Operation Goodwood 18-22 July 1944

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Map Code: Ax02337

Following the landings at Sword Beach in Normandy on 6 June, Operation Goodwood (named after the Sussex racecourse) was the first major battle assigned to the British Third Infantry Division, with the objective of quickly securing the strategically important city of Caen nine miles (14.5 km) inland and, in particular, the Bourguébus Ridge 5 miles (8 km) to its southeast. In Operation Charnwood (9 July) the allies had taken the city’s northern suburbs and secured a bridghead over the River Orne, but German resistance held the Colombelles steelworks and the city centre, which was bombed to rubble over the ensuing month. The Germans, determined not to lose the city and its environs, built four heavily defended lines, and deployed huge numbers of troops and weaponry. Preliminary Operations Greenline and Pomegranate took place on 15 and 16 July and were inconclusive, but on 18 July Canadian-led Operation Atlantic took several of the villages to the south, while the British-led Operation Goodwood advanced southwards in the east. The campaign opened with immense allied bombing raids, which initially stunned the Germans, but they regrouped and a series of major tank battles followed, with over 300 being destroyed on either side and allied casualties estimated at over 5,000. Although Caen itself and the Bourguébus Ridge were not definitively taken by 22 July, the German defences were greatly weakened and their armour depleted, leaving American-led Operation Cobra (25-29 July) subsequently to break through at Saint-Lô to the southwest, after which the German defence of Normandy collapsed.

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