Villers Bocage

In the Normandy area a well-known German tank ace was active: Michael Wittmann. He served from 1934 to 1944 (in which he died in Normandy). He fought on the Eastern front against Russian troops commanding a StuG, Panzer III and eventually a Tiger. In Normandy he would fight the allied troops still commanding a Tiger tank. During his career he was accounted for destroyed 156 tanks, about 200 artillery pieces and 300 other soft/armored vehicles. Besides using tactical and technological advantages he also had a good share of luck by ad hoc executing bold actions.

One of these actions was on highway D675 – the road between Caen and Villers-Bocage. A brigade of the British 7th Armoured Division ‘Desert Rats’ had occupied Villers-Bocage and were advancing east towards Caen along highway D675. Michael Wittmann spotted this British advance and decided to encounter them in a single Tiger, ordering the other Tigers to make a stand where they were. Without hesitation he drove off road parallel of the highway through fields next to the British column; shooting up any tank and vehicle as he passed by the surprised British troops.

When entering Villers-Bocage he was still dueling with enemy vehicles, among them a Sherman Firefly. In the centre of Villers-Bocage his Tiger would eventually be disabled by an anti-tank gun. In total he destroyed 14 British tanks, 15 British armored personnel carriers and 2 British anti-tank guns. After this he would return back to his platoon on foot. It must be noted that during this and ensuing days the Battle for Villers-Bocage was fought out between many different tanks and units – inflicting casualties on both sides.

Eventually the allied forces left Villers-Bocage and German troops occupied the town. To cover their retreating forces the allies bombed Villers-Bocage using 337 bombers. Two weeks later another 266 bombers levelled Villers-Bocage. Inflicting casualties among French civilians only.