Chronology of the Normandy Campaign (Land Forces Only)

July 1943

2nd Army formed in the United Kingdom from elements of 1st Army that had seen active service in Tunisia in 1942 and 1943.

9th July 1943

  • 21 Army Group formed in the United Kingdom, with under command:
  • 2nd Army 1st Canadian Army

24th January 1944

Lieutenant General M. C. DEMPSEY, C.B., D.S.O., M.C. assumes command of 2nd Army replacing Lieutenant General ANDERSON.

6th June 1944 D-Day

00.20 hours Coup de Main party of personnel from the 2nd Bn. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 6th Airlanding Brigade, land by glider at the bridge over the River Orne and Caen Canal. Both bridges are seized.

00.50 hours First personnel from the 6th Airborne Division begin landing to the east of the River Orne. The 3rd Parachute Brigade seizes the Merville Battery and establishes itself on the high ground between the River Dives and Orne. The 5th Parachute Brigade takes over responsibility for the Orne and canal bridges and clears the landing zones for the 6th Airlanding Brigade.

02.00 hours First units from the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division begins landing south and west of St. Mere Eglise and 101st U.S. Airborne Division north of Carentan to secure exit routes from the landing beaches.

03.00 hours The first gliders from 6th Airlanding Brigade begin landing near Ranville.

05.20 hours U.S. Air Force commences bombardment of German positions around UTAH beach.

06.30 hours First Duplex Drive (D.D.) tanks and infantry from the 4th U.S. Infantry Division land on UTAH beach, the western landing beaches for the invasion.

06.30 hours Infantry from the 16th Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division and 116th Regiment, 29th U.S. Infantry Regiment, begin landing on OMAHA beach.

07.00 hours U.S. Rangers land at the base of Pointe du Hoc, climb the cliffs and secure the coastal battery.

07.30 hours Personnel from the 56th Infantry Brigade and 151st Infantry Brigade from 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, supported by armoured units from the 8th Armoured Brigade and 79th Armoured Division (specialist armour) land on GOLD beach under command of XXX Corps.

07.30 hours Personnel from 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade and 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, supported by armoured units from the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and 79th Armoured Division (specialist armour) land on JUNO beach under command of I Corps.

07.30 hours Personnel from 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, supported by armoured units from the 27th Armoured Brigade and 79th Armoured Division (specialist armour) land on SWORD beach under command of I Corps; Units from the 1st Special Service Brigade and 4th Special Service Brigade land on JUNO and SWORD beaches under command of I Corps.

13.30 hours Units from the 1st Special Service Brigade link up with Airborne Forces at the Orne bridges.

20.00 hours Units from the 21st Panzer Division drive through to the coast at Luc forming a wedge between the 3rd Infantry Division and 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.

21.00 hours Units from the 6th Airlanding Brigade start landing on the zones to the east of the River Orne to reinforce the 6th Airborne Division.

7th June 1944

Bayeux liberated by British forces; Gap between 3rd Infantry Division and 3rd Canadian Infantry Division closed giving a solid bridgehead some twenty-two miles wide and between five to ten miles deep; U.S. V Corps (1st U.S. Infantry Division and 29th U.S. Infantry Division) consolidate their bridgehead; U.S. VII Corps, (4th U.S. Infantry Division) advances a further two miles to give a bridgehead some eight miles deep and nine miles wide.

8th June 1944 D + 2

Port-en-Bessin captured by British Commandos that closed the gap between the British forces from GOLD beach and U.S. forces from OMAHA beach; A British armoured column reaches eastern outskirts of Tilly, but cannot consolidate the position.

9th June 1944 D + 3

Units from U.S. V Corps advance one and half miles and outflank the German forces to secure the road through Isigny.

10th June 1944 D + 4

Battle Headquarters of Panzer Group West located by British intelligence and bombed by the R.A.F. destroying the majority of the headquarters.

11th June 1944 D + 5

Units from the 101st U.S. Airborne Division forces the outer defences of Carentan, causing the German forces in the town to withdraw.

12th June 1944 D + 6

Units from 7th Armoured Division struggling to capture Tilly-sur-Seulles are ordered to conduct a ‘right hook’ to outflank the German troops from the Panzer Lehr Division holding the town. This operation, (Operation PERCH) is intended to exploit a gap found by American forces near Caumont. The division advances twelve miles (six through enemy territory) but stops overnight near Caumont.

13th June 1944 D + 7

The 7th Armoured Division’s units continue their advance to Villers-Bocage and by 08.30 have advanced the five miles to occupy the town. A German Tiger tank in the town manages to destroy twenty-five British armoured vehicles, but whilst the British tanks on Point 213 were destroyed, their counter-attack on Villers-Bocage was beaten back. Before nightfall, the 22nd Armoured Brigade withdraw from Villers-Bocage to Point 174 a mile to the west.

14th June 1944 D + 8

The 22nd Armoured Brigade is not reinforced on Point 174, and by 12.00 hours, it is withdrawn back to near Caumont.

15th June 1944 D + 9

U.S. VII Corps make significant progress of over five miles in forty-eight hours across the base of the Cotentin peninsula.

17th June 1944 D + 11

9th U.S. Infantry Division advances six miles in one day.

18th June 1944 D + 12

U.S. VII Corps reach the coast and cut off the Cotentin peninsula; Twenty Allied divisions now ashore in Normandy.

19th June 1944 D + 13

A severe storm damages the Mulberry harbours and restricts the Allied supply lines; 4th U.S. Infantry Division launch a surprise night attack on Montebourg and capture the town after several days hard fighting.

22nd June 1944

U.S forces begin their assault on Cherbourg.

24th June 1944

49th Infantry Division (XXX Corps) launch an attack towards Rauray.

25th June 1944

VIII Corps (11th Armoured Division, 15th Infantry Division and 43rd Infantry Division) commence the main assault towards Cheux and Evrecy to the west of Caen.

26th June 1944

All organised German resistance in Cherbourg collapses; Twenty-five Allied divisions now ashore in Normandy; British VIII Corps continue their steady advance, but, German forces stubbornly defend their positions. Hill 112 is taken but later recaptured by the Germans.

29th June 1944

German armoured troops from the 2nd S.S. Panzer Division, 9th S.S. Panzer Division and Panzer Lehr counter attack towards Rauray, but their attack is broken up by the British anti-tank screen. A few tanks reach Cheux, but are destroyed by the British.

4th July 1944

Canadian troops launch an attack intended to take Carpiquet airfield just to the west of Caen. The village of Carpiquet is taken, however, the airfield remains held by elements of the 12th S.S. Panzer Division.

7th July 1944

U.S. XIX Corps crosses the River Vire seven miles north of St. Lo, however, their advance is halted by German troops; British heavy bombers drop 2,560 tons of bombs on the northern outskirts of Caen.

8th July 1944

U.S. VIII Corps finally capture Le Haye after days of fierce resistance; I Corps (3rd Infantry Division, 59th Infantry Division and 3rd Canadian Infantry Division) attack in order to seize Caen and the crossings of the River Orne. The 3rd Infantry Division makes progress and is halted on the fringes of the city, being delayed by bomb craters and debris.

10th July 1944

21st Army Group conference in held amidst increasing criticism of the campaign.

18th July 1944

Operation GOODWOOD launched by 2nd Army, with VIII Corps (now comprising the Guards Armoured Division, 7th Armoured Division and 11th Armoured Division) attacking down a corridor to the east of Caen.

20th July 1944

Operation GOODWOOD ends, with the British forces failing to secure a breakthrough, although Caen is cleared of German troops and the front line is forced six miles further on from the start line.

25th July 1944

American forces launch Operation COBRA with U.S. VII corps making a strong thrust west of St. Lo.

26th July 1944

Operation COBRA continues, with 2nd U.S. Armoured Division making three miles of gains.

27th July 1944

The decisive day in Operation COBRA – the 2nd U.S Armoured Division continues its spectacular advance, and the 1st U.S. Infantry Division and 3rd U.S. Armored Divisions strike for Coutances. U.S. VII Corps broke through from Periers and captures Coutances.

28th July 1944

German 84th Corps disintegrates and the German line breaks open.

30th July 1944

Operation BLUECOAT launched by VIII Corps and XXX Corps with redeployed British armoured divisions with the objective of capturing the western half of Mont Pincon ridge near Caumont. The 43rd Infantry Division is initially halted by a minefield, but in the centre the 15th Infantry Division supported by the 6th Guards Tank Brigade makes progress and storm the slopes of Hill 309; 1st Canadian Army (I Corps and II Canadian Corps) becomes operational under 21st Army Group.

31st July 1944

A British infantry battalion finds an unguarded woodland trail, four armoured cars follow up and find a bridge intact west of Le Beny Bocage. A British battlegroup drives for the bridge in a race against a German battlegroup from 21st Panzer Division. The British win the race and throw back the German troops; 4th U.S. Armoured Division takes a bridge at Pontaubault and continues into Brittany.

1st August 1944

British forces continue to drive for Vire and during the night the town is found to be unguarded, however, the 2nd Army commander decides not to exploit this opportunity as it lay in the American sector. 43rd Infantry Division secures Hill 361, but neither 7th Armoured Division nor 50th Infantry Division made any significant progress towards Aunay or Villers-Bocage; General BRADLEY assumes command of the 12th U.S. Army Group.

2nd August 1944

Lieutenant General BUCKNALL, GOC XXX Corps dismissed from his command by GOC 2nd Army; Mortain captured by the Americans.

4th August 1944

Rennes captured; 4th U.S. Armored Division cuts off Brest peninsula; German forces withdraw from Villers-Bocage, Aunay and Evrecy.

6th August 1944

The 43rd Infantry Division assaults Mont Pincon, which is captured by a few tanks from the 13th/18th Hussars and secured by the 4th Bn. The Wiltshire Regiment.

7th August 1944

Brest reached, but defences prove sound. German 5th Panzer Army and 7th Army launch an offensive at Mortain against U.S. 1st Army.

8th August 1944

Canadian Army launches Operation TOTALIZE at midnight 7th August, using a combined armoured and infantry thrust towards Falaise using armoured personnel carriers. By daybreak, Allied forces are three miles inside the German defensive positions.

9th August 1944

The 4th Canadian Armoured Division and 1st Polish Armoured Division take up the advance in Operation TOTALIZE, however, they are held by elements from the 12th S.S. Panzer Division.

12th August 1944

American forces capture Alencon, the main supply base for the German forces.

14th August 1944

1st Canadian Army launches another offensive towards Falaise and close to three miles from the town

15th August 1944

German forces hold the northern side of the Allied ‘jaw’, with the Americans advancing from the south, the gap is now only twelve miles wide; U.S. 3rd Army begins its drive for the Seine and Paris with XII U.S. Corps, XX U.S. Corps and XV U.S. Corps under command.

16th August 1944

Canadian forces enter Falaise.

17th August 1944

V U.S. Corps attack northwards towards Falaise; 1st Polish Armoured Division and 4th Canadian Armoured Division break out across the River Dives to reduce the gap to six miles.

18th August 1944

Units from the 1st Polish Armoured Division capture the ridge north of Chambois, and the gap narrows to just two miles. Over the next couple of days, isolated German units and personnel manage to escape, but over 50,000 troops are captured and much material is lost.

19th August 1944

90th U.S. Infantry Division and 2nd French Armoured Division link up with the 1st Polish Armoured Division closing the Falaise Gap; U.S. forces from 79th U.S. Infantry Division cross the River Seine across an unguarded footbridge; 3,000 armed gendarmes seize control in central Paris leading to an armed uprising in the city.

20th August 1944

American forces capture Argentan; German forces in Paris arrange an armistice to allow them to withdraw from the city centre.

25th August 1944

The 2nd French Armoured Division and 4th U.S. Infantry Division enter Paris and all organised German resistance ceases.