TitleExtracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr
DescriptionExtracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr.
SourceUK_National_ArchiveReferenceWO 223/1


From the time that the British Expeditionary Force had withdrawn from FRANCE in 1940, it had always been the set intention of the Nation to return to EUROPE with a strong Army. As the likelihood of having to withstand a German invasion of BRITAIN receded, so more and more troops in BRITAIN were directed to train for the assault upon EUROPE.

The object of operation Overlord was to mount and carry out an operation, with forces and equipments established in the United Kingdom, to secure a lodgment on the continent from which further offensive operations could be developed.

Second Army Headquarters, which was formed on 10 May 43, was especially created as an Army Headquarters to head this assault. The exact part which Second Army was to play in the assault differed from time to time until the last weeks of December 1943, when its task was finally allotted.

In general, Second Army was directed to assault the coast of FRANCE between OUISTREHAM 1179 and PORT EN BESSIN 7588 and was to be supported on its RIGHT by the First United States Anny.

This typical stretch of sheltered NORMANDY coast was well known in peace time as a seaside summer resort. The spacious beaches and the typical boarding house villas of the scattered villages were backed by rich meadows and thick wooded country of the "bocage".

The whole coastal area was a low lying basin through which countered the rivers AURE and SEULLES and the R ORNE, joined south of CAEN by its tributary the ODON, and double banked to the North by the Canal du CAEN. On the East flank, the valley of the R DIVES was a formidable water obstacle even in summer.

On 13 Jan 44, the Amy Commander gave to the Army Group Commander the outline plan which he proposed to adopt. The plan was based on the following order of battle:-

1 Corps
3 British Division
3 Canadian Division
51 (H) Division
2 Canadian Armoured Brigade
4 Armoured Brigade
27 Armoured Brigade
1 SS Brigade
4 SS Brigade (less two commandos)
6 Airborne Division
8 Corps
Guards Armoured. Division
11 Armoured Division
15 (S) Division
31 Tank Brigade
12 Corps
43 Division
53 (W) Division
59 Division
34 Tank Brigade
30 Corps
7 Armoured Division
49 Dvision
50 (N) Division
8 Armoured Brigade
33 Armoured Brigade
One Commando (4 SS Brigade)

In addition, each corps had its normal quota of corps troops and assaulting corps had elements of 79 Armoured Division special equipments.

In Army reserve there was one commando, and, in Army Group reserve, 1 Airborne Division.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

Found an error?

Found an error with this archive item? report it here!

Archive: Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr

Page: Page 1