The Orne Bridgehead. Enabling Totalize, August 1944


On the 6th of August, 1944, the 59th (Staffordshire) Division's 176 Brigade, supported by Churchill tanks from 107 RAC (the King's Own) crossed the river Orne and established a bridgehead just west of the Forêt de Grimbosq. Under increasing pressure from ever-determined German counter-attacks, this force held their ground despite significant losses in both personnel and equipment. Sadly overlooked within the historiography of the Normandy Campaign, the Orne Bridgehead (sometimes called Grimbosq Bridgehead) barely gets a mention in most overviews of the campaign and on the odd occasion it is referred to, it is generally in very brief terms.

Within the story, one particular action resulted in the award of a Victoria Cross, one of only five awarded in the entire Normandy Campaign, but there were numerous other incredibly brave acts, both those that received appropriate recognition and those that perhaps did not.

A few days after these events, the entire 59th Division was disbanded, which adds further poignancy to the lack of coverage of their brief but intense time in Normandy in that tumultuous summer.

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