Battle of Putot-en-Bessin (7th - 11th June 1944)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Apologies if this is already a topic elsewhere! Does anyone know of the "best" sources for info about this battle in the early days after the D-day landings? Wiki fails me... :)

    (Hint! They ought to mention that the 24th Lancers were there (!) ;) )

    Post orig post update:


    "The Guns of Bretteville: 13th Field Regiment RCA, The Defence of Bretteville-l'Orgueilloese, 7-10 June 1944" pdf (Thank's "gpo's son" in post #12 below)

    Some books:

    Stopping the Panzers - Marc Milner (note from "klambie")

    An essay by Micheal Bechthold "Defending the Bridgehead: The battles for Putot en Bessin June 7th to 9th. it is published in "Canada and the 2nd World War. essays in honour of Terry Copp".

    From the German perspective:

    12th SS - volume 1 - by Herbert Meyer (note from "Sheldrake")

    Map links:

    Allied and axis dispositions on the 12th June 1944:
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  2. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    Sorry to appear flippant, but you could try "Google. " Putot-en-Bessin was the site of a defensive battle by the Winnipeg Rifles against the 26 SS on D+1 to D+3. There are lots of sites, not least the Canadian Official History.
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hi Roy,

    Many Thanks, but p'haps this is part of the "confusion" http://en.wikipedia...._Port-en-Bessin is on the coast NW of Bayeux, presumably between Omaha and Gold Beach - whereas the Putot en Bessin battle that the 24th Lancers were involved in was a small village on the rail line - some miles inland just to the west of Caen.

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron


    The best source is going to be the War Diaries. I attach a summary from CAB 44/246 the 30 Corps histporic summary. I haven't bothered with the I Corps summary for 7 Cdn Bde because theior story is well covered.

    The action at Puton-en-Bessin involved allied troops from two formations. 3rd Canadian Division of I Corps and 24L of 8th Armd Bde of 30 Corps, Unit Historians, have a bias towards writing about their own units and telling the story based on their view of the big picture.. The main story for 8th Armd Bde unit on 8-10 June was the advance to Pt 103 and St Pierre. 24L claim of 40 PW suggests they played a significant part at Putot en Bessin, but for the 8th Armd Bde the action at Putot en Bessin represented a false start to their advance south.

    I hope this helps

    Attached Files:

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  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Sheldrake,

    That's really interesting and exactly the kind of thing that I was after :)

    I have heard about the loss of the Stuart tank before, and would guess that its damage would have occurred somewhere near to the silo toward the north of Loucelles.


    I'm not aware yet if it is known if there were troop losses with it or whom was there.

    Most of the rest of what I have read about this particular battle seems to deal with "B" squadron of 24L being there.

    I'd suppose that "B" squad had something like 19 tanks but so far there have been only a handful of these identified to the best of my knowledge:

    B Sqn

    BANDIT "B" trp 5
    BLACK PRINCE "B" trp 4 - Lt. Richard Leather's tank
    BLIMY BILL "B" trp 5
    BLOODY MARY "B" trp 4 - hit by a bazooka near Brazenville D+1. Lance Corporal Mintoft's tank
    BRIGAND "B" trp 5
    BUCCANEER brewed up at Tessel Wood Normandy 25th June 1944.
    BUTCHER OF CUMBERLAND "B" trp 4 - Sgt Norton's tank?

    So there would still seem like a very great "deal" to potentially learn there.

    But might be somewhat lifting (at least my own fog of war) ;)

    All the best,


    Ps. To add to this: (from post #30 below)

    Bloody mary was lieutenant Leathers original tank from d day
    Butcher cumberland was cpl Bamfords tank
    Black Prince was sgt Nortons tank
    things swapped around a bit when bloody Mary had engine trouble thanks to a german bazooka so lieutenant leathers took over Butcher cumberland but that had a faulty traverse so he then managed to swap tanks once again to "the ram" which he stayed with until being wounded. My reference was NHL and also my nan who was told sometime after the war that black prince was my gdads tanks name.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    A young man from Putot en Bessin gives a speech in English about how the Royal Winnipeg Rifles fought to liberate their village in France.

    & the following site: Putot en Bessin in Trigger Time General Discussion Forum

    Has some details including a brief map and:

    "On the 6th June 1944. 7.55AM, soldiers of the 7th Canadian Brigade landed at Juno Beach from Courseules to Graye-sur-Mer.
    The next day, at 10.30AM, members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Regiment took over Putot en Bessin without encountering resistance. They took positions along the railway (Caen-Cherbourg).

    On the morning of June 8th, A Co. positioned near the bridge of Brouay, faced the first elements of the 26th Regiment of the 12th SS-Pz. Div.H.J. The German 5th, 6th and 7th Companies of II Pz.Gren.Abt. launched their attack and entered as far as the centre of the village. They encircled 3 of the 4 companies of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. When the Canadian soldiers finally ran out of ammunition, they tried to withdraw by means of an artificial smoke screen. Some men reached Bois Gervais, on the East side of the village, where they joined the D Co. that had already taken cover.

    On the West side the British tanks of the 24th Lancers succeeded in blocking the German offensive.

    The Waffen SS had taken back the village but for a few hours only. In fact the Canadians of the 1st Battalion, the Scottish Regiment struck back at about 8.30PM supported by the 1st Hussars tanks, the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa machine-gunners (CHO) and the 12th and 13th Regiment RCA artillerymen.

    Reduced by the earlier fights, the Germans were soon unable to contain the Canadians and were pushed out of Putot en Bessin by the Canadian Scottish Regt.

    The villagers were finally free.

    The liberation of the village cost 98 German losses, on the Canadian side, losses number 256 including 105 killed on the battlefield and 45 prisoners who were murdered apparently several kilometres
    from the Chateau d'Audrieu, near the crossroads of the small track leading south from le Mesnil-Patry to Cheux and the road from Fontenay-le-Pesnel to St. Manvieu-Norrey."
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    A 3D map for this battleground seems to exist, having been made for the Darkest hour computer game:

    There's a fly-through over this map on youtube @

    I assume it's an add on scenario map (a base one, i.e. without units) made for the "1944 Allied Landing in Normandy" patch

    (No idea on its authenticity but it seems to have involved quite a bit of work, so you'd hope they made it accurate!)

    Looks like a tough place to have to fight a war....

  10. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    "Looks like a tough place to fight a war" - le Bessin is a large area in Normandy which is partly/mainly marshland. Now a National Park. Capital of this ancient area was Bayeux.
  11. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

    A few paragraphs on this in the recent 'Stopping the Panzers' by Marc Milner. Few new facts I think, but a better idea of how 7 Cdn Bde and 8 Amd Bde interacted with a focus on the Canadians.

    Winnipegs had a Coy on the Rly crossing at Brouay, two Coys astride the Rly line in front of Putot and one Coy in the village itself. 7 Cdn Bde seems to have had little or no contact with the British, they placed a flank guard of four 17-lbrs, eight 6-lbrs, a medium MG Pl, a heavy mortar Pl and a Pl of infantry around la Bergerie farm, about 1 km behind Putot. They were to cover the west flank by fire. As mentioned elsewhere, British armour to the west was at some point fired on by the Canadians.

    An initial attack on the crossing near Broauy at about 0530 hrs was repelled. This was probably II Bn 26 PzGr, but could have been part of Pz Lehr who had a Bn near Brouay. The Recce Bns of both 12 SS and Pz Lehr were also in the area.

    II/26 launched a full scale attack about 1000 hrs, joined by at least one Pl of Pz Lehr and supported by artillery. This was across the entire Winnipeg front. Armour was present, though no German sources are clear on who they were. They were also supported by half tracks, either from III/26 or the Lehr Bn which was also armoured. It took several hours, but A Coy at the Brouay crossing and C Coy astride the rail cutting were eventually overrun. Most of the survivors seem to have moved west along the Rly.

    As early as 0945 hrs, as many as nine German tanks and supporting infantry pushed toward la Bergerie from the west. This would seem to confirm that at that point in the day, there was a gap between the British and the Canadians. It is also unclear who launched this attack, accounts describe them variously as MK IVs, Panthers or SP guns. The attack stalled and the Canadian position was reinforced with two more Pls of infantry and a Tp of M-10s. The two formations traded fire for the rest of the day.

    Some time late in the afternoon, Major Jones of C Coy of the Winnipegs encountered a recce tank of 24 Lancers somewhere north of Brouay. According to the document posted above by Sheldrake, they were to cross the Rly at the Brouay crossing, headed toward Cristot and Fontenay. An attack was coordinated on Putot from the west, including eighteen tanks. The attack failed, I would suggest due to the lack of available Canadian infantry. The presence of the British armour did however put an end to any German thoughts of exploiting to the north.

    In the early afternoon, a heavy artillery concentration by Canadian guns, supported by cruiser fire decimated the Pz Lehr battalion at Brouay. British artillery drove 12 Recce Bn out the area of le Chateau d'Audrieu. Movement by 50 Div west of Audrieu threatened the left flank of 12 SS. Around 1800 hrs, Rommel appeared at the HQ of Pz Lehr and turned them toward Bayeux. Later in the evening, a counter-attack by the Canadian Scottish expelled the Germans from Putot.
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  12. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Since I cant copy and paste just now. Google search "The Guns of Bretteville: 13th Field Regiment RCA, The Defence of Bretteville-l'Orgueilloese, 7-10 June 1944". it gives a pretty good idea how close it was in those early days . It is part of the Wilfred Laurier Collection. they have also have the War Diaries for all the Canadian Regiments for the Normandy Campaign. The Gunners report having fired from 2 map boards over 270 (edit, 240) degrees. Lt Col Clifford (CO of the 13th field) famously comment in later years "the Germans thought we 'fucking' Russians (edit)they did stupid things and we killed those 'Bastards' in great numbers".

  13. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks for the recent posts! which have "helped" to shift forwards my understanding of all this a bit...

    I noticed some brief details on Putot-en-Bessin in the 24th Lancer war diary that I'll add (with some notes of my own) here:

    8th June 1944, about 8am: Advancing down the main Bayeux-Caen road just East of St Leger, (i.e. toward Putot-en-Bessin) leading elements of the 24th Lancers were heavily engaged by A/Tk guns and a Stuart recce tank was destroyed (no idea as yet of any casualties there? Rm). Supporting artillery allied engaged suspected enemy gun positions with fire but in spite of this 24th Lancers were unable to advance. A particularly active enemy position was found at Putot-En-Bassin and in the late afternoon (c2pm:Rm) the 24th Lancers advanced and attacked. The position was found to be strongly held by 3 Bns of a Pz Gren Regt in the Hitler Jugend Div (I think that there are some details in Meyer's book (The 12th SS) about which German units he thinks were actually there - but at the moment for me at least (Rm) these - because of my confusion about what's where - have been quite difficult to pick out from the text) numbers of which infantry had hidden themselves in the long grass and the orchards west of Putot and also at the tops of trees whence tank commanders were continuously sniped (there are hints in the German accounts that these weren't particular 'professional German snipers' as such - but rather more "regular" troops that had climbed into the trees to hide/avoid the tank's low raking fire - and presumably once there had realised that the cover provided by the trees offered them an opportunity to strike back at the tank commanders opposed (Rm)). After apparently inflicting heavy casualties and taking approx 40 prisoners, the 24th Lancers withdrew from this position and later were ordered to concentrate again in the area Martragny.

    There are also some books published from the German perspective I've been reading, which mention the presence / appearance of the British armour of the 24th L helping to stall some thoughts of risking further German attacks to the north and west of there. There's some suggestion of exchanges of fire with losses on both side - including perhaps three 24th L Sherman tanks (although smoking? might mean damaged rather than "brewed" up?) - also a number of casualties can be accounted to the sniper fire (particularly dangerous to the tank commanders), including a 24th L tank commander KIA by a female French sniper (apparently the lover of a fallen German soldier) at Martragny, however at least half a dozen 24th L troopers are on the roll of honour as KIA around this date and this suggests (to me - Rm) greater engagement with the enemy than might simply be accounted due to sniper fire (with the loss of what amounts to nearly two full Sherman tank crews near to there).

    At the moment in addition I am trying to put this event into my understanding of what occurred there: Fallen Heroes of Normandy | Detail
    Detail in the section about half way down this webpage. For the date (8th June) of the events at Putot noted above but which however mentions 24th L "C" squadron in action to quote: "Bill was driving his Sherman tank, in company with a number of others, along a dusty lane near Tilly, about ten miles west of the German-held town of Caen. There the group encountered heavy enemy anti-tank fire from the German “88s” and several of the tanks were hit and put out of action. Among them was the tank being driven by Bill Mant. He is believed to have been killed outright." - unless for nr. Tilly read nr. Martragny or Putot-en-Bessin, not sure at the moment - note Rm.



    There are some "interesting/debatable" differences in the ways of reading the various accounts and it's sometimes hard to "get into" Herbert Meyer's account as it's a bit too pro-a particular point of view for my taste e.g. he seems to cite "after the war, a so-called "war criminals trial" took place - against one of the SS officers and for example it seems fairly clear from Herbert Meyer's version that (i.e. look back from an allied perspective) German prisoners were deliberately "very tricky" to deal with after capture, refusing for example to be transported back to allied lines (citing fear of being "hurt" by their own troops if their allied "guards" were attacked, as apparently the German artillery was thought to be targeting allied troops escorting German troops away) as well as German POWs attempting to escape and wishing if their guards looked inattentive to pick up weapons and resume the fight. But I'm used to seeing British POW films like the Great Escape (and it seemed to be quite funny and normal from an allied perspective for an allied POW not to have "given" up the fight ;) and very unfair of the enemy to behave in anything like a similar way :eek: I still think of the allies helping liberate not just the non-free French, Belgium and Dutch but also the Germans :pipe: )

    Also following a low level recon flight, a heavy naval bombardment seems to have played a part in adding to German losses nr. Putot.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    Where is that from? There were spotter aircraft including FAA Seafires assigned to spot fall of shot for naval gunfire. Was this TACR findign an enemy then engaged -r a spotter locating and spotting fall of shot?
  15. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Hard to say, all I saw was a report of a German soldier saying that their position was spotted by "a low flying plane and shortly thereafter they were heavily hit by naval bombardment" and him assuming that in someway the two things might have been linked.... an FAA Seafire could possibly fit the profile though.... it's never "easy" to pick out details, it's sometimes easier to unpick them though :)

    i.e. "Then a British artillery observation plane flew over the town and soon after the ground trembled from the explosions of heavy ship’s artillery which concentrated its fire on the area of Brouay and south. It caused significant losses of men and…" (Presumably vehicles and/or equipment? Rm) The 12TH SS Volume One

    And from the note above from "klambie" in post #11 (Thanks!)
    "In the early afternoon, a heavy artillery concentration by Canadian guns, supported by cruiser fire decimated the Pz Lehr battalion at Brouay. British artillery drove 12 Recce Bn out the area of le Chateau d'Audrieu. Movement by 50 Div west of Audrieu threatened the left flank of 12 SS. Around 1800 hrs, Rommel appeared at the HQ of Pz Lehr and turned them toward Bayeux. Later in the evening, a counter-attack by the Canadian Scottish expelled the Germans from Putot."


    For "context" on my "little map" above "Brouay" is just to the west of Putot-en-Bessin, slightly to the south of where the 24th L were engaged.
    Cruiser fire is suggested (Perhaps "HMS Rodney ?" was currently "in area"?) (Actually it appears to have been the three cruisers HMS Ajax, Argonaut and Orion - see note from Sheldrake in post #22 below)

    Additionally, also from "klambie" in post #11 "An attack was coordinated on Putot from the west, including eighteen tanks." - and as "B" squad of 24th L was 19 tanks at the outset (but had already sustained losses since landing at Gold Beach - as in "B" squad tank "Bloody Mary - hit by a bazooka and knocked out near Brazenville on I think the 7th June) this fits with "B" squad 24th L being thought to have been the sole 24th L force committed there. (HQ, A and C I think were further "back" probably leagured at Martragny. Although see the note about Bill Mant's "C" squad 24th L tank in post#13 above oddly being recorded as being knocked out by German "88"'s near Tilly? not yet sure which troop of "C" but nr. Tilly would be a pretty deep recce for the 24th L at this point in the NWE campaign?? Rm)

    I was just trying to read through:

    Interesting! But I'll have to take a break at the mo. (at least until some new "clues" turn up ;) )

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  16. gpo son

    gpo son Senior Member

    Another noteworthy event in the report by Milne, describes an encounter with 3rd Company,12ss panzer regiment by the a troop of the 1Hussars led by Lieut. G.K. Henry in which he and his gunner knocked out 5 (of the 7 panthers destroyed by the troop) in quick succession. Amazing really, it flies in the face of inferior tactics and equipment conversation we hear so often...the long and short of it in my view is if you are under ground or hull down in the case of tanks you lived if you weren't your chances were significantly less lessoned.
  17. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Matt (Gpo's son),

    I was just looking at that, following a link to the story from "canuck" the other day at... one of a "growing" number of ww2 noted allied tank aces/crews at:

    Was this at Norrey on the 9th June? Looks like Lieut. G.K. Henry was in a Firefly rather than in a standard Sherman, pretty impressive though, the Firefly was to be justly feared. I think firing at German tanks in a standard Sherman was a bit more like skipping stones though - and for a change this time hoping that they didn't "bounce" ;)

    There are at least 2 Norrey's though that I can see on the map nr. to Putot-en-Bessin. One Norrey-en-Bessin (just to the south of Putot and east of Cristot), the other St. Manvieu Norrey further to the south east, to the northeast of Cheux. I'd assume it was probably the former, rather than the latter, or else there might be a 3rd I've not noticed yet??

  18. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    Percy Lee was killed, and Roy Tomalin was badly wounded when their Sherman was knocked out at Loucelles. They were in A Squadron. One of those sad cases where Roy baled out on the right side and survived and Percy baled out on the wrong side....not that they knew that when they baled out and sad because both were wounded anyway. Tank warfare is nasty stuff.

    Hope that helps.

  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks SDP,

    Yes, another sad case of life almost landing on a coin toss. Wow, I wouldn't have guessed that "A" squad of the Lancers (or a part thereof) though were necessarily at Loucelles.

    So I think I've seen a Stuart tank nr. Loucelles k/o'd possibly 3x shermans "B" squad nr. to Putot-en-Bessin and this "A" squad Sherman now in addition., to the "C" squad tank of Bill Mant.

    I just didn't get a sense of anything quite like this from the war diary of the 24th. I think that my granddad might have mentioned that the only damage to one of the tanks was a stripped track, but the crew had to abandon it and blow it up to prevent it falling into German hands. Might have been here or elsewhere within the first few days of D-day. It does feel a bit forensic matching half remembered tales to half written details, but I think I am starting to get somewhere, thanks for another post, all the best,

  20. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Around half of all KIA tank crews were killed outside the tank. A good number after bailing out.

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