Normandy, France, Late July ’44
After the half success or half failure of the operation known as “Goodwood” where the British units had suffered heavy casualties, almost all of the German Panzer Divisions were positioned in the sector of CAEN, facing the British and Canadian divisions.
On the 25th of July, 1500 bombers of the 8th US Air Force dropped 3,400 tons of bombs on an area west of St-Lo. The German units of the Panzer-Lehr Division, the Fallschirmjager Regiment 3 and the Infanterie-Division 275 were crushed up (as unfortunately some US positions and General Mc Nair was killed in his command post). General Bradley gave the orders to start the ground operation code-named “Cobra”. The 4th Infantry Division, the 9th Infantry Division and the 30th Infantry Division, supported by the 3rd Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Division advanced deeply in the Norman countryside between Coutances and St-Lo.
The German resistance was very weak. On the 27th of July, the US armored spearheads were on the east and southeast of Coutances and on the southwest of Torigny-sur-vire. To ensure the success of the US advance towards Brittany and Val-de-Loire, the British divisions had to support the US left flank in order to prevent the Panzer-Divisions from counterattacking.
General Montgomery decided to start an offensive between Noyer (east) and Caumont (west). The 2nd British Army with 6 divisions under the command of General Sir Dempsey would attack towards Vire and Flers. The attacking force was constituted by 2 army corps, the VIII Corps of General O’Connor to attack in the sector of Caumont and the XXX Corps of General Bucknall who would attack in the sector of Tilly-sur-seulles. On the 28th of July, General Eisenhower accepted the British plan. The offensive was delayed to the 30th of July as the British divisions were not yet in the right sectors.