8th Rifle Brigade - from Normandy to the Baltic - June 1944- May 1945


Maps on this page represent 8th Rifle Brigade’s route through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.  They show the exact (dashed red line) or approximate (dot-dash red line) route or center-line (CL) taken by the battalion. The caption below each map gives relevant dates, actions and locations (with locations shown on map being underlined), together with the map name, scale (1:25,000 and less, up to 1:500,000) and date. The original plain maps can be seen when using the arrows next to most maps. They generally are decent quality files, which can be copied and then enlarged. If you have questions or information to add, please get in touch using the contract form.

FRANCE (13 June – 3 September 1944)

(01)  Index to maps 02, 13, 14, 15 and 16 below (GSGS 4042 Le Have, 1:500,000, 1943)

The Battle for Normandy

(02)  Index to maps 03 to 12 below (GSGS 4249 St-Lo-Vire (6F) and Caen-Falaise (7F) combined, 1:100,000, 1944)

(03)  13 June 1944. 8RB’s arrives in Normandy, landing near Graye-sur-Mer and then moving on to Creully (GSGS 4347 Creully, 1:25,000, 20 May 1944)

(04) 13 to 26 June 1944. 8RB moves on to Cully on 13th and stays in Cully and Coulombs until 25th (GSGS 4347 Thaon, 1:25,000, June 1943)

(05) 26 to 30 June 1944. After moving from Cully to Cheux, 8RB crosses river Odon to Baron and ‘Hill 112‘ , where the battalion fights its first major action, in Operation Epsom. (GSGS 4347 Cheux, 1:25,000, July 1943)

(06) 30 June to 18 July 1944. After Epsom, 8RB withdraws, to Tourmouville and then to Norrey-en-Bessin, from 1 to 8 July they reorganize near Le-Mesnil-Patry and then from 8 to 16 July hold a defensive position near Le-Haut-du-Bosq. After a brief stay east of Cully, on 17 July they move to Plumetot and then to 022746. Later that night (17th/18th) 8RB crosses the river Orne, to their concentration area just north of Ranville. At 0815 hrs on the 19th, the battalion crosses the startline for Operation Goodwood and starts moving south in the direction of Demouville (GSGS 4347 Cheux, 1:25,000, 19 May 1944)

(07) 18-19 July 1944. Operation Goodwood. 8RB sees action in and around Demouville, Grentheville, Le-Mesnil-Frementel, Bras and Hubert-Folie (GSGS 4347 Caen, 1:25,000, March 1944)

(08) 19-31 July 1944. From Goodwood to Bluecoat and start of Operation Bluecoat. After Goodwood 8RB first moves to Giberville and then to Cussy, 2 miles west of Bayeux, where from 22nd to 29th the battalion reorganizes. On the 29th they move to Planqueray, north of Caumont. On the 30th Operation Bluecoat starts. 8RB moves from Caumont through Sept-Vents to Saint-Martin-des-Besaces, where serious opposition is encountered (GSGS 4347 Torigni, 1:25,000, July 1943)

(09) 31 July – 2 August 1944. After moving from Caumont to Saint-Martin-des-Besaces, on the 1st the battalion breaks through at the latter place and from there moves on unopposed through the Foret d’Eveque to Le-Beny-Bocage, where the night is spent. The following day the advance south continues (GSGS 4347 Torigni-sur-Vire, 1:50,000, 1943)

(10) 2 – 16 August 1944. On 2 August 8RB arrives at Presles, advances to Chenedolle and then falls back to Le-Bas-Perrier, where the Perrier ridge is held for two days against very heavy attacks. From the 5th until the 10th the battalion agian is in a defensive position, just south of Presles. It marks the end of Bluecoat and the beginning of the breakout of Normandy. After this, rest and reinforcement follows around Le-Beny-Bocage and then the battalion advances again, on the 12th. They reach Vassy on the 15th (GSGS 4347 Vassy, 1:25,000, April 1944)

(11) 15 – 18 August 1944. From Vassy onwards, 8RB advances with relatively little opposition, through Cerisi-Belle-Etoile, Aubusson, Athis, Notre-Dame-du-Rocher, and moves on to Putanges (GSGS 4347 Flers, 1:50,000, 1943)

(12) 18 – 21 August 1944. On the 18th 8RB arrives at Putanges, to find bridge across river Orne blown. After a Bailey Bridge is built, on the 19th they continue their advance through Sentilly towards Bailleul, where they arrive on the 20th. On the 21st 8RB is pulled out of the Falaise Pocket and directed south, towards Argentan. (GSGS 4250 Falaise, 1:50,000, 1943)

To the Seine

(13)  21 August 1944. Argentan and then on to Sainte-Gauburge-Sainte-Colombe (GSGS 4249 Alencon-Mayenne (7G), 1:100,000, 1944)

(14) 21 – 28 August 1944. After passing through Sainte-Gauburge-Sainte-Colombe on the 21st, on the 22nd the 8th Rifle Brigade arrives at L’Aigle and then goes on to the area of Rai-sur-Risle, for a five day rest period. (GSGS 4249 Mortagne – Nogent-le-Rotrou, 1:100,000, 1943)

(15) 28 August 1944. On 28 August 1944 the Seine is crossed at Vernon. From there the battalion travels north-east, through Tilly and Etrepagny, to Marseille-en-Beauvais. (GSGS 4042 Rouen-Paris, 1:250,000, June 1944) 

Heading for the Belgian border

(16) 28 – 30 August 1944. After crossing the Seine on the 28th, Marseille-en-Beauvais is reached on the 30th and Amiens on the same day. (GSGS 4042 Havre-Amiens, 1:250,000, 1943) 

(17) 30 August 1944. Tilloy-les-Conty, Amiens and across the river Somme. (GSGS 4040 Amiens, 1:50,000, 1943) 

(18) 30 August 1944. H Company’s route through Amiens, along the Boulevard d’Alsace and across the Beauville Bridge. (GSGS 77, Amiens, Through-Way Town Plans, France, 1944) 

(19) 1 – 2 September 1944. The day after liberating Amiens, 8RB continues its advance and the same day passes Arras ‘on the left’. On the 2nd they pass through Carvin and head towards Lille. (GSGS 4042, Amiens-Mons, 1:100,000, 1943) 

(20) 2 – 3 September 1944. Lille is bypassed to the south and then on 3 September, the 5th anniversary of the start of the war for Great Britain, at 1100 hrs., the battalion crosses the Franco-Belgian border near Baisieux. (GSGS 4042, Lille-Ghent, 1:250,000, 1943) 

BELGIUM (3 September – 20 September 1944)

(21) 3 September 1944. Half an hour after crossing the border the battalion arrives in Tournai and then moves on in the direction of Renaix (or Ronse). (GSGS 4040, Tournai, 1:50,000, 1943) 

(22)  Index to maps 21 above and 23, 24, 25, 27 and 28 below (GSGS 4042 Lille-Ghent and Brussels-Liege combined, 1:250,000, 1943)

(23) From Tournai, still on 3 September 1944, the 8th Rifle Brigade moves North (the Guards Armoured Division, also passing through Tournai, moves East, towards Brussels), and continues its speedy advance through Renaix and Nederbrakel. (GSGS 4336, Tournai, 1:100,000, 1942).

(24) After Nederbrakel the advance continues through Ninove, after which the route most likely took the battalion through Assche and Merchtem, and then for G Company North towards of Boom and for H Company a bit more East in the direction of Malines., with both companies ultimately heading for the port of Antwerp. (GSGS 4336, Brussels, 1:100,000, 1943).

(25) Early morning, 4 September 1944, G and H Companies push on – through Boom and Malines respectively – towards Antwerp, which is liberated that day. The battalion has advanced 450 miles since leaving L’Aigle six days earlier. (GSGS 4336, Antwerp, 1:100,000, 1944).

(26) 4 – 8 September 1944. Antwerp is entered from the South-West by G Company, coming from Boom, and from the South-East by H Company, coming from Kontich. H Company together with 23rd Hussars advance along the Mechelse Steenweg. The people of Antwerp are ecstatic. 8RB stays in and around Antwerp until the 8th. They try to cross the Albert Canal in the North of the city, but are held up by strong German defenses. (GSGS 4420, Antwerp, 1:100,000, 1944).

(27) 8 September 1944. 8RB moves from Antwerp, back through Malines and then further East, toward Diest. The route possibly leads through Werchter and Aershot. (GSGS 4336, Brussels, 1:100,000, 1943).

(28) 8 – 20 September 1944. After Diest the Albert Canal is finally crossed on the 9th, at Beringen. Helchteren is reached on the 10th. Especially H Company takes heavy casualties. From 12 to 16 September the battalion halts and rests at Petit-Brogel. On the 20th 8RB crosses the Belgian-Dutch border, between Lille-St.-Hubert and Heeze. Heeze is reached that night. (GSGS 4336, Maeseykck, 1:100,000, 1943).

HOLLAND (20 September – 16 December 1944)

(If you can help to find 1:50,000 scale maps of areas shown below, please get in touch.)

(29)  Index to maps 30 to 38 below (GSGS 4042 Walcheren-Amsterdam and Brussels-Liege combined, 1:250,000, 1943)

(30) 20 September 1944. The battalion probably passes through Maarheeze and Leende and that night reaches Heeze. (GSGS 4427, Maarheeze, 1:25,000, 1943).

(31) 21 September 1944. The 8th Rifle Brigade advances from Heeze to Geldrop, in then further North, toward Nuenen. (GSGS 4427, Geldrop, 1:25,000, 1943).

(32) 22 September 1944. After a night just South of Nuenen, on the 22nd F and G Company run into trouble at Gerwen and H Company reaches Stiphout, from where they carry out patrols in the direction of Helmond. (GSGS 4427, Helmond, 1:25,000, 1943).

(33) 23 September 1944. On the 23rd the battalion moves back through Nuenen, Geldrop and Heeze and then East, to Someren. (GSGS 4427, Geldrop, 1:25,000, 1943).

(34) 23 – 24 September 1944. From Someren the 8th Rifle Brigade continued through Asten, Ommel and then to Vlierden, where H Company ran into serious trouble. Vlierden was taken the following day, on the 24th. The battalion then moved on to Deurne where the night was spent. (GSGS 4427, Asten, 1:25,000, 1943).

(35) 25 September – 4 November 1944. On the 25th the battalion moved on, from Deurne to De Rips, where they would stay for some three weeks, until 16 October. They then moved to Meerselo, Heide (on the 18th) and to Leunen on the 19th, where they remained until the 25th. Then there followed a week at IJsselsteijn, until the 1 November 1944 and again to Leunen from 2nd to 4th. On 4 November the battalion finally left the area, heading some 25 miles north, to Hatert close to Nijmegen, possibly via Venray, which had been liberated (and heavily destroyed) in mid October and Grave.  (GSGS 4427, Venraij, 1:25,000, 1943).

(36) 4 – 11 November 1944. The battalion was remained at Hatert, some 3 miles south of Nijmegen, for about a week. (GSGS 4427, Groesbeek, 1:25,000, 1943).

(37) 11 – 28 November 1944. After a week at Hatert the 8th Rifle Brigade returned to Leunen and on the 20th again to IJsselteijn. On the 28th the battalion moved again, eastward, to Swolgen, possibly passing through Schoon. (GSGS 4427, Venraij, 1:25,000, 1943).

(38) 28 November –  16 December 1944. After a week at Swolgen (from 28 November to 6 December), the 8th Rifle Brigade was relieved and moved on to Melderslo, and then again, on the 13th, to Grubbenvorst. On the 16th the battalion left Holland for what should have been a period of rest in Belgium. (GSGS 4414, Horst, 1:25,000, 1943).

BELGIUM (16 December 1944 – 11 February 1945)

HOLLAND (11 February – 13 March 1945)

BELGIUM (13 – 28 March 1945)

GERMANY (28 March – 8 May 1945)

GSGS4414 Wesel (1:50,000, 12 February 1945, Germany) - Wesel (8RB crosses the Rhine, 28 March 1945)
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