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Dingo Scout Car with Trooper Read as his driver: “The first four miles were nerve racking for us as this was the first taste of leading into the unknown, so to speak. Early on we had found ourselves with only two cars left. Shortly afterwards I had spotted a German lookout guard, he ran, but luckily a grenade I threw accounted for him. The idea of using the grenade was better than using the guns as it was harder for the enemy to determine what it was, which served us lucky as we quickly came across a couple of 88mm’s and a number of smaller calibre jobs. Fortunately they were without warning and although they tried hard they missed us, we pushed on hurriedly now, in order to get past this sticky spot and get through safely. I remember Lt Powle shouting a remark to me, “We might as well try what’s in front it can’t be worse than trying to neck it back through that lot.” After taking a number of posts by surprise, I had occasion to look at the map and realise we were close to the bridge and also a rather long way back from Headquarters. This came as a bit of a shock. We tried to get a (radio) message through but could at that time not make contact. It was decided that I should have a crack at crossing the bridge, covered by the armoured car. It worked and after dismounting myself and Cpl Read slipped up behind a German

sentry and quietly finished him off. We had to dispose of any such visitors in a similar way otherwise we were sunk as there was not a hope of holding any numbers off with just the two cars if the warning went off. I think it was sheer luck that we were never spotted as we later learned that a number of Panther tanks had the bridge covered. We had decided to hold the bridge dismounted and this kept us out of sight. The cars were covered in bushes. Only Cpl Staples remained with the cars to try and make contact. Which he did after some brilliant radio operating.” After receiving the information, Headquarters sent reinforcements to the bridge to help 1 Troop hold it. Five tanks from the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry arrived in the afternoon. 1 Troop with the reinforcements, held the bridge for a further six hours. General Roberts, seeing the opportunity, made the decision to push the entire 11th Armoured Division over the bridge. The British Forces that crossed the bridge quickly maintained the momentum and captured key ground from the Enemy. This altered the course of Operation BLUECOAT and put the British Army firmly in control of battle. Operation BLUECOAT itself then became a huge part in the Allied push to breakout of Normandy. The key moment of Operation BLUECOAT was when 1 Troop, C Squadron

2 HCR secured the bridge to cross the Souleuvre River. This demonstrates the value of Armoured Reconnaissance soldiers and their ability to act on their own initiative, seizing opportunities when they present themselves. After the recent battlefield study and learning the role played by 2 HCR, we can fully appreciate the enormity of the task these soldiers faced, the hardships and the unforgiving terrain of Normandy. The bridge they found is still there today. There is a monument beside the bridge dedicated to the actions of the soldiers of 11th Armoured Division. The bridge is also still affectionately known as ‘Bridge of the Bull’, the symbol of 11 Armd Div, and ‘Cavalry Bridge’. HCR still remembers the bridge as ‘Dickie’s Bridge’. We have seen how the Household Cavalry Ethos applied as much to the regiment in 1944 as it does today. They were ROBUST, physically and mentally prepared to succeed in the demanding, complex conditions of fighting a determined enemy in the Normandy Campaign; AGILE, Determined to seize and exploit the fleeting opportunity of finding a bridge crossing over the river Souleuvre, which enabled an entire Division to turn the tables in Operation BLUECOAT; CAPABLE, tactical and technical experts in the roll of mounted manoeuvre as Armoured Reconnaissance soldiers. ”strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find and to yield”

The group assembled on Dickie’s Bridge

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Household Cavalry Journal 2016