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"hedge-hogs", thickened up with "Element C" and with poles to which were attached shells and mines which were detonated at the slightest pressure. The beaches themselves were known from intelligence sources and air photographs to be difficult going for transport, and in actual fact they proved to be an even greater obstacle than had been expected. This gives some idea of what 231st Infantry Brigade had to face on the sector between Arromanches and Le Hamel and to the east of the latter place.

The Brigade was the right-hand assault brigade of the British second Army. It was given the task of assisting in the establishment of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division bridgehead, through which other formations were to pass, and of linking up with the 2st U.S. U.S. Division landing on our right. Supporting 231st Brigade and coming under command for the initial operation were two regiments of S.P. Artillery (the 90th and 147th Field Regiments),the Sherwood Rangers, a squadron of Centaur tanks mounting 95 mm guns and manned by the Royal Marines, a squadron of assault vehicles R.E. (some of the "monstrosities"),a squadron of "Flails" (of the Westminster Dragoons) and finally the 47th Royal Marine Commando.

The Royal Navy's contribution was fire from several destroyers, landing craft mounting 95 mm guns (L.C.Gs.),rocket craft and support landing craft, while Forward Observation bombardment officers accompanied each battalion until the troops were out of range of the naval guns. The R.A.F. had the task of "softening-up" the beach defences and four fighter-bomber squadrons were to be on call after the landing.

The Brigade plan, briefly, was as follows: The Hampshires on the right were to land at Le Hamel, overcome the defences there and work westwards along the coast, seizing in turn Asnelles-sur-Mer, Arromanches, Tracy-sur-Mer and Manvieux. The Dorsets on the left, were to land slightly to the east of Le Hamel, and after dealing with the strong points at Les Roquettes, were to seize the high ground at Pt.54. This high ground overlooked the beaches and contained two strong points and a battery position. The reserve battalion, the Devons, was to make straight for Ryes, hand it over to a company of the Dorsets, and then make for La Rosiers, Fontenaillcs and the Longues battery. As their last task, they were to exploit eastwards to link up with the Americans. The 47th Royal Marine Commando, landing somewhat later, were to follow the route taken by the Devons and secure Port-en-Bessin. Finally the 56th Infantry Brigade (under command of our division) were to pass through us to capture Bayeux. On our left, the 69th Infantry Brigade were also in the assault, with the dominating Meuvaines ridge as their chief objective, while 151st Infantry Brigade eventually passed through them to secure a stretch of the main road from Bayeux to Caen and some ground overlooking the Seulles.

As is generally known, the weather played a vital part in the operation. Its immediate effect was to rule out the use of the tanks and its longer-term effect was to delay by several days the arrival of the follow-up forces and the build-up of the bridgehead generally. The result of all this was to impose a continuous strain on the assault formations, especially the 50th Division, who had to go on attacking to enlarge the bridgehead and to contain the enemy themselves without waiting for the follow-up divisions.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: The Malta Brigade Strikes Back, 1944 June

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