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Lingevres, 14 June 1944 - What Really Happened




 
#1



[Image: attack14june2.jpg] [Image: lingevres1.jpg]



[Image: tillysurseulles125000ex.png]

The Battle

H-hour for the attack was timed for 10:15 hrs on the 14th.June 1944. At the same time as the attack on Lingevres was taking place, the 6th.Bn. Durham Light Infantry with the support of B Sqn. 4/7th. RDG. Who would be attacking the neighbouring village of Verrieres {situated to the north west of Lingevres}.

The 9th Bn DLI would be supported by 'A' Sqn. 4/7th. Royal Dragoon Guards [RDG]. They would have the support of all the Divisional Artillery and support by a fighter squadron of Typhoons, from the air. The infantry would advance behind a creeping barrage, supported by the tanks, and firstly capture the heavily defended woods, then take the village. That was the basic plan. However, Colonel Woods had not been given enough time to properly patrol his intended objective and therefore did not fully appreciate the depth and positions of the opposing unit.

Firstly the Artillery and planes gave the woods a good pounding. Then Durhams crossed the start line into a large cornfield, at the other end of which was the German held woods. It was a two company attack, 'A' Coy on the left, 'C' Coy on the right. Three DLI Universal Carriers were to the right rear of 'A' Coy. The CO and IO {John Reid} plus driver, were in one, Lt. John Williams, Sgt. Charles Eagles and Pte A. Mortimer all in the Assault Pioneer Pl. were in the second, Cpl Sowerby drove the third. They were supported by Shermans of 'A' Sqn.

All of these Tanks entered the Cornfield and began to advance towards the German held woods. For around 7 to 8 minutes nothing happened, the barrage began to move beyond the woods and land on the village behind. All of a sudden a German tank fired from the woods and 'brewed up' a Sherman {tank/crew unknown}. A second tank fired from the other side of the wood and then a deadly hail of small arms fire swept the forward rifle companies of the Durhams. Men were falling all around and most of the officers in 'A' & 'C' Coy became causalities within minutes [Major Charles D'Arcy-Irvine having been wounded in the head, his CSM wounded in the legs and abdomen]. Lt. Williams ran to tell Colonel Woods that 'A' Company’s C.O. had been wounded, when he himself was wounded by several bullets in the legs, he was carried out of the fire zone and to safety by his Sgt., Charles Eagles, who then returned to the battle. Soon afterwards Colonel Woods contacted his 2 i/c on the wireless and ordered him to advance with his company on the village. Colonel Woods would try and extract his men from their current position in the German held woods and make his way into the village to join Major Mogg [2 i/c]. Within minutes of this Colonel H. Woods was fatally wounded by a mortar round.

Major John Mogg now found himself in command of the 9th Bn Durham Light Infantry. Mogg ordered 'C' & 'D' companies, on the right, to press on with the attack in the direction of the village. They would have the support of 'A' Sqn. 4/7th.RDG's. Lt. A. Morrison, 4/7th.RDG, was ordered, by Major d'Avigord-Goldsmid, to advance on the village with his 4th Troop, to assist the Durhams. He could see the Durhams advancing down a lane into the village. Morrison's tank led the way with Cpl Johnson's and then Sgt Harris's 'Firefly', behind. The Durhams and Dragoons pressed on and fought there way onto their objective, the Village of Lingevres.

The German defenders were determined to hold on to this key position and fought for every yard. Sniping was a particular problem facing the DLI, but a burst from a tank's Browning or a few rounds from one of their guns soon sorted out these hold ups. By 1300 hrs, what remained of the Durhams and the 4/7th. RDG's now found themselves in charge of the village, which they would have to defend against any German counter attacks. Lt. Morrison advanced with his tanks to the area of the war memorial, next to the church. German artillery was now ranging onto the village. Lt. Morrison placed Sgt. Harris's 'Firefly' facing the approach from the direction of Tilly, Cpl. Johnsons tank was defending the road to Verrieres [which was under attack by 6 DLI and 'B' Sqn.4/7th. RDG] and Lt. Morrison's tank faced in the direction and covering the roads to Longraye & Balleroy, by the war memorial. 


Within minutes Sgt. Harris was engaging a German, Panther tank, with his 17 Pounder gun. The Panther burst into flames. 'A' Sqn commander spoke to Lt. Morrison on the wireless to tell him that he was to meet the acting 9 DLI commander in the western end of the church. The Durhams M.O. had set up an advanced dressing station/First Aid Post by the western door of the church and it was here that Lt. Morrison met Major Mogg. Mogg asked him the position of his tanks and from that Mogg was able to plan the defence of the village.


Major Mogg sent what remained of 9 DLI's 'D' Coy [now down to two platoons, due to heavy casualties] to take up a line of defence facing down the Tilly road. 'C' Coy would do the same towards the Lonraye road. The remains of 'A' & 'B' Coys were held in reserve. The infantry were to defend the village against German infantry infiltration, prevent the tanks from becoming exposed to assault by the infantry and also to act as enemy tank spotters. They would be able to hear the approach of enemy armour long before it was seen. The Tanks likewise would support the infantry positions, by their firepower and prevent the enemy armour from breaking into the village.

By this time Major Kenneth Swann, of 341 Battery, 86th{Herefordshire Yeomanry] Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, was in the village in his R.A Command Sherman tank. He was the FOO [Forward Observation Officer] for his battery [SP Sextons]. Mogg arranged a defensive fire plan with him. Mogg also positioned the Battalion's Anti Tank Guns, which were under the command of Capt. Whittaker. Two of these guns were quickly put out of action by German artillery fire. In the Bn. War Diary , it states that 3 of the guns were over run, later in the day, by German infantry and destroyed.



Major John Mogg, 9th Durham Light Infantry [2nd In Command of 9 Bn DLI at start of battle, commanding officer by the end of the day]

The following is his account of the action, which was written in the 1970's for the Staff College.



The Battle


“We crossed the Start Line at 10:15 on the morning of the 14th behind an immense fire plan from the Corps Artillery and the Air. The wood literally appeared to be devastated immediately to our front some three hundred yards away.


Typhoons with rockets and bombs straddled and plastered the wood. We crossed the SL with infantry leading two platoons up and one in reserve trying to keep up with the timings of the Artillery and Air support. In the Bocage the normal form was for infantry to lead but supported very closely by tanks from the flanks and in certain cases with individual tanks travelling with the infantry. This helped communication and was greatly different to the battles in the desert and in the open country of the Goodwood operation and the NW German plain later on.


As we crossed the standing corn, and supported by 4/7th.RDG, the barrage gradually lifted and we thought we should reach the wood with little difficulty. Gradually the enemy came to life. Two tanks opened up from the wood and withering fire from Spandaus caught the leading companies in enfilade fire. There were many casualties but the leading companies reached the wood where bitter fighting ensued. The enemy was well dug in and had sited their Spandaus to give excellent crossfire. We discovered afterwards that many of the Spandaus which had continued to fire during the barrage had string attachments enabling the enemy to fire on fixed lines from the bottom of the trench.


'A' Coy on the left suffered tremendous casualties, including all their Officers. 'C' Coy on the right were making some headway with heavy fighting towards Lingevres.


At this stage the Commanding Officer ordered the two reserve companies to pass through and try to gain the objective. 'B' Coy passed through 'A' but immediately suffered heavy casualties, losing all their Officers but one.


The Commanding Officer was with his Tac HQ following 'A' Coy on the left. I was with 'C' Coy on the right and we had a conversation on the wireless. It was clear that the companies on the left would make no further progress and he ordered me to push on with the two right hand companies to Lingevres. He would withdraw the remnants of 'A' and 'B' and reinforce us on the right. Three minutes later he was killed by a mortar bomb and his IO was wounded.

By noon I found myself in command of what was left of 9 DLI in the village of Lingevres, with 'D' Coy fairly strong, 'C' Coy at about one platoon strength and the remnants of 'A' and 'B' on their way to reinforce us. I had a quick 'O' Group.

I ordered 'D' Coy to occupy the East and SE edge of the village facing towards Tilly and 'C' Coy of one platoon to look after the approaches from the South. I made a DF fire plan with my gunner, Ken Swann of 86 Fd. Regt.

I ordered the support weapons to move forward, putting the carriers to guard the Western approach and set up my Bn. HQ in the area of the Bridge over the stream just North of the village and on the Bn axis. I sited the five remaining anti tank guns singly, facing down the road approaches. This was a fatal mistake as in the first counter attack four of the five were knocked out by advancing tanks coming down the road. It taught me never to site anti tank guns to fire frontally, but always to engage tanks from a flank.

From midday onwards, enemy tanks attacked the village, but luckily with no infantry support, but much shelling. I ordered three tank hunting patrols to go out and accompanied one myself. A very inexperienced and foolish thing to do when I was commanding a Bn. I only mention it as an amusing side line in that having crept under Bocage banks across four fields and sited the PIAT anti tank weapon on top of a bank to fire at a Panther tank I ordered the gunner to fire, the Geordie said " I don't know how the bloody thing works". He had carried it across the channel and for seven days in Normandy!! A lesson perhaps. In fact the Panther was eventually made a non-runner by this PIAT and the crew 'baled out'.


At about 1630 the expected counter attack materialised, developing strongly on the left flank. The attack was mostly from enemy tanks supported by about a company of infantry. A call for support from our Artillery and the Air assisted in repelling the infantry.......


By nightfall we still held the village and were in touch with the 6th. DLI in Verrieres. At about nine o'clock we were relieved by the 2nd Glosters and heaved a very large sigh of relief.”

The casualties between 10:15 and 21:00 hrs amounted to:-


22 Officers and 226 Other Ranks Killed wounded or missing. 
 
 


Major Mogg was awarded a D.S.O. for this action and for destroying a Panther tank at close range with a PIAT. He went on to become a General in the Post- War British Army. Sadly, General Sir John Mogg died on the 28th.of October 2001. He is survived by his wife Cecilia, whom he married in 1939, and their three sons.



[Image: 5071895408f0da606c3ab.jpg] [Image: lingevres2.jpg]

30 Corps "G" War Diary, Immediate Report No. 4. dated 17 Jun 44

Action of "A" Squadron, 4th/7th Dragoon Guards at Lingevres on 14th June, 1944

The Sqn were supporting 9 DLI in an attack across an open piece of ground and were to protect the village of LINGEVRES from a possible tank counter-attack while the inf re-organised. The attack was preceded by aerial bombing and a Corps barrage and the movement across the open went according to plan with tank Troops giving fire support.

The approach to the village lay through enclosed country and the infantry preceded the tanks. 2 Troop (Lt M.A.T. Trasenster) was soon in posn near the cross rds in the village with one tank SHQ (Squadron Leader) close in rear. The situation in the village was a little obscure. There was quite a lot of shooting and there were enemy tanks but they were difficult to spot. 2 Troop called for support and 4th Troop (Lt A.Mc.L. Morrison) were sent up to help.

In the meantime the 2 i/c of the Sqn (Capt J.D.P. Stirling) collected the two remaining Troops (1 and 3) and put them in a posn of observation on the western flank some 1000 yds NORTH of the village. The time was about 1130 hrs. 



Phase I



2 and 4 Tps were watching the rds and at about 12 o'clock HE shells started landing in the center of the village. The Commander of the Firefly tank on the TILLY SUR SEULLES rd was dismounted looking down the rd with a pair of binoculars from a vantage point. He saw a tank 1000 yds away and it was a Sherman but as he watched it, it stopped and a Panther pulled out from behind and advanced on the village. At about a range of 800 yds our Firefly fired a round and stopped the tank but it did not catch fire. An infantry patrol was able to shoot up the turret crew as they baled out and completed the destruction with a PIAT. Meanwhile the infantry had spotted an enemy tank in a field on the WEST side of the village. This tank pulled into a cart shed with its gun facing the opening pointing WEST. The infantry anti tank officer and the Squadron Leader (SL) carried out a dismounted recce and got to within 50 yds of the Panther. They saw one of the crew outside the tk. They decided to put a PIAT on it from the front and the SL went to the rear of the barn which had brick walls, and shot it up from the rear. Unfortunately the armour on the front was too thick for the PIAT and the tank withdrew. At about 1230 hrs another tank was seen coming down the TILLY SUR SEULLES rd and this again fell a victim to Sgt Harris at a range of about 600 yds. He waited until it had passed in front of the dead tank he had previously fixed and then fired and it caught fire at once. Sgt Harris at once altered his posn, backed down the road a little and charged over to the other side of the rd opposite the church. He then spotted what appeared to be a third German tk on the same rd, which had stopped directly behind the two dead ones. He could not fire directly at Sgt Harris and neither could Sgt Harris fire at him.

However, he started firing HE at the buildings in the rear of our tanks in the village. No damage was done as the crews all have one flap of the turret down. HEs started dropping close to the Troop Cpl's tank and he withdrew about 15 yards and waited.

After about five minutes he went forward again to his previous position and spotted, at about 100 yards, the front quarter of a German tank. The crew fired AP and simultaneously the Germans replied and hit him, wounding all the crew except one. The gunner, Tpr Draper, who had not been wounded, traversed the turret in order to get the co-driver out, dismounted, collected a fire extinguisher, opened the co- driver's hatch, put out the fire which was starting in the gear box, and then returned to the turret and removed the unconscious driver. He evacuated the casualties to the church before the German tank returned very cautiously and put our Sherman completely out.

The situation after this eased and the German tanks pulled out. Infantry anti-tank guns were positioned and the troops were withdrawn from the cross roads area. The 2nd Troop Firefly was left facing the Western approach. 


Results achieved 


1. The village was now in the possession of the 9th D.L.I. Anti-tank guns were in position.
2. Two German tanks had been killed for the loss of one of ours. 



Phase II

By 1530 the order was received to try and rest the crews a little as the advance was to be resumed with a fresh bn at 1700 hrs. 2 and 4 Troops, less the 2 Troop Firefly, were withdrawn to the area shown on the diagram and the rest of the Squadron was still kept in hand in the rear. By about 1615 hrs firing started again, and there was quite a considerable volume of MG fire and a few rounds of HE. The bn were a little worried about the threat of tank counter attack and the Squadron was then disposed to deal with the threat.

2 and 4 Troops, less their Fireflies, remained in their field from where they could cover the village and artillery fire was put down along a line running East and West, South of the village. The acting bn Comdr told the S.L. that he had been informed that there were infantry attacking us too. The 2nd Troop Firefly then reported a Tiger tank coming down the road into the village from the West. He fired at a fairly long range but observation was poor and the flash from the gun which was firing with turret traversed at 6 o'clock, set fire to the camouflage net on the back. He pulled out under cover to put the fire out and was then ordered to take up position in an orchard North of the Westward approach to the village while the 4th Troop Firefly was moved to the position occupied by S.Ls tank in Phase I.

On receipt of the information from 2nd Troop, that a Tiger was coming down the road, the 2nd in Command and 5th Troop were ordered to carry out a movement to take up a position North of this road whence they might shoot the Tiger from the rear. Capt Stirling came up and spotted the turret of a Panther which was stationary on the road, and facing East. He moved into a hull down position and at about a range of 400 yards, put his gunner on to the target and put 3 rounds of 75mm AP quick into the enemy turret. It caught fire but the effect was better than could have been anticipated.

The destruction of that tank acted just like a ferret in a rabbit hole. Within the space of two minutes three Panther tanks moved down the road West to East and as they passed, Sgt Harris shot them. He set the first one on fire. The second one bypassed the blazing tank and was hit and moved out of vision. The third one was hit and exploded. When the smoke abated the second tank was seen near the church with the near sprocket blown off. The crew baled out.




Results :


1. The Squadron destroyed six Panther tanks for the loss of one Sherman.

2. The Infantry had been helped on to their objective and with the help of the tanks, had repelled a counter attack and the village of LINGEVRES was still in our hands. 



Conclusions 


1. All the tanks were destroyed with A.P.

2. At 400 yards 75mm AP destroyed Panther - turret from the side.

3. These particular Panzers appeared to be very road-bound. 

4. They made use of cart sheds to conceal tanks and their camouflage was excellent.

5. In this form of village fighting the man who moves about is the man who gets shot at. Take up a
good position and stay there.
Chris

"from mud, through blood to the green fields beyond..."
Brigadier General Hugh Elles

Blackadder: Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words "I have a cunning plan" marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?



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Lingevres, 14 June 1944 - What Really Happened - by Tallyho - 05-21-2013, 11:59 PM

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