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Appendix D: General Montgomery’s Directive to Generals Bradley and Dempsey, 30 June 1944

(from General Crerar’s file GOC-in-C 1-0)

TOP SECRET, Tac HQ 21 Army Group., No. M 505, 30th June, 1944.

Lt-Gen. O. N. Bradley, First US Army.,

Lt-Gen. Sir Miles Dempsey, Second British Army.

The General Situation

1. My broad policy, once we had secured a firm lodgement area, has always been to draw the main enemy forces in to the battle on our eastern flank, and to fight them there, so that our affairs on the western flank could proceed the easier.

2. We have been very successful in this policy. Cherbourg has fallen without any interference from enemy reserves brought in from other areas; the First US Army is proceeding with its re-organization and re-grouping, undisturbed by the enemy; the western flank is quiet. All this is good; it is on the western flank that territorial gains are essential at this stage, as we require space on that side for the development of our administration. By forcing the enemy to place the bulk of his strength in front of the Second Army, we have made easier the acquisition of territory on the western flank.

3. Our policy has been so successful that the Second Army is now opposed by a formidable array of German Panzer Divisions—eight definitely identified, and possibly more to come. The more recent arrivals seem to have come from far afield. The Divisions identified between Caumont and Caen are as follows: 21 Pz, 2 Pz, 1 SS, 2 SS, 9 SS, 10 SS, 12 SS, LEHR. 21 Pz is on the Caen front; 2 Pz is on the Caumont front; the remaining six divisions are collected round the 8 Corps penetration in between.

4. It is not yet clear whether Hitler proposes to concentrate great strength in NW Europe so as to annihilate the Allied forces in Normandy. He may decide that this is a good proposition; and in order to achieve success he may be quite prepared to give ground gradually on the Russian front, and to accept reverse in that theatre. His policy in this respect will emerge in due course.

5. For the present it is quite clear that he has reinforced the Normandy front strongly, and that a full-blooded counterattack seems imminent. We welcome such action.

6. Our tactics must remain unchanged. Briefly, they are as follows:

a. To retain the initiative. We shall do this only by offensive action. On no account must we remain inactive. Without the initiative we cannot win.

b. To have no set-backs., This is very important on the eastern flank; the enemy has concentrated great strength here and he must not be allowed to use it successfully. Any set-back on the eastern flank might have direct repercussions on the quick development of our plans for the western flank.

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c. To proceed relentlessly with our plans., These will be based on the broad policy indicated in para. 1 above. We must retain such balance and poise in our dispositions that there is never any need to re-act to enemy moves or thrusts; the enemy can do what he likes; we will proceed with our plans.

Plan in Outline

7. To hold the maximum number of enemy divisions on our eastern flank between Caen and Villers Bocage, and too swing the western or right flank of the Army Group southwards and eastwards in a wide sweep so as to threaten the line of withdrawal of such enemy divisions to the south of Paris. The bridges over the Seine between Paris and the sea have been destroyed by the Allied air forces, and will be kept out of action; a strong Allied force established in the area Le Mans-Alençon would threaten seriously the enemy concentration in the Caen area and its “get-away” south of Paris.

Second British Army

8. Tasks as follows:

a. To hold the main enemy forces in the area between Caen and Villers Bocage.

b. To have no set-backs.

c. To develop operations for the capture of Caen as opportunity offers—and the sooner the better.

9. A full-blooded enemy counter-attack seems likely, put in somewhere between Caen and Villers Bocage; the main axis of such an attack is not yet apparent. In order to provide a mobile reserve in the hands of the Army Commander, the 7 Armd Div, now holding the right divisional sector, will be relieved tomorrow by First Army and that divisional sector will be included in First Army area; the inter-army boundary to be adjusted accordingly.

10. The careful attention of the Army Commander is drawn to pare 6.

First US Army

11. To develop an offensive southwards on the right flank, beginning on Monday 3 July.

12. The Army to pivot on its left in the Caumont area, and to swing southwards and eastwards on to the general line Caumont–Vire–Mortain–Fougères.

13. A strong thrust to be made eastwards from Vire to secure the important intercommunication centre of Flers.

14. On reaching the base of the peninsula at Avranches, the right hand Corps (8 Corps) to be turned westwards into Brittany and directed on Rennes and St Malo. This Corps to consist of three infantry divisions and one armoured division.

15. As regards the remainder of the Army. Plans will be made to direct a strong right wing in a wide sweep, south of the Bocage country, towards successive objectives as follows:

a. Laval–Mayenne.

b. Le Mans–Alençon.

16. It is highly important that when the above operations begin on 3 July, vide para 11, they should be carried out with the greatest drive and energy. There must be no pause until the Army has swung up on to the line Caumont–Fougères, vide para 12; thereafter, the less delays the better.

17. The Army will extend its left flank tomorrow, 1 July, to include the sector now held by 7 Armd Div of Second Army—vide para 8.

B. L. Montgomery



21 Army Group.