Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Operation Epsom

Operation Epsom was a Second World War British offensive that took place between 26 and 30 June 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen, which was a major Allied objective in the early stages of the invasion of northwest Europe. Epsom was launched early on the 26 June, with units of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division advancing behind a rolling artillery barrage. Additional bomber support had been expected, but poor weather led to this being cancelled; air cover would be sporadic for much of the operation. Supported by the tanks of the 31st Tank Brigade, the 15th Scottish made steady progress, and by the end of the first day had largely overrun the German outpost line. In heavy fighting over the following two days, a foothold was secured across the River Odon, and efforts were made to expand this by capturing strategic points around the salient and moving up the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. However, in response to powerful German counterattacks, by 30 June some of the British positions across the river were withdrawn, bringing the operation to a close. Although the Germans had managed to contain the offensive, to do so they had been obliged to commit all their available strength, including two panzer divisions newly arrived in Normandy and earmarked for a planned offensive against British and American positions around Bayeux.

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