Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a British offensive in the Second World War between 26 and 30 June 1944. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen, an important Allied objective. The Germans contained the offensive but only by committing all their strength, including two panzer divisions just arrived in Normandy.
About Operation Epsom in brief
Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a British offensive in the Second World War between 26 and 30 June 1944. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen, an important Allied objective. The Germans contained the offensive but only by committing all their strength, including two panzer divisions just arrived in Normandy. Many casualties were suffered by both sides but unlike General Bernard Montgomery, the Allied commander in Normandy, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel was unable to withdraw units into reserve after the battle. The British retained the initiative, attacked several more times over the following two weeks and captured Caen in Operation Charnwood in mid-July. It was the most important D-Day objective assigned to Lieutenant-General John Crocker and I Corps. Operation Overlord called for the British Second Army to secure the city and then form a front line from Caumont-l’Éventé to the south-east ofCaen. The intention was to acquire space for airfields and to protect the left flank of the US First Army, while it fought the Battle of Cherbourg. Possession of Caon and its surroundings would give the Second Army a suitable staging area for a push south to capture Falaise, which could be used as the pivot for a swing left to advance on Argentan and then towards the Touques River. The Battle of Caum-Bocage led to the 7th Armoured Division being ambushed and withdrawing from the town.
Most convoys of landing craft and ships were driven back to ports in Britain. The storm lasted for three days and delayed the build-up of the Allied build up of the Normandy beachhead. Most ships were towed back to port and other barges taken to Mules and other ports in the Channel. The battle was won by the British 3rd Infantry Division that landed on Sword Beach on 6 June 1944 and was stopped short by the 21st Panzer Division. Follow-up attacks failed as German reinforcements arrived. Operation Perch, a pincer attack by I and XXX Corps, was launched on 7 June, to encircle Caen from the east and west. To force Panzer-Lehr-Division to withdraw or surrender and keep operations fluid, part of the line of advance was pushed through the German front near Villers-bocage, near Tilly-sur-Seulles, near Caen. Another attack by the7th Armour Division and other other attacks were abandoned when a severe storm descended on the English Channel on 19 June. Operation Epsom ended on 30 June, bringing the operation to a close. It lasted three days, with some of the British forces across the River Odon being withdrawn and the captured ground consolidated. It also delayed the deployment of its armoured support and forced to divert effort to attack strongly held German positions along the 9. 3 miles route to the town, which had already been taken by the Germans.