History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Le Havre

Le Havre was a Battle Honour granted to Canadian units participating in actions at this city from 10 Sep 1944 to 12 Sep 1944, as part of the overall battle to clear the Channel Ports. Only one Canadian unit was involved in this battle, which was fought by I British Corps.

Background

The fall of Dieppe in early Sep 1944 brought hope that Allied logistical concerns might be speedily remedied by the capture of port facilities along the coast of northern France. In the first week of Sep, then, First Canadian Army moved quickly to try and secure several cities. Le Havre was invested by I British Corps, while 3rd Canadian Infantry Division moved on Boulogne and Calais. It is worthy of note, however, that administrative plans drafted by the Allies had provided for the use of Le Havre to resupply American forces in the field rather than First Canadian Army or British 2nd Army.1



On 6 Sep, General Montgomery, commander of 21st Army Group asked the commander of First Canadian Army, General H.D.G. Crerar, for an estimate on how long the battle for Boulogne might last. Crerar was of the opinion that capturing the channel ports was vital to the conduct of the war, and recognized that the speedy advance by the Allied armies away from Normandy at the end of Aug had imposed a great logistical burden.
Approach to Battle

I British Corps had crossed the Seine in the first week of Sep, and leading elements of the 49th (West Riding) Division made contact with German perimeter defences on the evening of 3 Sep. A surrender demand was rejected by the garrison the next morning by Oberst Eberhard Wildermuth, in charge of the garrison. The German commander had already made the harbour unserviceable and hoped the Allies might forgo a formal siege knowing that the port would be unusable for many months after capture.

The grand Allied plan, outlined as early as Mar 1944, had been to capture Rouen and Le Havre at approximately D+90. The first outline plan for Operation ASTONIA, the capture of the Le Havre, was drafted on 3 Sep (D+89). The plan called for an assault by two infantry divisions supported by two armoured brigades (49th Division would be accompanied by 51st (Highland) Division, supported by 34 Tank Brigade and 33 Armoured Brigade respectively).

Operational Plan

The Highland Division was to move down the coast and take over the Western half of the line and the two divisions were to continue to drive in the enemy outposts and by vigorous patrolling intimidate him and learn everything possible about his dispositions. If the enemy showed any sign of weakness and presented the opportunity, penetration of his main positions was to be made. Arrangements were made for Naval and Air bombardment to "soften up" his defences, and to facilitate this co-operation, Corps Headquarters was put in direct touch with the Royal Navy and with Bomber Command. In the event of these attacks and the preliminary efforts of the ground forces having no effect the assault was to take place on 8 or 9 September, depending on the administrative situation and the amount of information obtained.2

Defences

Le Havre was strongly defended and surrounded by water on three sides (the English Channel to the west, the mouth of the Seine River to the south, and the flooded Lezarde River valley to the east). Strong defensive works strengthened these natural obstacles, and the obvious route for a land assault - the north - was under observation from high ground around Octeville as well as two high plateaux to the north-east. Barbed wire and minefields protected an area from the Lezarde valley at La Rive to the sea coast at Octeville. A 20-foot wide anti-tank ditch, about 10 feet deep, had also been dug on the northern approaches to the city and concrete emplacements housing machine guns and anti-tank weapons were numerous, 11 on the northern plateau alone. Inside the city were 28 artillery positions, usually of four guns each, though the majority could only be trained out to sea. Two forts inside the city (Fort Ste Adresse and Fort Saniv) were combined with road blocks, pill boxes, fortified houses, and concrete shelters to form an interlocking defensive system. The garrison was estimated at between 7,350 and 8,700 men, including 4,000 artillerymen and flak troops and 1,300 naval personnel untrained in ground combat. Infantry number 4,500 men according to post-war interrogations of the garrison commander, including a battalion of Grenadier Regiment 936 of Infanterie Division 245.3

Battle-experienced men on leave from the eastern front, hastily banded together into two battalions, had not yet shaken down into a smooth-working team. The men of 81 Fortress Unit, and two battalions of 5 Sicherungs Regiment (Protective Regiment) were infirm and of small fighting value. The fortress commander having considered the quality of his troops and the facilities for defence, had reported to the Commander of Fifteenth Army, so he alleged later, that the fortress could be held against an assault for 24 hours in unfavourable circumstances, or 72 hours if circumstances favoured the defence.4

Fire Support

Preparation for the battle included naval bombardment and tactical mission by heavy bombers. The chief effects of the shelling and bombing was to knock out two anti-aircraft batteries, damage the telephone exchange, and make streets impassable due to rubble. Some 922,000 leaflets were also dropped on the city by RAF aircraft and artillery shells. Propaganda missions were also executed by loudspeaker.

A tremendous weight of artillery was available to support the attack. In addition to the six field regiments of the two divisions, there were two AGRA's, comprising six medium and two heavy regiments. Besides timed concentrations, the corps commander could order, and divisions could request, Victor Targets. When one of these was ordered by the CCRA, every gun which could reach the target, and was not otherwise engaged, would take part in the shoot. The call to fire on a Victor Target took precedence over counter-battery or counter-flak tasks. Pre-arranged concentrations were also available on call.

Canadian Participation

1 Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron had been formed on 1 Sep 44 as the result of the success which attended the use of "unfrocked Priests" carrying infantry during Operations TOTALIZE and TRACTABLE. The squadrons had 4 troops each of 12 Kangaroos. This squadron and its successor, 1 Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment, (formed 23 Oct 44) were to provide a satisfactory solution to the problem of transporting infantry safely through the enemy's outer defences.

The first phase of the assault planned by Lieutenant General Sir John Crocker, commander of I British Corps, called for the 49th Division to breach the outer defences and capture the northern plateau while seizing a bridgehead on the southern plateau. The second phase would see the 51st Division secure a base north of the Forêt de Mongeon while 49th Division seized the southern plateau. The Highlanders would then destroy defences at Octeville and secure the northwestern outskirts of Le Havre itself. The final phase would see both divisions attacking from the captured high ground into the city itself.

British Churchill crews of the 34th Tank Brigade watch the aerial bombardment of Le Havre. IWM Photo.

The initial task of 49 (W.R.) Inf Div in the first phase was to breach and enter the enemy defences at a point a mile west of Montiville. Here it would be necessary to make three gaps through wire and minefield and, in the case of the central passage, bridge the anti-tank ditch. For the task, 56 Inf Bde had flails to deal with mines, AVsRE for the bridging of the ditch, and the Churchills of 7 R. Tks. To deal with the strongpoints behind the enemy minefields and wire, they had more AVsRE and Crocodile flamethrowing tanks. The battalion whose task it was to pass through the northern plateau and secure a bridgehead on the southern plateau, had Churchills in support, plus the very great advantage of being carried to their objectives in the Canadian-manned Kangaroos.

In the second phase, 51 (H.) Inf Div was to start its operations in darkness, with a break-in just west of the gaps made earlier by 49 (W.R.) Inf Div. For their part in the assault the Scotsmen also received the assistance of the strange contrivances of 79 Armd Div. The gap was to be three lanes in width, and each lane was to be made by an identical armoured column, or "gapping team". The leading vehicle was an AVRE, whose principal function was to clear the anti-landing poles and wires which infested the area. Next came the first "flail", whose responsibility included direction keeping by gyro compass, an important and difficult task at night, as had been found in Operation TOTALIZE. There would follow two AVsRE. with "snakes" for detonating by explosives the mines on the far side of the trench, and so giving the four flails which followed a clear area from which to start their work of mine detonation. The last two vehicles would be an A.V.R.E. towing a sledge full of fascines for use by the divisional sappers and a bulldozer to improve the crossings. As in Operation TOTALIZE, direction-keeping was to be aided by tapes and lights, and Bofors tracers.

Bad weather hampered planning, and frequent rain caused mud that made passage of vehicles difficult. The operation was postponed from 9 Sep to 10 Sep, though the ground remained a concern to commanders in the event.



The Battle

The opening bombardment began at 1000hrs on 10 Sep, with 300 15-inch shells falling on the city. At 1645hrs, 900 heavy bombers dropped 4,264 tons of high explosive.

To the waiting troops, formed up west of Montivilliers on the right bank of the Lezarde, the weight and apparent precision of the bombing was impressive and encouraging. They estimated that its effects on the defenders would be considerable. Prisoners stated subsequently, however, that although the bombardment was very frightening, comparatively few of the German troops were killed or wounded because of the excellent shelters, including those supplied for the civilian population. Damage was done to weapons, but the most important result was the breakdown in communications, which prevented the German artillery commander from controlling his resources, and precluded centralized direction of the defence.

The 49th Division advanced at 1745hrs, and flail tanks began clearing mines from the left gap at 1825hrs, managing to clear three lanes by 1940hrs with the loss of four tanks. The centre attack went slowly, as it involved bridging the anti-tank ditch, and only one lane was cleared despite great effort. The assault on the eastern gap, also, resulted in just one line rather than the planned two. In all, 29 flail tanks were put out of action as well as two command tanks - almost all disabled by mines - and six AVsRE.

The German view of this part of the operation is interesting as showing the effectiveness of the methods employed by the attackers:

During the night 10/11 September, Allied artillery kept up its intensive fire. In addition a dome of light formed by huge searchlights was thrown over the fortress, and under this artificial moonlight infantry and flame-throwing tanks continued their break-in all through the night. Command during the hours of darkness was almost impossible with means of communication, wireless and roads, hopelessly damaged. Companies thrown in for relief reached their assembly points late, and with considerable casualties. When daylight came, Wildermuth realized a counter-attack was out of the question, and he ordered his troops to take up the defence of the second position, on the east and north-east edge of the forest of Mongeon...

Minefields were penetrated very quickly, and Allied tanks and infantry co-operated well in the attack. The flame-throwing tanks had a great morale effect in weakening the defenders' will to resist. The artificial moonlight on the night of 10/11 September, created considerable surprise. Preceding the attack into the town, Allied artillery gave prompt and mobile support to the spearheads of the attack. The infantry advanced carefully and capably, and the British fighter, according to Wildermuth, proved himself to be a hard fighter in the break-in and in house-to-house fighting.

Once the gaps had been cleared, however, tanks and Crocodile flamethrowing tanks passed through to engage enemy fortifications. As fighting broke out across the northern plateau past sundown, "The battalion whose task it was to seize a bridgehead on the southern plateau were forced to advance on foot from the gaps as the going, because of mud and undetonated mines, was too bad for the Canadian-manned Kangaroos which were carrying them to proceed further." Unable to establish a bridgehead, this force did manage to seize two intact bridges over the Fontaine (dividing the plateaux) and Royal Engineers completed two other crossings.

At 2359hrs the 51st Division's leading battalions passed through the right hand gap of the 49th, and manoeuvred to the rear of enemy defences opposite their division; then the Highlanders began their own gapping work. By 0240hrs, three lanes had been started, and bridges laid over the ditch. The first lane was completed two hours later.
11 Sep 1944

To the east of the Lezarde, a brigade of the 49th Division attacked four strong points east of Harfleur at 0530hrs on 11 Sep; the attack was supported by tanks and flails and the fire of four field regiments and one medium regiment. Despite this support, unexpected mines hampered the assault, and the addition of Crocodiles to the attack force did not immediately deter the German defenders; fighting lasted until after 1400hrs when the the last strongpoint surrendered. By last light the brigade was moving westward into the city itself, and reached a point northwest of the railway marshalling yards.

In the meantime, attacks from the north had penetrated further into German defences, and concrete emplacements were reduced by flame and explosives from Crocoiles and AVsRE. Bomber Command dropped 857 more tons of bombs early in the morning and tactical air support engaged targets throughout during the daylight hours, which saw troops reach Doudenville, and into the city as far south as the forts Ste Addressee and Sanvic.
 

12 Sep 1944

The final clearance of the city was effected on 12 Jul 1944; a brigade of the 51st Division cleared the area from Doudenville to the coast with little resistance, while the other two brigades of the division cleared Le Havre's southern portion including Fort Ste Addresse which stubbornly held out until 1500hrs. The 49th Division cleared areas in the south including the docks and Canal Vauban as well as Fort Sanvic. The 49th also captured Oberst Wildermuth, who had been wounded.

In 48 hours' fighting the great fortress of Le Havre had been reduced. The port was thus secured for our use 98 days after the first invaders landed in German-occupied Europe. The besiegers suffered just under 500 casualties killed, wounded and missing from 3 Sep to the end of the operation on 12 Sep. On the other hand the defence had cost the Germans 11,300 prisoners, as well as uncounted dead. An official report on the battle lists the dominant factors which led to the British success.


French citizens assist British armoured reconnaissance troops locate German holdouts during mopping-up operations, 12 Sep 1944. IWM Photo.

There is no doubt that the speed and comparative ease with which the operation was accomplished were largely due to the absence of a determined will to resist on the part of the garrison, and that this condition was created by a sense of complete isolation by land, sea and air, culminating in the concentrated and undisturbed bombardment of the defences by the Royal Artillery, the Royal Navy and above all, the Royal Air Force. The Corps plan, both in its conception and execution, made full use of this condition; all available arms were employed to their best advantage; the momentum of the assault was never permitted to relax; before it had time to recover the garrison was overwhelmed.

The German view is also presented in the CMHQ report:

Colonel Wildermuth gave, from the German viewpoint, a studied and logical evaluation of the comparative contributions of the various arms and services in our conduct of the battle of Le Havre:

Describing Allied tactics, he claimed that the main brunt of the attack had been delivered against the weakest part of the land front. That this would come on 10 September, was hardly to be doubted in consideration of what had gone before. That the attack would start after 1730 hrs, however, came as something of a surprise. The air bombardments and the shelling from the sea had only a general destructive effect, but did not create much military damage. The real effective fire came from Allied concentrated artillery which had devastating results in knocking out the guns of the fortress.

Aftermath

Le Havre, once captured, was assigned to US forces as planned, and made the task of capturing other Channel Ports that much more important to the commander of 21st Army Group and his subordinate commanders.

Boulogne was particularly needed as a terminal for "Pluto", the crosschannel pipe line. But progress had been made, for the fall of Le Havre released to II Canadian Corps the strong body of armour and artillery required by 3 Cdn Inf Div to assault Boulogne. It also made available the resources of RAF Bomber Command and the guns of 51 (H.) Inf Div and 9 AGRA. On 13 Sep General Crerar, in a directive to his Corps Commanders, in which he outlined the future requirements to be carried out by First Cdn Army in the clearing of channel ports and the opening of Antwerp, gave orders that 2 Cdn Corps should capture Boulogne on 16 Sep, "or as soon thereafter as the necessary air support can be afforded.

Battle Honours

The following Canadian units were awarded the Battle Honour "Le Havre" for participation in these actions:

British 79th Armoured Division

  • 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment

 

Notes

  1. Detailed discussion of major points of this article, including primary reference material footnotes, can be found in Report No. 184, Historical Section, Canadian Military Headquarters reports: "Canadian Participation in the Operations in North-West Europe 1944. Part V: Clearing the Channel Ports 3 Sep 44 - 6 Feb 45." These reports are available in electronic form online.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid. The CMHQ report states "GR 36" which is presumed to be a typographical error (there are other more obvious errors in the report).
  4. Ibid. All further quotations are from CMHQ report 184 unless noted otherwise.

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