World War II, Volume 5

A When a ditch becomes an improvised trench. An American section prepares to break cover. >An American mortar team poses for the camera in the field. This was an army where the "walkie-talkie" field radio had long replaced the cumbersome field telephone. slackening of pressure would mean that Rommel would be able to reorganise and re-form. On July 9 Caen and Carpiquet aero­drome fell to Lieutenant-General J. T. Crockers British I Corps. The old Norman town already badly bombed by the R.A.F. on the night of June 5-6 was now reduced to rubble by the dropping of 2500 tons of bombs. The only part more lessor spared was the area around the majestic Abbaye-aux-Hommes which was protected by the Geneva Convention and was a refuge for many thousands of homeless. Although this pitiless bombing forced the "H itlerjugend” Division to re­treat it also created such ruin and slowed down the advance of the Canadian 3rd Division so much that when it arrived at the river Orne it found all the bridges blown. Just when the American 1st Army was preparing Operation "Cobra” which was to crush German resistance Mont­gomery asked Dempsey for one more effort to engage and tie down the Panzers on his front and if possible to advance the armoured units of his 2nd Army into the region around Falaise. To this end, Operation "Goodwood” had moved the centre of gravity of the attack back to the right bank of the Orne where the British 1st and 8th Armies were massed whilst the Canadian II Corps two divisions strong was concentrated within the ruins of Caen. To it fell the task of captur­ing the suburbs of the town to the south of the river and of developing an attack towards Falaise. The enemy’s front tied down in the centre would be by-passed and rolled back from left to right by the three armoured divisions (the 7th and 11th and the Guards Armoured Divisions) breaking out from the narrow bridgehead between the Orne and the Dives which General Gale’s parachute troops had captured on the night of June 5-6. In addition to the divi­sional or brigade tanks Montgomery had created a reserve of 500 brand-new tanks in Normandy as for artillery, there were 720 guns of all calibres and 250000 shells. But above all the Allied air forces would support and prepare the attack on a scale hitherto undreamed of: 1600 four-engined planes and 600 two- engined planes and fighter-bombers would drop more than 7000 tons of explosives on enemy positions and then support VIII Corps armour as it advanced. However the Germans had seen through the Allies intentions and had organised themselves to a depth often miles it is true that they only had in the line one division the 16th Luftwaffe Field Division and what was left of the 21st Panzer Division, but they still possessed considerable fire-power in the shape of 272 6-tube rocket launchers and a hundred or so 8.8-cm anti-aircraft guns operating as anti-tank guns. On July 18 at 0530 hours the thunder of 720 guns signalled the beginning of Operation "Goodwood”. Then as one member of VIII Corps put it the air­craft "came lounging across the sky, scattered leisurely indifferent. The first ones crossed our lines and the earth began to shake to a continuous rumble which lasted for three-quarters of an hour and at no time during that period were fewer than fifty planes visible. The 1688
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