Tuesday, June 13, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
On the night of June 12-13, the first V-1 rockets were launched on London.
General Montgomery took advantage of this day to strengthen his positions and slowed down the advance of his troops north of Caen which still did not fall into the hands of the Allies. Advanced elements of the 7th British Armored Division (including the 4th County of London Yeomanry) reached Villers-Bocage and took positions on Hill 213, a high point to the east.
The “Desert Rats” (7th British Armored Division) were then attacked by the heavy tanks commanded by Wittmann. The British losses are particularly important: in less than fifteen minutes, fourteen tanks (thirteen according to other reports), two anti-tank guns and fifteen transport vehicles are destroyed by the Germans. Armed with this victory, the latter continue their counterattack that falls in several ambushes stretched by the British in the ruins of Villers-Bocage and Tiger tanks are destroyed. But the Desert Rats are obliged to retreat early in the evening, continually harassed by the enemy’s artillery, up to Hill 174 near Amayé-sur-Seulles, west of Villers-Bocage.
The Germans, strengthened by this victory, counter-attack in the direction of Tilly-sur-Seulles and Lingèvres. But the British resist relentlessly and the German armored vehicles of the Panzer Lehr division are scattered. The counterattack is transformed into an organized retreat. But Caen is not under control and it seems that many days of intense fighting are necessary for its conquest.
On the American front, 502nd and 506th parachute infantry regiments of the 101st Airborne Division manage to release the whole of Carentan. Further to the southwest, the 175th US Infantry Division is to seize a height that overhangs the road linking Bayeux to Saint-Lô. Its elements are welcomed by a dam of mortar shells and heavy machine-gun fire which slow down their progression.
The 90th US Infantry Division liberated the town of Pont-l’Abbé, while on the edge of the American and British front, the soldiers of the 1st American infantry division liberated the village of Caumont, where violent fights against the Germans of the 2nd SS Panzer Division took place the eve.