6 RSF start line for Operation Epsom?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by slipper, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. slipper

    slipper Member

    I'm after some help please, regards the start line of 6 RSF in Operation Epsom. I have 'Operation Epsom - Over the Battlefield by Ian Dalglish' and 'Operation Epsom- Battleground Europe by Tim Saunders'

    Both books state that 'The attack did not start well for 6 RSF, as the only start line they could find was a sunken road 125 yards from the opening barrage'. Ian Dalglish goes on to say that this road was 'diagonal to the axis of advance' and seems to show it in front of Norrey-en-Bessin. Also mentioning that 'B Company fared worse' presumably as they were closer.

    Tim Saunders mentions that the start line for Epsom was the railway line, behind Norrey.

    So that is where I am confused, where is/was this 'sunken road' please?

    Enclosed a screenshot showing the direction of advance given in the Ian Dalglish book, and my thoughts about it 6 RSFt_1.jpg
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    There is only a couple of roads going that way and there are all still there today. No 'lanes' are obvious of the June 24th air view but if I was forced to pick one I would say the modern day Rue des Moulinieaux St Manvieu.jpg


    Google Maps
     
  4. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    I would recommend getting a hold of Appendix A and B of the war diary. It will most likely show you on the map used during the operation. Appendix E shows the 9th Cameronians AA on the 25th and the 2nd GH movements on the 26th but unfortunately the 9th Cams movement for the 26th is missing.

    I have been studying the 9th Cameronians during Epsom. The books you have are good, however I recommend getting as much primary source materials as possible. You can check footnotes of books for them, you can also contact the museum responsible for the RSF collection to see what they have as well.

    The War diary as Own has pointed out will give you references to additional information. The museum or even a family association may have a lead on diaries or publications of officers or men in the RSF during Epsom that could give you some additional clues.

    V/R
    John

    Also their AA was in Norrey-en-Bessin, they moved to their FAA at SECQUEVILLE and then they would have moved to their FUP from there. So you might be looking at the wrong location.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  5. slipper

    slipper Member

    Thanks, everyone, some great replies really appreciate it.

    Looked at the war diary online, but it does not go into detail of the start line unfortunately, it does mention to see the maps at appendix A and B though (they are not included online), so that will be my next port of call.

    Where would I get a copy of the War Diary, including appendices, please?

    Yes, I have to agree I think I may be in the wrong area. excuse my ignorance but does AA = Admin area?

    regards

    slipper
     
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  6. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Contact the provider of the online version of the war diary under the comments section on his website. I know there is a Gentlemen on here who has photos of them he sells.

    Sorry A.A. = Assembly Area, F.A.A. = Forward Assembly area, and F.U.P. = Form Up Point which should have been just before the Start Line.

    Also if the IWM online collection comes back up, there is some film footage of 15th Div before, during, and after Epsom.

    The maps they were using were not that great. The roads were not properly marked or not there. The 46th Brigade had the same issues with objectives that were on the map but not actually there.

    Also if you can get your hands on the 44th Brigade operations order it will have the grids where their SL was "supposed " to be. It can be found in the Appendix as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
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  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Contact Adam aka adbw as that is his website with the war diaries.
     
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  8. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Film A70 58-5 is St Manvieu and B5950 to B5968 for still photos
     
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  9. slipper

    slipper Member

    Great replies again!

    Thanks, Owen, I have pm'ed Adam. I did find the War Diaries at the National Archives, but 6 RSF has not been digitised as of yet, and can't request a copy due to Covid.

    Thanks Have contacted Adam, do you know who has the photos for sale please?

    Thanks, gained some more info I wasn't aware of. Before today I had not considered war diaries and was not aware at all of the IWM online collection, I can see I am going to be a busy boy from now on! May I ask where you got the aerial photo posted earlier? Would be interested in more of this area from the period.

    cheers all

    kindest regards

    slipper
     
  10. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    If you find something on IWM that has not been uploaded for view online. Take down the item number and then collect all the ones you wish to see and email them. If you have no desire to purchase or use the item (typically a photo) for anything other than research. They will 9 times out of 10 upload it so everyone can see it.

    I have had luck with getting some of the film uploaded on the site before.

    V/R
    John
     
  11. slipper

    slipper Member

    Ok Thanks John.

    I have heard from Adam, he is going to have a look for me. Whatever I find out, along with my own research, I will post here. From the diary of 8 RS who were to the west of 6 RSF, I found this

    the map reference refers to GSGS 4347 sheet 37/16NE Thaon, and would place 8 RS as marked in red below, if 6 RSF were adjacent to them they may actually have been were I have marked in yellow, possibly to the east of Norrey (not sure if Norrey would have been included
    in any barrage)

    Norrey-en-Bessin 125000 Start up lines.jpg


    kindest regards

    Mike
     
  12. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    When I checked it all out earlier I noticed the contradictions. The books(and marked air views) said west of Norrey en Bessin but the words (and one photo) were describing east of Norrey en Bessin. The IWM film (A70 58-5) showing 9 RTR has a wide open largely treeless area. The area on the 1:25000 map above is partially captured in a 1945 air view here. Click on the yellow dots and they open in a new window. Remonter le temps
     
  13. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    DP
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  14. slipper

    slipper Member

    Thanks again, another great resource

    Going on the diary of 8 Royal Scots, they would have advanced from west of Norrey, given their map references, I think 6 RSF attacked from the east, not from the south as I originally thought. I'll see what information Adam has, but another avenue may be the diaries of the supporting arms, which would be 9 RTR, 190th Field Regiment RA along withthe supporting 'flails' and 'crocodiles'.

    Where do you get your Aerial photos please? Is it from NCAP - National Collection of Aerial Photography | NCAP - National Collection of Aerial Photography
    This investigation work is very addictive!!

    Regards

    Mike
     
  15. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    This is a composite of the area on July 3rd from the Canadian air photo collection. There is a fault on one or two of the original pics..

    0310-515_stitch.tiffyter.jpg
     
  16. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Mike,

    From your account the RS front was 700 meters wide. I suspect the RSF had about the same. From this map showing the unit locations the SL ran through Norrey.

    Copyright for map belongs to the Lanarkshire Council. Shared with permission for educational purposes only. If you shoot me your email through PM I can send you the full map. The file was too large to upload as a whole.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
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  17. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Kemp's History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers has barely a page on the battle, but the descriptions launched from the southern outskirts of Norrey-en-Bessin and the first stage of the attack was reached, the Norrey-en-Bessin road to St. Mauvieu are broadly in line with the Dalglish-derived map at the top. The book puts A Coy on the left (C behind) and B on the right (D behind), though.

    It would seem impractical to form-up in the village as moving through it would disrupt the formations they'd just formd-up in. It makes more sense to me that they would form-up along the E-W road on the southern edge of N-e-B and/or even in the fields to the south. There was the orchard to the south (just above the 'A Cpy' label - 919702 on the contemporary map) that would have provided a bit of cover for at least one company.

    [​IMG]

    Given it was said to be almost on the objective, I wonder if the SL was actually the track running west from the D83/D147A junction (ignore the river as that actually runs south parallel to the D83). There is no particular need for a SL to be close to the FUP, it's simply a defined line (minetape will do) that's crossed at a known time (usually H) to synchronise the advance with other goings on. Whilst this is handily parallel to the suggested FUP along the southern edge of the village, it is almost at a right angle to the D83 - the first objective. If the two assault coys crossed it together, they'd have to wheel onto the objective at the last minute with the inside/left coy A 'marking time'. Alternatively, B Coy could have swung south as they advanced, almost to the point where A was following B until they turned left onto the objective.
    Interestingly, the war diary has the left coy (A - we think) incurring casualties from shorts. If they were too close to the objective for too long, that might point to them 'advancing in line then wheeling onto the objective' instead of the 'advancing in column and turning onto the objective' where B might be as exposed as A. The area south of this track retains some of the hedges that would have provided some welcome cover back in the day.
     
  18. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    This is an excellent view of the ground looking south from Norrey en Bessin taken on June 7th.

    replaced with a better copy one post down
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
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  19. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Nice...
     
  20. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Here a fuller image taken June 7th 1944. June 7th Norrey en Bessin be.jpg
     

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