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75th Anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bocage June 13 2019

History Normandy Campaign

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GAJohnnie #1 Posted Jun 13 2019 - 14:35

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The actual facts of this tank battle in Normandy are rather more interesting then the mythology that has grown around it. Unfortunately cannot post all of it due to Forum rules.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Villers-Bocage

 

The Battle of Villers-Bocage took place during the Second World War on 13 June 1944, one week after the Normandy Landings by the Western Allies that began the conquest of German-occupied France. The battle was the result of a British attempt to improve their position by exploiting a gap in the German defences west of the city of Caen. After one day of fighting in and around the small town of Villers-Bocage and a second day defending a position outside the town, the British force retired.

The Allies and the Germans regarded control of Caen as vital to the Normandy battle. In the days following the D-Day landings on 6 June, the Germans rapidly established strong defences in front of the city. On 9 June, a two-pronged British attempt to surround and capture Caen was defeated. On the right flank of the British Second Army, the 1st US Infantry Division had forced back the German 352nd Infantry Division and opened a gap in the German front line. Seizing the opportunity to bypass the German Panzer-Lehr Division blocking the direct route south in the area of Tilly-sur-Seulles, a mixed force of tanks, infantry and artillery, based on the 22nd Armoured Brigade of the 7th Armoured Division, advanced through the gap in a flanking manoeuvre towards Villers-Bocage. British commanders hoped that the appearance of a strong force in their rear would force the Panzer-Lehr Division to withdraw or be surrounded.

Under the command of Brigadier William "Loony" Hinde, the 22nd Armoured Brigade group reached Villers-Bocage without serious incident on the morning of 13 June. The leading elements advanced eastwards from the town on the Caen road to Point 213, where they were ambushed by Tiger I tanks of the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion. In fewer than 15 minutes numerous tanks, anti-tank guns and transport vehicles were destroyed, many by SS-Obersturmführer Michael Wittmann. The Germans then attacked the town and were repulsed, losing several Tigers and Panzer IVs. After six hours, Hinde ordered a withdrawal to a more defensible position on a knoll west of Villers-Bocage. The next day the Germans attacked the brigade box, arranged for all-round defence, in the Battle of the Island. The British inflicted a costly repulse on the Germans and then retired from the salient. The Battle for Caen continued east of Villers-Bocage, the ruins of which was captured on 4 August, after two raids by strategic bombers of the Royal Air Force.

The British conduct of the Battle of Villers-Bocage has been controversial, because their withdrawal marked the end of the post D-Day "scramble for ground" and the start of an attritional battle for Caen. Some historians have written that the British attack was a failure caused by a lack of conviction among some senior commanders, rather than the fighting power of the German army, while others judge the British force to have been insufficient for the task. The "single-handed" attack by Wittmann early on, has excited imaginations to the extent that some historians and writers conclude that it has dominated the historical record to an unwarranted degree and that while "remarkable", the role of Wittmann in the battle has been exaggerated.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Villers-Bocage



YANKEE137 #2 Posted Jun 13 2019 - 14:40

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One of the biggest challenges faced by the British tankers was the high concentration of Tigers and the shaky, almost jello like movements of their target markers. 

GAJohnnie #3 Posted Jun 13 2019 - 17:29

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The British troops actually did quite well overall. Despite almost total surprise they managed to rally and give back to the Germans as good as they got. Interesting to note almost the whole upper command on the British side was later fired in Aug. The German propaganda about this lingers in the history but the truth is ti was the British commanders, not the British troops, doing a very poor job here.  They lost a golden opportunity to rupture the German position around Caen in June.

GAJohnnie #4 Posted Jun 13 2019 - 17:31

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View PostYANKEE137, on Jun 13 2019 - 08:40, said:

One of the biggest challenges faced by the British tankers was the high concentration of Tigers and the shaky, almost jello like movements of their target markers. 

Germans lost 6, out of  only 36 Tigers in Normandy, at Villa Bocage. They also lost a whole bunch of PZIvs. The British troops, despite being surprised, and  heavily outgunned, by the Tigers, did pretty well. 



Klaatu_Nicto #5 Posted Jun 13 2019 - 19:10

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