|D-Day Campaign Pt. 3 - The Landing of the Regina Rifles at Nan-Green|
After the disastrous raid at Dieppe, the Canadian Army was looking to avenge the lives lost to German soldiers. Up to the point of the Normandy landings, Canadian soldiers had served in the air as bomber and fighter pilots in the defense of England, in the Sea with fleets of escorts and among the Merchant Marine, and on land as part of the 8th Army in Italy and in the stoic if doomed defense of Hong Kong. Allied command would learn from the mistakes of the Dieppe raid and make good on it with victory on June 6th 1944.
The landing beaches at Normandy were divided between American, British and Canadian landing forces. Strung along the coast were all the defenses that Germany could muster against a possible invasion. Beaches were strewn with obstacles that entrap men and vehicles alike, and the sea-walls were fortified with concrete bunkers housing an array of weaponry all pointed out towards the English Channel. The liberators of Europe would have to navigate these barriers in order to establish a foothold in France and set in motion the march into the heartland of the Third Reich. However, the concentration of the defenses along the beaches ware spotty. While some of the soldiers landing on D-Day would find little resistance from outgunned and unwilling combatants, other units would land in front of virtually impregnable fortresses, all manned with fanatical soldier who would spare no quarter. For the men whom fortune had placed in the worst possible landing zones, the day would be a hellish fight for survival against incredible odds.
‘A’ Company of the Regina Rifles would find themselves in this very situation. They would hit the beach at 0745 hours. Their assigned target on the initial landings at sector Nan-Green placed them directly in front of the town of Courselles-sur-Mer and more importantly, directly in front of a German casemate containing a dreaded flak-88 and several MG-42s. Flanking this imposing structure were several pillboxes manned by smaller guns and their crews. ‘A’ Company was tasked with the neutralization of these guns and if possible they were also to take command of the sea-wall and push into Courselles itself. Supporting them were tanks from the First Hussars. These consisted of ‘B’ Squadron’s Sherman Duplex Drive tanks that were launched close to shore and motored their way to the beach. Unlike the tanks launched near the American beaches, the majority of these Shermans would make it to the shore and turn the battle to the Allies favor. From there the tanks gave close support and endeavored to destroy their main threat, the gun emplacements in the pillboxes along the beach defenses.
Opposing the Canadians were members of the 6th company of 736th infantry regiment. Most of this regiment consisted of conscripts from other Eastern European countries commanded by German officers. With inferior training and equipment in addition to low morale, it was equally likely the defenders might quickly surrender or fight to the death out of fear. Outnumbered and unsure of the situation at hand, they were the sole defenders this section of the Normandy Coast. What they had in their favor were the impressive fortifications that had been erected. With machine guns and artillery they must stop the Canadian soldiers as they land on the beach and wipe out the invaders to a man.
Scenario DD-3: Regina Rifles at Nan-Green
At 0745 hrs on June 6th 1944, the leading waves of A Company of the Regina Rifles and First Hussars land abreast of Courselles-sur-Mer to take part in the assault of Fortress Europe. The beach defenses must be neutralized or circumvented and the town seized.
Take the town and disable the guns on the beach. Future waves will mop up any holdouts still left in the sector, but it is of primary importance that command of this area is taken. Find a weak-point in the beach defenses and break through. Pin down the enemy and capture as much ground in the town as possible.
Simple. Throw the invaders back into the sea. Destroy all Allied units and prepare your defenses for their assault. The Canadians must be prevented from turning the German flank at any point on the beach. If this happens, it will be easy for them to seize the town and assault your defenses from the rear.
The combination of firepower from the Shermans on the beach and the reckless tenacity of the Regina Rifles proved superior to the German defenses. The main defenses of the beach were successfully flanked and the remainder of the garrison at the casemate surrendered. After finally breaking the casemate on the shore, they moved into Courselles-Sur la Mer and began clearing it out. It was only after they had realized the deadly toll they had suffered. Of the 120 men that landed on the beach only 28 were still standing. Despite this victory, the beach was hardly safe for the next companies to land. Relentless defenders still had to be dug out, and obstacles to be cleared. (Allies 13 – 11)