The Plan


 

In August 1944, the Second Canadian Corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Guy Simmonds, was heavily involved in the push south from Caen in an all out effort to link up with American forces advancing to meet the Canadians and British. Operation 'Totalize' was a plan developed by Simmonds to break out south to Falaise. The first phase called for two infantry divisions, each supported by an armoured brigade, to punch a hole through the German lines along either side of the Caen-Falaise highway to a depth of seven to eight kilometres. The second phase involved the use of 4th Canadian Armoured Division to exploit the breakthrough. Totalize was scheduled to begin on the night of 7th/8th Aug44, with the second phase starting some fourteen hours later. Prior to the start of the operation, intelligence reports revealed that the bulk of German armour had been redeployed westwards for the Mortain offensive. The German 89th Infantry Division had replaced the panzer divisions and Simmonds altered his original scheme to include 1st Polish Armoured Division in the second phase. The revised plan now called for the two armoured divisions to exploit the anticipated breach. Both divisions were forced to operate on a front of 900 metres at its widest, and significantly less at choke points caused by villages and natural obstacles. As the operation unfolded, it soon became obvious that the attack had stagnated. Major-General Kitching, commanding 4th Armoured Division, was ordered to maintain the advance through the night of 8th/9thAug44 and take both Bretteville-le-Rabet and Point 195, the high ground dominating the town of Potigny. Kitching ordered two battle groups, Halpenny Force and Worthington Force to take the objectives. Halpenny Force was tasked with the capture of Bretteville-le-Rabet while Worthington Force was to push further south and occupy Point 195.

Worthington Force consisted of the 28th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Regiment) and three companies of the Algonquin Regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. Worthington, regimental commander of the BCRs commanded. He was a young, energetic officer who was being considered by Kitching as a future armoured brigade commander. Worthington's plan envisioned advancing south along the east side of the Caen-Falaise highway, bypassing enemy resistance at Bretteville-le-Rabet by circling left, and then swinging right, across the highway, to reach the objective. Worthington held an Orders Group with his squadron commanders and Lieutenant-Colonel Hay of the Algonquin Regiment. Surviving notes of an officer in attendence relate:

"The tanks will do the fighting on the way down. Keep moving; try to reach the objective before daylight. Marry up. B Coy, Algonquin Regt., B Squadron; C and D Coy, C Sqn. C.O. Algonquin will travel in my tank with me. Move off in the following order - A Squadron, B Squadron, B Coy., C Squadron, C Coy., D Coy. A Squadron will clear the way. Infantry - net your (wireless) sets to the tank net....Zero Hour's in thirty minutes, and the start line (is) the highway." (1.)


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Chris Johnson, 1997