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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > December 2016 > Battlefield: Villers-Bocage

Battlefield: Villers-Bocage

Michael Wittmann’s attack on the British at Villers-Bocage is one of the most famous incidents in the history of armoured warfare. Julian Humphrys looks at what really happened

Armoured onslaught

IT’S A KNOCK-OUT Three destroyed German tanks – victims of the British ambush in the centre of Villers-Bocage
ALAMY X3

BATTLE CONTEXT

When

13 June 1944

Where

Villers Bocage, Normandy

Why

British attempt to break through to Caen

Who

British: 22nd Armoured Brigade

Germans: 101st SS Heavy Tank Battalion plus part of the Panzer Lehr Division

Outcome

British advance stopped but Germans suffer irreplaceable losses in tanks

IN TRANSIT Michael Wittmann stands in the tank in the foreground
AIRSEALAND PHOTOS/CODY IMAGES X6, GETTY X1

Michael Wittmann hadn’t been expecting to fight a battle. His regiment had just arrived in Normandy, only half of the 12 Tiger tanks in the company he commanded were ready for action, and he was planning to spend the day carrying out repairs to his vehicles. All of that changed when one of his men rushed to his command post and reported that a long line of vehicles was driving along the road in front of them. Realising that the mystery vehicles were British, Wittmann ordered his men to start up their tanks and prepare for action.

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December 2016