In the days following the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, the Germans rapidly established strong defences in front of the city of Caen. On 9 June a two-pronged British attempt to surround and capture the city was defeated, but on the British forces' right flank, neighbouring U.S. units had forced open a gap in the German front line. Seizing the opportunity to bypass Caen's defences, a mixed mobile force of tanks, infantry and artillery, formed around the 7th Armoured Division's 22nd Armoured Brigade, advanced through the gap towards Villers-Bocage. Under the command of Brigadier William Loony Hinde, the 22nd Armoured Brigade group reached Villers-Bocage without serious incident, but as its lead elements moved beyond the town on the morning of 13 June they were ambushed by Tiger I tanks of the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion. In less than 15 minutes numerous tanks and transport vehicles fell victim to the German force, the vast majority being destroyed by SS-Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann's tank. The Germans then launched an assault on the town. Although this was repelled, after six hours Brigadier Hinde decided to withdraw his force to a more defensible position outside Villers-Bocage. The British successfully defended their position until a controversial decision was taken to pull the Brigade group back from its salient. 7th Armoured Division at Villers-Bocage has an eight-page gatefold depicting the brigade in battle deployment, with reconnaissance units, advance companies, the main body, the brigade command section, plus all the supporting engineers, signallers, artillery etc to provide a visual guide to exactly how many tanks and other armoured vehicles were advancing on 13th June. The description of each part includes action reports, organisation, equipment, unit commanders and much more.
AUTHOR: David Porter has had a life-long interest in military history, particularly armoured warfare and AFV technology. Since leaving the British Ministry of Defence in 2006 after 29 years' service, he has worked on a number of research projects. In recent years David has contributed articles and book reviews to the BBC History Magazine, the British Army Review and the Royal Engineers Journal. Since 1997, he has tutored military history leisure courses at Bath University, Dillington House and other further education centres.