Battle of Brigade Box preplanned?

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by redtop, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Reading various reports on the attack on Villiers Bocage it would appear that 7th Armoured Div.
    over extended and became surrounded resulting in the Battle of the Brigade Box.
    My Father serving with Mercers Troop 5 RHA thought that this was all part of the plan as the notes below from his journal indicate.
    I know that a Gunner would have a fairly limited view of the overall battle but could this have been preplanned?
    The unexpected heavy loss of armour in the early stages of the attack would obviously changed the original plans but could these have included allowing to being surrounded?

    5 RHA's briefing before attack as reported by my Father

    “You will advance and take Tilly Bocage; you will be cut off, but not to
    worry air supplies are assured, on your left the 50 Div. Tyne and Tees
    (T and T, s) will take Tilly, and your right will be protected by the
    American Heavy Artillery" So said our C0. Col. Hoare.
    ” No one will leave their gun only the dead!”
    Also “The right of the line is our pride of the line” RHA motto.

  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The loss of armour was dramatic but it was only one squadron - so about 15% - of the Brigade Group.

    22 Armd Bde's purpose had always been to stick its neck out. Originally, that was supposed to happen D+1 onwards but events took over. By the time they did go forward, the Inf Bde had landed, so they went as a Div, not just a Bde. This allowed them to leave the Inf Bde Gp in a firm base at Livry, so the Armd Bde were not completely alone. In fact, the road back was threatened on occasions but not actually cut.
  3. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Hi Idler
    So the original plan might be to push forward make a breakthrough .Maybe surrounded, hold the Germans attention and wait for the rest to catch up?

    I have at times thought that my Fathers note could have resulted from hindsight as no mention of that intention else wear.
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Not a breakthrough, more a distraction to draw any counterattacks away from the beachhead proper. There is the reasonably well-known quote from the pre-D-Day planning conferences where Montgomery said that he was prepared to risk the loss of the armoured brigades - that referred to 8 and 22 Armd Bdes on the Tilly - Villers-Bocage axis and 2 Cdn Armd Bde who were meant to go to Evrecy.

    If you approach it from the planning end, the intention is pretty clear. Unfortunately, there's been a lot of post-war effort to label every British movement as a 'breakthrough' so their 'failure' becomes a stick to beat Monty with.
  5. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Is there another sort of planning other than 'pre'? Maybe someone can explain 'post' planning - perhaps it's rewriting history?

    There's an old military maxim 'No plan survives contact with the enemy unchanged'. The plan gets you across the start-line, that's H-Hour (unless the enemy has got ahead of you and attacks in some way in the run-up to your H-Hr), after that commanders have to adapt if and when things don't go according to plan, keeping in mind the objectives they've been given.
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    In this instance, although the plan inevitably adapted, the interest is in how the original mission/aim/objective/intention persisted.
  7. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    I am well aware that all can rapidly change once you cross the start line what I am asking is, was being surrounded part of the plan before H Hour or was it a consequence of things going wrong,
  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    The Plan for this operation (Operation Perch from memory) was for 7AD to exploit a gap in the German defences in the Villers Bocage - Caumont area. All went well until Mr Wittman turned up in his Tiger.
  9. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Yes, but was the original plan to exploit the gap expecting to get cut off as my Father thought?
  10. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    No. There was no 'plan' to run into the Germans in that area. The discovery there were elements of 3 German formations taking part in the counter-attack was disturbing. Being risk averse (rightly so) Monty pulled in his horns. 7th AD were never 'cut-off' anyway. Apart from the initial surprise attack on 4th CLY they performed well.
    Ian Daglish was working on a book on this subject when he was killed.
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The original plan (before the PERCH/WILDOATS mashup) envisaged the three armoured regiments of 22 Armd Bde operating semi-independently from VB (8 Armd Bde's original objective) towards Mont Pincon. One of the later adaptations allocated three areas of high ground around VB, one for each of the armd regts (Tracy-Bocage, Maisoncelles-Percy and the infamous Pt 213).

    So, the expectation was that the bde would not only be some way behind enemy lines, it would also be dispersed, presumably to cause maximum irritation.

    The 'Brigade Box' as formed was a much more concentrated affair, it was in touch with a 'bonus' infantry brigade group a few miles behind it, and it had the support of rather a lot of British and some US artillery. These factors contributed to a defensive win before they withdrew, having forced the newly-arrived 2 Pz Div to deploy and engage, instead of hitting the Br-US boundary at their leisure.

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