BAOR Battlefield Tour notes: Operation Bluecoat, 30-31 July 1944

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    WO 106/5843
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    30-31 JULY 1944

    Prepared under the direction of G (Training) H.Q. BRITISH ARMY of the Rhine
    GERMANY, September 1947


    Battlefield Tours
    The Object of the Book

    Section I - Introduction
    Section II - Topography
    Section III - The Enemy
    Section IV - Planning the Operation
    - A. 30 Corps Task
    - B. 8 Corps Intention
    - C. Troops available for 8 Corps
    - D. Factors affecting the Corps Plan
    - E. The Corps Plan
    - F. The 11 Armoured Division Plan
    - G. The 15 (S) Division Plan

    Section I - Operations 30 July
    Section II - Operations 31 July

    Section I - Introductory Lecture
    Section II - Itinerary

    Section III - Personal Accounts
    -STAND 1 (703589)
    - A. Description of ground and enemy information - Conducting Officer
    - B. Situation at start of Operation - Major I.H. MURRAY, M.C., OC C Company 10 HLI
    - C. Plan for Phase I - Major General G.L. VERNEY, DSO, MVO, Commander 6 Guards Tank Brigade
    - D. Plan for Right battalion in Phase I - Brigadier, R.M. VILLIERS, DSO, CO 9 Cameronians
    - E. Action of 4 Tank Grenadier Guards in support of Right and Left battalions - Lieutenant Colonel C.M.F. DEAKIN, Second-in-Command 4 Tank Grenadier Guards
    - F. Action of Right Battalion - Brigadier R.M. VILLIERS, DSO, CO 9 Cameronians
    - G. Action of Left battalion - Brigadier The Earl of Caithness, DSO, CO 2 Gordons
    - H. Description of route to STAND 2 - Conducting Officer
    -STAND 2 (697565)
    - A. Description of ground - Conducting Officer
    - B. Plan for Phase II - Major General G.L. VERNEY, DSO, MVO, Commander 6 Guards Tank Brigade
    - C. Action of 4 Tank Coldstream Guards - Lieutenant Colonel A.W.A. SMITH, DSO, Second-in-Command 4 Tank Coldstream Guards
    - D. Action of 10 HLI - Major I.H. MURRAY, MC, OC C Company 10 HLI
    - E. Action of 3 Squadron 4 Tank Coldstream Guards - Major J.E. TOLLEMACHE, MC, OC 3 Squadron 4 Tank Coldstream Guards
    - F. Description of route to STAND 3 - Conducting Officer
    -STAND 3 (713537)
    - A. Description of ground - Conducting Officer
    - B. Planning by 3 Tank Scots Guards - Lieutenant Colonel C.I.H. DUNBAR, DSO, CO 3 Tank Scots Guards
    - C. Advance of 2 A & SH to line of road SEPT VENTS - CAHAGNES - Major J. KENNETH, CO 2 A & SH
    - D. Advance of 3 Tank Scots Guards to objective - Lieutenant Colonel C.I.H. DUNBAR, DSO, CO 3 Tank Scots Guards
    - E. Advance of 2 A & SH to objective - Major J. KENNETH, CO 2 A & SH
    - F. Dispositions of 3 Tank Scots Guards on objective - Lieutenant Colonel C.I.H. DUNBAR, DSO, CO 3 Tank Scots Guards
    - G. Counter attack on Point 226 feature - Captain W.S.I. WHITELAW, MC, OC S Squadron 3 Tank Scots Guards
    - H. Plan adopted for Phase III - Major General G.L. VERNEY, DSO, MVO, Commander 6 Guard Tank Brigade
    - J. Description of route to STAND 4 - Conducting Officer
    -STAND 4 (694513)
    - A. Description of ground - Conducting Officer
    - B. Action of 4 Tank Coldstream Guards - Lieutenant Colonel A.W.A. SMITH, DSO, Second-in-Command 4 Tank Coldstream Guards
    - C. Action of 3 Squadron 4 Tank Coldstream Guards - Major J.E. TOLLEMACHE, MC, OC 3 Squadron 4 Tank Coldstream Guards
    - D. Action of 4 Tank Grenadier Guards - Lieutenant Colonel C.M.F. DEAKIN, Second-in-Command 4 Tank Grenadier Guards
    - E. Counter attacks on Hill 309 - Lieutenant Colonel A.W.A. WHITE, DSO, Second-in-Command 4 Tank Coldstream Guards
    - F. Counter attacks on Hill 309 - Captain R.D. DOBSON, Troop Leader 2 Troop, 1 Squadron, 4 Tank Coldstream Guards
    - G. Movements of artillery - Brigadier R.J. STREATFIELD, DSO, CO 190 Field Regiment Royal Artillery
    - H. Casualties and closing remarks - Major General G.L. VERNEY, DSO, MVO, Commander 6 Guards Tank Brigade
    - J. Action of 11 Armoured Division - Major General G.P.B. ROBERTS, CB, DSO, MC, GOC 11 Armoured Division
    - K. The Enemy Story - Chester Wilmot, Esq, BBC War Correspondent

    Section IV - Problem
    Section V - Major Lessons from the Battlefield Tour

    PART I
    Map No. 1 Situation in NORMANDY before Operation BLUECOAT
    Map No. 2 The Plan
    Map No. 3 Fire Support and Air Support

    Map No. 4 Progress of 15 (S) Division
    Map No. 5 Progress of 8 Corps

    Map No. 6 Battlefield Tour: Operation BLUECOAT
    Air Photograph (1)(Northern half of battle area)
    Air Photograph (2) (Southern half of battle area)
    1:50,000 Map of General area

    A. Order of Battle 8 Corps
    B. Equipment and Organisation (Allied and German)
    C. List of Reference Maps
    D. 8 Corps Operation Instruction No. 6
    E. 11 Amoured Division Operation Order No. 4 (less Traces and Appendices)
    F. 15 (S) Division Operation Order No. 4
    G. 227 (H) Infantry Brigade Confirmatory Notes
    H. 46 (H) Infantry Brigade Operation Instruction No. 3
    J. 15 (S) Division Operation Instruction No. 12

    No. 1 - A Churchill Tank, Mark IV
    No. 2 - An Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE)
    No. 3 - A "Crocodile" Flame-Thrower
    No. 4 - A Sherman Flail
    No. 5 - A Sherman V in ST. MARTIN DES BESACES
    No. 6 - A Sherman Vc in ST. MARTIN DES BESACES
    No. 7 - A German "Tiger" Tank
    No. 8 - A German "Panther" Tank
    No. 9 - A German "Jagdpanther"
    No. 10 - A column of vehicles moving through the "bocage"
    No. 11 - German Prisoners near SEPT VENTS
    No. 12 - A German wooden dummy "Tiger"
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    Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine, compiled Battlefield Tours during 1947 covering the following operations in the Campaign in North-West EUROPE (June 1944 - May 1945).

    Operations of 8 Corps East of the River ORNE (NORMANDY) 18 - 22 July 1944, with particular reference to 11th Armoured Division.

    Operations of 8 Corps South of CAUMONT (NORMANDY) 30 - 31 July 1944, with particular reference to 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division.

    Operations of 2 Canadian Corps astride the road CAEN - FALAISE (NORMANDY) 7 - 8 August 1944, with particular reference to 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division.

    Assault crossing of the river SEINE by 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division 25 - 28 August 1944.

    Operations of 30 Corps between the Rivers MAAS and RHINE 8 - 10 February 1945, with particular reference to 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division.

    Assault crossing of the River RHINE by 12 Corps 24 - 25 March 1945, with particular reference to 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division.

    Airborne operations of XVIII United States Corps (Airborne) in support of the crossing of the River RHINE 24 - 25 March 1945, with particular reference to the 6th British Airborne Division.

    A similar book was written on each of these operations, of which four hundred copies were printed, one hundred of these containing notes for Directing Staff. A further fifty Directing Staff copies and two hundred and fifty Spectators' copies have been distributed to various libraries, original speakers and certain other individuals.

    Directorate of Military Training, War Office, or Headquarters British Army of the Rhine, can supply information as to where these books are kept.
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    By Lieutenant General Sir Richard L. McCREERY, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC.
    General Officer Commanding-in-Chief The British Army of the Rhine

    In June 1947, British Army of the Rhine conducted a battlefield tour in NORMANDY with the dual purpose of studying four operations with the assistance of officers who had been present in these battles and of recording the information obtained for the benefit of future students. The results are set out in these books, which have been arranged with a view to facilitating the conduct of future tours.

    We were fortunate in collecting on the tour many officers who commanded formations and units carrying out these operations, before time had blurred their memories of events. Consequently, their personal accounts of these battles are accurate and introduce, as far as this is possible, the atmosphere of war.

    When a battlefield is revisited at a later date, in full possession of all the information and with a clear picture of the situation, it is comparatively easy to say what should have been done. In war, the situation is rarely clear, the information is never complete and actions must be considered in the light of the situation as it was known to the commanders at the time. The view of the commander on the spot in each of the various situations is supplied in the personal accounts.

    These past operations must be studied with an eye to the future if full benefit is to be derived from them. In studying the problems, constant consideration must be given to the conditions which are likely to be met and the material and equipment which is likely to be available in the next war. It is certain, however, that whatever form land warfare may take in the future, certain fundamental factors which constantly stand out in these operations, such as morale, training, junior leadership and surprise, will retain their pre-eminent importance.

    Signed R.L. McCREERY
    Lieutenant General
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    This book describes the operations of 8 Corps South of CAUMONT on 20 and 31 July 1944. It is especially concerned with the part played by 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division in those operations.

    If forms the necessary background to a detailed study of the battle carried out on the ground.

    This edition cancels the one issued in June 1947.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
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    Map No. 1 Situation in NORMANDY before Operation BLUECOAT

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    Section I - INTRODUCTION

    The General Situation on 25 July
    By 25th July 1944, seven weeks after the landing in NORMANDY, the necessary conditions for the break-out from the Allied bridgehead had been created. The Operation was to be carried out by the Americans on the Western sector of the Allied front and was designed to cut off the BRITTANY Peninsual, reach the River LOIRE and swing East to the line LE MANS - ALENCON, thus turning the flank of the German position in NORMANDY. Four United States Corps were to be employed at the outset involving more than a dozen divisions.

    During the first forty-eight hours the break-out thrust made excellent progress and the question arose as to how the resources of SECOND BRITISH ARMY could be best employed to make the task of the Americans as easy as possible, and to ensure, above all, that the momentum of their advance was maintained.

    At the same time as the American attack started (25 July) 2 Canadian Corps had launched an attack Southwards along the road CAEN - FALAISE. The enemy, however, reacted strongly to this move, and, with a force which included four panzer divisions, succeeded in pushing our forces back and reoccupying the village of TILLY LA CAMPAGNE. It is clear that any further attack in this sector would meet with strong opposition, both from the strong force of German tanks and the formidable array of well sited 88 mm anti-tank guns.

    The Task of Second British Army
    The Commander-in-Chief has explained the situation at this stage as follows:
    "The enemy had very powerful forces in the ORNE sector; there were six panzer and SS panzer divisions on the SECOND ARMY front, all of which were East of NOYERS. West of that place there was no German armour facing the British, and therefore, the situation was favourable for delivering a very heavy blow on the Right wing of SECOND ARMY in the CAUMONT sector. If we could regroup speedily and launch a thrust in strength Southwards from the CAUMONT area directed on the FORET L'EVEQUE and LE BENY BOCAGE and ultimately to VIRE, the effect would be to get behind the German forces who had been swung back to face West by the American break through; any attempt by the enemy to pivot on the River VIRE or in the area between TORIGNY and CAUMONT would thus be frustrated as we should knock away the hinge. I therefore ordered SECOND ARMY to regroup in order to deliver a strong offensive on these lines; not less than six divisions were to be employed, and the Operation was to proceed with all possible speed. In the meantime First Canadian Army and the remainder of SECOND ARMY were to maintain the maximum offensive activity on the rest of the front in order to pin the enemy opposition and wear it down."

    The Second Army Plan
    The Second Army plan was to assist directly the advance of First United States Army by preventing the enemy from forming a pivot in the MONT PINCON area.

    It was to have the following four Corps under command:
    Right Flank - 8 Corps
    Right Centre - 30 Corps
    Left Centre - 12 Corps
    Left Flank - 2 Canadian Corps

    This book is only concerned with the Operations of 8 CORPS and such actions of 30 CORPS as affected the 8 CORPS battle; both Operations were to start on the same day, Sunday 30 July.

    The SECOND ARMY Operation was called BLUECOAT.
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    Section II - TOPOGRAPHY

    Looking at the relief map of NORMANDY, one of the most striking features is a wedge of high ground jutting out West of the River ORNE with two pronounced peaks. These are MONT PINCON about 8 miles South of VILLERS BOCAGE and a slightly lower peak 5 miles due South of CAUMONT. For this Operation 8 CORPS was directed agains the more Westerly half of the second feature.

    The Start Line for the advance ran just South of CAUMONT. This small town stands on the top of a ridge which gives good general observation over the area of the advance, but it itself dominated from the final objective (Point 309).

    The country is typical "bocage". From CAUMONT Southwards a succession of pronounced ridges run across the axis of advance. Streams run in all directions, and in many places constitute tank obstacles owing to their width, depth or marshy approaches. The River SOULEUVRE and its tributaries run through deep valleys with heavily wooded sides. The fields are mostly small and surrounded by banks three or four feet high, often surmounted by thick hedges or large trees. Good metalled roads are few and far between, and, apart from the road CAUMONT - ST. MARTIN DES BESACES which is just wide enough for two-way traffic, there is little else except narrow farm tracks and by-roads, usually wide enough for one line of traffic, always tortuous, and often running between high banks and hedges. The area contains few places of any size, but in addition to small villages, there are a number of farms or groups of two or three buildings; the narrow tracks running through these places are difficult for vehicles, especially tanks, to negotiate.

    It will be evident therefore that movement in such country is bound to be difficult and slow, hampering the bringing up of reserves, preventing the cross-country movement of anything except men on their feet or CHURCHILL tanks, and hindering supply and replenishment. In spite of the existence of a small number of viewpoints, the closeness of the country prevents detailed ground observation or the accurate locating of opposition.

    To sum up, the ground over which 8 CORPS was to operate was strongly in favour of the define, and lent itself well to the extensive use of mines and other artificial obstacles in addition to the natural restrictions it imposed on the attackers.
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    Section III - THE ENEMY

    By the end of July, the resources of the Germans in NORMANDY were stretched to their utmost. The enemy was still sensitive about his Right flank East of the River ORNE and was known to have in that sector four or possibly five panzer divisions, which had reachted most strongly to the latest thrust by 2 Canadian Corps towards FALAISE (25 July).

    West of the ORNE and to a point about six miles East of CAUMONT there was good reason to believe that the line was held by four divisions - from East to West, 271 Inf, 10 SS Panzer, 277 Inf and 276 Inf Divisions.

    South of CAUMONT was 326 Inf Div, which had relieved 2 Panzer Division on about 23 July, the latter being withdrawn from the line presumably into reserve. 326 Division was holding a long front of some ten miles, and was deployed with two regiments, 751 and 752 Grenadier Regiments in the line. There was believed to be a third regiment, 753 Grenadier Regiment in reserve, but this was not confirmed.

    Each regiment was though to consist of three battalions, each with four rifle companies. The Intelligence Staff considered the divisional strength to be as follows:
    Eight battalions (500 - 600 men each)
    Nine assault guns
    Forty-eight field or medium guns
    Twenty-four close support infantry guns
    Twenty-one anti-tank guns (over 50 mm)
    Seventy mortars.

    There was no evidence as to what armoured was likely to be encountered. 2 Panzer Division reappeared on the American sector further West about 27 July, and the only divisions which might be available were 21 Panzer or 9 SS Panzer (if withdrawn from East of the ORNE) or 11 Panzer which was unallocated. It was possible that 654 G.H.Q. Anti-Tank Battalion would be called in; the strength of this unit was estimated as thirty 88 mm guns on Panther chassis.

    To the West of 326 Division, opposite the Americans, was known to be 3 Para Division, with elements of 5 Para Division also in the line.

    Dispositions of 326 Division were believed to include, on the Right (opposite 30 CORPS), 751 Gren Regiment with III Battalion in the area of BRIQUESSARD. It was though likely that a line from LE REPAS to CAHAGNES marked the boundary with 752 Gren Regiment which probably had one battalion in the area MONTMIREL - LIEU MONDANT, another in the area SEPT VENTS - VILLENEUVE, and the third further West facing V U.S. Corps. 753 Gren Regiment was not definitely located.
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    Map No. 2 The Plan


    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
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    A. 30 CORPS TASK
    The main thrust by 30 CORPS, on the Left of 8 CORPS, was designed to capture the area Point 361 and the spur to the West - LA CABOSSE.

    43rd (WESSEX) DIVISION on the Right was to carry this out in three phases:-
    PHASE I The capture of CAHAGNES and the high ground immediately to the North of it. (BRIQUESSARD was to be cleared before H Hour.)

    PHASE II The capture of the area LES HAIES - ST. PIERRE DU FRESNE - LE BUISSON - Poin 262.

    PHASE III The capture of the final objective, about opine 361.

    50th (NORTHUMBRIAN) DIVISION was to operate on the Left of 43 (WESSEX) DIVISION, and 7 ARMOURED DIVISION was to be held in reserve, ready for exploitation Southwards towards LE BENY BOCAGE or VIRE, if the opportunity should arise.
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    B. 8 CORPS INTENTION (See Map 2)

    On 30 July, 8 CORPS would establish itself in the area of the high ground round LA BERGERIE FERME (Point 309) with a view to:

    a. Protecting the Right flank of 30 CORPS.

    b. A subsequent exploitation towards PETIT AUNAY.
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    8 CORPS had the following troops under command:

    - GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION (from p.m. 30 July)
    - 15 (S) DIVISION
    - 8 AGRA
    - One Squadron 141st REGIMENT, ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS (141 RAC) (Crocodiles)
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    1. It will be noted from para C. that the order of battle of 8 CORPS included only one infantry division. This meant that either the break-in attack would have to be on a one division front, or, alternatively, an armoured division would have to be employed in this role. No other infantry division could at this time be made available; further, the country was so enclosed, that it would, at best, be extremely difficult to pass one division through another, once the battle had started.

    2. The Operation had to be mounted in a great hurry - less than 48 hours from the time that concentration was ordered. A careful plan was therefore required for the movement of the various formations from their widely scattered positions, and little time was available for reconnaissance and other preparation. This last difficulty was partly offset by the presence of 15 (S) DIVISION already on the ground.

    3. Security was of considerable importance. Concentration for an attack at the Western need of the SECOND ARMY front must be undetected by the enemy, if full advantage was to be gained from the dispositions of this forces, with the bulk of the armour further East.

    4. The very close country which made movement and observation difficult has already been mentioned in Section II.

    5. It was necessary to co-ordinate the advance with flanking Corps, and, if they were not in a position to protect the flanks, to have a plan ready to operate.
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    8 CORPS was to attack on 30 July on a two divisional front -
    Left 15 (S) DIVISION supported by 6 GUARDS TANK BRIGADE.

    11 ARMOURED DIVISION was made responsible for the protection of the Right flank of 15 (S) DIVISION during the three Phases of the latter's attack, and was to select its own axis of advance between the CORPS boundary on the Right and exclusive the road CAUMONT - ST. MARTIN DES BESACES on the Left. Subsequently it was prepared to exploit Southwards to Petit AUNAY, not delaying its advance to wait for 15 (S) DIVISION, if conditions on its own front were favourable.

    15 (S) DIVISION's tasks were as follows:
    PHASE I To capture SEPT VENTS and the wooded area about LUTAIN

    PHASE II To capture the high ground immediately South East of LES LOGES (Point 226.)

    PHASE III To capture the high ground round LA BERGERIE FERME (Point 309), contacting 30 CORPS at the railway crossing, about 2,000 yards to the East. Patrols were to be pushed Southwards to the line of the River SOULEUVRE, contacting 11 ARMOURED DIVISION in the area of the FORET L'EVEQUE.

    GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION was to be held in CORPS reserve, and its employment was dependent on the development of the battle.

    One additional field regiment was placed under command of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION, so that both attacking divisions had three field regiments, and these resources were supplemented by 8 AGRA, which consisted of four medium regiments and one heavy regiment.

    Timed concentrations for Phase I were issued by RA 8 CORPS but thereafter each division was responsible for laying on its own barrages, concentrations and DF tasks.

    Counter-battery tasks were to be co-ordinated by CCRA 8 CORPS in the area between the CORPS Boundary on the Right and a line running North and South 500 yards East of CAUMONT.

    The three divisions and 8 AGRA were each to be supported by one Air OP Flight.

    Divisional fire plans are dealt with further in paras E. and F. below.

    A large air support programme was laid on, but the operation was to take place whether this could be carried out or not.

    This programme included:
    a. heavy and medium bomber attacks in two waves on selected area targets shown on the map
    b. fighter bomber attacks on close targets on 11 ARMOURED and 15 (S) DIVISION fronts
    c. fighter bomber attacks on opportunity targets
    d. armed recce on all approaches to the battle area
    e. tactical and photographic reconnaissance

    The following table gives details of the attacks in a. above:

    No HE bomb was to be larger than 500 pounds.

    The targets in the 30 CORPS sector are included to indicate the scale of the air effort in support of Operation BLUECOAT.

    The programme for fighter bomber attacks on close targets ahead of 8 CORPS was:

    Mortar positions - (X and Y) - 0615 hours
    Machine gun positions - (Y and Z) - 0630 hours
    LUTAIN WOOD - (W) - 0645 hours

    The Air Support Signals Unit (ASSU) was deployed with two nets serving 8 CORPS. The following diagram shows the allotment of tentacles:


    Preparation of Routes
    Preparation and signing of routes for wheeled and tracked vehicles in the forward area up to the Start Line was the responsibility of CRE 15 (S) DIVISION for the whole CORPS front.

    Three routes for both wheels and tracks were to cross the Start Line in the 15 (S) DIVISION sector, and a total of six were to be prepared in 11 ARMOURED DIVISION sector.

    Certain routes were to be prepared further North in the BALLEROY area by CRE 8 CORPS Troops, and the RE resources of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION were at the disposal of CE 8 CORPS until required to operate with the Division.

    Routes were to be prepared before H Hour as far South as the road LA LANDE SUR DROME - CAUMONT - LE REPAS.

    Maintenance of routes was to be taken over by CRE 8 CORPS Troops from CRE 15 (S) DIVISION before the Operation started.

    Minefield clearance
    The preparation of routes involved much lifting of our mines, especially in the 11 ARMOURED DIVISION sector.

    If required, 15 (S) DIVISION could call for assistance from 11 ARMOURED DIVISION for this task and CRE 11 ARMOURED DIVISION was ordered to maintain close liaison with CRE 15 (S) DIVISION and to ensure that a gap of 600 yards was cleared for each route to be used by his Division in any minefield North of the Start Line.

    Assault RE
    26 Assault Squadron was placed under command 11 ARMOURED DIVISION for the Operation.

    It was anticipated that route development and mine clearance would involve much hazardous and intensive work during the battle, and divisional RE were entirely at the disposal of their own divisions for those tasks from H hour onwards.


    The problem involved in the concentration of 8 CORPS for Operation BLUECOAT was a difficult one.

    The Operation was laid on in a hurry and between 28 and 30 July the moves shown below had be carried out.

    Most of the formations concerned had to cross the maintenance routes of 2 Canadian, 12 and 30 CORPS, and it was important that these moves should go undetected by the enemy.

    The details of routes, timings, etc., are not considered here, but the moves which were co-ordinated and assisted by HQ SECOND ARMY and arranged verbally at a single Conference were carried out to following programme:

    Night 28/29 July

    6 GUARDS TANK BRIGADE - BAYEUX area to CAUMONT area to under command 15 (S) DIVISION. (18 miles).

    8 AGRA - GIBERVILLE (East of River ORNE) to area South of BAYEUX. (30 miles).

    11 ARMOURED DIVISION - Area North West of CAEN to area CAUMONT (Behind 8 AGRA - move completed 1600 hours 29 July). (25 miles).

    29 July

    HQ 8 CORPS - BENY SUR MER (8 miles North of CAEN) - NORON LA POTERIE. (20 miles).

    2 HCR - BENY SUR MER - CAUMONT (same area as 11 ARMOURED DIVISION). (26 miles).

    1 LOTHIANS - CREPON (8 miles North East of BAYEUX) - CAUMONT (same area as 11 ARMOURED DIVISION). (25 miles).

    8 AGRA - South of BAYEUX - area North of CAUMONT. (16 miles).

    30 July

    GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION - East of River ORNE - area CAUMONT (50 miles).

    The distances shown are estimates, but all tend to be conservative.

    It will thus be seen that while the head of the CORPS was launching its attack, the tail of the CORPS was still East of the ORNE. 11 ARMOURED DIVISION only arrived in the CAUMONT area a few hours before the battle was due to start, after a long and tiring march. 15 (S) DIVISION had already been in the CAUMONT sector for several days and ha thus had an opportunity of studying the ground.


    Security was one of the utmost importance and the following measures were therefore taken:
    a. All Corps signs were removed from vehicles and personnel of HQ 8 CORPS, and the normal signing to CORPS HQ was not used, until after the battle had started.

    b. All formations observed wireless silence from the time they began to concentrate until H - 3 hours.

    c. There was to be no increase of Air OP activity on the Right flank of SECOND ARMY.

    d. Only the guns of 15 (S) DIVISION artillery were allowed to register.

    e. SECOND ARMY organised a wireless deception plan.

    f. The moves of 6 GUARDS TANK BRIGADE and most of the armour of 11 ARMOURED DIVISION were made under cover of darkness.


    H Hour, i.e. the time at which PHASE I was to start, was to be two hours before the first heavy bombing attack.

    The zero hour for 15 (S) DIVISION attack in PHASE II was called X hour and was to be at the end of the first heavy bombing attack.

    The zero hour for PHASE II was to be the end of the second heavy bombing attack and to be called Y hour.

    The actual timings were:
    Break wireless silence - 0355 hours
    Fighter bomber attacks - 0615 - 0645 hours
    H hour (PHASE I) - 0655 hours
    Heavy bombing (1st attack) 8 CORPS front - Between 0855 and 0955 hours
    X hour (PHASE II) - 0955 hours
    Heavy bombing (2nd attack) - Between 1555 and 1655 hours
    Y hour (PHASE III) - 1700 hours

    Attached Files:

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    Map No. 3 Fire Support and Air Support

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    11 ARMOURED DIVISION was to advance on two routes,
    Right - 159 INFANTRY BRIGADE
    It had been found in previous operations that fighting in thick "bocage" country necessitated the very closes "tie-up" between infantry and tanks down to sub-unit level. 11 ARMOURED DIVISION was therefore organised into groups as shown in the following order of march:-

    LEFT (Divisional Centre Line)

    (29 Armoured Brigade Group)

    ADVANCE GUARD (commanded by CO 3rd Battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment (3 MON))

    3 MON
    with under command:
    Four AVsRE
    RE Recce Party (for movement)

    and in support:
    23rd Hussars (23 H)
    with under command:
    One troop 119/75 Anti-Tank Battery



    8th Battalion The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) (8 RB ) with under command:
    two troops 118/75 A Tk Bty less two troops.

    (Divisional Troops)

    2 HCR (less two squadrons)

    13th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery (13 RHA)

    Tac HQ 11 ARMOURED DIVISION was to move on this route.


    (159 Infantry Brigade Group)

    ADVANCE GUARD (commanded by CO 1st Battalion The Herefordshire Regiment (1 HEREFORD))


    with under command:
    Four AVsRE
    RE Recce Party (for movement)

    and in support:
    2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry (2 FF YEO)


    4th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry (4 KSLI)

    (Divisional Troops)

    2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry (2 N YEO)

    One squadron 2 HCR

    151 Fd Regt


    The rest of the Division was to be called forward by Div HQ sat the battle developed.

    Each Brigade group was given three objectives (marked on Map 2) and the advance was to be made in three phases.

    The two routes, the Start Line and the divisional boundaries are also shown on Map 2.

    The heads of each column were to cross the Start Line at H hour.

    2 N YEO (Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment) was to move forward on the Right route on the orders of the Divisional Commander and was to be in divisional reserve. The Armoured Car Regiment (2 HCR) was also to move on orders from Div HQ and reconnoitre South to the road PETIT AUNAY - ST. MARTIN DES BESACES and West to the boundary with V U.S. CORPS.


    Artillery support for 11 ARMOURED DIVISION included 13 RHA in direct support to the Left column, and 151 Fd Regt of the Right column. 25 Fd Regt and one medium regiment were also available.

    PHASES I and II were to start with a number of timed concentrations to be followed by concentrations at call and opportunity shooting. No timed concentrations were prepared for PHASE III.


    11 ARMOURED DIVISION had liaison officers at HQ 5 US Inf Div on the Right and HQ 15 (S) Div on the Left.

    Liaison officers were also exchanged between the Brigade Commanders on each route.
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    15 (S) DIVISION had been holding the sector in which 8 CORPS was to advance with two brigades up. During 28 and 29 July, 44 (L) INFANTRY BRIGADE took over responsibility for the whole front, forming a firm base from which 11 ARMOURED DIVISION and the rest of 15 (S) DIVISION could advance.

    227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE was concentrated North of CAUMONT, and 46 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE further North in the area of the cross roads at LOUVIGNY.


    On account of the narrow front on which 15 (S) DIVISION was to operate, the enclosed nature of the country and the small number of suitable routes available, a special divisional movement control organisation was established to control the move forward of troops into the battle. Four routes called IRON, FLINT, TIN and STEEL were prepared, and Marshalling Areas, Assembly Areas and FUPs were selected. (These are shown on Map No. 2).

    The movement organisation was to be controlled from a Regulating HQ established at HQ 227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE.

    15 (S) ATTACK

    15 (S) DIVISION was supported by 6 GUARDS TANK BRIGADE. Its attack on the Left on the 8 CORPS sector was to be in three phases.


    PHASE I was to be carried out by 227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE supported by 4th Tank Battalion Grenadier Guards (4 TK GREN GDS). The two objectives were:
    Right : SEPT VENTS and the area to the South of it
    Left : LUTAIN WOOD

    9th Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (9 CAMERONIANS) (temporarily under command from 46 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE) was to capture the Right objective, assisted by 4 TK GREN GDS less one squadron, which had under command one troop of FLAILS. This battalion group was to forum up in the area of LE TESTU.

    2nd Battalion The Gordon Highlanders (2 GORDONS) supported by one troop of 286 Anti-Tank Battery (17 pounders) and one squadron 4 TK GREN GDS was to capture the Left objective, having formed up in the area immediately North of CAUMONT. This battalion group included one troop of FLAILS and one squadron of CROCODILES.

    The Start Line was the road VILLENEUVE - CAUMONT - LE REPAS and the rate of advance was 100 yards in four minutes.

    The attack was to be supported by a number of artillery concentrations, and a smoke screen was to be laid to mask the forward slopes of the high ground ST. MARTIN DES BESACES - BOIS DU HOMME, which overlooked the whole area.

    The troop of anti-tank guns was not to move forward and join 2 GORDONS until after PHASE II of the divisional attack.

    227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE had 20 Field Company in support to assist with mine clearance, which, it was expected, would be required on a large scale.


    This phase was also to be carried out by 227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE and again involved two battalion objectives:
    Right : Spur of high ground South of HERVIEUX
    Left : LES LOGES - Point 226.

    The two battalion groups, whose FUP were to be the same as those used by the battalions in PHASE I, were:

    2nd Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) (2 S & )

    with in support:
    3rd Tank Battalion Scots Guards (3 Tk SG)
    One Squadron 15 (S) Recce Regt
    One troop 286 Anti-Tank Bty (17 pounders)
    One machine-gun platoon B Company 1st Battalion The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) (1 Mx)

    10th Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) (10 HLI)

    with in support
    4th Tank Battalion Coldstream Guards (4 Tk COLDM GDS)
    One Squadron 15 (S) Recce Regt
    One troop 286 Anti-Tank Bty (6 pounders)
    One platoon B Coy 1 Mx (MG)

    The Start Line ran East and West about 300 yards North of AUBIGNY, and was about 1500 yards South of the PHASE I objectives.

    The Right Battalion was to advance down the road VILLENEUVE - HERVIEUX and the Left battalion was to go across country along TIN route as shown on Map 2. The speed of advance behind an artillery barrage was to be 100 yards in four minutes. The high ground to the South was to be screened by smoke as in PHASE I.

    The above barrage as to be fired by three field regiments with two medium regiments super-imposed three hundred yards ahead. It was to be on a front of 2,200 yards, advancing to a depth of 2,500 yards, fired at "slow" rate, with "intense" rate for the ninth minute.

    The squadrons of 15 (S) Recce Regt were to move forward behind the leading echelons of tanks, passing through on arrival at the objective for form a screen to the South covering the reorganisation. At this stage, the medium machine guns were to pay special attention to the Left flank and the anti-tank defence of the whole position was to be co-ordinated by the anti-tank battery commander.

    PHASE II was to be preceded by a heavy bombing attack on the final divisional objective.


    This phase involved the capture of Point 309 to the East of ST. MARTIN DES BESACES and was supposed to coincide with an attack b 43 (W) DIVISION (30 CORPS) on Point 361, further to the East.

    46 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE was detailed to carry out the task with under command:

    6 Guards Tank Brigade
    121 Anti-Tank Bty
    One SP Anti-Tank Bty
    A Company 1 Mx (MG)
    Detachment 15 (S) Recce Regt

    and in support:
    278 Fd Coy
    Two platoons 4.2. in mortars 1 Mx.

    The attack was to be carried out with two battalions up:

    7th Battalion The Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, Duke of Albany's) (7 SEAFORTH)

    with in support:
    3 Tk SG
    One troop 161 Anti-Tank Bty (6 pounders)
    A Coy 1 Mx less one platoon (MG)

    2nd Battalion The Glasgow Highlanders (2 GLAS H)

    with in support:
    4 Tk COLDM GDS
    One platoon A Company 1 Mx (MG)

    The Start Line was situated about 400 yards North East of Point 226 and the axis of advance was such as to approach the objective from the North East and East.

    Different methods were to be used for this phase according to whether or not it was preceded by a heavy bomber attack on the objective. If the heavy bombers were to operate, it was intended that the two tank battalions each less one squadron, and accompanied by elements of 15 (S) Recce Regt, should move directly to the objective as soon as the bombing finished. The infantry, with one squadron of tanks to each battalion, would then follow up as quickly as possible and taken over.

    If there were no bombing, the infantry and tanks would advance together behind a barrage at a speed of 100 yards in four minutes to within about 600 yards of the summit where they would pause to tie up the final attack, which would be preceded by heavy artillery concentrations on the objective.

    The barrage was to be on a front of 1,800 yards, advancing to a depth of 2,000 yards; it was to fired by three field regiments with one medium regiment superimposed, starting "very slow", rising to "intense" for the ninth minute and thereafter being fired "slow".

    The towed anti-tank 17 pounders were to be sited to take on any enemy tanks which might appear over the ridge while the SP 17 pounders were to rendezvous on the Start Line as soon as the infantry had crossed it, and await further orders.

    Apart from an RE Recce Party with each assaulting battalion, the Field Company was to be held back under brigade control in the SEPT VENTS area until required.


    46 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE less 9 CAMERONIANS (under command 227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE) was to be moved from an area a few miles North of CAUMONT to marshalling areas East and West of CAUMONT itself. From there 2 GLAS H and 7 SEAFORTH would move to Forward Assembly Areas at LA TEINTURIERE and LA FORTERIE, where they were to contact their respective tank battalions and "marry up" with them. It was anticipated that the tank battalions would have gone to Forward Rally North West of LES LOGES after their battle with 227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE.

    Other units were to join their battalion groups before the first move.


    When released by 227 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE, 9 CAMERONIANS would revert to command 46 (H) INFANTRY BRIGADE, and together with 4 TANK GRENADIER GUARDS come into brigade reserve. This group was to move close behind the assaulting battalions with a mopping-up role, finally taking up a position in the area of Point 280 prepared to relieve 15 (S) Recce Regt, which would probably, by this time, be in ST. MARTIN DES BESACES.
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    Map No. 4 Progress of 15 (S) Division

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
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    Section I - Operations 30 July

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