NOTES ON OPERATION 231 INF BDE 6th & 7th June 1944

231 Bde was the right hand brigade of the Second Army Assault Force Landing in France on 6th June 1944. Its tasks were. Firstly assist In establishing a bridgehead through which other formations could pass, And secondly, link up with the American Division landing to the WEST of 50th (Northumberland) Division.

There follows now a brief description of the enemy defences on the Bde’s sector. The first obstacles to be encountered on the beaches were several rows of hedgehogs thickened up with Element C, and with poles to which were attached shells and mines which were to detonate at the slightest pressure. The beaches, themselves, which from intelligence sources and air photographs were known to be difficult going for transport because of a thick peat surface, proved to be an even greater obstacle than had been expected. The beaches were backed by low sandy grass dunes three to six feet high though which it was impossible for any wheeled vehicle to move, and behind the dunes by a marsh, which extended from five to eight hundred yards inland. Behind the marsh and behind the villages along the coast was undulating pastureland with several hills and ridges that dominated the landing beaches. Formidable looking cliffs which rose to a hundred and fifty feet in height began at CABANE and extended westwards to PORT EN BESSIN.

The defences consisted of numerous mutually supporting strong points in concrete emplacements with all round fields of fire. At LE HAMEL itself were three strong points along the sea wall garrisoned by approximately one and a half companies of infantry, and each mounting an infantry gun. There was another strong points at the EASTERN end of LE HAMEL that had four guns, three of which were of 75 mm calibre. Surrounding LE HAMEL itself was an anti-tank ditch and a minefield containing eight rows of mines. The coastal mine belt, five rows deep, extended to the EAST along the back of the beaches and encircled another strong point in the centre of the beach known as LES ROQUETTES. Besides being thickly mines this strong point contained two 75mm Howitzers and five concrete MMG emplacements. Before the brigade bridgehead could be established the following additional strong points has to be overcome. On the coast to the WEST of LE HAMEL there were the defenced localities of CABINE, ARROMANCHES as well as more on the high ground either side of the last named village. Between ARROMANCHES and PORT EN BESSIN, which was the brigade’s WESTERN objective, and was approximately seven miles from LE HAMEL, there were four additional defences localities, one of which contained a four 150 mm battery position. One thousand yards SOUTH of LE HAMEL and near the village of BUHOT was the high ground Point 54. Midway between LE HAMEL and Pt 54 was a battery of 105 mm gun Hows. Point 54 itself was held by infantry and was fortified by trench systems and caves. In all within the bde sector, there were approximately 18 guns of field calibre. Within the sector of the brigade on the left, and so far inland, and so well supported that it was estimated that no attack could be put against them until approximately one and a half hours after the first troops had landed, were some machine gun nests on the high ground dominating the 231 Inf Bde landing beaches.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Normandy notes on operation 231 INF BDE 6&7 June 44

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