This WWII military study examines the combat experiences of three Allied divisions charged with spearheading the invasion of Normandy.
To lead the charge into France after the Normandy landings, General Montgomery brought three veteran desert formations back from the Mediterranean. They were the 50th Infantry and 7th Armored divisions, plus 4th Armored Brigade. Their task beyond the beaches was to push south to Villers Bocage with armor on the evening of D-Day in order to disrupt German counter-attacks on the beachhead.
Difficulties on 50th Division’s beaches allowed time for German reinforcements to arrive in Normandy. As a result, 4th Armored Brigade was firmly blocked just south of Point 103 after an advance of less than five miles. A major counter-attack by Panzer Lehr failed, as did a renewed British attempt, this time by the vaunted 7th Armored Division, which was halted at Tilly sur Seulles. From here the fighting became a progressively attritional struggle in the hedgerows of the Bocage country south of Bayeux.
More units were drawn into the fighting, which steadily extended west. Finally, an opportunity to outflank the German defenses via the Caumont Gap allowed 7th Armored Division to reach Villers Bocage. There then followed what the battalions of 50th Division describe as their ‘most unpleasant period of the war’, in bitter fighting, at often very close quarters, for the ‘next hedgerow’.