Arthur W. GullachsenFeb 11, 2022
Bloody Verrieres: The I. SS-Panzerkorps Defence of the Verrieres-Bourguebus Ridges
The I. SS-Panzerkorps Defence of the Verrieres-Bourguebus Ridges
South of the Norman city of Caen, the twin features of the Verrières and Bourguebus ridges were key stepping stones for the British Second Army in late July 1944--taking them was crucial if it was to be successful in its attempt to break out of the Normandy bridgehead. To capture this vital ground, Allied forces would have to defeat arguably the strongest German armored formation in Normandy: the I. SS-Panzerkorps "Leibstandarte." The resulting battles of late July and early August 1944 saw powerful German defensive counterattacks south of Caen inflict tremendous casualties, regain lost ground and at times defeat Anglo-Canadian operations in detail.
Viewed by the German leadership as militarily critical, the majority of its armored assets were deployed to dominate this excellent tank country east of the Orne river. These defeats and the experience of meeting an enemy with near-equal resources exposed a flawed Anglo-Canadian offensive tactical doctrine that was overly dependent on the supremacy of its artillery forces. Furthermore, weaknesses in Allied tank technology inhibited their armored forces from fighting a decisive armored battle, forcing Anglo-Canadian infantry and artillery forces to further rely on First World War "Bite and Hold" tactics, massively supported by artillery. Confronted with the full force of the Panzerwaffe, Anglo-Canadian doctrine at times floundered. In response, the Royal Artillery and Royal Canadian Artillery units pummeled the German tankers and grenadiers, but despite their best efforts, ground could not be captured by concentrated artillery fire alone.
Arthur W. Gullachsen's book Bloody Verrieres: The I. SS-Panzerkorps Defence of the Verrieres-Bourguebus Ridges (Casemate, 2021) a detailed account of the success of I. SS-Panzerkorps' defensive operations, aimed at holding the Vèrrieres-Bourgebus ridges in late July 1944.