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The Nor Mons/Pavée Battlefield today

In 2010, R. Mark Davies toured the location of the Nor Mons/Pavée battle (part of Operation Bluecoat) featured in this scenario and took some interesting pictures that give a much better feeling for the terrain than can be obtained from maps alone. He also visited the War Memorial at the site and left a memento of a veteran of the battle who had recently passed away.

RMD's comments:

"The main thing to note is that the Perrier Ridge totally dominates the Burcy valley to the north of it and has a very good view of the Vire-Vassy highway to the south. The Presles Ridge to the north of Burcy also totally dominates the land to the north - an observer up there could see everything that moved on the Villers-Bocage to Vire highway south of the wooded ridge north of St Charles de Percy. It is a VERY interesting battlefield and to see the terrain does emphasise why the battle was so critical - in a way that maps and books do not fully convey.

Something else to mention is that a local told us that the slopes to the east of the battlefield and the crest of Point 224 (between Pavee and Catheolles) were covered in thousands of mines and were therefore inaccessible to both sides - this does perhaps explain why the battle took place on the shoulder of the hill and not the top?"

Click on the Thumbnail for a full-size photo Description
Memorial Map
Memorial
The location of the battle memorial on a map of the battlefield.
Photo Set Part 1
Photo Set Part 1
The location and angles of the first set of photos.
Memorial
1. Memorial
The Battle Memorial
VC Citation
2. VC Citation
Closeup of Sidney Bates' Victoria Cross citation.
Close up of the memorial text
50. VC Citation
Closeup of the memorial text.
Close up of the memorial text
51. VC Citation
Another closeup of the memorial text.
For Evan Rees
52. Evan Rees
In memory of Evan Rees, a veteran of the battle.
Memorial
53. Memorial
Another view of the memorial.
Memorial
54. Memorial
Another view of the memorial.
Memorial
55. Memorial
Another view of the memorial.
3. Photo
3. Photo
The field behind the memorial where Bates won his VC (looking W from the memorial).
4. Photo
4. Photo
SW from the memorial.
5. Photo
5. Photo
Looking E from the memorial toward the hilltop of Point 224 which, according to a local man, was densely mined during the battle. The village of Chendolle is beyond the hilltop.
6. Photo Looking S
6. Photo Looking S
To the south, the NorMons battlegroup had a commanding view of traffic on the main Falaise-Vassy-Vire highway and it is easy to see why the Germans couldn't tolerate the British possession of the Perrier Ridge.
7. Photo Looking SE
7. Photo Looking SE
Looking SE, across La Jarriere, to the highway beyond. Many of the German attacks formed up in the farms and orchards in the dead-ground of this photo and were subjected to the heaviest possible British-US barrage - a 'Yoke' Target.
8. Photo Looking SW
8. Photo Looking SW
Looking SW, across Les Templeries (another German forming-up point) toward Viessoix, the highway and the key defile where the highway passes under a very high railway embankment, just east of Vire.
9. Photo
9. Photo
Down the road, SW of the memorial, looking W.
10. Never Accept Gifts from Frenchmen
10. Never Accept Gifts from Frenchmen
66 years later, a possibly live grenade is part of battlefield debris. Two French Policmen had this artifact, but were unaware of its identity or danger.
11. Photo
11. Photo
Further down the road, looking SE toward La Jarriere.
12. Photo
12. Photo
Photo of Local Terrain.
13. Photo
11. Photo
Same spot, looking SW toward Les Templeries.
14. Photo
14. Photo
At La Jarriere, looking SE, across orchards and farms that were completely destroyed during the battle.
15. Photo
15. Photo
La Jarriere House - completely destroyed and restored to its original state (according to the owner, who was a boy in 1944 and who helped his father re-build it).
16. Photo
16. Photo
Looking E from La Jarriere House, along the sunken road at the foot of the ridge.
17. Photo
17. Photo
The Germans in this sunken road had pretty good cover and concealment from direct observation, but that didn't save them from the collossal barrage that was directed on this spot.
18. Photo
18. Photo
The same spot looking SE.
19. Photo
19. Photo
The same spot, looking E across the minefield to Point 224.
20. Photo
20. Photo
The same spot, looking SW toward Viessoix.
Photo Set Part 2
Photo Set Part 2
The location and angles of the second set of photos.
21. Photo
21. Photo
Looking W, walking back to La Jarriere along the sunken lane.
22. Photo
22. Photo
Walking back up the hill to the memorial, looking E toward Point 224.
23. Photo
23. Photo
Photo of Local Terrain.
24. Photo
24. Photo
Looking W along Bates VC's Field.
25. Photo
25. Photo
Looking N from Sidney Bates' field, across the crest of Perrier Ridge toward Burcy (in the valley beyond).
26. Photo
26. Photo
Looking E from Memorial Corner toward Point 224.
27. Photo
27. Photo
As previous photo, but a few yards to the left, looking along the north side of the hedgeline on the crest.
28. Photo
28. Photo
Looking NE from the same spot, toward Les Cantuards Farm.
29. Photo
29. Photo
Pavée, looking E, a short way to the north of Memorial Corner. This is a new house, but Pavee Farmhouse was on the same foundations in 1944.
30. Photo
30. Photo
The same spot, looking N. The large stone house on the bend has been apparently restored to its approximate orginal state (plus a new garage). This is probably the NorMons HQ, which was described as 'a large stone house behind the crest'. According to the survivng sketch map (see the scenario), the Regimental Air Post was certainly in the orchard immedately behind this house, so is seems very likely that the RHQ was situated here.
31. Photo
31. Photo
Looking W from the Stone House. This is where the supporting F&FY armoured squadron HQ took up hull-down positions behind the crest - again it would make sense for the armour Sqn Cdr to co-locate himself with the infantry Bn Cdr.
32. Photo
32. Photo
Closeup of the Stone House (Normons HQ?).
33. Photo
33. Photo
Pavée Farm barn, opposite the Stone House. Clear evidence of battle damage (note circular hole) and cheap repair with clay and gravel daub.
34. Photo
34. Photo
The orchard immediately E of Pavee, looking E towards Les Cantuards and Point 224. Note the damaged barns (cheaply repaired with corrugated iron after the war). Although it isn't obvious in the photo, the ground is still pitted with shallow craters.
35. Photo
35. Photo
A similar view to photo 34.
36. Photo
36. Photo
Looking N from Pavée, down the slope to Burcy.
37. Photo
37. Photo
The view a little further N along the Burcy Road. The Regimental Aid Post was in the orchard on the left, behind the Stone House.
38. Photo
38. Photo
Having walked N along the Burcy Road to the fork, this photo is looking back (S) at the orchard, RAP and Stone House. 160 men of the NorMons were killed in this battle and many more were injured - the majority would have been carried back to this orchard by their comrades.
Photo Set Part 3
Photo Set Part 3
The location and angles of the third set of photos.
39. Photo
39. Photo
The view S back up the hill to Pavée.
40. Photo
40. Photo
A field E of the Stone House, where the reserve troop of the F&FY squadron found a good hull-down position on the rear slope of the ridge, covering the crest. Tanks here would undoubtedly have been able to deal effectively with German tanks cresting the ridge, some 200 yards in front.
41. Photo
41. Photo
41-49:Views from the hedgeline on the crest of the ridge, running E from the Memorial Corner to Point 224.
42. Photo
42. Photo
See 41.
43. Photo
43. Photo
See 41.
44. Photo
44. Photo
See 41.
45. Photo
45. Photo
See 41.
46. Photo
46. Photo
See 41.
47. Photo
47. Photo
See 41.
48. Photo
48. Photo
See 41.
49. Photo
49. Photo
See 41.

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