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The tour party on the beach

people to translate for us on a guided tour. They were extremely informative and very proud to showcase their excellent museum and even Pete and Jimbo learned something. ‘Dickie’s bridge’, or ‘Cavalry bridge’, (now called, rather disappointingly ‘Bull’s bridge’ was next. It was thanks to the initiate of Lt Dickie Powle, 2 HCR, that 11th Armoured Division was able to cross this bridge. Powle’s armoured car, supported by another scout car, slipped across the St-Lo to Beny-Bocage road

and drove through the Foret de l’Eveque to find an undefended bridge across the river Souleuvre. The Germans had left the bridge undefended due to a mix up between 3rd Para Division and 326th Infantry Division, who both blamed each other. Once the bridge was secured momentum was maintained and VIII Corps was able to push on to play a full role in aiding the allied breakout. Although ‘Cavalry Bridge’ was under refurbishment, there was enough space for us to step on it and lay another wreath. Lt Powle and his team definitely showed

that they were Robust, Agile and Capable. After discussions and reflection we then moved on to our final destination, Villers-Bocage. Here we discussed ground appreciation, and received another incredibly informative brief from Pete and Jimbo. It is thanks to the efforts of SCpl Martin, Pete Storer and Jimbo Lees that those who attended enjoyed a highly enjoyable, entertaining, informed and extremely moving battlefield study.

No Bridge Too Far for 2HCR

by Lance Corporal R Speaight, The Blues and Royals

I SAY AGAIN, AT 1035 HOURS THE BRIDGE AT 637436 IS CLEAR OF ENEMY AND STILL INTACT.” This was the radio message from Lieutenant DB ‘Dickie’ Powle, C Squadron, 2 HCR that was about to turn the tide of battle during Operation BLUECOAT. It was the 30th July 1944, seven weeks after D-Day. Allied Forces were attempting to break out of their Bridgehead and push through the German defences deep into enemy occupied France. The Battle of Normandy so far had been tough, bloody and progress was a lot slower than Allied Commanders had intended. Operation BLUECOAT was launched and its intent was to punch through German lines with a powerful two pronged assault. General Montgomery saw a weak German front at Caumont and intended to break through the line to the west of Beya-Bocage and head south towards Vire, despite this being a very heavily defended area with German posts on the high ground able to watch the advancing troops every move. The attack so far led by the British Army’s XXX and VIII corps had been

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bogged down by fierce German resistance. To slow down the British Army, the Germans had destroyed key bridges and the use of the feared 88mm anti-aircraft gun, set up in anti-tank screens had severely slowed the Allied Advance. 2HCR was attached to the 11th Armoured Division as a Reconnaissance Force. 2HCR were equipped with the Daimler and Dingo Reconnaissance Armoured Cars. Both vehicles were extremely fast and agile. The Daimlers also wielded enough firepower to get themselves out of a sticky situation if needed. 2HCR was tasked to go out and find crossing points over the river Souleuvre west of Le Beny-Bocage. On the morning of the 31st July as the 11th Armoured Division, under General Roberts, seized Saint-Martin-des-Besaces, 1 Troop of C Squadron 2 HCR commanded by Lt Powle set off south on its reconnaissance mission. The rolling hills high hedgerows were going to make this a tricky manoeuvre. The Germans were well dug in. 1 Troop C Squadron 2 HCR now had to put all their knowledge and soldiering skills to the test; to be cunning and agile enough to complete the mission

without being compromised. Little did they realise that morning when they set off how crucial was the part in the battle they were about to play. As 1 Troop began its advance into enemy territory, one of the Daimlers broke down. The Dingo behind it couldn’t get past, so Lt Powle decided to continue without them. They continued south, probing for a suitable river crossing. After some close encounters with the enemy, they moved out from the forest and over a railway line. According to Lt Powle’s own words, “I can remember rushing madly through the forest of L’Eveque after a German four wheeled armoured car. We followed it for two miles, then it disappeared round a corner.” Just beyond a farm situated in a valley, they found an intact bridge that crossed the river. They quickly seized the bridge and, realising the opportunity they had found, they established communications back to HQ. At 1030hrs a broken message transmitted across the net ‘‘I SAY AGAIN, AT 1035 HOURS THE BRIDGE AT 637436 IS CLEAR OF ENEMY AND STILL INTACT.” The following is an account form Trooper Bland, who was commanding a

Household Cavalry Journal 2016  
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