Operation Pomegranate

Operation Pomegranate

16-17 July 1944

Origins of operation Pomegranate

The Americans are preparing the Cobra operation south of the Cotentin in order to pierce the front line and engage Brittany. This offensive is being coordinated with the 2nd Army, comprising Anglo-Canadian forces east of Vire. General Montgomery, commander of the land forces in Normandy, wants to set up an operation to fix the German armies In particular their heavy armored vehicles) in the Caen region. This would allow the Americans to move more easily south without being delayed.

For Montgomery, it is also a matter of preparing for operation Goodwood (which starts on July 18) by maintaining sufficiently strong pressure along the front line so as not to allow time for the Germans to reorganize and counter-attack .

A first offensive was launched on July 15, 1944: operation Greenline. However, the Germans manage to stop the British momentum the next day and Greenline does not allow to fix the opponent. Montgomery took the decision to immediately renew the offensive by concentrating in the area of ​​Noyers-Bocage: it was the birth of operation Pomegranate.

The operation is scheduled to begin on 16 July with the British 49th and 59th Infantry divisions against the 276 and 277 Infantry Division and the Panzer Division.

Conduct of operation Pomegranate

On July 16, the 49th Infantry Division “West Riding” headed for Vendes, which is its goal of the day. On its left flank, the 59th Infantry Division “Staffordshire” made its way towards Noyers-Bocage, taking the Bordel River by hand. The English advanced rapidly and made 300 German prisoners on the first day. They also seize the hamlet of Brettevillette. The SS Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen is severely hit and loses 23 tanks during the day’s engagements.

The following day, 17 July, furious fighting took place throughout the day on the outskirts of Noyers-Bocage, including the fierce defense of the SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 9 (commanded by SS-Hauptsturmführer Victor Gräbner) SS Pz-Div. Hohenstaufen.

At nightfall, Noyers-Bocage is still in the hands of the Germans although the English of the Staffordshire division have appropriated the station and the approaches to the village.

Meanwhile, the 49th Infantry Division manages to capture the commune of Vendes, while the 50th “Northumbrian” Infantry Division knocks down the defenses of Hottot-les-Bagues, which had resisted him for more than a month.

Results of operation Pomegranate

The benefits of operation Pomegranate are almost zero in the sector of the 2nd Army. Few land was taken from the Germans and the Allied casualties were particularly high with 3,500 soldiers put out of action in just three days from 15 to 17 July 1944. During the same period 2,000 German soldiers were wounded, missing.

If Pomegranate does not change the strategic situation of the 2nd Army, the conduct of these combats offers a double advantage to the Allies.

On the one hand, it allows the Americans to prepare operation Cobra under the best conditions. In fact, German forces are stationed in the south-west region of Caen by the pressure of land forces and the destructive power of Allied bombing. The Germans can not disengage the front to strengthen the southern Cotentin, under penalty of seeing their line of defense west of Caen collapse.

On the other hand, this double Greenline-Pomegranate offensive corresponds to a logic of attrition: the Germans lose many men and equipment that are hardly replaceable before the launch of operation Goodwood.