The attacks on Cristot (10th to 17th June 1944)

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Ramiles, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the above with its map. It makes sense but means the Dunphie and Johnson map from Gold Beach: Inland from King June 1944 (See post 86 above), and their navigation aids in Brightly shone the Dawn are incorrect as they put the Sunken Lane and the White Farm to the east of the Tilly - Cristot road which is where I placed it on the map.

    Taking the aerial image from the 12 June I have annotated where the White Farm would be in your suggestion and there is certainly buildings there:-

    and the tank tracks support your theory. I have placed the "Sunken Lane" at the only part of the central axis of advance where there is hedge/tree cover each side.

    What do you think?

    There is an interview with Ronald Mole on the IWM site, a Gunner/Operator in one of the “C” Squadron tanks destroyed in this action. 3 of the crew members were killed and he describes it vividly (Reel 2, LINK)


    Attached Files:

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  2. Tom R

    Tom R Member

    Yes, that discrepancy is troubling, not least because it may be based on Stan Hollis's postwar account. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that he misremembered the location too!
    I'm much more confident about that being the location of the "White Farm" because of the grid reference from the 6 GH War Diary. The number of tank tracks (presumably from C Squadron 4/7 RDG) also support this assessment. And with the "White Farm" a reasonably secure known location then it suggests that the "Sunken Lane" has to be to the immediate west/northwest of Les Hauts Vents.
    Yes, that is another possibility. And, as you say, it's supported by the aerial photo. Incidentally, where did you get the excellent aerial photo? I couldn't find it on the NCAP website.

    I suggested it was running from ~862700 to ~864699, which I think places it on the 6 GH main axis and in the centre through which D Company was inserted to clear Les Hauts Vents. I'd also looked on Street View on Google Maps and one side of the lane is raised, less so the other but that could reflect post war changes.

    Interestingly Tim Saunders places it further south running from roughly ~857698 to ~860697. This doesn't seem to be supported by Street View and its arguably off the main axis.

    The uncertainty and multiple possibilities make me think of Wellington's aphorism, when asked to comment on Waterloo: The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance.
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  3. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Hi Tom
    For the source of the aerial image see the thread The Battles for Point 103 and St. Pierre (8th–18th June 1944) - relevant extract below
    I will come back to you later to respond to the rest of your last post

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  4. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Lovcation of the "Sunken Lane"
    I have tried to summarise here the various accounts that I have seen. Apologies as I am going over old ground here but it helps me:-
    The Christopher Dunphie/Garry Johnson book "Brightly shone the dawn" is from 1980 and purports to be based on accounts given on the Staff College Tours, particularly from Lt Col Hastings. But there are few direct quotes from Hastings or Sgt Major Hollis and it is the authors that specify that for the first few hundred yards the advance went without incident, then "C" and "B" Companies 6 GH crossed the road running south from Cristot; these are not direct quotes. There is also no diagram in this book. After being met by the fierce opposition the authors go on to introduce "D" Company moving forward up the central axis of advance, the incident in the "Sunken Lane", the White Farm as it was captured by "C" Company, and the taking of prisoners, again not from direct quotes from Sgt Major Hollis or Lt Col Hastings. ie, the inference is that the White Farm is to the east of the Cristot-Tilly road, as is the "Sunken Lane".
    (Photo lifted from "Brightly shone the dawn" belongs to the authors.)

    Unfortunately I dont have Sgt Major Hollis' own account transcribed from his talk given on the Staff College tour and cant find it either.

    Dunphie/Johnson's next book "Gold Beach - Inland from King" is from 1999 and is slightly longer treatment but essentially contains the same assertions and includes the picture posted in #86 above. Again there are few direct quotations.

    Tim Saunders in his book "Battle for the Bocage" published in 2021 introduces the account by Hubert Meyer from his history of the 12th Hitler Youth Panzer Divsion which states the British tanks were first spotted west of Les Hauts Vents. German Recce patrols were sent out and came face-to-face with the 4/7 DG, both opened fire but the Guns of the Panther and Shermans "became entangled" and the British Tank Commander effectively agreed a truce to jointly attend to the wounded Germans! (I have not seen this in any of the 4/7 DG accounts by the way but I am still working through them). The Saunders' version then goes on to quote directly from Lt Colonel Hastings & Sgt Major Hollis and the latter apparently says they advanced "from the crossroads (about 400 yards)" before the German Machine Gun opened fire down the Sunken Lane. So the question is which cross-roads is this referring to? Judging from the Lt Col Hastings account that follows, ""D" Company forced their way up the axis supported by tanks, took 25-30 PoWs in Les Hauts Vents and joined up with "A" Company. This helped "C" Company get on." so the crossroads is to the west of Les Hauts Vents. The Saunders account is an accurate transcription of Lt Col Hastings' report but confusingly that report then goes on to say "he position was now that the Bn was together one field short of its objective with heavy M.G. and anti-tank gun fire in front." when once "C" Company took the White Farm there were still many fields before Point 102 so he must have been referring to Cristot.

    The cross roads are not obvious on the composite 1:25,000 WO map attached below. But on the aerial photograph there is a crossing point over the Audrieu to St Pierre road, just to the south of 4/7 DG's base on Point 103, flanked by tank tracks, which leads directly into a hedge lined path of at least 400 yards long. Could this be the "Sunken Path"? There doesnt appear to be a long tree lined path anywhere else on the west side approach to Les Hauts Vents. My earlier attempt to place it just NW of Les Hauts Vents does not stand up as it is not long enough
    In his book Tim Saunders includes a map based on the composite 1:25,000 map which supports this theory although the underlying WO map does not quite tally with the actual topography.

    The official history of the 6 GH “The story of the Green Howards, 1939 – 1945” by Capt W A T Synge from 1952 has this snippet
    And the phrase "line through the farm at Les Hauts Vents" is taken directly from Lt Col Hastings account
    and I suppose the question is are they referring specifically to what we now call "the WHite Farm", in which case the "Sunken Lane" is further north. Taking another snapshot from the aerial photograph

    So there are inconsistencies within the reports. Google Earth does not help to rule out either of the potential sites.

    The evidence suggests the Dunphie/Johnson interpretation is wrong but I dont think the alternative is conclusive.

    I would be interested in your thoughts.

    Attached Files:

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  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Despite the white arrow in the way, it looks to me like the sunken lane has a pronounced right-hand bend - maybe even a corner - on it. That might eliminate some of the options...
  6. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    I am waiting on some permissions to use 4/7 DG material but I am now pretty certain the "Sunken Path" is where I first had it and consistent with Dunphie/Johnson books. As soon as I get permission I will publish why I think that here. The white farm is actually the farm just south of Cristot, La Ferme Bellemare on modern maps. The grid ref in the 6GH diary (which the diary terms "cross tracks") is what Lt Col Hastings calls the farm at Les Hauts Vents, on the axis of advance. He does not mean the village of that name
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  7. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Location of the "Sunken Lane"
    Its generally accepted that the location of the “Sunken Lane” is identified in the two books by Garry Johnson and Christopher Dunphie (“Brightly Shone the Dawn” from 1980 and “Gold Beach – Inland from King” from 1999). The Johnson/Dunphie accounts ought to be reliable as they were based on accounts given live by Lt Col Hastings (CO of 6 Green Howards) and CSM Stanley Hollis VC (of “D” Company 6 Green Howards) on annual Battlefield tours which were a part of Staff College Camberley Officer courses.

    However, the specific information in the 6 GH War Diary does not seem to agree and suggests the action is further West. This is compounded by some apparent ambiguity in Lt Col Hastings own report “Account of Operations of 6 Green Howards 6 – 27 July 1944 Normandy 69 Inf Bde” (WO223/31) produced for the 1947 Staff College Camberley course.

    I have researched accounts from other units involved, notably the 4/7 Dragoon Guards whose “B” and “C” squadrons were supporting 6 GH that day, who in turn were supported by 147 Field (SP) Regiment (“Essex Yeomanry”) which is my particular interest.

    I attach a map from Cecil Newton’s booklet “4th/7th Dragoon Guards: The battles in Normandy” from 2018. Cecil is a remarkable man, still with us today and I have his permission to attach the page. Although of “B” squadron, he was not involved as he lost his tank in the Landing, and it was not replaced until 13 June, but he has walked the battlefield and obtained input from those who were there e.g. L/Cpl Jackie Weir. Weir was the Tank Driver in Captain Abel’s tank and Captain Abel was “B” Squadron’s 2nd i/c who was killed by shrapnel from Mortar fire after dismounting his disabled tank. L/Cpl Jackie Weir was taken prisoner and his account of the incident is also in Cecil’s book.


    The map shows the “Sunken Lane” to the East of the Cristot-Les Hauts Vent Road, but what is not clear is where the track to Point 103 crosses this road. Note: (a) to (e) locations are accompanied by modern day photographs in the booklet.

    Where the track to Point 103 crosses the Cristot-Les Hauts Vent Rd is shown in an article in the Creully club newsletter from September 2011. This edition focusses on the battle for Cristot and includes the following graphic which matches up to the diagram above.

    The graphic is accompanied by a key which I have edited slightly for clarity without altering the information.

    To prove that 4/7 DG had reached this far East it may be possible to identify some of the destroyed tanks in the areas specified in this article by comparing the aerial photograph taken on 12 June 1944 with those taken before, or some considerable time after the 11 June 1944.

    Unfortunately, the 31 May 1944 aerial photographs NCAP do not include a frame directly over Cristot but the sortie does cover the axis of advance through the farm.

    If the “Sunken Lane” was to the west of the farm, as implied by the 6GH War Diary, there would be disabled tanks from “B” Squadron 4/7 DG, but if you compare this with the 12 June equivalent NCAP below there is no evidence of disabled tanks in the fields to the immediate south of the axis of advance.

    To obtain an aerial photo over Cristot to compare I had to use the 9th August 1947 photograph on the IGN site LINK. This is taken just after 16:00 so less of a shadow than the 12 June equivalent (which was taken @ 09:30), and what shadows there will be reversed. I have ringed what could be disabled tanks; of course, I can’t be sure, they may be German AFVs, or trees/bushes may have been felled in the 3 years since the battle, especially if damaged in the action.

    The locations ringed possibly showing the disabled tanks corresponds roughly with the graphic above. So if the articles are correct, and/or these are destroyed tanks, then we are back where we started with the Sunken Lane to the east of the Cristot – Les Hauts Vent road where Dunphie & Johnson had it!

    Which then leaves the question how to explain the anomalies thrown up by the 6 GH War Diary and the account by Lt Col Hastings as identified by Tom R. I am also continuing to scour veteran accounts to see whether any further corroboration is available.

    More on this later
  8. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Dealing with these one at a time (6GH War Diary 11 June 1944)
    Assuming the grid reference is accurate it is ringed on the map below
    And on the 12 June 1944 aerial phoptograph

    This is the farm on the axis of advance and the inference is this is where 6 GH first became pinned down; but there is nothing in the diary that says they could/did not advance from here.

    The 69 Inf Bde War Diary does not really clarify anything:-
    The timings are inconsistent, and the grid ref given is to the west of the reference in the 6GH War Diary


    The later entries confirm the Reserve Coy moves around the pinned forward Coys, but 25 mins later the Bde Commander intends to stop the 6 GH just 200 hundred metres further west, still well short of the Les Hauts Vent – Cristot Road.

    And turning to Lt Col Hastings report
    The first (red box) statement says that the reserve “D” Company cleared the axis of advance up to Les Hauts Vents, but I think this is referring to the farm at the grid ref in the 6 GH WD not the village itself further south. In fact, earlier in his account Lt Col Hastings says
    So he is calling this farm where the Battalion were first pinned down “Les Hauts Vents”.

    The 2nd (blue box) statement says “A” Company worked around “B” Company (who were pinned at the farm) and “D” Company eventually joined up with them i.e. west of the farm. He then goes on to say the Battalion reached a point one field short of its objective.

    The field in front of the objectives are marked on the aerial photograph above, the lower objective being Point 102, the higher Cristot. I think Point 102 was the 6 GH’s objective judging by Brigadier Cracroft’s remarks….

    “Southeast of Pt 103 lay the high ground round Pt 102 just South of CRISTOT; to command these two points was to be in control of the whole area round about for several miles. In order, therefore, to try and relieve the pressure on our left and to keep the enemy from carrying out close reconnaissance of our positions, an attack was organised for the evening to capture CRISTOT and to push on beyond it to capture Pt 102” then “…in the event the tanks of 4/7th DG just managed to reach the outskirts of CRISTOT and the infantry one field short of the objective”

    That they reached this far east is corroborated by the document “50 DIV IN NORMANDY: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE BRITISH 50th (NORTHUMBRIAN) DIVISION ON D-DAY AND IN THE BATTLE OF NORMANDY” which states “By 6:00 P.M., the 6th Green Howards’ advance had stopped about three hedgerows from Cristot. LieutenantColonel Hastings then committed his reserve company and the attack regained momentum. An hour later, elements of the 12th SS Reconnaissance Battalion began to advance and infiltrate the 6th Green Howards. Nonetheless, by 8:30 P.M. the 6th Battalion had nearly achieved its objective at Point 102, despite having suffered significant casualties.” This section in this 1997 report is supposedly based on Cabinet Papers from 1950, specifically CAB 44/247, which analysed first hand reports and diaries, although this deals mainly with I Corps and I could not find this reference in that document. I should point out that the previous document in the series CAB 44/246 contradicts this asserting that the Battalion was finally stopped in the area of the farm north of Les Hauts Vents, but this is because it is based on the 6GH and 69 Inf Bde Diaries.

    So far so confusing - more to follow!
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2023
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  9. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    Next instalment in setting out the evidence known to me for the location of the "Sunken Lane" in the 1st battle of Cristot on 11 June 1944.
    This is from the 1-page report “69 Inf Bde – account of the days fighting 11 June 1944” in the 69 Inf Bde and 5 Btn E Yorks War Diaries (unsigned/undated)

    The grid reference (866701) is the same area as that mentioned in the 6GH War Diary, but the inference is the Battalion advanced beyond there up to 19:30 when they prepared to “..stop short of their objective…”. The objective was earlier described as …..


    More evidence comes in a transcript of a talk given by CSM Stan Hollis during a Staff College Battlefield tour (date unknown) and reproduced in the book “D-Day by those who were there” by Peter Liddle, which contains selected veteran accounts held by the Second World War Experience Centre:

    “There was C Company on the left and A and B on the right. We advanced up here, and when we got here there was a tank, and the tank went on ahead of us up the hill. It was pouring down and the lane was in a hell of a mess. It had been churned up by tanks, and as we were going up here - Seventeen and Eighteen Platoon on this side, Company Headquarters behind the tank, Sixteen Platoon with myself on the left hand side going up here. We heard a lot of banging going on either side. We couldn’t see, of course, what was going on, but we knew someone was catching it.”

    This was just before he located and despatched the MG nest at the top of the lane. From the foot of the Point 103 incline across to Cristot is effectively a plateau, and CSM Hollis mentions moving “up the hill”. As can be seen on the WO map extract below the ground does not start rising until the foot of the approach to Point 102 just south of Cristot which is another pointer to the vicinity of the “Sunken Lane”.

    Tim Saunders in his book "Battle for the Bocage" published in 2021 quotes from a slightly difference account given by CSM Hollis to the 1968 Staff College Battlefield Tour, which unfortunately is unavailable to the public. This includes “…we had advanced from the crossroads to this spot when a burst of Spandau fire ripped down the lane” and in the book Tim inserts “about 400 yards” from the crossroads to the spot based on his attendance on subsequent tours. In the book an accompanying map puts the crossroads (“X”) and “Sunken Lane” west of the village Les Hauts Vent as reproduced in blue on my map above.

    As already discussed in post 104 above, there is a “crossroads” over the Audrieu to St Pierre Road here, just to the southeast of Point 103, flanked by tank tracks, which leads directly into a hedge lined path of at least 400 yards long, as shown in the aerial photograph below.


    However, this means CSM Hollis action took place around 400 yards from the Audrieu- St Pierre Rd, less than 600 yards southeast of Point 103 itself, with its concentration of 50 Div units. Furthermore, the 6GH advance across to Cristot/Point 102 began to meet stiff resistance between 18:00 – 18:30, when the leading Coys became pinned down. Hollis’ “D” Coy were then called forward and so would have reached the “Sunken Lane” sometime after 18:30. But according to their War Diary 5 East Yorks, whose objective was to relieve the 1st Dorsets defending Pt 103, had occupied this area by 18:00 and were then to suffer the German tank counterattack from the south that Lt Col Hastings heard “ my right rear”.

    As there is no indication in any accounts of overlapping Battalion boundaries like this, or of direct armoured incursions into 6 GH positions from the south while "D" Coy were clearing the axis of advance, I don’t think this location is plausible. I have also found no evidence of destroyed 4/7 DG tanks in the fields on the right of the hedge or Les Hauts Vents village and beyond.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2023
  10. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    There is another detailed account from Lt Col Hastings in his book “An undergraduate’s War” published in 1997. There are one or two significant passages – “We started off on the late side. But we made good progress until we were three fields away from our objective… All went well until we (Battalion HQ) were about to turn up a lane at right angles to our path. Standing there I heard a great deal of fire from both our leading Companies. Soon B Company wirelessed that they were held up and the Commander was wounded. I therefore sent A Company round on their right to help them out. C Company said that they were in trouble with fire from a house. They eventually fired a PIAT into it and the enemy pulled out.”

    Three fields away from their objective must be to the east of the area proposed in Tim Saunders’ book and they seem to have made good progress before being held up there, which is another clue that they were further from the Audrieu-St Pierre road. But he introduces “we were about to turn up a lane at right angles to our path” and as far as I can tell the only points on the most likely axis of advance west of the location where they were held up are here…
    Capt W A T Synge’s official history “The story of the Green Howards, 1939 – 1945” only partially helps. It does not mention the “Sunken Lane” or CSM Hollis’ action to clear it. It also disassociates the forward lines of the right Coys (“B” & “A”) and left Coy (“C”) with the result that the timelines and farms it refers to are ambiguous. But the paragraphs describing “C” Coy experience do provide another angle, for example…


    To try and visualise these references I have included a slightly different snapshot from the aerial photograph of 12 June 1944.


    There are two key references here. “…..pinned down by extremely heavy Spandau fire from the orchards around Cristot” and “The Company were trapped in the middle of a cornfield, and, in addition to the heavy cross fire from the Orchards on the left, and from a group of farm buildings about 200 yards in front, snipers in the trees surrounding the cornfield were taking a heavy toll”. The one area that seems to fit this description, and on the left of the axis of advance, is the area ringed in the photograph above which is beyond the stop points referenced in the 6GH and 69 Inf Bde war diaries and almost up to the “Sunken Lane” as identified by Johnson/Dunphie.

    However, I am not qualified to identify potential cornfields as at June 1944 in these b&w aerial photographs and would welcome some guidance on this from anybody who has been through this sort of exercise before.

    There are a few accounts of “C” Coy veterans that describe the experience in the cornfield, and I am indebted to Paul Cheall, who produces the “Fighting through - WW2 Memoirs” Podcast LINK, for bringing the first two to my attention:

    (to follow)
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  11. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    From the book “Alf Blackburn's War Memoirs: An ordinary soldier recounts his time serving in the Desert, Sicily and D-Day Campaigns of WW2”. Alf was a Corporal (Section Leader) in 6 GH “C” Coy and the book has an excellent 8-page account written from the point of view of an NCO as opposed to the more customary officer accounts.

    “.. we were on a country lane leading to a farmhouse and we had a company on each side of the road. There were two sections up and on this occasion, I was bringing up the rear. There were tall trees and very close hedging bordering the lane which led to the farm buildings; once past the hedge we went through an old farm building, crossed over a ditch and into a cornfield. At the end of the cornfield there was a pasture field and on the far side of that a farmhouse standing just off the road. The first two sections made their way into the pasture field; they had just got about halfway between the edge of the corn and the farmhouse, when suddenly the farmhouse erupted with a hail of machine gun fire. They had no option but to rush the farmhouse because we were pinned down in the cornfield from sniper fire to our rear”.

    Being on the left of the advance it seems “C” Coy moved past the first farm buildings (where B Company were held up?) and moved through multiple fields before encountering the MG fire from their front from another farmhouse “standing just off the road” which is consistent with the Synge account and its accompanying aerial photograph above. Presumably C Coy then went on to take the farmhouse as they had “no option but to rush the farm house”.

    Alf rallied his section together, crawled out of the cornfield “….and we moved on up the track” and goes on to say:-

    “.. the stretcher bearers were already in the pasture field doing their work. We were able to go straight through, because the farmhouse had been taken from the rear by the Company that was on the other side of the road to us along with the tanks.”

    This I found confusing at first thinking he was referring to A or B Coy, but he must be referring to D Coy who were accompanied by “C” Squadron of 4/7 DG in their action to clear the “Sunken Lane”. In fact there is an excellent account from Ronald Mole (IWM interview 13420) LINK who was a Gunner/Operator in “C” Squadron 5th Troop. In Reel 2 he talks about the loss of the tank directly behind him in the location of the “Sunken Lane”.

    Finally from Alf’s account he says:-

    “We continued up the track and once past the farmhouse we were on our own again…. We made our way to the far end of the farmyard which led out into open country with a forest on the hill beyond. There was some enemy fire coming from the trees, and so we gathered together to discuss plans for tacking the copse… to our complete surprise, the Germans began to come out of the Copse with their hands up… there were about 6 or 7 of them and they were pretty bedraggled…. Just then the CO appeared looking a bit of a shambles in my opinion, with his valise hanging halfway down his back and hardly recognisable as a Soldier. He was carrying a walking stick which was something all Officers did for some reason!”

    I have only been able to find one copse in the vicinity of the “Sunken Lane”. This is an extract from one of the 9 Aug ’47 aerial photographs (Frame 34)

    Alf goes on to say that upon encountering Lt Col Hastings they were told to hold their positions and cover a withdrawal.

    From the book “Fighting Through from Dunkirk to Hamburg: A Green Howard's Wartime Memoir” edited by Paul from his father Bill Cheall’s memoir:

    “On 11 June, C Company was moving forward in our usual extended line across fields and, upon reaching a cornfield, continued to walk through the corn which was waist high, until we were half across. Then all hell let loose upon us from trees a hundred yards ahead, among which were snipers and machine gun posts. The snipers were after the NCOs and officers and they were very successful, too. It happened so suddenly and the first officer to be killed, by a shot in the head, was our company commander, Captain Chambers, who had taken over charge of C Company on the beach when Captain Linn was killed. We also lost a Norwegian officer attached to us – we all called him Norgy – a first-class officer and a gentleman. Several NCOs and other ranks were also the victims of the attack, including Major Honeyman and Corporal Alexander, Major Young, Bert Hall and a score of others were wounded. Our Company Sergeant Major was shot through the throat. It was quite a nightmare while it lasted. The angels must have been looking after me that day.”

    There are no further descriptions of the action that might elaborate, but this reads like Bill is describing the same cornfield incident as Alf Blackburn, only the MG fire was coming “..from trees a few hundred yards ahead” and in the aerial photograph the farm is indeed fronted by trees.

    There are some impressively brave men honoured that day and I have looked through the 6 GH medal citations but unfortunately, I don’t think they add anything that might further corroborate the location. For example, A/Major George Young, MC, “C” Company CO, wounded after leading his Coy forward as described in Bill Cheall’s memoir above:-

    According to Stan Hollis account mentioned previously, after dealing with the MG nest in the “Sunken Lane” his Coy Commander ordered his Platoon to advance up a double hedge, with a ditch in the middle – “….ideal cover”. They were crawling in water and fired at targets at the top of the hedgerow and noted a tank in the adjacent field in good order, before they were ordered to withdraw, so confirming one element of the move on Point 102 before the withdrawal began.

    Then there is the question of the “White Farm” or” White House”. The first appearance of this phrase I have seen is in “Brightly Shone the Dawn” published in 1980; I have not seen it in the 6 GH material. This book says, “As he reached the point where the sunken lane rises to ground level, Hastings paused to take stock of the situation, by the tree where Hollis had just despatched the two Germans. To his right he could see that A and B Companies had joined up. And on the left too, things looked a little better. C Company had just managed to capture the White Farm”. This therefore cannot be the farm encountered earlier on the axis of advance, where in all the accounts “A” Coy went around “B” Coy, who were pinned down there, and moved beyond the farm, and in Lt Col Hastings account it was “D” Company that captured it as they moved up the axis of advance. There is a farm just north of the “Sunken Lane” now called La Ferme Bellemare (which Stèphane Jacquet, in his book “Tilly-sur-Seulles 1994”, identifies as La Ferme Bélière). If the “Sunken Lane” is where Dunphie & Johnson stated this is the White House/Farm captured by “C” Company on the left of the advance.

    In this interminable post I have tried to collate all the evidence I have. In conclusion I am back where I started with the “Sunken Lane” where Johnson & Dunphie identified, so the 6GH advance continued beyond the farm referred to as “Les Hauts Vent” where they were first held up (866702), over the St Pierre-Cristot Road (872700), then up the “Sunken Lane” identified by Dunphie & Johnson, turned south on the track to Point 102, stopping one field short.

    This exercise has reminded me of the almost impossible task of reconciling multiple accounts of a single battle! But in trying to do this I am conscious of the risk of emphasising evidence that suits my hypothesis, so I am keen to have my conclusions challenged by anybody out there who has studied this battle before, and/or has further inputs or different interpretations. I will be walking this ground shortly which hopefully will support my conclusion.
    Image from Google Street view of what I believe is the start of the “Sunken Lane” today, heading east off the Les Hauts Vent – Cristot road

    Last edited: Sep 10, 2023
  12. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

  13. Justin Horgan

    Justin Horgan Member

    I am looking for a photo of Lieutenant Colonel R.G. Byron if anyone can help please ? Thanks
  14. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    LT Col R G G Byron
    This photo is taken at one of Monty's medal investitures, I think on 15 July 1944 but I cant be sure. At some point I would like to id all the men here, but I have an annotation which identifies 4/7 DG and 147 FD (Essex Yeomanry) and Lt Col Byron is 5th from the left, 2nd row (from front).
    Are you researching Lt Col Byron?
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  15. Justin Horgan

    Justin Horgan Member

    Hi Ian, thanks for replying to my post. I am working on a book project which includes the actions of the I. Abteilung, SS Panzer Regiment 12 HJ in Normandy from June to the end of August 1944. I am researching the actions that took place on June 11 between the 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards and the Panther tanks of the 2. and 3. Panzerkompien of the I. Abteilung. I believe Lt. Col. R.G. Byron was 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards commander during this time ? It would be nice to be able to add a face to his name. I want to possibly use this photo as it is the only one I have ever seen of him, do I have your permission to do so ? Many thanks
  16. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member

    I obtained the photo from the 4/7 DG Archive at the York Army Museum. I will PM you with my contact there and I am sure they would give permission and a higher quality copy. It is certainly the only photo I have of Lt Col Byron who was indeed CO of 4/7 DG on 11 June. He took command of 8 Armd Bde temporarily between 18-23 July 1944 as Brigadier Cracroft was repatriated to recover from a leg wound he sustained on 11 June and before Brig Prior-Palmer was appointed. Lt Col Byron was eventually moved on from 4/7 DG on 20 Sept 1944.

    As you can see the battle for Cristot/Point 102 has had a lot of attention in this thread so I would be keen to keep tabs on your project as there are still many uncertainties.
    One of these is whether Lt Col Byron was the senior officer on the reconnaissance of the area prior to the attack, and what sort intelligence they were able to gather. Apparently they reached the outskirts of Cristot and Point 102 and saw a great many enemy infantry about but met no organised resistance. 4/7 DG sources are inconsistent though e.g.
    the 4/7 DG War Diary and other sources state they met considerable resistance from hidden machine gunners and Snipers but suffered no casualties. Whatever is the accurate account, this reconnaissance may well have disturbed the Germans forming up for a counterattack on Point 103 and alerted them to an impending assault.

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  17. Justin Horgan

    Justin Horgan Member

    Thanks so much for your help, it is genuinely greatly appreciated. I will for sure contact the York Army Museum and seek their permission to use the photo you posted. Ian as of yet I have not done much research from the "Allies" side of this encounter but I have done quite a bit from the German side and interviewed some of the Panzer men who took part in the battle. On June 11, the Germans claimed seven tanks destroyed and met the advancing infantry with heavy and accurate machine gun fire. So much so that the attacking Allied troops could not continue their advance. I would be very surprised if the Green Howards did not suffer casualties. Will keep you posted on my progress in due course
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  18. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

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  19. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

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  20. IanTurnbull

    IanTurnbull Well-Known Member


    The Allied estimate of tanks destroyed in the assault on Cristot/Point 102 on 11 June is 8 (I think), 7 in "B" Squadron (out of 9) + 1 in "C". 4/7 DG lost 6 men killed, 3 wounded and another 3 captured. There were around 200 casualties in 6 GH, with a high proportion of Officers and NCOs. In summary a disastrous attack, hastily arranged which meant no time for a proper Reconnaissance or Artillery fireplan but executed with extreme bravery and in many cases sheer heroism, albeit using the existing combined infantry/armour doctrine that turned out to be inappropriate for the Bocage.

    The attack was an attempt (with the Canadians to the East) to enlarge the salient centred on Point 103 and to support the eastern flank of 7th Armoured Division's move on Villers Bocage (still at this time via Tilly-sur-Seulles). All failed in the face of determined well positioned German defence, but possibly headed off a more serious counter-attack than that which transpired and was beaten off that evening.

    It will be interesting to see whether you uncover the war crimes committed by the SS Reconnaissance Battalion on PoW that day.

    Good luck with the research

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