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11th Armoured Division - Normandy

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Mahross, Apr 3, 2003.

  1. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Has anyone got any info on this units actions and perfomance during the normandy campaign? I need in for an extended essay i am writing at uni. I have read Delaforces' book. Any info would be a great help.
     
  2. TheRedBaron

    TheRedBaron Ace

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    Order of Battle - www.bathouterman.htmlplanet.com

    Hobart, Percy,

    Percy Hobart
    The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London; neg. no. H 20697
    in full PERCY CLEGHORN STANLEY HOBART (b. June 14, 1885, Naini Tal, India--d. Feb. 19, 1957, Farnham, Surrey, Eng.), British army officer and military theorist who developed specialized tanks that were used in the Normandy Invasion during World War II.
    After graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1904, Hobart was commissioned in the Royal Engineers. His sister married the future British field marshal Bernard Montgomery. Hobart served in India and then fought in France and Iraq during World War I, where he acquired a record as a brilliant but independent-minded officer. Believing that tanks were the future of ground warfare, Hobart joined Britain's newly formed Royal Tank Corps in 1923. He became a colonel in 1928, and in 1934 he formed and took command of the 1st Tank Brigade, in which post he developed new tank tactics in the context of mobile warfare.

    Hobart was promoted to major general in 1937, but his farsighted views and difficult personality had aroused the hostility of the traditionalist British army establishment, and in 1938 he was transferred to Egypt. There he raised and trained the nucleus of the future 7th Armoured Division, which achieved fame during World War II as the formidable "Desert Rats." In 1939 Hobart was taken off active duty. While serving as a corporal in his local Home Guard unit in 1941, he was recalled to active service by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. After forming the 11th Armoured Division, Hobart in 1943 raised and took command of the 79th Armoured Division. In this post he adapted tanks into "specialized armour" capable of such functions as swimming, climbing or destroying walls, and launching unconventional projectiles. Collectively known as Hobart's "funnies," these innovations included the Crab, a Sherman tank equipped with revolving flails for detonating enemy land mines, and the Crocodile, a Churchill tank equipped with a flamethrower in place of its machine gun. Hobart's creations were used by Allied units in their assault on the Normandy beaches (June 6, 1944) and proved a key element in the swift breaching of the Atlantic Wall. Units of the 79th Division participated in many sectors of the Allied drive into Germany. Hobart was knighted in 1943 and retired from the army in 1946.


    On Their opponents - Liebstandarte

    By the time it arrived, its daughter division had shed her blood royally and any chance on a combined drive to push the Allies back in the sea was long gone. Hitlerjugend had been thrown in the line at the receiving end of the overwhelming Allied airforce, naval gunfire and repeated attacks. Fritz Witt, HJ commander and former LAH regimental commander, tragically died in his own HQ when it was hit by naval gunfire. I./ and II./SS-Panzergrenadierregiment 1 were the only units that saw action during june. They confronted the British during Operation Epsom along the N-175, eastern flank. The only Waffen-SS divisions facing the Americans were 2. SS-Panzerdivision 'Das Reich' and 17. SS-Panzergrenadierdivision 'Götz von Berlichingen'. There wasn't a single Tiger tank facing the Americans, all were located on the British sector. This was exactly what the Allies wanted, as American preparations for a breakout would go undisturbed.


    The British however, would have to undergo several humiliating and costly losses before they would be able to break out towards open terrain. The LAH's most crucial role in Normandy would be the part it played against operation Goodwood. Launched 18 July, 3 strong British armoured divisions with infantry support on their flanks, were to, all at once, swing through the gap between Caen and the eastern heights. There they would have to get across the hills at Bourgébus and break through towards open ground. The operation was preceded by the largest bombing run in the West, a three hour bombing with 2.500 craft which knocked the German infantry senseless, rendered their Maschinegewehre42 useless by the vibrations and knocked out most of the Panzer on the ground. Immediately afterwards the British tanks came rumbling on and seized all their primary objectives. 2.Kp./SS-Panzerregiment 1, located by the woods near Garcelles, recieved orders to attack the British at Soliers. SS-Obersturmführer Malkomes drove direction Bourguébus with his 13 Panther and discovered 60 enemy tanks S-SE of the town. He attacked them, destroying 20, and took Soliers. Around 12:00 hours the entire Panther-Batallion, I./SS-Panzerregiment 1, 46 Panther, was engaged in combat with the 29th Tank Brigade of the 11th Armoured Division. The body of Leibstandarte had been rushed from Falaise, where it was in reserve, to the front, and it immediately counterattacked around 17:00 together with 21. Panzerdivision, which halted the attack on the left front. The British withdrew to Caen, leaving behind 126 destroyed tanks.


    19 July seemed to, at first, not bring a continuation of Goodwood, as only some individual tanks assaults were carried out. But by 13:00 the Brits charged again, they had brought up reinforcements and continued the attack. They quickly overran the forward German units and pressed on hard, with a wave of thanks spearheading the attack. But when the leading Sherman/Fireflies and Cromwells approached the hill at Bourguébus, at 1600 hours, squad after squad was taken under fire and blown up. What happend? The Panthers of the Leibstandarte had taken up positions on the hill itself. Around 15:00 hours the first 12. SS-Pz.Div. HJ's elements arrived, which relieved the right front. The Brits failed to break out of their bridgehead, but Caen was now fully in their hands and their bridgehead had been expanded for 9 km. They had suffered the loss of 493 tanks, and 4.011casualties.


    Despite this victory in the face of complete Allied numerical superiority, 5 days later the Americans saw the chance to break out of their beachhead. The weakened German defense could not keep up with the savage battle of attrition as little or no reinforcements had arrived, supplies were shot up, and movement by day was made impossible. They stormed into the open, one column headed towards Avranches, and another column started making an encircling movement towards St. Lô. Hitler, never allowing a retreat, remained true to his creed and, instead, ordered an assault to be made. Leibstandarte, together with 4 other SS-Panzerdivisionen and 3 Wehrmacht Panzerdivisionen went on the attack on 7 August after moving to the assembly areas on 5 and 6 August. SS-Panzerregiment 1 along with two Panzergrenadier-Battalione, one Pionierkompanie and the FlaK-Abt. were used. The weather wasn't suited for flying that day, so the attack went smoothly at first, despite the fact that the Allies knew the attack was coming. Das Reich managed to recapture Mortain, and a gepanzerte Kampguppe under Jochen Peiper managed to go as far Bourlopin, but was stopped by massive swarms of Allied aircraft. Another attempt was mounted the next day, but failed.

    A report from SS-Obersturmführer Preuss, 10.Kp./SS-Panzergrenadierregiment 2 describes the impossible situation:

    "It is true that one fighter bomber we shot down landed on a Panzer and destroyed it. Most other Panzer and Schützenpanzer, however, fell victim to this intensive air bombardment, which lasted hours. Those Grenadiere still able to fight had spread themselves out to the left and right through the terrain's many hedges. They were happy to see that the bombers swarming like bees over our heads were finding more rewarding targets than individual men. I agreed with them. I heard that Peiper had suffered a heart attack. Diefenthal (the commander of the III./2) lost his hearing when a bomb fell right next to him. Kuhlmann was unable to get the attack moving forward again. My brave messenger, Sturmmann Horst Reinicken, was killed as he tried to reach the command post of the Heer Panzerabteilung to which we were subordinated. He was trying to bring the Panzerabteilung the news that its commander and Adjutant lay dead not far from our hedge."

    After that it was over with the campaign in Normandy; Leibstandarte got encircled by the Americans and Brits in what would be called the Falaise pocket, but by then the unit was reduced to several small Kampfgruppen. Hausser, commander of 7. Armee was told by von Kluge (commander in chief West, as successor to von Rundstedt) to withdraw II. SS-Panzerkorps (Hohenstauffen and Frundsberg), his motors and his administrative personnel from the pocket. The Führer had still not give orders to withdraw at this point, so it all depended on the will of the units themselves to get out. Leibstandarte withdrew from the pocket with Unterführers and Führers each taking the lead of a small Kampfgruppe and smashing through the ring, on 22 August, after which no combat read ready tanks or artillery pieces were reported. The whole campaign caused some 5.000 casualties to the LSSAH.

    3rd Royal TAnk Regiment in Normandy - http://www.geysels.freeserve.co.uk/Dad/service.htm

    On The Monmouthshires -

    The 3rd Battalion was mobilized for war as part of the 53rd (Welsh) Division in Northern Ireland. It trained in Northern Ireland in 1940 and returned to England in 1941. In the summer of 1912 it was transferred to the 11th Armoured Division and trained for armoured warfare. It was destined for North Africa and its advance parties actually embarked. They were lost to the regiment when this move was cancelled in England until it landed in Normandy on 14th June 1944.

    NORTH-WEST EUROPE, 1944-45 THE ODON

    The first battle was an unsuccessful attempt to break out of the Normandy bridgehead. The brigade task was to seize Hill 112. Unfortunately while moving through a gap in the enemy defences in the dark without guides and with inadequate maps, the battalion lost its way and strayed into the village of Mouen. In the morning it moved to its correct position, leaving 'C' Company in the village to cover the withdrawal. 'C' Company was suddenly attacked b superior German forces with tank support - the company put up a gallant resistance but only fourteen men eventually fought their way out and rejoined the battalion.

    BOURQUEBUS RIDGE

    Another attempt was made to break out of the bridgehead east of Caen. The Germans were softened up by a heavy bombardment and the battalion showing much skill add dash captured Cuverville and Demouville in quick succession. It then launched an attack on the village of Bras near Bourquebus where a tank attack had failed. The advance was over two miles of open country littered with tanks knocked out in the armoured battle. Bras was strongly defended and the battalion together with the 8th Rifle Brigade fought a fierce battle in the village under a withering German artillery barrage. The village was taken but casualties were very heavy. In these three successive attacks the Battalion lost over a hundred men. This break through, like its predecessors, failed and the battalion then moved into the Bocage country.

    THE SOULEUVRE

    The Battalion now took part in a third attempt to break out of the bridgehead. With the 8th Rifle Brigade and tanks of the 23rd Hussars they advanced through Septs Vents, where 'C' Company fought a sharp successful engagement, to St. Ouen des Besaces. Then a reconnaissance unit of the Household Cavalry found an unguarded track through woods, which enabled them to penetrate well behind the German defences and to cross the Souleuvre river undetected. Into this salient the battalion went mounted on the tanks of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. They made contact with the enemy near Beny Bocage, which fell to armoured cars and tanks the next day. The Battalion moved on behind the tanks, fighting a running battle with the retreating enemy, and took up positions with the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry around Sourdevalle on Bas Perier Ridge. The 8th Rifle Brigade and the 23rd Hussars were established two thousand yards to the left on the same ridge.

    LE PERIER RIDGE

    These units on the ridge formed a small peninsula surrounded by the enemy on three sides. Their lines of communication were extremely vulnerable. The Germans now began to build up their forces around them and parties of Germans even operated in their rear. On 5th August enemy shelling began and was followed by a fierce tank and infantry attack. The battalion's tanks were driven back through the forward positions. 'D' and 'C' Companies were then attacked by enemy infantry and some of them managed to penetrate as far as Battalion 'HQ' - but the battalion held its ground and the enemy were beaten off. The battalion's losses in this and the previous actions were so heavy that some platoons were down to half strength. The next day the 1st Norfolks began to relieve the Battalion. They too, had suffered heavily and the two battalions together did not reach the strength of one full battalion, while the Fife and Forfars had only twenty tanks left. The relief was under way when heavy enemy shelling began. Since this was clearly the prelude to an attack, it was decided that both battalions should stay. Lieutenant-Colonel Orr of the 3rd Monmouthshire took command of the combined Norfolks and Monmouthshires. Only fifteen minutes later the German attack came in. After heavy hand-to-hand fighting the enemy overran first the forward positions on the left and when a counter attack drove them off, those on the right. Both sides had tank and artillery support. The Germans got to within two hundred yards of Battalion 'HQ' whose personnel turned out to man posts in the suffocating atmosphere of burning vehicles and houses and exploding ammunition, but the battalions held their ground and before night the heart went out of the enemy attack and he withdrew. The losses on both sides were heavy - of the five hundred and fifty men of both battalions who fought this battle, one hundred and sixty were killed or wounded.

    For gallantry in this action Lance Corporal S Bates of the Norfolks won the VC and Major J France of the 3rd Monmouthshires, a posthumous DSO. He was one of the four company commanders who became casualties in the ten days of action in the Bocage. By successfully holding the ridge the combined battalions prevented the enemy from regaining the commanding feature of the area and enabled the British line to be consolidated by the advance of troops on the flanks.

    An OB I found...

    Guards Armoured Division & 11th Armoured Division 1944
    Divisional Headquarters (white tactical signs)
    Divisional Troops (white tactical signs)
    Armoured Recce Regiment
    Similarly organised as the armoured regiments of the division, but with the main difference that the unit was equipped with three Cromwells and one A30 Challenger tank per troop. Later in the campaign the Challengers were gradually replaced by Firefly tanks.
    Royal Artillery
    Headquarters
    R.H.A. Regiment
    Field Artillery Regiment
    Anti-tank Regiment
    Anti-aircraft Regiment
    Royal Engineers
    Headquarters
    2 Field Squadrons
    1 Field Park Squadron
    1 Bridging Troop
    Armoured Brigade
    Brigade Headquarters
    Armoured Regiment (red tactical signs)
    Armoured Regiment (yellow tactical signs)
    Armoured Regiment (blue tactical signs)
    Motor Battalion (green tactical signs)
    Battalion Headquarters
    Support Company
    3 Motor Companies (Infantry in half-tracks)
    Company Headquarters
    3 Motor Platoons
    1 Scout Platoon (mounted in 13 Bren Carriers)
    Infantry Brigade
    Brigade Headquarters
    Independent Machinegun Company
    Infantry Battalion
    Infantry Battalion
    Infantry Battalion
    Battalion Headquarters
    Headquarters Company
    Motor Platoon
    Carrier Platoon (mounted in 13 Bren Carriers)
    Anti-tank Platoon
    Engineer Platoon
    4 Rifle Companies
    Company Headquarters
    3 Infantry Platoons


    British Armoured Regiment 1944
    Regimental Headquarters:
    4 Sherman tanks
    1 M3 half-track
    1 Jeep
    2 Sherman ARVE recovery vehicles
    Additional Signal Troops may be attached
    Additional REME L.A.D. (Light Aid Detachment) recovery and repair vehicles may be attached
    Headquarters Squadron: (Squadron symbol: diamond)
    Headquarters
    2 Jeeps
    1 15 cwt truck
    Administration Troop
    8 motorcycles
    6 Jeeps
    3 15 cwt trucks
    1 15 cwt water truck
    16 3 ton supply trucks
    2 recovery half-tracks
    3 medical half-tracks
    Reconnaissance Troop
    12 M3 Stuart light tanks
    Intercommunication Troop
    9 Daimler or Humber armoured cars
    Anti-aircraft Troop
    8 Crusader anti-aircraft tanks
    A Squadron: (Squadron symbol: triangle)
    Headquarters
    2 Sherman tanks
    3 half-tracks
    2 15 cwt trucks
    12 3 ton trucks
    1 Sherman ARVE recovery vehicle
    1st Troop
    3 Sherman tanks
    1 Sherman Firefly
    2nd Troop
    3 Sherman tanks
    1 Sherman Firefly
    3rd Troop
    3 Sherman tanks
    1 Sherman Firefly
    4th Troop
    3 Sherman tanks
    1 Sherman Firefly
    B Squadron: (same as A Squadron. Squadron symbol: square)
    C Squadron: (same as A Squadron. Squadron symbol: circle)
    http://miniatures.de/html/int/toeB11ad.html
     
  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Superb reply, RedBaron !

    You must have bionic fingers to type that lot... :eek: ;)
     
  4. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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  5. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Red - wow! I'll be getting your help with this one. cheers for the info. Hope you've recovered from the trip.
    Sommecourt - Cheers for the offer. will most likely take you up on it. We actually visited St Martin when in Normandy last week. The museum was probably the best we went to. We also went down to bull bridge.
     
  6. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Sommecourt - how can i get a copy of the war diary for 11th armoured division? are they readily availiable?
     
  7. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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    War Diaries of all the units in 11th (Armoured) are at the Public Records Office in London; these are the original diaries and they run to thousands of pages. There will be a diary for the HQ element of the division, but that too will run to hundreds of pages.

    War Diaries are excellent resources, however.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Just wondering if the Germans could have stopped the capture of the "bull bridge" and that could have stopped the Falaise gap from being closed from the north? Anyone got ideas about this or whether this situation has been wargamed on some site? Thanx for any info!
     
  9. Jims.mitchell@virgin.net

    Jims.mitchell@virgin.net recruit

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    My uncle Sergeant Robert Dickie, was attached to the 11th Armoured, HQ Company. He was killed at or just before, Operation Goodwood 17th July, 1944. How can I follow his movements in Normandy, what he was doing and find out how he was killed?
     
  10. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    The Divisional history has a roll of honour and it says he died at Amfreville on 18/7/44.
    This is where the Divisonal HQ was based (near the 'Euston Bridges' over the Orne) and it saw no action against ground forces. Late on the night of the 18/19th there was a bombing raid that is noted as causing 'severe' casualties amongst those replacement crews and casualties that had been gathered around the HQ. It is almost certain Sgt R.H. Dickie was killed in this raid.
     

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