Tuesday, July 18, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
On July 18, General Montgomery begins operation Goodwood, which aims to liberate the eastern; souwestern and southeastern area of Caen from positions captured on D-Day by the 6th British Airborne Division between the Orne river and the village of Troarn. The 8th Corps, commanded by General O’Connor, launches three armored divisions in the attack east of Caen towards the town of Falaise: the 7th, the 11th, and the Armored guards divisions. The offensive began with a terrible bombardment of three hours: 2,500 bombers released nearly 6,000 tons of bombs, while artillery (both naval and ground) fired nearly 250,000 shells targeted in a vast area between the eastern part of Caen and the village of Troarn, a corridor about 14 miles long and fourteen kilometers wide.
The fighting southwest of Caen in the vicinity of Louvigny is fierce between the Canadians and the 12th and 21st S.S. Panzer divisions attached to the Panzergruppe west commanded by Eberbach. This small village, lost the day before by the Allies, was taken again on 18 July in a vast attack carried out by the Royal Regiment of Canada, supported by field and naval artillery.
The 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry, supported by the tanks of the 29th Brigade belonging to the 11th British Armored Division, advance in turn towards the villages of Cuverville, Giberville and Demouville, severely bombed on the morning of July 18 and defended by the 16th Luftwaffe Feld Division, which retreated shortly after the bombing, abandoning the village of Cuverville to the Allied troops and positioning itself to the southwest of the locality of Saint-Pair.
The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment liberates the villages of Touffréville and Sannerville, located south of the locality of Herouvillette-Escoville, itself liberated in the early hours of operation Goodwood.
The first line of German defense is depressed, and the Anglo-Canadians advance for nearly 6 kilometers in the direction of Cagny.
Major von Luck, commander of the 21st Panzer Division, is aware of the weak resistance of the British tanks against the German 88mm guns of the Tiger and Panther tanks. It then regroups five of its artillery pieces and a Tiger tank on the height of the village of Cagny, which becomes a stronghold of the German resistance southwest of Caen: nearly sixteen English tanks are destroyed in a few minutes and the progression is greatly slowed. The German tanks opposed the English tanks and one of the most important tank battle of the whole battle of Normandy takes place north of Cagny, and the German forces have the advantage.
But the British did not give up the fight: the armored division of the Irish Guard attacked Cagny while the 5th brigade of the Guards armored division was heading towards the Emiéville and Guillerville villages, east of Cagny. But once again, the German Tiger tanks of the 503 Armored Battalion showed their superiority and repelled the British attack. The Irish Guards still managed to break through the German defenses because of their numerical superiority and the bombardment of the British artillery, and they liberated the village of Cagny, after having silenced the artillery positions defended by the men of the 21st SS Panzer Division.
At the end of the day, the British lost 1,500 soldiers 270 tanks. The whole plain to the south-east of Caen is finally liberated. The city of Caen itself is fully liberated, more than a month after the date scheduled by the Allies.
On the American front, soldiers penetrated for the first time into the ruins of Saint-Lô. They are the men of the 29th Infantry Division, gathered in a force called Task Force Cota (named after the 29th Division commander), who take the road that leads to Saint-Lô from Lison, the crossroads of Couvains. The advance of the infantry and American vehicles was made difficult by the action of the German artillery, positioned south of Saint-Lô. Throughout their advance, mortars target groups of soldiers who are trying to make their way through the ruins of the city, severely hit by bombardments for a week.