Villers-Bocage, France 1944

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Imagery taken by 168 Sqn flying Mustang MkI's - Dated 1st July 1944
Aerial imagery (c) Chris Clark
Overview of the village of Villers Bocage

The battle of Villers-Bocage, Normandy took place on the 13th June 1944 just over one week after D-Day.

Early that day, elements of a British armoured regiment and mechanized infantry of 7th Armoured Division approached the French town.

German SS tank commander Michael Wittmann commanded a small force of tanks nearby. He charged his vehicle into the British column, cutting through it and then engaged the British vehicles at very close range. The other tanks of his unit also attacked and added to the British heavy losses.

As Wittmann was leaving Villers-Bocage, his left track was hit by a 6 pounder shell, forcing his tank to stop, still his crew engaged enemy targets in range. Thinking that the Tiger could be repaired later, Wittmann and crew abandoned the tank without destroying it.

The overview image on the left shows the town.

In the bottom left corner, within the red box, three knocked out Cromwell tanks can still be seen (see enlargement below)

Close up of destoryed tanks

The red arrows show the locations of some of the knocked out
Cromwell tanks, the images on the right are the corresponding tanks.

Losses after the battle are as follows

The British losses:

8th King's Royal Irish Hussars:
A number of Stuarts

4th County of London Yeomanry:
8 Cromwells, 4 Sherman Fireflies, 3 Stuarts, 1 Half-track vehicle, 3 Scout cars.

Rifle Brigade:
9 half-track vehicles, 2 Bren gun-carriers, 4 Carden-Loyd Carriers.

5th Royal Horse Artillery:
2 Cromwell, 1 Sherman.

The German losses:

Within Wittmann's Unit, only 6 Tiger tanks and 5 Panzer IVs were put out of action, of the damaged Tiger tanks, 3 were later repaired.

German propaganda throughout the War honoured individual fighters as Hero's. The battle at Villers-Bocage took Michael Wittmann to that status; he was given credit for 27 of the 30 destroyed British tanks.
It must be stated that Wittmann's Tiger tanks greatly outclassed the British vehicles in both firepower and armour. That said, the British 17 pounder gun could penetrate the armour on the Tiger tank and so could the towed 6 pounder gun along with the 75 mm guns on both the Cromwell and Sherman tanks under ideal conditions.

These last two examples show the total destruction of the town by the air attacks.
They are enlargements from the above frame.
Destroyed Town of Villers-Bocage Destroyed houses within the town of Villers-Bocage

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