The attacks on Cristot (10th to 11th & 16th June 1944)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    These "attacks" were close to the Battle for St. Pierre (9-10th June)

    Apparently though - in typical understatement by the British - "the attack on Cristot turned out to be a flop"

    and... "things were bad for a bit...." , "the firing became intense" but "we held" and "slowly darkness fell"

    "The enemy withdrew" .... "it was unpleasant but we didn't mind. Point 103 was still ours."

    ...love this kind of text as it makes for a great read.... but I'd love to know if there is more known about how Cristot turned out to be a flop - or was it really? Is it enough that the enemy withdrew and Pt. 103 was held? - so any particularly good sources or opinions known please? It's not really a "Pyrrhic victory" or a modern "charge of the light brigade" is it?

    Cristot appears in a number of links i.e.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Le_Mesnil-Patry#Cristot

    With some "interesting analysis" there.

    (I guess that there might be more detail of this all also in a good account of the Battle for Pt.103 & St.Pierre?)

    Just interested in WW2talk opinions really please ! Would be a great help!

    All the best and many thanks,

    Rm.

    Some "interesting" links associated with the events around Cristot - 11th to 16th June 1944:

    Account of the events on the 11th June 1944 from the Creullyclub newsletter (from September 2011)
    http://www.creullyclub.freeuk.com/sept11.htm
     
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    I have seen this too...

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/tactics-and-the-cost-of-victory-in-normandy

    The capture of Caen was fundamental to the Allied plan. On 8 June Monty wrote 'I have decided not to have a lot of casualties by butting against the place.' So began attempts to envelope the city from east and west, but delays in getting forces ashore cost valuable time which the Germans used to bring in reinforcements and stiffen their line. Operation 'Perch', launched to the west of Caen, bogged down when 50th Division ran into stiff resistance around Tilly-sur-Seulles. In one action the 6th Green Howards lost 250 men trying to capture the village of Cristot. Their supporting tanks led the attack, but raced too far ahead, so that well-hidden German troops cut down the isolated infantry and then turned on the tanks from the rear. 7th Armoured Division attempted a 'right-hook' towards Villers-Bocage on 13 June, but this was also blunted by a fierce German response, not least by the intervention of a handful of SS Tiger tanks which decimated its lead elements.
     
  3. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    The attack on Cristot was led by 4th\7th Royal Dragoon Guards with 24th Lancers following up the rear. It was a brutal battle wth no quarter given on either side. The lessons learned by the British were put to good use and, after that, Tank/Infantry coordination became much better.

    There are several books on the Battles around Tilly sur Seulles from both the Allied and German perspectives.
     
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Got to concur,

    I like to make sense of it all, and war is hell. It looks like Cristot was taken successfully on the 16th, and I think that a squadron of tanks p'haps of the 24th Lancers (?) might have been of some help there.

    I found this nice link that had a good bit of detail under The Battle for Cristot
    (but there seems to be no mention of the 24L that I could see in there :mellow: ) - it looks like on the 10th or the 11th they might have been in reserve and not in the thick of this particular fight or part of force caught in the German ambush there (??)

    http://www.creullyclub.freeuk.com/sept11.htm

    And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Le_Mesnil-Patry#Cristot just underlines the difficulty of the terrain.

    All I kept hearing from the tanks was that they kept being told to press on, press on, the enemy :ph34r: aren't there... :eek:

    Cristot
    The 69th Infantry Brigade attack on Cristot was arranged quickly, with very little known about the ground, beyond what the commander of the 8th Armoured Brigadehad learned during the morning. Only scattered German infantry were said to be in the area but it was suspected that the Germans were under cover, waiting for the main attack before revealing themselves. The brigade planned an attack by the 6th and 7th Green Howards, after which the 5th East Yorks were to move on Point 103, supported by the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, the 147th Field Regiment and two batteries of the 90th Field Regiment but a detailed fire plan could not be arranged at such short notice. The attack began from Audrieu to the north-west, to guard the left flank of the 8th Armoured Brigade and the 8th DLI in St. Pierre. The 5th East Yorks would then relieve the 1st Dorsets on the high ground of Point 103, to keep the eastern (left) flank of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division level with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and would then capture the high ground at Point 102, south of Cristot.[25]
    The attack began at 2:30 p.m. with the 6th Green Howards and the tanks of the 4/7th Dragoons but the SS-Panzeraufklärungsabteilung 12 (12th SS-Reconnaissance Battalion) had arrived around Cristot earlier in the day. At about 5:00 p.m., during the advance through dense bocage towards Cristot, the tanks and the infantry became separated. The Germans let the unescorted British tanks pass by and then quickly knocked out seven of the nine tanks from the rear; by 6:00 p.m., the 6th Green Howards advance had also been stopped outside Cristot. The reserve company was sent forward and began to force back the German defenders but parties of German infantry got behind the Green Howards, who by 8:30 p.m., had advanced close to Point 102, despite many casualties. German tanks were attacked across the Green Howards axis of advance, which was ordered to retire westwards, to the high ground of Point 103 to avoid encirclement
     
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    I think it was just one Squadron of 24L.
     
  6. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day ramiles,advanced member.today.02:09pm.re:the attack on cristot(10th,11th,or 16th,june 1944?)read your very infomative post.did they ever catch the germans for the murder of canadian prisoners???.for those who did not make it home,may they rest in peace,regards bernard85 :poppy: :poppy:
     
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi Bernard85,

    I'm afraid I only know what I've read or have heard. :poppy: :poppy:

    Though I have had a pointer towards this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Conduct-Unbecoming-Canadian-Prisoners-Normandy/dp/0802083609

    & in the aftermath section in the link below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Le_Mesnil-Patry#Cristot

    It suggests that there was further research subsequently, and those most responsible may have themselves died in action subsequently by fanatically fighting to the death. I think that they may have given no quarter and hence expected none.

    For many of the ordinary Germans safe capture and internment of the enemy and even peace was preferable (particularly at this stage) and surrender to the allies was better than death or continuing to fight for a lost cause. I'd hazard for a lot of the SS this was their 'twilight of the gods' and they were ready to shoot even Germans that didn't obey an order, or do exactly as their wished.

    :poppy: :poppy:

    "Stories of German atrocities circulated swiftly among Canadian troops and an order-of-the-day instructed the Canadians to take no prisoners, until quickly countermanded by higher authority"

    - I have seen stories that soldier's prefer the enemy to surrender, and some if they can avoid it won't shoot to kill. If the enemy knows that they will be treated by the allies as Geneva Convention POWs their surrender may be more likely to occur.

    On the basis of this I'd feel that this time the "higher authorities" were right. There were far more ordinary Germans than fanatics, plus it was good to subsequently try as many as possible of the crimes of the SS.

    On the other hand if these war crimes were subject to the death penalty the SS would probably have fought to the death regardless anyhow, and equally have been strict in order enforcement - so could not have been captured and would have fought to the death.

    Of course it would be naive to assume that there was no hypocrisy i.e. for instance in the SS, and I'm sure some would have surrendered in extremis and expected good treatment in return. I'd assume that works on the basis that they "thought" that they were obeying their "orders and laws" and we should obey "ours".

    I'd actually agree "in basis" with this "crude" assessment ;) in "a sense". I actually like the fact that we aimed to fight this as a "good war" in as far as it was possible, but it must have been hardest for the ordinary soldiers and civilians there.

    By the way - Shakespeare had his opinions on lawyerly assessment.
    http://www.shakespeare-online.com/quotes/shakespearelawyers.html

    As well as on war:
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare_quotes_about_war

    All the best, :)

    Rm.
     
  8. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Rm,

    Noticed in this link in the prior posts: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Le_Mesnil-Patry it states:

    "The attack was intended to support a larger operation by the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and the 7th Armoured Division to capture the city of Caen..."

    This is incorrect. The 50 Div was never at any time allotted to the task of capturing Caen.

    Just a 'heads-up" that we all need to be careful with taking information on Wiki as an authority as it is quite often wrong. One Wiki source had 50 Div involved in the Rhine Crossing in late March 1945, which would have been impossible given that it was sent back to the UK in December 1944.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
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  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Steve,

    Corrections like that are really helpful! Hopefully someone that knows how to edit wiki can help put them right :)

    They are not the only source that slips up - but unlike some books and PhD theses they can be a little bit easier to put right. ;)

    I wonder what their "source" for this info was?? Or perhaps their source was 'right' and the writer of the wiki has just misinterpreted it? It looks from here:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/50th_(Northumbrian)_Infantry_Division#Operation_Overlord

    (And you might have to cut and paste this in order to make this link including "(" & ")" work)

    ...like the "plan" for the 50th was to seize the town of Bayeux, and the Caen–Bayeux road, and as a result they "took part" in the Battle for Caen? There's also their action in Operation Perch there as " the second attempt to capture Caen" albeit the 50th don't look like there were tasked with heading that way.

    perhaps .: instead of "The attack was intended to support a larger operation by the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and the 7th Armoured Division to capture the city of Caen..."

    It could be; "The attack by the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and the 7th Armoured Division was intended to support a larger operation to capture the city of Caen..."

    It looks fairly subtle but might make a world of difference?

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The immediate objective of XXX Corps in PERCH was not Caen (which lay well to the east), but the important road junction of Villers Bocage, to the south. The general intention of 2nd Army was indeed to capture Caen but XXX Corps' thrust was seen as the opening phase of an envelopment which would sweep across the city's lines of communication from west to east. Originally, the plan was also to include an airborne landing around Evreux by 1st Airborne Division, but opposition from the RAF killed that idea.
     
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    There were actually two attacks on Cristot. The first was on 10-11 June by 6th Green Howards and 4/7 DG. This attack was a failure. It is well known and has often been cited as an example of British tactical ineptitude. The second attack took place on 16 June, with 4/7 DG once again providing the armored element (don't know who the infantry was). The 16 June attack used improved tactics and succeeded. Few historians mention it.
     
  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The Canadians were not the only ones to encounter vicious behavior from the 12th SS and other German units. Several men of 50th Division's 151st Brigade were murdered as well at Chateau d'Audrieu. One Crocodile flame tank crew from 141st RAC were murdered elsewhere, and I have also read of a captured crew from 8th Armoured Brigade being beaten up by the Germans. Some units of 50th Division (6th Green Howards and 5th East Yorks, at least) entered into the tit-for-tat game. The whole atmosphere on the Anglo-Canadian front in Normandy was pretty vicious, more so than was normal during the war in Europe.
     
  13. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day ramiles.advanced member.yesterday.08:43am #7.thank you for your reply.war is cruel,the canadians were great soldiers,renown for there bravery,to those who did not return.may they rest in peace,regards bernard85 :poppy: :poppy:
     
  14. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Yes, TTH

    Odd that: "The 16 June attack used improved tactics and succeeded. Few historians mention it." :)

    I think though that there might have been a chance that some elements of the 24th Lancers were also there?

    They might have been there though but not committed to this one (i.e. in reserve) - or firing from a nearby hill ?

    When it comes down to it though it's a small area, with different thrusts for various objectives and there seems to be a lot of fog of war as I understand it, from what I have thus far seen.

    Many thanks!

    Rm.
     
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    One of the best sources for the attack on Christot are the recollections of Stan Hollis VC who, along with Robin Hastings used to take the Army Staff College to the sunken lane. There is a recordign in the Green Howards museum and a transcript appears in D Day by those who were there by Pen and Sword.

    The attack on the 11th was a cock up. Brigadier Cracroft and the Commander of 69 Brigade had driven to point 102, 1000metres S of Cristot, without attracting fire from point 103 and assumed Cristot was not occupied in any strength. After the success of Gold Beach on D Day 30 Corps initially treated their "subsequent operations" as if it was the pursuit of a disorganised and fragmented enemy. Operations were decentralised to brigades and artillery support parcelled out to them. The advance by 6 Yorks along the sunken lane was treated as an advance to combat rather than a brigade attack and their orders werre to capture Cristot and prepare it for defence. It ran into unexpectedly strong resistance from the recce battalion of 12 SS. The battalion commander then organised a deliberate attack. The 4/7 DG history says that this was the first deliberate attack they had made with infantry in Nromandy and condiucted accordign to the book. The ideal was to send in tanks followed by infantry then more tanks. The 4/7 DG described this as a dismal failure. The Germans defenders separated the a\rmour from the infantry and inflicted heavy casualties on both. (Quoted in CAB 44/247) This was a wake up call, and recognised as such by GOC 50 Div.

    After 11 June the attacks were organised as Divisional operations, with firepower concentrated in support of each formation in turn.

    The attack on 16th June was a form,al Brigade attack auppoted by the divisipnal artilery of 49 Division. The recce battalion of 12 SS had already withdrawn and the barrage and attack fell on empty trenches.
     
  16. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello again, Rm,

    Cristot was only a part of a much bigger operation and has to be viewed in context of what 50th (Northumbrian) Division were tasked and what they achieved overall. Certainly there were issues with tank/infantry cooperation at Cristot, as you have highlighted. However, I would recommend that 'critics' also read about the successful tank/infantry coperation between 4/7 DG and the 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment (231st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division), in the same operation.

    Cristot was eventually taken by 24L and 1/4th Bn KOYLI, 146th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division, on 16 June 1944.

    Here is another thread on the battle which may help you with your 24L query: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/26610-cristot-1116th-june-1944/?hl=cristot

    My understanding is that the 24L were involved in the 1st Bn Dorsetshire column advance on Pt 103, in holding it and then in protecting the left flank of the 8th Bn Durham Light Infantry, 151st Infantry Brigade, 50 Div's, attack/move up to St Pierre.

    Best,

    Steve.
     
  17. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Steve!

    Nice link! And fascinating pics! Just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun!

    - Except for a post World War 2 Normandy steeple! :eek:

    Rm.
     
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    D'you know which Gunners were supporting the attack and do they have anything to say about the tactics?

    I ask because The First and the Last (the 4/7 DG history) doesn't tally with their war diary, and the Hastings account that I've got to hand (Brightly Shone the Dawn) introduces another variation:

    The First and the Last: B Sqn 4/7 DG 'leading', C Sqn 'reserve'; it's implied that 6 GH were in between them.

    4/7 DG War Diary: 6 GH 'went in two Coys up with "B" Sqn supporting on the right and "C" Sqn on the left.' B Sqn lost 7 tanks.

    Brightly Shone the Dawn: 6 GH lead with C Coy left, B Coy right, supported by B Sqn (I read that as B Sqn supporting both coys); D Coy and A Coy behind with C Sqn; A Sqn was to escort 6 GH support coy forward to consolidate.

    Three sources with three different deployments! The only real consistency is that B Sqn, by accident or design, got out in front and got chewed up. I can see why the 'according to the book' quote has been seized upon, but is it actually valid?
     
  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    If any one posting can put a list of their Cristot events - i.e. those that they know of - with a timeline of some kind to it - when they post - I'll try to keep some kind of a record (like a spreadsheet) - and maybe associated maps (?) and try to get some of these accounts in some kind of order. If there's a difference of opinion on something we'll try to sort it all out as well as we can - or at least keep a good record of where opinion is differing or accounts don't match up - if that makes sense?

    Hopefully this might already be out there, I know full well that there is absolutely nothing new under the sun (!) so shout out do if you know! I only want to do this if it's not re-inventing the wheel (it's round right? but what colour??)

    All the best,

    Rm.
     
  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    It is not clear from the war diaries exactly which battery provided the FOOs to support the attack, but the FOO with 6 GH was Captain Smedley of 90 Field Regiment.

    The artillery grouping for 50 Div in the first week after D Day was a little complicated.

    50 Div landed with four infantry brigades and an armoured brigade under command It's own regiments were 74, 90 and 124 Field Regiments. Of these only 90 field was issued with the Sexton SP gun to provide fire support from landing craft for the D Day. Two army artillery regiments 86 Fd and 147 Fd, equipped with the Sexton also landed on D Day. 74 and 124 did not land until 11 June. So fir the first week three artillery regiments were juggled around to support five manouvre brigades. Some of the FOO parties from 74 and 124 did land earlier and were attached to one of the other regiments.


    50 Div Artillery Operation order No 3 dated 10 June says that 50 Div's role was to protect the left flank of 7th Armoured Division which was striking South towards Villers Bocage. The orders for the brigades were for 8th Armd Bde (with 2 x inf bns under command 1 Dorsets and 8 DLI) )to hold a defensive position near St Pierre, 151 Bde to occupy ground to be captured by 56 Bde and 69 bde to hold current positions. i.e. the Cristot operation was local initiative to take advantage of what looked like an opportunity to gain ground.

    (231 Bde was not mentioned in OO 3 but it was on the Western right flank of the division with ordered to continue the advance South protecting the right flank of 7 Armd Div and maintain contact with 1 US Division.)

    The artillery grouping was as follows

    Under command of 8th Armd Bde - 147 Fd Regt.

    in support 231 Bde one bty 90 Fd Regt and 74 Fd Regt as available.(It landed on 11th June)

    In support 69 Bde and 151 Bde: 90 Fd Regt less one bty.

    OPs

    90 Fd Regt were ordered to provide:-

    (i) one OP with 231 Bde with a call on one battery
    (ii) At least one OP and one CO's Rep (BC party) with 151 Bde
    (iii) Maintain Ops as at present with 69 Bde.

    So 90 Fd Regt, which normally supported one brigade was providing support for two. Instead of a BC party and two FOOs for each battalion there was just captain Smedley (and possibly Major Girling ) with 6 GH.

    There were two FOB parties attached to 90 Fd Regt and 1 RM ASG Regiment (less one troop of six guns - i.e 18 x Centaurs) ) was under command 90 Fd to support 69 Bde.

    CAB 44/246 says that after the Op order was issued on 10th June, the GOC 50 Div visited 69 Bde HQ at 07.15 on 11 AM and ordered the Bde to press south and occupy St Pierre, Cristot and the wood in 8871. There was little information about the German dispositions but there was a feeling that the Germans would pull back if pressed in view of the penetration near Pt 103.

    CAB 44/246 also says that two batteries of 90 Fd and 147 Field Regiment supported the attack by 69 Bde, but owing to an absence of information about the german dispositions and limited time a full fire plan was not fired. Artillery support for 6 GH was on "known enemy positions and one hedge ahead of the advance"
     
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