History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Razentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

►Flers-Courcelette

.15-22 Sep 16

►Thiepval

.26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

►Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

►Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Ypres, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
►Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
►Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Trasimene Line
►Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

►Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

►Gabbiano

1 Jul 44

►Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

►Tuori

5 Jul 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
►Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

►Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Bourguébus Ridge

Bourguébus Ridge was a Battle Honour granted to units participating in the initial battles to take the heights south of Caen during the Battle of Normandy, the first phase of the North-West Europe campaign of the Second World War.

Background

The first week of July marked several significant events of the Battle of Normandy. The U.S. 1st Army began their July Offensive on 3 July, the net effect on the Allied front of which was to force the Germans to shift formations west. On 4 July, the Canadian participation in the final battles around Caen began with the assault on Carpiquet airfield, followed by Operation CHARNWOOD on 8 July which final captured this major communications centre, which had been a D-Day objective. That same day, Hitler, managing the battle from his headquarters far removed from the battle area, insisted that further Allied landing operations were still possible, but ordered that mobile (i.e. armoured) formations should be withdrawn from the front in order to mass for an eventual massed counter-attack, something the Germans had attempted since the landings on 6 June but been unable to do. Every time German armoured units were withdrawn in order to mass for an offensive, Allied attacks required their immediate return to the line to counter them.1 On 11 July, the Panzer Lehr was returned to the line in such a fashion when American forces crossed the Vire-Taute Canal, where the 2nd SS Panzer Division was already in action.2

Battle of Normandy

Normandy LandingAuthiePutot-en-BessinBretteville-l'Orgueilleuse Le Mesnil-PatryCarpiquetCaenThe OrneBourguébus RidgeFaubourg de VaucellesSt. André-sur-OrneMaltôtVerrières Ridge - Tilly-la-Campagne – Falaise – Falaise Road – Quesnay Wood – Clair Tizon – The Laison – Chambois – St. Lambert-sur-Dives – Dives Crossing – Forêt de la LondeThe Seine, 1944

 

General Montgomery, commanding all American and Commonwealth land forces in Normandy, was "disturbed" by the flow of German forces westward, as it ran counter to his stated strategy of holding German forces in the eastern sector of the Allied bridgehead. In a directive to the commanders of the U.S. 1st Army and British 2nd Army he noted on 10 July:

"It is important to speed up our advance on the western flank; the operations of the Second Army must therefore be so staged that they will have a direct influence on the operations of the First Army, as well as holding enemy forces on the eastern flank."

The British returned to the offensive west of the Orne; Operation JUPITER aimed to expand the small bridgehead gained across the Odon at the end of June, and on 10 July the 43rd Division seized a small portion of Hill 112, the heights overlooking this bridgehead. The 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade was attached to the division for this operation but played only a small role in the battle. Of more import to Canadian operations was the arrival of the 2nd Canadian Corps, and its activation at 15:00hrs on 11 July, when it took over 8,000 yards of front in the Caen sector, with the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions under command, supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and the 2nd Canadian Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA).3

Operation GOODWOOD

By the middle of July, the 2nd British Army had amassed three armoured divisions in Normandy (7th, 11th and Guards Armoured) with five additional independent armoured brigades (i.e. equipped with Sherman tanks) and three independent tank brigades (i.e. equipped with the heavier Churchill tank), totalling approximately 2,250 medium (Sherman, Cromwell or Churchill tanks) and 400 light tanks. The commander of the 2nd Army had been "deeply impressed by the effects of the bomber attack on Caen preceding CHARNWOOD" and "concluded that another operation by Bomber Command on German strong-points, blocking the approaches to the Caen-Falaise Plain, could pave the way for efforts by his armoured divisions to exploit any temporary advantage. Indeed, there was no longer any justification for this tank force not to be employed in the open country southeast of Caen."4

GOODWOOD is reported as a matter of controversy in almost all histories of the battle. One history summarizes the matter as such:

(GOODWOOD) was to become the biggest and most controversial British operation in Normandy. It had been conceived by the Second Army command. (Lieutenant-General) Miles Dempsey...proposed a major attack out of the old "airborne bridgehead" east of the Orne by the underused British armored divisions, following an unprecedented massive air attack, which would use heavy bombers for the first time against German defences in the field rather than a defended town. He hoped, too, that this attack would reverse the accepted strategy and allow a breakout on the British sector. (This) attack...would not be expected, while a massive use of armor from the start would minimize infantry casualties...and allow rapid exploitation...

(The) VIII British Corps, with the 7th, 11th, and Guards Armoured Divisions, with 750 tanks in all, would launch the main blow, sweeping south and southwest behind Caen toward (Bourguébus). The plan was very tricky, for there were only six bridges into the cramped Orne bridgehead, and the armored units could cross them only at the very last minute, to preserve security. The I and XII British Corps would launch diversionary operations on the flanks, while II Canadian Corps would cross the Odon to take the part of Caen south of the river that was still in German hands. The early orders for the offensive envisaged reaching Falaise, far south of Caen; they were altered to specify only the (Bourguébus ridge, southeast of Caen, as the target of the advance. But the original orders, Dempsey's hopes, and prudent preparations in case a "greater-than-expected" success eventuated and Montgomery's Chief of Staff's "overselling" the plan to secure air support led (General) Eisenhower and many others to expect a breakout.5

Just prior to GOODWOOD, the Adjutant-General of the British Army had advised Montgomery that infantry reinforcements could no longer be guaranteed in sufficient numbers to keep the British formations fighting in France at full strength.

This infantry manpower shortage led Dempsey to persuade a reluctant Montgomery to launch an attack by an all-armor corps. In mid-July, Montgomery's forces needed to resume offensive action to keep German armor tied down in the eastern half of the (Normandy) bridgehead prior to the American "Cobra" offensive in the west. An all-armor attack also was logical because Dempsey could not afford to (lose) infantrymen, but could afford to lose (armour). "Goodwood" contravened Montgomery's stated policy never to employ a corps comprised entirely of armor. This policy reflected both the often poor performance of Allied armor during break-in operations in North Africa and the realities of modern warfare, which now required intimate infantry-tank cooperation. Ironically, the shortage of adequate infantry support for the armor constituted the biggest factor in the failure of "Goodwood."6

British and Canadian losses at this point in the campaign had been 37,563. Montgomery was reluctant to mass his armour, having seen the occasional disastrous consequence of unsupported tanks fighting independently in the desert, but was caught between not wanting to fight another costly infantry battle for which he had no reinforcements, and mounting pressure from London and Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). There was still not enough room around Caen to deploy either the 1st Canadian Army, or the airfields needed to support the Allied bridgehead. Montgomery felt that above all, it was necessary to support Operation COBRA, a major American offensive tentatively scheduled for the third week of July. Major action at Caen would prevent German forces from shifting westward to meet the American offensive.

On 12 July, (Montgomery) sold Dempsey's plan to Eisenhower on the basis that it offered the possibility of a decisive breakthrough. The supreme commander, who had despaired of Montgomery's (previous) caution, replied exuberantly two days later, 'I am viewing the prospects with tremendous optimism and enthusiasm. I would not be at all surprised to see you gaining a victory that will make some of the "old classics" look like a skirmish between patrols.' Also on 14 July, Montgomery wrote to (Chief of the Imperial General Staff) Field Marshal Brooke, saying that 'the time has come to have a real "showdown" on the eastern flank'. Then, the very next day, Montgomery gave Dempsey and O'Connor a revised directive. This was more modest in its objectives. He wanted to advance only a third of the way to Falaise and then see how things stood. This may well have been a more realistic assessment of what was possible, yet Montgomery never told Eisenhower and he never even informed his own 21st Army Group headquarters. The consequences would be disastrous for Montgomery's reputation and credibility.7

The Plan

Preliminary Operations:

  • 15/16 July: night operation by 12th Corps, with 15th (Scottish) Division to advance on high ground south of Evrecy south of Odon bridgehead (Operation GREENLINE)

  • 16 July: 30th Corps to attack with 59th Division to capture heights around Noyers west of the Odon (Operation POMEGRANATE).

On the morning of 18 July, the main attack of Operation GOODWOOD was to go off.

  • 8th Corps (7th Armoured, 11th Armoured, Guards Armoured Divisions) to cross the Orne through the "airborne bridgehead) and take high ground to the south.

  • 1st Corps to establish a division in the Troarn area.

  • 2nd Canadian Corps to capture portions of Caen beyond the Orne and establish a firm bridgehead in the countryside beyond (Operation ATLANTIC).


British tanks and troops move up on 18 July. (IWM photo B7577)

The Battle

Preliminaries

GREENLINE and POMEGRANATE met heavy opposition and failed to accomplish their main objectives; Noyers and Evrecy remained in enemy hands on the 15th and 16th of July when those operations went in, respectively, though they did have the effect of keeping German armour committed to the line instead of permitting the Germans to pull them out, as they had desired, in order to mass them for counter-offensive operations. Nonetheless, at the time of GOODWOOD, the 12th SS Panzer (shattered as it was), and elements of the 21st Panzer and 10th SS Panzer were out of the line and the 1st SS Panzer Division was in reserve to the south of Caen.

8th Corps and 1st Corps

At first light on the 18th, 1,599 heavy bombers, with many more sorties of light and medium bombers, flew over the battlefield at first light in order to pave a way for the ground forces, dropping delayed-action high-explosive bombs at Colombelles and Tourffreville-Emiéville (in other words, the flanks of the main attack), as well as the area around Cagny. The targets were divided up among the heavy bombers, who dropped fragmentation bombs with instantaneous fuzes (to avoid cratering which would hinder the movement of the tanks) and the medium bombers (who attacked the area across the centre of the advance). Total tonnage was 7,700 U.S. tons. Ground artillery was focused on known German anti-aircraft positions to help the aircraft safely execute their missions, and in the event, six bombers were lost. The artillery program, carried out by 15 field regiments, 13 medium regiments, three heavy and two heavy anti-aircraft regiments, later shifted to counter-battery fire, and was joined by naval gunfire from the monitor HMS Roberts and the cruisers HMS Enterprise and Mauritius which were in operation on both 18 and 19 July.

During the bombing, the first armoured brigade crossed the Orne near Escoville; for security, only the tanks of the 11th Armoured Division moved east of the Orne, to prevent the Germans from suspecting the location of a major attack. The bombing dazed the enemy and prevented major opposition in the forward areas, but defence stiffened as the advance crossed the Vimont-Caen railway, and German tanks and anti-tank guns came into action. After an advance of 12,000 yards, forward progress was halted. The other two divisions, whose armoured brigades were across the Orne by noon, began to meet resistance also. The Guards Armoured moved forward on the left while the 7th Armoured came up behind the 11th to operate in the centre. By the end of the first day, the Germans still held Bras, Hubert-Folie and Soliers while the Guards were in possession of Cagny. The 3rd British Division managed to seize Touffreville and Sannerville. The day was was costly for the armour, with 126 tanks of the 11th Armoured Division falling prey to the Germans, damaged or destroyed, and the Guards Armoured likewise losing 60 tanks.

On the 19th, all three armoured divisions continued to fight their way forward towards the Bourguébus Ridge despite heavy opposition, taking Bras, Hubert-Folie and Soliers. The 11th Armoured Division lost 65 more tanks. The Germans remained in possession of Bourguébus itself, La Hogue and Frenouville. The 3rd British Division, on the front of the 1st Corps, was stopped short of Troarn.

July 20th saw Bourguébus and Frenouville fall to the 8th Corps before operations ground to a halt, with the Germans continuing to hold out in La Hogue and positions in woods and small villages in a line north-east towards Troarn, which remained beyond the reach of the 1st Corps.8

Operation ATLANTIC

See also the articles on Faubourg de Vaucelles and St. André-sur-Orne for detailed discussion of particular aspects of the battle.

On July 18th, the 3rd Canadian Division attacked Vaucelles from two directions; from the northeast, the 8th Brigade attacked at 06:15hrs when the Queen's Own Rifles assaulted across open ground towards Colombelles against a still-stunned 16th German Air Force Division. By day's end, they were in possession of Giberville, having killed 200 Germans and captured 600 more with the support of a squadron of the 1st Hussars, having lost 79 men. To their right, Le Régiment de la Chaudière ran into resistance at an enemy held chateau, taking heavy casualties, and holding up the North Shore Regiment in reserve and the follow-up brigade, delaying them from passing through to attack the large steel works at Colombelles proper. Nonetheless by midnight the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and Highland Light Infantry had penetrated into the city. To the west, the Regina Rifles crossed the Orne due south over a partially demolished bridge within the city, aided also by boats. Divisional engineers quickly erected a Bailey bridge over which tanks rushed over in support.9

The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, fighting its first action since Dieppe in 1942, entered the battle west of the Orne. The Royal Regiment of Canada led the 4th Brigade into Louvigny, getting embroiled in an all-day battle there.10

The 5th Brigade meanwhile advanced against light opposition, contacting the Regina Rifles advancing through Caen; after a day of frustrated effort at Herouville, a bridge able to bear tanks was finally up early on the 19th.

July 19th saw Canadian infantry able to finish the task of clearing Vaucelles without heavy fighting and move on to the industrial suburb of Cormelles as far as the main road to Falaise. After some confusion the Highland Light Infantry put two companies into Cormelles, being relieved by the Canadian Scottish and Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

To the west, the 2nd Division was tasked with clearing Fleury-sur-Orne, St. Andre, the high ground between, and the village of Ifs. Le Régiment do Maisonneuve started off badly, being caught in their own barrage, but seized Fleury nonetheless and the Calgary Highlanders took Hill 67 overlooking St. Andre from the north. The Black Watch secured Ifs during the night.

It seemed the 2nd Canadian Corps had completed its share of Operation GOODWOOD. However, as the tanks of the British 8th Corps was stopped in its advance onto the Bourguébus Ridge, the commander of the 2nd British Army, General Dempsey, ordered the Canadians to take over Bras. The order came late in the afternoon on July 19th, and on the morning of July 20th, he directed that 8th Corps was to halt its advance, save that of the 7th Armoured Division on the village of Bourguébus itself. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was directed to relieve the 11th Armoured Division while the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was to establish itself on the Verrières Ridge.11

Final Phase

See also the article on St. André-sur-Orne for detailed discussion of this battle.

The Verrières Ridge rises just under 90 metres in height, dominating the ground to the south of Caen. The 6th Brigade, with the Essex Scottish attached, was ordered to move south across the Orne and establish positions on its slopes. On the morning of 20 July, elements of the 7th Armoured Division had failed to take the ridge, and now tanks of the 8th British Corps were to provide gunfire support for the Canadian infantry assault.

The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada attacked from a start-line running from south of Ifs to Hill 67 at 15:00hrs behind an artillery barrage, with air support laid on, towards the direction of St. André-sur-Orne. The South Saskatchewan Regiment, to their left, attacked toward the centre of the ridge, and Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal on the far left aimed at Verrières itself. No tanks accompanied the infantry, though a squadron of Sherbrooke Fusiliers were earmarked for the Camerons and another for the FMR to counter-attack as necessary.

Decent progress was made initially, with the Camerons seizing St. André and holding it despite counter-attacks and heavy fire directed from German observation posts on Hill 112 to the west. The FMR also took Beauvoir Farm and Troteval Farm, but were unable to advance further on Verrières. The largest setbacks came in the centre, where the South Saskatchewans put two companies on their objective before a heavy downpour cancelled the air support, enemy tanks intercepted their anti-guns, and then put infantry on the ridge to flight, inflicting over 200 casualties. The Essex Scottish went forward to find the SSR retreating and were met with tank and artillery fire, two of their own companies also breaking in the melee. Two companies managed to go forward, and the others were rallied by the brigadier and sent up early on the 21st to rejoin the battalion.

Heavy rain continued into the 21st as counter-attacks mounted on the centre of the line where the Canadians had proven to be weak; the South Saskatchewans pulled out to reorganize and the Germans battered into the positions of the Essex, creating a salient between the Camerons in St. André and the FMR to the east, and the Essex were ordered to withdraw. The 2nd Armoured Brigade, now attached to the 2nd Division, sent tanks from the 6th and 27th Armoured Regiments up to support the Black Watch at 18:00hrs, as they counter-attacked from Ifs, successfully stabilizing the front across the lateral road from Troteval Farm to St. André, though the Troteval and Beauvoir Farms were back in enemy hands and the Verrières Ridge itself remained out of reach.12

Aftermath

Losses in the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division were 1,149 during Operation ATLANTIC (254 fatal), compared to 386 for the nine infantry battalions of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division (89 of which were fatal). According to John English "more than half were suffered by regiments committed on the second day in pursuit of a perceived opportunity."

Simonds' 2 Canadian Corps was now blooded, but it had paid a high price. The attack on 20 July was by any measure a disaster. Canadian troops had fled in the face of the enemy, but the (South Saskatchewan Regiment) could hardly be blamed for having been placed in such a tactically untenable position as they were. Unquestionably, they should have been intimately supported by tanks...Doctrine played a part here, as well as an armored corps perception that other arms failed to understand the limitations of armor, that tanks should not be expected to lead attacks against prepared enemy antitank positions. Yet, as established casualty rates of 76 percent for infantry against seven percent for armor indicate, most crews from shot-up tanks got away to fight another day. Here, of course, the buck must be passed back to higher command for not insisting, as Montgomery did, on making armor conform even against its will. However one looks at it, Canadian troops regardless of their experience level did all, and more, that could possibly have been expected of them in the attack on Verrières Ridge.13

The heaviest losses were suffered by the Essex Scottish, with 244 casualties (37 dead) and the South Saskatchewan Regiment (244, 62 fatal). The Queen's Own Rifles lost 77 wounded and a further 23 dead, and Le Régiment de la Chaudière suffered 72 non-fatal and 20 fatal casualties, the majority on the first day of fighting. In all, for the four days of fighting, all Canadian casualties totalled 1,965, with 441 killed or dying of wounds.14

Losses in the British forces were considerable also; for the four-day period of 18-22 July, 1st Corps lost 1,656 men, 8th Corps lost 1,818 and 12th Corps 449.15 Adding in the 30th Corps losses for the period of 631, total 2nd Army losses since D-Day were 45,795, with 6,168 occurring in the four day period 18-22 July - or nearly 14% of the total losses of the campaign.16

There was mixed reaction to the results of GOODWOOD. The Allied Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, "found them disappointing."

So did some of the officers around him, and not least Air Chief Marshal Tedder, who as we have seen had long been critical of Montgomery's direction of the campaign. Tedder's biographer quotes a letter which the Deputy Supreme Commander wrote to Eisenhower on 20 July:

An overwhelming air bombardment opened the door, but there was no immediate determined deep penetration whilst the door remained open and we are now little beyond the farthest bomb craters. It is clear that there was no intention of making this operation the decisive one which you so clearly indicated.

This was based upon a misconception of the nature of Montgomery's plan. But we have seen that Montgomery's communications to Eisenhower before the battle could certainly be interpreted as indicating that "Goodwood" was a breakthrough operation; and he does not seem to have sent the Supreme Commander a copy of his explanatory memorandum to Dempsey, or offered him such an exposition of his intentions as he gave the War Office in London.

Thus one distinguished British officer, Tedder, was encouraging the American Supreme Commander to put pressure on another distinguished British officer, Montgomery. Indeed, Eisenhower's gossipy naval aide asserts that on the evening of 19 July Tedder told his chief that the British Chiefs of Staff "would support any recommendation" which the Supreme Commander might care to make with reference to Montgomery. On such a point the aide is obviously a doubtful source. But Eisenhower did put strong pressure on Montgomery. On the 20th he flew to Normandy and visited
him, and on the 21st he sent him a letter, said to embody the substance of the previous day's conversation, which is decribed as "the strongest he had yet written to him". He wrote: "A few days ago, when armored divisions of Second Army, assisted by a tremendous air attack, broke through the enemy's forward lines, I was extremely hopeful and optimistic. I thought that at last we had him and were going to roll him up. That did not come about." Eisenhower demanded continuous strong attack by Dempsey's army to gain terrain for airfields and space on the eastern flank. He mentioned that he was aware of the serious reinforcement problem which faced the British; but he observed, "Eventually the American ground strength will necessarily be much greater than the British. But while we have equality in size we must go forward shoulder to shoulder with honors and sacrifices equally shared. "This seems close to a complaint that the Anglo-Canadian forces are not pulling their weight.

As we have already seen, the Supreme Commander had evidently misinterpreted Montgomery's policy, and this, basically, was the cause of the feeling so much in evidence at SHAEF at this moment. In the light of Montgomery's actual intentions, however, the operation's results were not unsatisfactory. Those results can only be properly evaluated on the basis of an examination of the German reaction to the British attack, and of this reaction's consequences for Montgomery's overall plans. Eisenhower considered "Goodwood" essentially a failure. The Germans took a different view.17

One historian, writing in the mid-1960s, referred to GOODWOOD as the "death ride of the armoured divisions" given the number of tanks that were lost in the offensive. General Dempsey, commanding the 2nd Army, later noted:

The attack we put in on July 18th was not a very good operation of war tactically, but strategically it was a great success, even though we did get a bloody nose. I didn't mind about that. I was prepared to lose a couple of hundred tanks. So long as I didn't lose men. We could afford the tanks because they had begun to pile up in the bridgehead. Our tank losses were severe but our casualties in men were very light. If I had tried to achieve the same result with a conventional infantry attack I hate to think what the casualties would have been.18

The tangible results of the battle were to put all of Caen in Allied hands, and to prevent the danger of major counter-offensive on the eastern flank. The three major obstacles impeding further advance - the city of Caen, the Odon River, and the Orne - were finally behind the British 2nd Army after six weeks ashore. "Moreover, the new positions occupied by the Second Army posed a grave threat to the entire German right flank: their anchor was lost and the severe battering they had taken during GOODWOOD ensured that they lacked the strength to take it back."19

In the wake of GOODWOOD came two other shocks to the German forces; on 17 July, an Allied pilot had strafed Field Marshal Rommel as he was driving in his staff car, severely injuring him. Three days later, a group of conspirators in Germany came close to killing Hitler in his East Prussian headquarters with a bomb planted in his conference room.20 "When the news reached the Allies the following day, there was concern at SHAEF that GOODWOOD had lost a momentous opportunity to exploit the obvious disarray within the German High Command."21

The slow nature of British Second Army`s progress in Normandy has attracted a lot of criticism, but what should not be overlooked is the equally slow progress achieved by US First Army. After the capture of the Cotentin Peninsula on 29 June, (General) Bradley was ordered to prepare for his big break-out battle, Operation Cobra. Just as (2nd Army) could not capture Caen to gain room to manoeuvre, (1st Army) proved equally unable to seize St. Lô. (American) forces were attacking through particularly thick areas of the Normandy bocage and enemy resistance there was fierce. Montgomery set the ambitious date of 3 July for (the) launch (of) Cobra, but this soon proved to be out of the question. On 10 July, Bradley told Montgomery that he could not start until 20 July. Montgomery responded to the delay by launching the attacks along the Odon...on 15 July and Operation Goodwood on 18 July, in order to keep enemy armour away from the Americans. In the event, it was not until 25 July that Bradley finally made his attack.22

Historian Terry Copp summed up the battle as follows:

Operation "Atlantic" and its parent Operation "Goodwood" came to an end on July 21st when the Black Watch restored the line. But no one told the enemy, so the counterattacks continued, but now it was the Germans who were taking the heavy losses including precious tanks. Second British Army claimed to be pleased with the progress made in three days of fighting. VIII Corps had advanced 10,000 yards, enabling II Canadian Corps to capture Vaucelles and exploit south. Two thousand prisoners were captured and a like number of enemy killed or wounded. The British army had lost a considerable number of tanks but they could easily be replaced; its human losses had been low in proportion to the troops engaged. Canadian casualties had been heavily concentrated in the last day of fighting when operations were supposed to be winding down.23

Battle Honour

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Bourguébus Ridge" for participation in these actions:

2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars)

  • 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment)

Image:2gif.gif 2nd Canadian Division

  • The Toronto Scottish Regiment (MG)

Image:2gif4bde.gif 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Royal Regiment of Canada

  • The Essex Scottish Regiment

5th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

  • Le Régiment de Maisonneuve

  • The Calgary Highlanders

Image:2gif6bde.gif 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

  • The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

  • The South Saskatchewan Regiment

Image:3gif.gif 3rd Canadian Division

  • The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (MG)

Image:3gif7bde.gif 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

  • The Regina Rifle Regiment

Image:3gif8bde.gif 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

  • Le Régiment de la Chaudière

  • The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

Image:3gif9bde.gif 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Highland Light Infantry of Canada

  • The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders

  • The North Nova Scotia Highlanders

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War: Volume III: The Victory Campaign: The Operations in North-west Europe 1944-45 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1960) p.164

  2. Blumenson, Martin The United States Army in World War II, The European Theater of Operations: Breakout & Pursuit (United States Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C., 1960) pp.89, 117

  3. Stacey, Ibid, p.166

  4. D'Este, Carlo Decision in Normandy (Konecky & Konecky, New York, NY, 1983) ISBN 1-56852-260-6 pp.352-354

  5. Levine, Alan J. D-Day to Berlin: The Northwest Europe Campaign (Stackpole Books, Mechanisburg, PA, 2000) ISBN 978-0-8117-3386-1 p.70

  6. Hart, Stephen Ashley Colossal Cracks: Montgomery's 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, 1944-45 (Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2007) ISBN 978-0-8117-3383-0 pp.64-65

  7. Beevor, Antony D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Penguin Books, London, UK, 2009) ISBN 978-0-14-311818-3 p.305

  8. Stacey, Ibid, pp.169-170

  9. McKay, A. Donald Gaudeamus Igitur "Therefore Rejoice" (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005) ISBN 1894255534 pp.152-153

  10. Ibid, p. 153

  11. Stacey, Ibid, pp.172-174

  12. Ibid, pp.174-176

  13. English, John A.  The Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign (Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2009) ISBN 978-0-8117-3576-6 p. 182

  14. Stacey, Ibid, p.176

  15. D'Este, Ibid, p.385; D'Este cites War Diary, 21st Army Group, 'A' Branch, PRO (WO 171/139), which also gives a casualty figure of 1,614 for 2nd Canadian Corps. Note these figures were collected in the field and are subject to error - figures also for the period 0600 18 Jul to 0600 22 Jul and do not include later DOW. They should be taken as representative only. D'Este points out that the figures are not actually low for the corps involved and that most of the losses were actually suffered by the infantry.

  16. Ibid

  17. Stacey, Ibid, pp.176-177

  18. D'Este, p.387

  19. Ibid, p.386

  20. Stacey, Ibid, p.178

  21. D'Este, Ibid, p.399

  22. Ford, Ken Caen 1944: Montgomery's Breakout Attempt (Osprey Publishing Ltd., Botley, Oxford, UK, 2004) ISBN 1-84176-625-9 pp.163-166

  23. Copp, Terry The Brigade: The Fifth Canadian Infantry Brigade 1939-1945 (Fortress Publications, Stoney Creek, ON, 1992) ISBN 0-919195-16-4 p.59


© canadiansoldiers.com 1999-present