|Title||REPORT ON THE USE OF FLAME THROWERS IN THE OPENING STAGES OF THE CAMPAIGN IN NORMANDY (D to D + 55)|
|Description||Use of flame throwers in opening stages of campaign in Normandy|
posts, killing quite a large number of Germans with flame and Besa, routing others and bringing in some prisoners. It was in one of these small actions against a German counter-attack that a wireless intercept was picked up in which the German Company Commander was heard appealing that "The Flammenwerfer" were upon him and if help was not sent immediately, all was lost!"
On the 11th July, the Sqdn. was once again split up into small packets under the command of 231 Bde. for an attack on Hottol, No. 12 Troop in support of 2nd Devons No. 14 Troop in support of 1st Hampshires, and No. 11 Troop under command of 10th D.L.T. of 70th Bde. No. 11 Troop had three small, but very satisfactory shows 'flaming' the edges of woods and bringing in 24 prisoners.
By this time it had become more common to employ the crocodiles in units of half Squadrons and in later actions, the greater successes which were achieved were undoubtedly due largely to this factor.
On July 14th Nos. 2 and 3 Troops were detailed to support the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders in an attack on the north ??? of Enquay. They were to be assisted by 107 R.A.C., two Troops of which were to precede the Crocodiles' advance, one Troop at each side of the road. Crocodiles were to follow, also one Troop each side of the road ‘flaming' the enemy positions in the hedgerows en route to La Bon Repos. Immediately behind each troop of Crocodiles was to be a platoon of Infantry with one section detailed to keep right up with the flame tanks. A rehearsal took place with Infantry to demonstrate the safety of walking through the flame once it was on the ground. The attack went in in the dusk and was completely successful. The enemy were burnt out or ran from their positions and the Crocodiles fired until their fuel was exhausted. The Infantry followed right up killing many Germans and seizing their objective in La Bon Repos without a single casualty. A great success for a well—planned and well-executed show, bearing out all the ideas which were believed to be essential to successful flame Operations.
A few days later the enemy recaptured La Bon Repos and 53 the Welsh Division was ordered to raid them with a view to obtaining identification. Two Troops of Crocodiles were again included to support the 4th Welsh, assisted by 107 R.A.C. The attack was again a complete success and a large number of prisoners were taken and a large number killed. Sixteen of the enemy were found to have been killed by the flame throwers. The Divisional Commander and the Group Commander were highly pleased with the Crocodile performance and communicated their. congratulations in writing to the Regiment. Subsequent interrogation of the prisoners taken testified to the devastating effect of the Crocodiles' flame.
A most successful action was fought on the 17th July by 'B‘ Sqdn. operating with the 5th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. Their objective was a road triangle South east of Escoville, a vital point on the left flank of the great attack south from Caen. The attack was in two phases; the first phase from the base half way to the apex of the triangle, then with two fresh Infantry Companies up to the apex. The country was heavily wooded and it was thought that surprise would be effected by the use of Crocodiles or even tanks in such very close country. Again the Crocodiles led the advance with the Infantry and on the right No. 10 Troop firing flame, H.E. and Besa saw the Infantry safely on to their first objective 0n the left No. 7 Troop went too far forward and missed their objective. No. 10 Troop was put in to take their place. No. 10 Troop suffered several casualties and were relieved by No. 7 Troop who continued to give good support to the Infantry and cleared the energy from the road. No. 6 Troop followed in a mopping up role and the Infantry eventually reached the objective led by 9 and 7 Troops‘ The whole operation was a great success and the Squadron was congratulated and thanked by the G.O.C. 1st Corps. Unfortunately the Sqdn. was kept forward in local reserve for some 10 days when it was subjected to incessant mortar and artillery fire and suffered seven casualties. This action was an excellent example of the whole Sqdn. fighting as one unit, and thereby being able to keep the momentum of their attack going when casualties occurred.
Meanwhile, 'C' Sqdn. were operating under 59th Division in the advance on Noyers. They were unfortunately used mostly in Troop action, none of them very conclusive or very successful. In two cases tanks and trailers were put out of action on the enemy position and remained in his hands.
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)