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Verrieres Ridge, Falaise Gap, 1944

Location: The Western Front France, vicinity of Falaise

  Regiment Losses - July 20-22, 1944
 2nd Canadian Division South Saskatchewan Regiment

 2nd Canadian Division Essex Scottish Regiment


 Second Canadian Armored Brigade Sherbrooke Fusiliers


 2nd Canadian Division Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada


 2nd Canadian Division Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

After Operation Goodwood, the Second Canadian Division had been given the task of taking Verriers and Bourguebus Ridge. The task was necessary as the 250-foot slope dominated the fields South of Caen, hiding tanks and guns that blasted the advancing Allied Armour. It was a vital obstacle on the way south to Falaise, alone Route National 158. On July 20, Brig. H.A. Young's 6th Brigade with the Essex Scottish added, moved south to the Orne riven for the assault on Verriers. By then, the man of the 7th Armoured had already tried and attack, failed and withdrew beyond the highway. They and two squadrons of Sherbrooke Fusiliers would back up the assault with artillery. For whatever reason, the infantry was to proceed forward alone.
On the right of the attack, the Queens own Cameron Highlanders (2nd Division - Winnipeg) fought their way into St. Andre-sur-Orne and stayed despite the endless German shelling and counter-attacks. On the left, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal has just as difficult a fight for Beauvoir and Troteval farms. The South Saskatchewan Regiment had the toughest objective and the furthest distance to go, heading down the middle to Verrieres.
As the South Saskatchewan's advanced down the middle, the rain that had threatened all day suddenly burst in a downpour turning dirt into mud. The Typhoon fly boys overhead were forced to head for home. Maj. G.R. Matthews, whom was acting as commanding officer, ordered every anti-tank anti-tank weapon he could get as the German armour of the 1st SS rumbled out of the smoke and mist into the ranks of the South Sask's. To no avail... more than 60 of his men were killed in the fighting, 142 were wounded or taken prisoner. The remaining men crawled or ran back through the high grass...

Here they met the battalion of Essex Scottish who were exhausted from a sleepless night and anxious day. Across the fields, behind the retreating Saskatchewan men, came German tanks and infantry in pursuit. Panic spread through the ranks. The two leading companies of the Essex dissolved, the rest stayed, fought and somehow stopped the German advance. That night, Brig.. Young informed the battalions, replaced the colonel and had the men dig in. July 21 dawned with more drenching, demoralizing downpours which delighted the German panzers for it kept the skies clear of their worst enemy - the Allied Typhoon fighters.

Again the Germans came, this time shattering the Essex men's defenses, overrunning both leading companies of Fusiliers. The Mont Royals' Troleval farm fell. Young's brigade faced destruction if the Black Watch, under his command had not driven from Ifs to shore up the line. Verriers and the low rudge behind it were still held by the Germans.

The brave, hopeless drive on Verriers had cost the advancing Canadians nearly 200 killed.

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Last updated on Feb 22, 2007 22:00. Page viewed 14112 times.