June 27, 2017

1944. Allied Tanks Surge Into Brittany

German Forces in Critical Position
"Wrecked German Tiger tanks in the rubble of Villers-Bocage after the British had captured the town," August 5, 1944 (source)
From the Northern Daily Mail, August 3, 1944:
Allied Tank Spearheads Surge Into Brittany
Enemy in a Critical Position

It is becoming clear that the situation of the whole German army in Normandy is more precarious than could have been hoped a week or so ago. The problems of a large scale retreat must be terrifying to the enemy.

Guenther Weber, German Overseas News Agency correspondent at Von Kluge's headquarters, reported to-day: "The situation is critical for the German forces on the western sector of the Normandy front."

In Brittany the action is still a "cavalryman's dream," U.S. spearheads are thrusting deeply into the Brest Peninsula, and columns may now be thrusting towards the important sea bases of St. Malo, Brest, or St. Nazaire.

In the British sector the momentum of the attack has eased off slightly in the last 12 hours, but there has been no relaxation in the task of sealing off the exits of the German garrisons and the roping off of considerable enemy rearguard forces.

In a message today south of Caumont, Doon Campbell, Reuters special correspondent, says: While one column of British armour and infantry is pressing on eastwards towards Vassy, other armoured units to-day are tightening a noose of steel around Villers-Bocage.

A sharp successful raid against Esquay last night brought in 20 prisoners.

British forces in Vire and on the Amayé feature, west of Villers-Bocage, are consolidating and establishing strong positions. An unusually hard centre of opposition is being encountered along the road to Aunay.

The town of Vire was only entered by a solid force late last night and fast reconnaissance patrols have gone beyond the town. "The town is certainly as much ours as the enemy's," a senior staff officer said to-day. "We have undoubtedly broken through and now we are pushing forward in a most satisfactory manner."

The possession of the high ground at Amayé, at the village of Douene on the Anctoville-Villers-Bocage road and the wooded country of La Dressirie to the south-west, have given the British a firm base which General Dempsey can exploit whenever he chooses.


The German holding force in Villers-Bocage is not believed to be very strong, but the town's immediate approaches are heavily mined and booby-trapped.

Progress along the road to Aunay has been slowed near La Londe, where we are sitting on high ground to the north, but there is a lot of close and confused fighting in this area.

Charles Lynch, Reuters special correspondent with the Canadians, reports that a Canadian Army spokesman said to-day: "The Germans are restless along the sector south of Caen, where much of their strength is concentrated. They are still scratching their heads."

Bill Downs, C.B.S. correspondent in Normandy, reported to-day: "The British Second Army continued its march eastwards this morning and has captured a dozen more villages. The British are now one mile from Aunay (five miles south of Villers-Bocage). Evidence is piling up that the German Army has suffered a major setback south of the Seine in the past ten days."


To-day's German communiqué, quoted by Reuters, states: "In Normandy the enemy throughout yesterday continued his strong attacks in the centre and the western part of the beachhead. At most places the attacks were repelled, with heavy losses to the enemy, but only after heavy fighting.

"At some points the enemy scored successes. At those points our troops have gone over to counter-attacks.

"South-east of Villedieu German panzer formations engaged for a counter-attack are making headway westwards.

"The enemy forces which had advanced beyond Avranches to the south and west pushed their panzer spearheads forwards towards Rennes and Dinan, where they were warded off."