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The Fighting Grenadiers

Operation Goodwood 18 to 21 July 1944

The fighting throughout the day was extremely confused and it is not easy to give a coherent account of it. Each battalion of the armoured brigade had a motor company of the 1st Grenadier Guards under command, in accordance with the then commonly accepted organisation for battle…

The Story of the Guards Armoured Division.
Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/1
Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/1

The remainder of the 1st Battalion, operating with the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards and the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, still farther back, spent an equally frustrating afternoon. They were able to send out small parties into the cornfields to collect prisoners, but they had no opportunity of taking a direct part in the action.

They were mortared all afternoon…As soon as Cagny was captured two companies of the 1st Battalion took part in small attacks designed to carry the advance beyond the village. With 2nd Battalion Irish Guards , No. 2 Company pushed south-west down the Caen - Paris highway; but the open country on either side was too well defended by enemy anti-tank guns for the 2nd Irish to go far and, although the Company managed to reach a cross-roads about half-way between Cagny and Vimont, it was dark by the time they got there and they were ordered to return.

No. 4 Company patrolled down the side of a large wood directly south of Cagny, and, having reached the railway running north of the village of Le Poirier, remained there until relieved by the 32nd Brigade the next morning.

The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945.

Tank Museum photo No. 2985/C/5
Tank Museum photo No. 2985/C/5

The Advance to the Seine

The distance from the fields near Flers, where 1st and 2nd Battalions were situated, to the River Seine is about ninety miles as the crow flies, and in peace time, in a civilian car whose driver has only his private responsibility, such a journey would have been neither remarkable nor difficult. But the movement of soldiers had never been a simple operation and never more complicated than in the case of a modern armoured division.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions' move to the Seine was made against time and in pouring rain, over roads that had been pummelled both by the retreating Germans and the British advance guards following on their heels.

Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/6
Tank Museum photo No. 2985/B/6

Supply points and staging areas had to be arranged, advance parties had to be briefed, road pickets detailed and, motor-cyclists sent forward. The huge assortment of vehicles had to be marshalled according to their purpose and kind; three-ton lorries and Bren carriers, half-tracks and cooking trucks, company vehicles and Jeeps, water trucks, ambulances and the vehicles mounted for anti-aircraft defence.
The Grenadier Guards in the War of 1939-1945.

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