Hello Reb and all!
Here is a very long-winded post to explain why I hold the opinion that I do regarding Operation Goodwood. I am sorry to disagree but I believe that the Leibstandarte’s presence on the Bourguebus Ridge to be underestimated and not given the attention that it deserves. The Bourguebus Ridge was 11th Armoured Division’s objective. The attacks on the flanks of the British armour by 21st Panzer Division and sPzAbt 503 slowed down the attack but did not stop it, in fact these attacks seemed to have had more of an impact on the following Guards Armoured Division and 7th Armoured Division and not the 11th Armoured Division.
Yes, the 88mm Flak guns slowed down the British armour but did not stop it. Flak guns are dangerous but not the same as a tank or an assault gun. One only needs to manoeuvre to bypass them. This is why I think the counter-attack by the Leibstandarte is not given the attention or credit that it deserves. It’s timely arrival on the Ridge was decisive. If the Panther Abteilung did not arrive when it did, and it was the first elements of the Leibstandarte to arrive, the Bourguebus Ridge or significant parts of it would have been captured by the 11th Armoured Division. Thus, events of the second and third days of Operation Goodwood would have been far different.
I think people forget about the events from July 19-20, and limit the look of Operation Goodwood to July 18. What was the majority of fighting for on July 19-20th? It was for the Bourguebus Ridge. So, the Ridge was decisive and the British armour reached the lower slopes of the Ridge by noon on the 18th despite being harassed on the flanks by the 21st Panzer Division and sPzAbt 503. Yes, these attacks were important and they did slow the momentum down but nevertheless 11th Armoured Division had reached the Ridge by noon and there was nothing but a few Flakgruppen there until the Panther Abteilung of the Leibstandarte arrived around noon.
The role of the Flak Guns has been exaggerated. According to the book “Normandy” the Flak Regiments of the III Flak Korps were located so far to the rear that they were not encountered during the Operation. Three Flakgruppen of the III Flak Korps with 8 of the 88mm Flak Guns were located up ahead and were involved in the Operation. So, 24 of the 88mm Flak Guns were involved. The 88mm Flak should not be confused with the 88mm Pak, of which there were 24 in the Panzerjager Abteilung of the 21st Panzer Division along with 8 of the 88mm Flak in the Flak Abteilung. So, the 21st Panzer Division actually had more 88mm guns in the area then the III Flak Korps.
The Surmgeschutze Abteilung 200 of the 21st Panzer Division seemed to have had a far greater impact on the Operation than any of the Flak units. There were a few counterattacks launched by elements of the 21st Panzer Division, including the Sturmgeschutze Abteilung, and the sPzAbt 503 against the flanks of the British “Armoured Wedge” and these slowed down the attack but did not stop it. The 11th Armoured Division was not stopped until it encountered the Leibstandarte’s Panther Abteilung employed along the Bourguebus Ridge.
Let’s look at some of the significant events and a few examples of the losses for a few engagements for a couple of Squadrons of 29th Armoured Brigade of 11th Armoured Division during July 18.
-The 3rd RTR lost 5 or 6 tanks on the morning of the 18th in the area of Les Mesnil-Fromentel probably to elements of 21st Panzer Division.
-2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry lost 12 tanks in the Le Porier-Les Mesnil-Fromentel area on the morning of the 18th probably to elements of 21st Panzer Division.
-By 1000 3 RTR had advanced to the area near Bras and Hubert Folie but around noon as they attempted to advance they were engaged by fire from Bourguebus Ridge. More than likely this fire came from the 88mm Flak Guns.
-At or around noon the Panther Abteilung of the Leibstandarte arrived along Bourguebus Ridge in time to spot the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry advancing past Four and Soliers, they immediately counter-attacked. The 2nd Fife and forfar lost 29 tanks in this encounter. The British tanks in the area considered the threat posed by the Panthers so grave that at 1258, the 23rd Hussars, at the time in Grentheville, were ordered to not attempt to advance past Soliers.
-At 1430 the 23rd Hussars were now ordered to attempt to advance South of Four and Soliers but were stopped by a combined effort of elements of the Panther Abteilung of the Leibstandarte, elements of 21st Panzer Division and the 88mm Flak Guns. It is hard to determine how many tanks were lost in this action but it is known that one Squadron lost all of its tanks to fire from the Panthers along Bourguebus Ridge as they advanced in almost exactly the same area as the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry did earlier.
-At 1700 the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry attempted to take the Ridge from the north in the direction of Bras. They were stopped by elements of the StuG Abteilung of the Leibstandarte which was in this area. The 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry lost 16 tanks in this action.
-On July 19 elements of the 7th Armoured Division were ordered to take the village of Bourguebus, on the Bourguebus Ridge, and the 11th Armoured division was ordered to take the Bras-Hubert Folie area along the Northern part of the Ridge. Many elements of the Leibstandarte including the Panther Abteilung and StuG Abteilung played very significant roles in limiting the ground gained and then in halting the British attacks. Parts of the Bourguebus Ridge that were objectives for Operation Goodwood would not be taken until the Canadians took them during Operation Spring on July 25 and other parts of the Bourguebus Ridge would be held by the Leibstandarte until elements of this Division were withdrawn on August 5 to take part in Operation Luttich, the Mortain Counter-Offensive.
So, in my opinion, the actions of the Leibstandarte’s Panther Abteilung and later the StuG Abteilung on July 18 were decisive. Decisive in keeping the Bourguebus Ridge, which was a tactically significant feature in the area, in the hands of the Germans. While the Ridge was in their hands they would have the initiative. This is my opinion only and I welcome anyone else’s opinion on this matter. This post mainly serves to explain why I have this opinion.
Amateurs limit their study to either Tactics, Strategy or Logistics. Professionals study ALL THREE of these!!!