|Title||4/7 Dragoon Guards: extract from "The First and the Last," 1944 May, June|
|Description||Extract from "The First and the Last," telling the story of the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in the invasion of Normandy.|
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The Regiment took up a position on Point 103, and "A" Squadron had a big shoot at about a dozen Panthers, which were moving South dovm the valley of the Seulles. It was the first time that we had had a good look at a Pancher and everyone was impressed by their size and very considerable turn or speed. They were at extreme range of about 4,500 yards, but before they disappeared the Squadron managed to knock out one of the bunch with a rather lucky H. E. shot that landed on top of the engine covers, blowing them in and setting the tank on fire.
For the next three days the whole Brigade (more than 100 tanks, as well as infantry and SP guns) remained in position on Point 103. The enemy made vigorous attempts to dislodge us, as the position was even more important to him than it was to us, and we were heavily murtared and counter-attacked, but we held firm, and gradually the pressure began to decrease as the troops on our flanks pushed further South.
To the South East of Point 103 was another piece of high ground known as Point 102, and to command these two was to be in control of the whole area round about for several miles. An attack was therefore made by the 6th Green Howards, supported by "B" and "C" Squadrons, on the village of Cristot, which was between the two heights, with the intention of pushing on beyond it to capture Point 102. The Brigadier gave orders that the attack should be preceded in the morning by a reconnaissance in force; this was carried out by "B" Squadron with the Colonel. They reached the village and saw a great many enemy infantry about, but met no organised resistance The probability is that they disorganised an enemy counter-attack as it was forming up; but also that the enemy were thereby forewarned of the impending attack in the evening.
This was the first time that we had made an attack with infantry on an objective, planned according to the book, and as such it was a dismal failure. The theory which had been preached for combined tank and infantry attack was that the attack should go in waves, with tanks followed by infantry, followed by more tanks. Experience soon showed that to have the tanks leading at all was a mistake; that in close country they must go side by side with the infantry, and in more open country they could best give support from a position slightly in rear and to a flank.
The country in the bridgehead, however, was never anything but close. It is called the Bocage, and consists of a mass of small fields, interspersed with high thide hedges, often formed on thick earthen banks; a large proportion of the fields themselves are orchards with small bushy apple trees set close together; most of the roads are sunken country lanes, very narrow, and bounded on either side by high hedges.
The consequence of all this was that rarely could a tank see us much as 400 yards. The ground
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)