|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|
At Caumont on the 31st July a half Sqdn. of Crocodiles of 'A' Sqdn. was allotted to the 2nd Gordons supported by the 6th Guards Tank Bde. in an attack on a wood S.E. of Caumont. The result was completely successful as it was a well- planned operation. On the same day one Troop 0f 'C' Sqdn.was detailed to assist the Infantry of 56 Bde. 50th Div. in an attack on a German strong-point at St. Germain D'Ectot. This also was completely successful and the Infantry took their objective with very little loss.
0n the 24th July 'C' Sqdn. were detailed to support the 4th Welsh in another raid on Esquay, again assisted by the 107 R.A.C. The raid was a complete success, although one Crocodile was lost on a British mine field.
It is clear that the Crocodile is now looked upon as an assault weapon of great value. It is in constant and widespread demand and is held in fear by the enemy.
Wasps, have not been used to any great extents. The following are given as the chief reasons for this.
1. The Infantry are below strength and need all their men to hold the positions when gained. Support in the attack can be obtained from outside sources, e.g. Tanks, Crocodiles.
2. The enemy mortars and small calibre A/Tk. guns are extremely active everywhere. The Wasp, to be effective, must arrive within 30 yards of the objective and the chances of any unarmoured vehicle achieving this in daylight assaults are low, also carriers are easily ditched. Hence tanks and Crocodiles are preferred as more certain of surviving.
One Division, however, the 53rd (Welsh) has used them very successfully on several occasions and has proved that with a good plan and limited objectives, they are extremely useful and have great moral effect as well as, causing casualties. The following is a typical account of how this Division employs them:-
It was required to identify the enemy units facing the 160 Bde. and also to establish the dividing line between the 10 SS. Pz. Div. and the 271 Infantry Division. A raid was therefore ordered to be carried out by the 2 Mon, supported by Div. and Med. Artillery and 6 Wasps belonging to 1 H.L.I.
The raid was to be carried out at dusk on 29th July. The objective was an enclosure of hedges and trees covering slit trenches and bunkers. The plan was that at 'H' hour, one Coy. supported by the 6 Wasps, should cross the start line and move towards the objective, the Artillery supporting fire to commence at H - 2 and continue until H + 40. The Company to move 2 Plns. up with 2 Wasps in support of each forward Pln. and 2 with the Reserve Pln. and Coy. H.Q.
The Wasps and Infantry moved all up together, the Wasps 'flaming' the hedgerows in front of the advancing Infantry, As the flame searched the hedgerows, P.Ws. ran out to surrender and the position was soon captured, the enemy showing little fight except in a strong-point which contained a Spandau. Here the Wasps went in and burnt him out. At 2200 hrs. the raiders withdrew bringing back with them 1 Officer and 16 O.R's P.W's and leaving 12 German dead behind The 2 Mon. casualties were 1 killed and 15 wounded.
Lifebuoys ware taken ashore on 'D' Day by the 3rd Canadian Division. They were used successfully by 2 Companies of the North Shore Regt. in an attack on the village of Tierceville, where the houses were loopholed and walls were tunnelled at ground level. Efforts to dislodge the enemy from these warrens were unsuccessful until lifebuoys were brought up and after a few shots the enemy surrendered or were burnt out.
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)