The Battle for Villers-Bocage | PDF | 56 Pages | 16 Megabytes
Battle for Villers-Bocage
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When the British landed in Normandy on D-Day, they had one main objective: seize the key city of Caen from where William the conqueror had sailed for England nine centuries ago. Capturing Caen would give the Allies a base from where they could conduct deeper offensives into France. But the frontal advance was held up a German Panzer division and so a murderous slog began.
Frustrated, British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery planned to outflank the enemy and committed his best divisions into the advance. In the lead was the veteran British 7th Armoured Division, the famed “Desert Rats,” who had seen extensive action in North Africa. Initially the advance went on as planned but when the British came upon the town of Villers-Bocage, their fortunes began to slide. As the “Desert Rats” began to occupy the town, the Germans attacked – setting the stage for one of the most controversial battles of the Normandy Campaign.
Contains a full order of battle for both sides, 8 maps, pencil and color illustrations.
Lt. Rex Ingram, a Stuart tank commander of the Recce Troop was killed in action during Wittmann’s attack after he heroically attempted to shield the other British tanks on the road. His mother was told that after the Stuart was hit, Ingram and the rest of the crew had bailed out, only to realize that the driver was still trapped in the hull. Returning to the tank, Ingram tried to free the man until mortally cut down by a burst of machine-gun fire. He was buried in the garden of a nearby Frenchman, whose son later became good friends with Ingram’s mother after the war.
(LEFT) This is reportedly Ingram’s Stuart Mk V, nicknamed “Calamity Jane II.” Here, a German officer inspects the wrecked machine. Despite being struck by a high-velocity 88mm shell, the tank seems in remarkably good shape. (Photo source: Bundesarchiv)
The family would welcome any additional details about Ingram’s last hours on that day.
Information and Lt. Ingram’s photograph provided by Paul Carpenter, Ingram’s second cousin.
This unidentified German SS Oberscharfuhrer from the 1st SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler Panzer Division, was allegedly killed in action in the Villers-Bocage area during the battle. (See Alan Wright’s comments below).
On the body was found a boxed Iron Cross 1st Class with the photo of the victim. (In the photo, he is also wearing the ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd Class — on his lower left lapel). Since the division did not largely arrive in Normandy until 6 July 1944 (minus 5,600 men), it is a mystery as to how this man came to be killed in the Villers-Bocage area on 16 June.
He is credited with shooting and wounding Trooper Robert Wright, who was the tank driver/mechanic of a Sherman tank under Lt. Hedges of ‘B’ Squadron, 4th CLY. According to Alan, the tank was decorated with a cartoon woman and christened “Madame Fifi” —all this before the unit knew that it was going to France.
If anyone has any pertinent thoughts or information to offer, kindly leave a message on this page or contact Alan Wright, UK.
All photographs courtesy of Alan Wright.