L Company, Beau Coudray

The small field, center left is the site where L/357 became isolated and stood against constant pressure before being destroyed or surrendering 7 July 1944. One group of infiltrators made it back to friendly lines by morning of 8 July.
Here is the revised Beau Coudray map. Note the new tree style. The small field, center left is the site where L/357 became isolated.

Fighting at Beau Coudray was a classic grand tactical problem often encountered in WW1. Once an attack had carried a position, holding was a matter of how quickly supply could be brought up. Bocage, per usual, makes lines of communication difficult to maintain. The Battle of Sèves Island would feature a similar challenge with the addition of uncooperative weather. Beau Coudray sits atop a ridge and defending the reverse slope proved to be very difficult.

In the above image, the five-hex field at center left is the spot where the survivors of L company, 357IR became isolated after losing contact once neighboring companies withdrew under pressure from a mixed paratroop/armored force. It fought hard throughout the day, 7 July 1944, finally succumbing before morning of 8 July. The survivors’ accounts I could find implied such desperation on the part of the Germans that at one point they may have mounted a bayonet charge. Try as he might, the commander of 357 could not reorganize his exhausted battalions quickly enough to relieve L company. The town would have to be retaken.

From the division history:

During the morning hours, a very few men from I and L Co worked their way back to our lines and reported that the great bulk of the two isolated companies had been killed or captured. There was no sound of battle from their last reported positions and it was consequently clear that our resistance in that area had ended.

It has been suggested recently in wargaming circles that the presence of vehicles, enemy or otherwise, was a rare experience for the average WW2 soldier. Those soldiers were not at Beau Coudray nor would I imagine that they could have numbered in the ranks of 90ID, who came up against combined-arms counterattacks over several notable actions. Perhaps the suggestion rests on the reality of the stunningly high casualty rates in rifle companies. It would be interesting to calculate the average number of days in the line a rifleman could expect to see; I’m sure such a figure must exist. In any case, wargames don’t trace individual soldiers. Not this one, anyway. Tactical commanders who fought in 90ID had to constantly worry about the possibility of mechanized attack. So should players of From the Ground Up.

Field where I Coy became isolated 8/9 July 1944.
Field where L Coy became isolated 8/9 July 1944.

2 thoughts on “L Company, Beau Coudray”

  1. Beyond the Beachhead has some numbers on casualties and turnover in the line companies. I’d list them myself but I’m in the middle of the Pacific a few thousand miles from the book.

    1. Ah, thanks for the tip Ron. I have access to one statistical study that was done circa 1948, but I’m sure there have been more profound ones done since. I’ll check it out. Happy travels.

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