19/08/2018 at 17:47 #97244
Long term I’ve found a new project that I’m dying to get into. I’ve always had a keen interest in the fighting around Caen during the Normandy campaign, June to August 1944, between (mostly) the Commonwealth forces (throw some Poles in at the end) and the German SS (thrown in a couple Wehrmacht formations and the odd Luftwaffe unit). I’ve played half a dozen fights in 10mm from Operation Jupiter, but I’ve always wanted to play out the campaign from beginning to end, and now I’ve resolved to do it. I was inspired by this blog:
Please head on over to my new buddy Matt Crump’s blog. Lots of cool stuff going on, but what got me was all his 6mm Blitzkrieg Commander games. There are several Caen battle reports, and an absolute boatload of East Front games. I already had a bunch of 6mm WWII from Heroics and Ros; I’m currently re-basing them, and I put in a new order for a bunch of stuff I was missing (Churchills and Cromwells, in particular), so I’m working on getting all that taken care of, and I’m doing a bit of research. So far, here’s what I’m looking at:
-Operation Overlord, 6 June: not the landings, but the initial push by 3rd Canadian Infantry Division towards Caen, halted by 12th SS
-Operation Perch, 10-14 June: 50th ID, 51st HD, and 7th AD strike Tilly Sur-Seulles, Cagny, and Villers-Bocage against 25nd ID, Panzer Lehr, 12th SS, and 101st Hvy Pz Bn
-Operation Martlet, 25 June: 49th and 50th ID attack Rauray against 12th SS
-Operation Epsom, 26-30 June: 15th and 43rd ID, 11th AD attack west of Caen (Cheaux area), cross Odon, take (mostly) Hill 112 against 12th SS, counterattacked by 1st, 2nd, 9th, and 10th SS
-Operation Windsor, 4-5 July: 2nd Canadian ID attacks Carpiquet versus 12th SS
-Operation Charnwood, 8-11 July: 3rd and 59th ID attack Caen against 12th SS and 16th Luftwaffe
-**Fighting around Hottot, can’t find a named operation associated, 8-18 July: 50th ID vs Panzer Lehr (read about Pz Lehr counterattack, not sure what/if other German units involved)
-Operation Jupiter, 10-11 July: 15th and 43rd ID, 4th Arm Bde Hill 112, Maltot, south towards River Orne, versus 9th and 10th SS, 102nd Hvy Pz Bn
-Operation Greenline, 15-17 July: 15th, 43rd, and 53rd ID attack Hill 112, Evrecy, attack 12th SS, 102nd Hvy Pz Bn
-Operation Pomegranate, 16-17 July: 49th and 59th ID attack Noyers-Bocage against 9th SS
-Operation Goodwood, 18-20 July: 7th, 11th, and Guards AD, plus 3rd ID and 51st HD attack through Caen towards Bourgebus Ridge versus 16th Luftwaffe, 1st and 12th SS, and 21st Panzer Div
-Operation Atlantic, 18-21 July: 2nd and 3rd Canadian ID attack Colombelles, Verriere Ridge, against 272nd ID and 1st and 12th SS
-Operation Spring, 25-27 July: 2nd and 3rd Canadian ID, 4th Canadian AD attack Verrier Ridge against 272nd ID and 9th and 12th SS
-Operation Bluecoat, 30 Jul-7 Aug: 15th, 43rd, and 50th ID, 7th and 11th AD attack vire and Mont Pincon from Caumont versus 326th Inf Div, 654th Hvy PzJgr Bn
-Operation Totalize, 8-9 Aug: 2nd and 3rd Canadian ID, 2nd and 4th Canadian AD, 51st HD, 49th ID, 33rd Canadian Armd Bde, 1st Polish AD attack Verriere Ridge and through towards Falaise, against 85th, 89th, and 272nd Gren Div, 12th SS, and 102nd Hvy Pz Bn
-Operation Grouse, 10-13 Aug: 3rd ID and Guards AD, 6th Guards Tk Bde pursuit in vicinity Mount de Cerisi versus 9th SS and 3rd FJ Div
-Operation Tractable, 14-21 Aug: 2nd and 3rd Canadian ID, 2nd and 4th Canadian AD, 51st HD, 49th ID, 33rd Canadian Armd Bde, 1st Polish AD attempt to close Falaise Gap versus 1st and 12th SS, 102nd Hvy Pz Bn
If you’ve got any insight into the Normandy fighting around Caen, please take a look and let me know if I’m missing any named operations, if there are any significant (Division-sized) actions that are not named but that I’m missing (like Hottot, above), or if I’ve got any details above (dates, units involved) incorrect. I’d greatly appreciate any help!
Jack19/08/2018 at 18:20 #97247
Looks like fun.20/08/2018 at 00:08 #97268
Try and find a decent sized topographical map. Although Google’s hybrid maps are good for an overview, they are of course contemporary & a lot of the towns have grown considerably in the past 70 (!) years. The distances between many of the battles are only small as the crow flies, but the hills, so frequently the objectives of the operations above, and the road nets explain the reasons behind a lot of the planning done.20/08/2018 at 01:57 #97272
There is a very good 1946 Micheln map to give you an idea of the size of cities like Caen and the old road network. I have a project like this planned and will probably use QGIS to overlay current French 1:25,000 topo maps over the Michelin map and google earth like satellite imagery.20/08/2018 at 03:24 #97273
Excellent list. Have you had a look at the Battlefront: WWII scenario list on http://www.fireandfury.com ? There’s a heck of a lot for you to use there.
Operation PERCH was a two-pronged attack on either side of Caen and each ‘prong’ can be considered an operation in its own right. Consequently, 51 HD weren’t anywhere near Villers-Bocage, but were in fact east of the Orne south of the 6th Airborne Division, facing 21st Panzer Division. The western ‘prong’ was 7th Armoured Division’s drive around Panzer Lehr’s left flank, which then ran into he advanced elements of 101 SS Hvy Pz Bn, as well as the advanced elements of 2nd Panzer Division coming up from Aunay-sur-Odon.
I’d also have a look at the un-named battles. E.g. the entire front of 3rd Canadian Division and 50th Division was in action on 11th June, with dozens of local attacks that threw I SS Panzer-Korps’ counter-attack totally back onto the defensive. It was a key date in the campaign, but has no operational name. So have a look the battles of Rots, Le Mesnil-Patry, Cristot, St Pierre, Tilly-sur-Seulles and Lingevres. The ‘accidental’ establishment of the Grimbosq Bridgehead by 59th Division during the first week of August and their subsequent defence of that bridgehead against 12th SS is another fascinating unnamed battle.
The counter-attacks against 6th Airborne Division (reinforced by the two Special Service Brigades and 51 HD) by 21st Panzer Division and then 346th ID during the first week of the campaign is yet another interesting ‘unnamed’ battle.
Re Operation GREENLINE: 43rd Division was in reserve and not engaged in this one. XII Corps had 15 S Div on the left and 53 W Div on the right. The defenders were mainly 276 & 277 Infantry Divisions, but the II SS Panzer Korps also became embroiled, particularly in the 53 W Div sector near Evrecy. These divisions were also the primary defensive force during Op POMMEGRANATE, with 9th SS being the ‘fire-brigade’ force.
Another one for you: Op PADDLE was the breakout to the Seine by I Corps (3 Div, 51 HD and 6th Abn Div (6th Abn Div being reinforced by the 1 & 4 Special Service Bdes, Belgian Bde and Dutch Bde)) against 711 & 346 IDs during August.
And another one: Op NEPTUNE (not to be confused with the D-Day op of the same name) was 43 W Div’s assault across the Seine at Vernon.
Rivet-counting point: The Luftwaffe Field Divisions were handed to over to Army control in November 1943, so weren’t strictly speaking ‘Luftwaffe’ by June 1944. They were designated as ‘Field Divisions (L)’ and the regiments therein were designated as Jaeger Regiments. Uniforms were slowly transitioning to Army style.
- This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Jemima Fawr.
My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/20/08/2018 at 11:22 #97281
I’m too much in awe of your ambition Jack to be able to give any help … not that I’d be able to anyway!!
.20/08/2018 at 21:06 #97328
John D SaltParticipant
Mr. Picky has nothing really to add after Jemima Fawr’s post, other than to mention a “what-if” or “might-have-been”: Operation “Wild Oats”. The following are taken verbatim from notes on GOC’s verbal orders – Operation “WILD OATS” (dated 11 Jun 44), in NA document piece no. WO 171/392, 1 Abn Div War Diary. This was a plan to insert 1st Airborne Division behind Caen.
INTENTION 1. 1 Airborne Div will prevent enemy from withdrawing from CAEN 0268 in the direction of EVRECY 9259 and in conjunction with 7 Armd Div will destroy him wherever he is found METHOD 2. 1 Para Bde with under comd 1 A/Tk Bty 1 Para Sqn RE 16 Para Fd Amb One Sec Pro will drop on DZ A (see Trace 'A') and: (a) seize areas A and K for subsequent glider landings (see Trace 'A' attd). (b) seize area NW of EVRECY and east of ODON River 9161. (c) be prepared to operate in conjunction with 22 Armd Bde (7 Armd Div) in area BOUGY 9161 - GAVREUS 9161. (d) provide one company for occupation of ESQUAY 9460 and protection of Div HQ, until released. 3. 4 Para Bde with under comd 2 A/Tk Bty 4 Para Sqn RE 133 Para Fd Amb One Sec Pro will drop on DZ E and: (a) seize area about Pt 112 9561 and approaches from CAEN. (b) be prepared to operate with 22 Armd Bde (7 Armd Div) in area around BARON 9462. 4. 1 Airlanding Bde with under comd One pl 9 Fd Coy RE 181 A/L Fd Amb will land in LZ H, move to conc area about ST MARTIN 9760 and: (a) seize and hold area ST MARTIN 9760. (b) be prepared to operate in wooded area MELTOT 6862 - BULLY 6959. (c) recce and picquet crossings over the River ORNE within area BULLY-ETAVAUX 0062.
[Paragraphs 5 to 12 snipped; mention is made of using 30 Corps artillery in support]
TIMINGS 13. 0330 hrs 21 Ind Para Coy land. 0420-0510 hrs Parachute force lands. 0530-0630 hrs Glider force lands. DATE 14. The operation may be required to take place on 13 Jun or it may be postponed to a later date. The operation will not take place on 13 Jun without confirmation from Comd Second Army, who will make his decision not later than 1900 hrs 12 Jun. ALTERNATIVE OPERATION 15. It is possible that the Div may be required to land and operate in an area east of CAEN instead of according to the above plan...
The Divisional War Diary contains the following messages from 1 Abn Div Tac HQ to various recipients, with date-time:
121027 TAC 26. SECRET. WILD OATS postponed 24 hrs. all preparations will be completed by tonight. Ack. 131308B TAC/30. SECRET. WILD OATS postponed further 24 hrs. All Ack. All inf. 14 1030 TAC35. SECRET. WILD OATS postponed 24 hrs. gliders will be unloaded at 141200 and reloaded by 151200. containers will NOT repeat NOT be loaded until further orders are received from this HQ. Ack. all infm 15 0045 TAC 38. SECRET. operation WILD OATS at present suspended but may be called for at 48 hrs notice. no glider landing till further orders. orders ref unsealing of camps follows. orders for unloading containers and return of parachutes later. Div HQ rear infm Recce Sqn. Div HQ main infm CRE ADMS and all transit camps. all infm 17 1700 TAC 49. SECRET. WILDOATS is dead. Div to remain at three days notice. ACK. all infm
Obviously, the thing never happened. On the one hand, it might have been interesting if it had. On the other, the entries above I think show the beginning of the dispiriting series of “on the planes, off the planes” orders for 1st Airborne as a succession of airborne operations were planned and cancelled (following the Normandy breakout, sometimes because the planned DZs and LZs had already been overrun by the advancing 21st Army Group). In the light of this, one can perhaps understand why they were bursting for a drop of some kind by the time Operation “Market” rolled round in September.
All the best,
John.20/08/2018 at 21:37 #97329
Hi, thanks everyone, I really appreciate it! I’ve got decent maps (I think) from some books on Normandy, and if only ambition actually produced batreps! 😉
Very interesting about ‘Wild Oats,’ though I’ve got plenty of actual ops to work on before I can contemplate any what-ifs. The number of tabletop fights here has already got to number somewhere north of 35 (lots of the named ops are going to be 3 to 5 games)!
Hats off to Jemima, that’s exactly what I’m looking for! Your suggestions are noted and I’ll look into them, and thanks for adding Operations Paddle and Neptune.
Jack21/08/2018 at 10:01 #97342
Sorry, correction re PADDLE: I Corps (from left to right) had 6 Abn Div, 49 WR Div, 7 Armd Div and 51 H Div. 3 Div had transferred over to VIII Corps during BLUECOAT. 51 H Div had been with II Canadian Corps until the end of TOTALIZE then came back to I Corps for PADDLE before II Canadian Corps launched TRACTABLE.
For NEPTUNE, virtually everything you could possibly need is within Ken Ford’s superb book ‘Assault Crossing’. Identity and formation of the German defending forces could probably use a little research though. If you’re ever in the area, you can win major brownie-points with the Memsahib by taking her to see ‘Monet’s house at Giverny’… Which just happens to be right next to this major battlefield… What are the chances?! (I regularly take Mrs Fawr to stay a few miles west of Vernon). 😉
Of course there was also Operation ASTONIA – the assault on Le Havre 10-12 Sep 44. It’s often overlooked, as it’s north of the Seine and in September, but it is still Normandy! 🙂
My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/23/08/2018 at 03:04 #97434
Thank you very much for the correction, and the help overall. I’d certainly never heard of Astonia, I’ll look into it! And no brownie points for taking the spouse to Monet’s house at Giverny, not until the kids are up and out 😉
Jack23/08/2018 at 17:27 #97457
An impressive undertaking of research and follow-on scenario crafting. More power to you, sir. While I do not possess the deep knowledge and intimate understanding which posters like Jemima Fawr and Dr. John Salt command, I have accumulated a very good personal library of primary and secondary sources on Canadian military operations throughout WWII, especially in NW Europe. So if you need any references or things looked up, just holler and I will offer what help that I can. Good luck in this latest direction of gaming research and I look forward to reading the fruits of your enquiry. Best wishes.
Rod Robertson.23/08/2018 at 20:54 #97476
Holy #%^$!!! Rod’s alive!!! I’m glad to become aware you’re still kicking! I hope all is well. Now if we can get Vicki and Panda and Shaun and… well, you know.
Regarding Canadian ops, no thanks, I was looking for fighting forces…
(*ducks and runs, grinning the entire way)
You know me, not much for the research aspect, I just want to play lots of games with at least some grounding in what actually happened, so I may take you up on the offer.
Jack24/08/2018 at 01:28 #97491
Rod !!!!!24/08/2018 at 07:53 #97496
Sorry I haven’t had any time to dig out the books yet, but further points for research for me would be to identify which independent armoured/tank brigades were also involved: wherever you have a British/Canadian infantry formation listed there will always be elements of at least one armoured brigade in direct support. In many cases there were also elements of 79th Armoured Division ‘Funnies’ present, and/or the Crocs of 141 RAC (who at the time belonged to 31 Tank Brigade, NOT 79th Armoured Division) and from TOTALIZE onward there were also the Priest Kangaroos of 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Squadron (then a II Canadian Corps asset).
Some Armoured/Tank Brigade assignments off the top of my head:
D-Day: 27 Armd Bde to 3 Div on SWORD. 2 Can Armd Bde to 3 Can Div on JUNO. 8 Armd Bde to 50 Div on GOLD. These assignments remained roughly the same throughout the first weeks of the campaign, with 27 Armd Bde providing support generally to I Corps (3 Div, 51 H Div and 6 Abn Div) at the eastern end of the bridgehead and 8 Armd Bde providing support to XXX Corps (49 WR Div, 50 N Div and 7 Armd Div) at the western end, with 2 Can Armd Bde continuing to exclusively support 3 Can Div (I Corps) in the centre.
For Op CHARNWOOD, I Corps was reinforced, with each of the three assaulting divisions being supported by an Armd Bde: 3 Div on the left had 33 Armd Bde, 59 S Div in the centre had 27 Armd Bde and 3 Can Div on the right had the usual support from 2 Can Armd Bde. 4 Armd Bde was also in reserve. 27 Armd Bde was disbanded soon after.
8 Armd Bde continued to support 49 WR Div through Op MARTLET.
For Op EPSOM, the newly-arrived VIII Corps (15 S Div, 43 W Div and 11 Armd Div) received the services of 4 Armd Bde and 31 Tank Bde. These continued to support 43 W Div through Operation JUPITER (with some Churchill Sqns from 31 Tk Bde going to 15 S Div on the left flank).
That’s it for now – gonna have to scoot! 🙂
For general artillery support, most operations had the services of at least one AGRA, which at the time were standardised: 1x Heavy Regt ,4x Medium Regts, 1x Field Regt and 1x HAA Regt, plus the Field Regts or every formation in the Corps, even if their particular formation was not directly engaged. There was one AGRA per Corps, plus a spare.
My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/24/08/2018 at 10:03 #97504
A few books for you.
Given the scale you want to cover, Ben Kite’s book Stout Hearts is a must read, it even covers the Operation Neptune in some depth in the chapter on Engineers.
Secondly the 3 books by Ian Daglish about Goodwood, Epsom and Bluecoat (the, Over the Battlefield, series), the heavy use of Aerial photos is a great help.
John Buckleys Monty’s Men will also be useful.
And the series of divisional histories will also fill in small ops and day to day gaps in and around the main fighting.
And lastly a point of order, Vire was an American objective, and was prevented from being taken by Bluecoat for this reason (across the American British straddle line, but also as it was judged it could have been taken, but probably not held).27/08/2018 at 10:41 #97769
However I can be of service in matters of gaming, I am at your disposal. Just ask questions and I shall answer (after looking things up of course; because my memory ain’t what it used to be and it used to be pretty bad!)
Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson.27/08/2018 at 16:56 #97820
LOL, good to see ya Rod!!
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