The popular perception of the performance of British armour in the Normandy campaign of 1944 is one of failure and frustration. Despite overwhelming superiority in numbers, Montgomery's repeated efforts to employ his armour in an offensive manner ended in disappointing stalemate. Indeed, just a week after the D-Day landings, the Germans claimed to have halted an entire British armoured division with one Tiger tank. Most famously of all, in July, despite a heavy preparatory bombardment, three British armoured divisions were repulsed by much weaker German forces to the east of Caen, suffering the loss of over 400 tanks in the process.
Explanation of these and other humiliating failures has centred predominantly on the shortcomings of the tanks employed by British formations. Essentially, an orthodoxy has emerged that the roots of failure lay in the comparative weakness of Allied equipment and to a lesser extent in training and doctrine.
This new study challenges this view by analysing the reality and level of the supposed failure and the causes behind it. By studying the role of the armoured brigades as well as the divisions, a more complete and balanced analysis is offered in which it is clear that while some technologically based difficulties were encountered, British armoured forces achieved a good deal when employed appropriately. Such difficulties as did occur resulted from British operational techniques, methods of command and leadership and the operating environment in which armour was employed. In addition, the tactics and doctrine employed by both British and German armoured forces resulted in heavy casualties when on the offensive. Ultimately, the experience of thecrews and the effects of fighting on their morale is studied to provide a complete picture of the campaign.