Overlord'S Blog: The Reich Strikes back
The Coldstreamers then fell back from the position they'd reached to give hill 309 some safety distance because at 1500 a bomber strike was scheduled to prepare the hill. Shortly after vacating their position a pair of FW-190's appeared and launched rocket attacks on the line that the Coldstreamers had previously occupied, the attack did nothing more than plough up some fields.
The Coldstreamers found much the same problem at La Morichesse as the Scots Guards had encountered as Les Loges, they also had to detour. The terrain was particularly bad going and three tanks bogged down, one tank rolled over which set off a grenade inside the tank wounding the turret crew. The troop commander of the three bogged down tanks and one of the unwounded crew from the rolled tank set off to find medical help. However, they were unsuccessful and on their way back they ran into a German infantry platoon, accompanied by a Jagdpanther.
During battles a single Churchill tank was kept as a rear link. Its job was to maintain radio communication between the forward units and the HQ. In this case the rear link tank didn't learn of the detour around La Morichesse and entered the town, only to be destroyed by a point blank shot from a Panther tank. Despite all this by 1600 Hill 309 was occupied.
Meanwhile the Grenadier Guards had collected together the infantry and were trying to transport them to the front, first of all they got snarled up in a traffic jam, and didn't clear that until 1630. Then they ran into the stiffening resistance at La Morichesse, and were unable to bypass with the ease the Coldstreamers had done. Their problems continued to mount as ME-109's would make strafing runs on the column, orders were getting confused in the jumble and then the light began to fade.
At the hill near Les Loges the Scots were still on their own. Just as they tuned into the 1800 BBC Broadcast, they heard the news about the battle they were currently in. With curious timing the Germans then laid an artillery barrage onto the hill, followed shortly after by three high velocity cannon shots. The three rounds each knocked out a Churchill on the left flank, destroying the troop of tanks in that location, and leaving the flank open. Unable to raise anyone on the left flank the Squadron 2nd in command moved his tank over to see what was going on, and met three Jagdpanthers at point blank range.
After knocking out the flank troop the Jagdpanthers had used the cover of a hedge line, and finally a cottage to get into the wooded area on the hill. Their long 88's easily punched a round through the 2IC’s tank and caused its ammunition to detonate, blowing the turret off.
The Jagdpanthers then fell upon the Scots Guards from behind at point blank range, pushing through the line. Their fire knocked out a further seven Churchills. As the Jagdpanthers withdrew over the crest of a nearby swell in the ground they were taken under fire by the remaining Scots Guards. The Churchills quickly knocked out two of the attackers.
By early evening the Coldstreamers had finally linked up with the infantry support, they had brought their anti-tank guns up by manhandling them as the terrain was to rough for Carriers and other tows. Even resupply was done by transferring supplies to M3 half tracks and then using those to get as close as they could to the front line; the supplies were then manhandled up to the front line.
A quiet if tense night was spent at the front. Then in the morning a Churchill was hit from the flank in the turret, the round had come from the left rear of the Churchill's position from the village of La Ferriere, thankfully it caused no damage. A brief gunfight followed and a single German self propelled gun was seen to withdraw from the position. For the rest of the day regular salvos of artillery fell upon the Coldstreamers position. But that was all that happened that day, apart from the armoured divisions moving forwards along the road to continue the attack.
On the 1st of August the dawn stillness was shattered by a massive German bombardment at 0530. Shortly after that infantry was observed leaving their positions in La Ferriere and from cover to the front. Then above the din of exploding rounds tank engines could be heard. The Germans were attacking the Coldstreamers position from the flank and to their front. The first wave of the infantry attacked at 0645. The Churchills laid down a devastating blanket of fire which stopped the attack dead.
Almost immediately a second attack came in this time with armour support. Again the firepower the Churchills put down forced the attack to retreat. The enemy then started trying to snipe tanks from long range with Jagdpanthers. The Coldstreamers returned the compliment but were aghast to see their shells bounce harmlessly off the thick armour. Even so the Churchills position meant they were difficult targets and the Jagdpanthers scored no further hits.
One thing the Coldstreamers were not short of was artillery support and they liberally applied this to the enemy positions. The quick response and famously rapid rate of fire from the British artillery severely hampered the enemy. One of the Squadron Commanders won a Military Cross for his actions in commanding his squadron and directing the artillery. Soon the Germans began to retire from the battle, one column was badly shot up by the Coldstreamers as it withdrew from La Ferriere. Everything seemed quiet for a while, then four German deserters surrendered in the evening. They warned of a German attack being prepared in an orchard behind the Coldstreamers position. Quickly every available gun and mortar was directed towards this orchard, along with the direct fire from the Churchills. After a short while of this battering, an infantry battalion and several German Tigers retreated from the orchard.
With this last force withdrawing no more fighting took place, the base of Operation Bluecoat was secure, and later Bluecoat secured the flank of Operation Cobra.