RAF Successfully Knocks Out Panzer Group West's La Caine Headquarters
During the Battle of Normandy, the headquarters of Panzer Group West was established in the Chateau at La Caine.
On 9 June 1944, three days after the Normandy landings, the headquarters' new location was revealed to the British Intelligence by decyphering of German signals traffic. On 10 June 1944, aircraft of the Second Tactical Air Force bombed the village. The raid was carried out by 40 rocket-armed Typhoons which attacked in three waves from low altitude and by 61 Mitchells which dropped 500 lb bombs from 12,000 ft.
Eighteen members of the HQ staff were known to have died in the raid, including the chief of staff Generalmajor Sigismund-Helmut von Dawans the most senior officer to be killed in the raid. The group's commander, General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg was wounded in the raid. Although the Chateau was not badly damaged, the nearby orchard in which the HQ's vehicles were parked was thoroughly bombed and communications equipment was destroyed.
The HQ was rendered non-operational and withdrawn to Paris. German command of the sector was temporarily given to the I SS Panzer Corps. The attack destroyed the only western German Army organization capable of handling a large number of mobile divisions.
At a most critical point in the Normandy battle, then, the Panzer group, which served as a vital nexus between operating armored forces, was knocked out of the command, control, and communications loop; indeed, it had to return to Paris to be reconstituted before resuming its duties a month later.