On July 30, 1944 General Dempsey’s British Second Army launched Operation Bluecoat which took the Germans by surprise
in the center of Normandy. Today, we’re at
Saint-Martin-des-Besaces to learn about this battle
by visiting the museum: La Percée Du Bocage. After six weeks of combat,
the Allies managed to take over two key cities on
both ends of Normandy: Saint-Lô and Caen. Knowing that the Germans were
concentrating most of their forces in the Caen sector, on July 25th, the Americans
would try to break enemy lines on the other end
with Operation Cobra. A few days later Lieutenant-General
Dempsey’s British Second Army would carry out Operation Bluecoat. Its most immediate objectives
were to attack in Vire’s direction and its important
communication hub, and take Mount Pinçon. But the American advance
was so successful that it made the British move
their operation forward by three days, on July 30th. Today, to learn more about this battle we’re meeting with Mark, president of the
“La Percée Du Bocage” Museum. Since it has a historic tour, we’ll start outside. We’re at the Norman Bocage. We have very nice
views from Point 309, that’s part of the museum. Next to me is Stéphane Jacquet, historian and
vice president of the museum He’ll explain
the battle around Point 309. Good morning. We’re at the foot of Point 309, one of Operation Bluecoat’s targets. The Allies were in
this area since July 13th. They took over Caumont,
which can be seen on the distance. Their target here
was to cross the “bocage” as we can see,
in a field that has changed a lot since the summer of 1944. The bushes have been
replaced by prairies. Their target was
to prevent that the Germans from using this height in case of retreat
from an American attack. This summit was
taken on July 30th. And we’ll see
where the battle took place. – Shall we go?
– Let’s go! Caumont marked the edge
between American and British forces. On July 22nd, the VIII Corps
had relieved the American infantry that until that moment had
maintained positions in the town. In front there was also movement. This sector had
been heavily defended by the German 2nd Panzer Division. But on July 21st,
their tanks started heading west, and the division
was substituted by a weaker one, the 326th
Infantry Division. Bluecoat’s planners wanted
to exploit this visible advantage. The Germans had
the “bocage” in their favor. A typical Norman terrain
enclosed by leafy hedges that hindered any advance. On July 30th, when the British
began Operation Bluecoat, preceded by a strong air raid, they took the Germans by surprise. By having to fight
in this new open front they couldn’t allow
to send more reinforcements to the already critical combats
happening on both edges of Normandy. We’re at the top of Point 309. We can see the other high points
that had to be taken: Le bois Du homme,
Point 361, and on the distance, Mount Pinçon; their main target
and Normandy’s highest point. We’re before a monument
that commemorates the taking of this position,
known as Quarry Hill, since there used
to be a quarry near by. We also have a very good view
of the south front. And the city of Vire,
that can be felt from a far. It wasn’t a British target,
but an American one. We can see, that the Germans
that were retreating from the west couldn’t take advantage of this height
to protect themselves, and this would allow for
the collapse of the German forces. This was a summary of the battle. Now, it’d be interesting to visit
the La percée Du bocage Museum to learn more about
this very important battle on July, 1944. I’ll leave with Mark.
Thanks for the explanation. – Let’s go to the museum!
– Let’s go. Bye! We’re heading down from Point 309
to see the museum that Mark presides. From here,
from Saint-Martin-des-Besaces they’ve spent decades
trying to highlight this operation which contributed to the success
of the Americans in Operation Cobra. by preventing the Germans from
reinforcing their counterattacks on the west. One of the museum’s largest appeal is this impressive diorama, which through narration and a set of lights fully shows the taking of the town. But Mark knows what the most
important aspect of the museum is. This is the heart of the museum,
it’s the main room. It’s a museum of human dimensions, dedicated to the men
and not the weapons in particular. Here are all the souvenirs that are left by the veterans
that visit us. For example, objects
from the 11th Armoured Division. Among them,
the mold for the plate that’s over Bull Bridge. The veterans,
or rather their families, keep coming since, unfortunately,
there are fewer left. Now, many families come
and offer us their things. Recently, a woman came in,
the daughter of a veteran who fought in the area,
and donated his personal effects. For us, this objects are very important because they are
the heart of the museum. The veterans
that Mark is talking about fought mainly in the
11th Armoured Division. Their symbol, a bull,
can be seen throughout the museum. After taking
Saint-Martin on July 31st, these soldiers managed
to stop a German counterattack by the tanks of
the 21st Panzer Division. Another well-remembered operation has to do with the bridge
over the Souleuvre River which the division found intact
and with no defense, an opportunity to let
their tanks cross over and speed up
the southern advance. As it can be expected, nowadays the bridge is known
as Bull Bridge. Mark, we’re at this uniform
with the bull patch. That’s right,
we’re at the British display. Of the two soldiers, this one
was part of the 11th Division. Their emblem was a black bull
over a yellow background. They liberated
the hill and then the town with that infantry
that they were in. Besides the tanks of the 11th Division the other great unit
that fought around Saint-Martin was the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division. These two divisions,
along other units formed the British VIII Corps. On the left was the XXX. Together they formed Dempsey’s Second Army. While the VIII Corps
advanced at a good rhythm, the XXX Corps
wasn’t as successful. In fact, Lieutenant-General
Dempsey was forced to cease his commander on August 2nd, and also a general
from one of his divisions. In spite of it, on August 6th,
the US 29th Infantry Division, a veteran unit at Omaha Beach on D-Day, was finally able to take Vire. The same day, the British
from the 43rd Infantry Division would do the same at Mount Pinçon. So we can conclude that Operation Bluecoat was a success, and a few days later would bring about the envelopment of
the German forces in the Falaise pocket: the last phase of the Battle of Normandy. Mark, it’s time to say goodbye. Thanks for the tour of the museum. We’d like to remind all enthusiasts that the Battle of Normandy
isn’t only the landing. That’s right, the big touristic
attractions are at the beaches. But there are many interesting
things to see on the inland: small and big museums centered around a main theme. We’re focused on the soldiers’ history. We’re very proud of it. Let’s hope that from now on
there’ll be a bigger audience.


  1. Exelente trabajo nunca dejas de soprender, por sierto que chevere esta esa camisa de cuadros

  2. Hola guripa..muy buenos videos..voy tomando nota,pues haremos un viaje a normandia y visitaremos algunos museos de paso…también pasaremos por Oradour sur glane..supongo que conoces su historia,anímate y haz un vídeo de lo que pasó allí,un saludo..

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