Crocodiles at la Senaudière (1944 Normandy)

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Listy, Sep 5, 2013.

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  1. As you may, or may not know, I write allot of history based articles. I've got one in progress right now, but I've hit a wall, and need to start asking for help.

    la Senaudière is a village to the west of Cean. On the 14th of June There was a tank battle there. 3x Crocodiles, from 15trp 141 RAC got into a fight with some Panzers.

    There are two books which mention this:
    The Osprey on the Crocodile and Wilson's Flamethrower! I've read both accounts but I can't find anything else on the details of the fight.

    I've also tried Emailing the Tilly-sur-Seulles museum run by Stephane Jacquet, but everytime I send an email it can't get delivered.

    Can you help?
    Any snippet of information would be of use. And I do mean any! Or any suggestions on where to look? I want to write this story, but am not finding enough detail.

  2. All I can offer is background stuff you're probably well aware of. Senaudiere would've been the extreme end of 131 brigade's positions opposing the Panzer Lehr on the 14th. 22nd Armoured Brigade would've headed south toward Villers-Bocage on the 12th via the junction at Belle Epine, spent the night Livry, then pushed on to the famous Scrap at Villers the next morning. By the 14th they'd fallen back from Villers to Amaye and the 50th Division was trying to push south to Tilly to take the pressure off 22nd Amd Bde. A successful German counter-attack on Senaudieres opened the very real possibility of 22 Bde being cut off.
  3. Thanks but you guessed right.

    It sounds like an interesting battle, and probably one of the few times the Crocs took on armour. And yet I can't find anything about it. Oh well all is not lost, I still have a few avenues left.

    Thanks again
  4. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    If you had considered buying the Haynes Churchill Tank Owners Manual (All variants 1941 - 1956) in the hope of finding anything, don't bother. Nothing there about this battle (I just read it for Arrse book review).
  5. I'm not a historian, just a Googler, but does this help:

    The Creully Club - Newsletter

    It says Firefly, not Crocodile...
  6. Different battle, I did a write up of it before, see here.

    Lingerves is one village over. Panzer Lehr was defending from La Senaudière to Tilly-Sur-Seulles. Around that time there was vicious fighting all along the front. With various infantry and tank regiments involved.

    I Did find an account from earlier today from the Infantry regiment commander that says one of the Crocodiles nailed two Panthers with its flame-thrower!
  7. Useful or useless informaton?

    141 Regt. R.A.C. (The Buffs).

    Might be worth asking their museum?
  8. I thought there might be one of those, but could only find associations for the Playboys, which was the wrong squadron.


    A contact page wouldn't go amiss on their website!
  9. I don't have the war diaries for either unit. However CAB 44/246 and CAB 44/247 the summary collected from the war diaries for use by the compilers of the official histories does mention the battle. It also includes the Divisional operations instruction No 2 dated 13 June 1944 for this operation to " "attack the enemy on the line of the road La Senaudiere 6878 - Houses 8168 and advance to the high ground 7963- Hottot 8265"

    This was a full scale divisional operation. As the editor of CAB 44/246 points out "in view of the tenacious enemy resistance on 13th June , the pan for 14th June was more carefully formed and the operation on this occasion was not regarded, with misplaced optimism, as a mere following up movement against a retiring enemy." I do not have a detailed orbat to hand, but the same document does mention crocodiles in support of 50 Div's gunners on 7th June when they mopped up the battery which caused WO2 Hollis such problems in his rubarb patch.

    151 Bde were the LH assault brigade and 231 the RH which attacked La Senaudiere. The attack would be staggered with 151 H Hr some hour before 231 Bde. H Hour was 10.00 hours and the divisional attack was supported by a fire plan including bombers from 2 TAF H-40- H hour, The field and medium artillery fireplan was for a barrage to support 151 Bde H- H+60 and 231 Bde from H+70- H+145. 231 Bde were also supported by concentrations of Naval gunfire and support from US Artillery and the British AA artillery.

    151 Bde intially made better progress and captured Lingevres by 11.30 AM, the battle for which is well documented. 231 Bde had initially a tougher time. CAB 44/247 says
    The account then goes on to say that fierce fighting continued around the cross roads at 784689 where two tiger tanks were knocked out by 1 Dorset. This enemy position was not cleared until late evening when it fell to a combined assult from oner company from each of the two battalions.

    It sounds as if the crocodiles went into La Senaudiere in the morning unsupported by infantry if the infantry did not reach the road until noon.

    If the war diaries are to be believed the Pz Lehr took a bit of a thumping that day, with prisoners reporting heavy casualties from artillery and mortar. Accordign to Michael Reynold's study of 1 SS Coprs the Pz Lehr Division's position was reported as "critical" and in the following days the Germans drew back and withdrew Pz Gren Regt 902 from combat for "Reconstitution"

    The battle is a bit over shadowed by the drama experienced by 7th Armoured division on 13-14th June. It is possibly one of the first successful set piece attacks in the campaign post D Day. While 22 Armoured Bde were mauled at Villers Bocage, writing down a PG Regiment should be seen as a consolation.
  10. That more or less confirms what I've found elsewhere. It appears that 15 Trp had been at the brave pills. They laid a smoke screen and rushed the village without meeting up with the Hampshires. There's apparently a picture of a very very badly singed Panther, and the CO C coy 1st Hampshires said that two Panthers were wiped out by the Crocs flame gun.

    Records for Panzer Lehr indicate they lost 6 Panthers that day at La Senaudiere. However several reports say that the Crocs bumped off an armed (So not an OP vehicle) Panzer III. One account says it was a Panzer IV.
  11. From WO 171/877 141 RAC June 1944 War Diary