- Point of Interest
- 2 Passage du Souvenir, 14210 Esquay-Notre-Dame, France
On 14 June 1944, the 15th Scottish Infantry Division landed in Normandy on Sword Beach. On 26 June they fought on the front line, engaged in Operation Epsom to seize the city of Caen. Despite heavy losses, the men successfully participated in major Anglo-Canadian offensives in Normandy before fighting in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The 15th Scottish Infantry Division served for three years on the Western Front during the First World War. At the start of the Second World War in September 1939 it was remobilised in England. Here it remained until 1943 in training formation.
On 14 June 1944 the 15th Scottish Division returned to French soil. Their first battle was Operation Epsom to outflank and seize the city of Caen. Serving under the command of General MacMillan, the Scottish Division took part in the attack to cross the river Odon. These were only their first days in action and the division already suffered heavy losses: about 2,700 casualties between 27 June and 2 July 1944. Nearly a third of the total infantry strength of the entire division. However, a corridor of 8 by 3 kilometres was pierced through German lines, named the ‘Scottish Corridor’. Known for their fighting spirit, the Scottish soldiers then launched a diversion from the Odon bridgehead in support of Operation Goodwood. On 15 July 1944, the town of Esquay was captured during the night. For about a month they fought at the foot of hill 112. Even though the hill was not captured, the battle distracted a German Panzer Division for a good while.
On 23 July the 15th Division was ordered to advance towards Caumont-l’Éventé to relieve the 1st American Division. The 15th Scottish Infantry Division took part, in Operation Bluecoat (30 July – 4 August) advancing through hedgerows and bushes. After a week of bitter fighting around Estry, the division was granted time of rest to the South of Caen. The men resumed their progress towards the Seine, which they crossed on 27 August 1944 before they continued towards Belgium and the Netherlands.
Fought between the iconic landings on 6 June 1944 and the liberation of Paris on 25 August, the Battle of Normandy is often overlooked. Yet this campaign decided the course of the war in Northwestern Europe. The losses were huge: more than 100.000 people were killed during the 80 days, 20.000 of them civilians.