The naval bombartment
lasted longer in this sector than it had in the American sector. This
s possible because
H-hour was not until 7.30. The variation in the tide between the American
and the British sector had been the cause of this difference. The longer
bombartment may have been an advantage for the British, but when it lifted,
there where still several batteries and fortifications intact in the sector.
These fortifications caused a crossfire that made seveal sections on this
beach just as terrible as it was on Omaha beach. A total catastrophe did
not occur on this beach although losses where very high. The special tanks
that supported the infantry on the beach and that opened the beach exits
had a very important influence in the British sector.
tanks landed before the infantry. It was the plan that the crab tanks
would land first, they would clear paths free from mines. the AVRE and
Bobbins would follow behind them and bridge any obstacles they might encounter.
Then the regular tanks would follow, firing on the machine-gun nest and
fortifications. But as general Eisenhower had already concluded, you have
to make plans and do everything you can to make them as perfect as possible,
but once you land all plans are worthless.
At Le Hamel
all the summer homes had been turned into fortresses, enemy fire was very
intensive here. Only one crab tank managed to stay mobile and cleared
a path leading away from the beach. Most tanks became the victims of mines
or enemy fire. The tanks that where imobilized kept firing on enemy strongpoints
and still gave some support to the advancing infantry.
It took the
Hamptshire regiment that landed at Le Hamel eight hours to disable the
beach defenses in their sector. At the end of the day this regiment had
lost two hundred men.
In other parts
of Gold Beach costal defenses where less intense. The Dorset regiment,
on the left of the Hamptshire regiment only needed forty minutes to get
off the beach. Resistance was light here and the obstacles and the mines
caused the biggest problems in this sector.
The Green Howards
were aided greatly by the special tanks and with their support they managed
to get several passages off the beach within the hour.
In the afternoon,
two crockodille tanks managed to break the resistance at the sanatorium
at Le Hamel, the most fortified point in the Gold Beach area. At that
time the main force of the 50th Inf Division had bypassed those strongpoints
and the beachhead had a dept of five kilometres.
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