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The area of operations may be divided into the coastal strip of from one to two miles inland; the area North of the road BAYEUX - CAEN and the area South of this road.

In the coastal sector there are mixed sands, gravel, clays and peat. The area is very liable to flooding, due to neglect of drainage ditches. Numerous roads and tracks lead inland from the main coastal road, and as most are built up they are free from flooding. The mouth of the R ORNE is flanked by marshes.

The country between CAUMONT 7059 and BAYEUX is "bocage", with a few orchards and woods, and across it movement is difficult.

South-West of BAYEUX the country becomes more hilly, the two principal regions of high ground lying on either side of the R DROME valley. On the Western side of the valley is the FORET DE CERISY, constituting an obstacle to movement. The valleys to the South-West OF BAYEUX are steep sided. and wooded, with rich pasture land in the valley bottoms.

South and South-East of BAYEUX the valley of the R AURE marks the boundary between the cultivated plain on the West and pasture land to the East. The land is normally devoted more to pasture than to arable cultivation, although the acreage under plough had been increased since the beginning of the war. The subsoil is chiefly limestone and provides good going.

North of the road BAYEUX - CAEN the soil is generally loam, with intensive cultivation. Thin limestone ovor rock provides good going in all weathers. South of CREPON 9083 and LA DELIVRANDE 0381 the ground begins to rise, reaching a height of 180-200 feet which is retained to, and South of, the road BAYEUX - CAEN. The R SEULLES and its tributaries form an obstacle to lateral movement in this area, as do the CANAL DE CAEN and. the R ORNE. These latter are formidable obstacles, the canal being 240 feet wide and the river up to 200 feet. Both are bridged only once below CAEN, at BENOUVILLE 0975.

In the AURE and SEULLES valleys the ground is soft and marshy and liable to flooding.

In the East of this sector the main feature is the valley of the R DIVES, which had been flooded since May 43. The water was controlled by a system of sluices and extended over a wide area to a depth of about nine inches. Cross—country movement of any kind was impossible and vehicles were forced to use the roads, which were bridged in many places. These, however, could not be relied on to be free from demolitions.

South-West of CAEN the R ORNE flows through a low-lying plain with hedged or tree-lined pastures. Around VILLERS BOCAGE 8157 are copses interspersed with open stretches of rough heathland, with limestone subsoil.

East of the R ORNE there is gently rising mixed agricultural land, with some orchards, and farther East, on the high ground between the rivers ORNE and LAIZE, is the FORET DE CINGLAIS, a large wooded area which impedes movement. On the slopes overlooking the R DIVES valley and in the valley itself there is open, lowlying pasture liable to be marshy in winter and spring.

The country generally provides good going; North-West and South- East through CAEN, while South and South-West the closer and more hilly nature of' the country restricts movement.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr

Page: Page 15