have read from it is in line the WDs I already has digged out, I have made some cross-checking.

    About the FGG WD it says that "Lt Phelan's tp was at this time in the woods at 075547..." and just before that WD was talking what happened nearly 1600, two tanks of 3 Sqn was knocked out ENE of Gaumesnil and Maj. Smith had decided to try to get through from the west and ordered Lt Phelan to advance, so IMHO around at 1600 is a resonable guess for the appr. time when 4 Troop was ordered to advance.

    According to the RRC WD it took 1½ hours, from 1530 when the A and D Coys entered to the hamlet to 1700 when the position was consolidated. No opposition was encountered. Why it took so much time, I don't know, maybe they were careful and very thorough before reporting all clear.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019 at 11:54 AM
  12. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    "By this time it was nearly 1600 hrs ..." refers to when 1 Sqn decided they'd had enough and it was decided that 3 Sqn should have a go.

    "Lt Phelan's tp was at this time in the woods at 075547..." is AFTER 3 Sqn had had a go, failed and the decision made that the eastern flank was impossible and now they should try going round Gaumesnil to the right. Then he had to get there.

    It took 1 Sqn about 2 hours to try and get past Gaumesnil to the east. How long did it take 3 sqn to try and decide that it couldn't do it either? 5 mins? 10 mins? I think not.

    Back to Stacey and his quote that y6ou believe is incorrect.
    The evidence would seem to suggest that Stacey was quite correct with the first 4 fragments of this sentence, but I have doubts about the accuracy of the 5th despite it being lifted straight from the RRC WD.

    Do you still believe that Stacey is incorrect?

    And if RRC WD is recording GMT times, that equates to 1730 (enter) and 1900 (consolidate). The message reporting consolidated is times 1830. 1830 seems a pretty good "by" 1900, not so?

    From all this, I suspect the tank commander that RRC met just north of Gaumesnil was from GG. Perhaps Halpenny himself.

    Why Halpenny made no attempt to enter Gaumesnil himself is a mystery; he had the Lake Superior Regiment under command, so it was not as if he was lacking infantry support.

    What time does your Caravaggio say the RRC entered Gaumesnil: 1530 or 1730?
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019 at 1:06 PM
  13. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Caravaggio doesn't give that info, his thesis is on 4th CanArmDiv and especially how Kitching handled it. But on page 181 "...The first reference involving the RRC and Gaumesnil (codenamed LANDI) occured at 1245 hrs when the rgt was told to "exploit LANDI and area." At 1427 hrs Genong ordered the rgt to "proceed to LANDI now." This followed by a further order at 1515 hrs to take LANDI at 1515 hrs..."

    His sources are: Ops Log 8 August serials 287, 299, 305, WD 4 Cdn Inf Bde 1-31 August 1944. D.J. Goodspeed. Battle Royal: A History of the Royal Regiment of Canada 1862-1962. (Toronto: The Royal Regiment of Canada Association, 1962), 443.

    On Halpenny, he was on a deep penetration mission and probably didn't want to deploy his motor bn just after his startline when there was friendly inf bns nearby which could do the job.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019 at 12:00 PM
  14. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    How strange! A timeline to an event that doesn't say when the event actually occured!!!

    Perhaps I'm just not smart enough to understand the logic of a PhD thesis....

    Fortunately, I can read the primary documentation myself and don't need to be mislead by somebody else's narrative.

    Regarding Halpenny, it's hardly a deep penetration mission if he can't get past a farmyard and a hotel 1km over the start line!!!!
  15. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Caravaggio says that "Gaumesnil was not taken until 1720 hrs". As his source is Op Log, WD of the 4 Cdn Inf Bde this is probably the time the Bde got the info from the RRC, so in line to the info in the WD of the RCC, so IMHO all that means that not surprisingly the WD of the RRC used the same times as the other British/CW WDs in Normandy, so the 2 attacking coys of the RRC entered Gaumesnil at 1530 hrs and the bn reported it secure appr. at 1700 hrs.
  16. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    He didn't say - but now he does say......??????

    I disagree entirely. It is definitely NOT "in line" at all. If taking Gaumesnil was only recorded 1 hour and 50 mins after it happened, it is incompetent and irresponsible.

    Then, your opinion does not accord with primary evidence.

    Moreover, if your opinion were correct, it would mean the advance was held up for almost 2 hours due to the incompetence of RRC in not reporting their objective in good time and, potentially, caused SMITH FORCE to get clobbered for no reason at all. I mean, why would they try and push through open ground out to the east - when threatened by big guns from the east - if Gaumesnil was secure in RRC hands half an hour earlier?
  17. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    You asked "What time does your Caravaggio say the RRC entered Gaumesnil: 1530 or 1730?"

    Caravaggio doesn't give that info. He only gives info which is more or less in line the time when according to the WD of the RCC their position was consolidated. Reid in his book on pages 261-263 says "A and D Coys moved into Gaumesnil at 1530 hours and the battalion reported it had cleared and consolidated the place at 1700 hours." See Kevin Lambie's message, #11 in this threat for more exact info.
    Caravaggio interpreds this as the time when the hamlet was taken. His source is Ops Lo8 8 August serials 320, War Diary 4 Cdn Inf Bde 1-31 August 1944
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019 at 11:56 AM
  18. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    I did. And you have now stated Caravaggio says 1720.

    1720 is very similar to 1730. Not so?

    Not correct.

    The msg stating RRC "consolidated" at Gaumesnil is timed 1830. 1 hour and 10 mins after 1720 or 3 hours after 1330. Which makes sense?

    The primary evidence is online for you to read yourself. But, instead you choose to quote another poster who is quoting from an author. ?????

    What does he "interpret"? Seriel 320 states: We have just taken LANDI and BAKER. The TOR is timed on the log sheet at 1720. You can read the actual message as well as it is available in the war diary online - unfortunately, the time group is obscured but seems to say 1653.

    The very next serial, 321, is a 4 Inf Bde sitrep up the chain. Also timed 1720 and it states in the sitrep: 1655 LANDI held.

    Edited to add.
    Also note the time the RRC WD has the morning counter-attack by 89.Inf-Div: 0830. Everybody else notes the counter-attack between 1000 and 1100!!!
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019 at 1:03 PM
  19. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello Mark
    thanks a lot for the primary source info.
    One point
    Entering a hamlet is not the same than taking and securing the hamlet, one needs time to go through the buildings even if there is no opposition.
    1655 is appr. 1700 so same as in the WD. Also the messages before the RRC attack indicate strongly that the 1530 is the correct time for the A and D coys entry to Gaumesnil
  20. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member


    The RRC WD gives "entered approx" 1530 and "consolidated by" 1700. Note a 1.5 hour gap between the two.

    The 4th Inf Bde WD gives "just taken" at 1653/1655 (logged at 1720) and "consolidated" 1830 (logged at 1830). Note a 1.5 hour gap between the two.

    You seem to have found a way to manipulate the words to convince yourself that you can align the 1655 with the 1700 to 'prove' your opinion is accurate. However, the by 1700 of the RRC WD equates to the 1830 of the 4th Inf Bde WD.

    Several entries noting connecting events, across a number of WD, align with the 4th Inf Bde WD.

    I don't think they do anything of the sort.

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