The British Army’s Largest Tank Battle in 25 Stunning Images

Sherman Firefly carrying infantry during Operation 'Goodwood', 18 July 1944.

Operation Goodwood in Normandy, France was a British offensive against the German forces at the end of July 1944. It is called by some historians as ‘the largest tank battle in British Army’s history.’ British forces deployed two infantry divisions and three armored divisions with 1,100 tanks.

The Germans engaged four infantry divisions, three armored divisions, and two heavy tank battalions with 377 tanks. The British forces wanted to take control of Caen in Northwestern France to break through the German lines and liberate the rest of the occupied country.

The British forces advanced seven miles to the eastern part of the city, but the Germans prevented a total breakthrough. The British had 3,474 casualties and lost 314 tanks. The Germans had an unknown number of casualties but over 2,500 German soldiers were captured, and they lost 75 to 100 tanks in the battle.

Avro Lancaster B Mark IIs of No. 514 Squadron RAF taxi onto the main runway at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, for a daylight attack on fortified villages east of Caen, in support of the Second Army’s armoured offensive in the Normandy battle area (Operation GOODWOOD).
Vertical aerial photograph showing Handley Page Halifax B Mark III, LW127 ‘HL-F’, of No. 429 Squadron RCAF, in flight over Mondeville, France, after losing its entire starboard tailplane to bombs dropped by another Halifax above it. LW127 was one of 942 aircraft of Bomber Command dispatched to bomb German-held positions, in support of the Second Army attack in the Normandy battle area (Operation GOODWOOD), on the morning of July 18th, 1944. The crew managed to abandon the aircraft before it crashed in the target area.
Vertical photographic-reconnaissance aerial photograph of the steelworks at Colombelles, east of Caen, France following a daylight attack on fortified German positions by aircraft of Bomber Command on the morning of July 18th, 1944, in support of Operation GOODWOOD. The whole target area is studded with a dense concentration of craters and almost every building in the steelworks has been destroyed.
A Sherman tank and a Crusader AA Mk III tank of the Staffordshire Yeomanry in France during Operation Goodwood, July 1944
Sherman tanks carrying infantry wait to advance at the start of Operation ‘Goodwood’, Normandy, 18 July 1944.
Infantry and Sherman tanks wait to advance at the start of Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th of July 1944. A Sherman Firefly is in the foreground.
Soldiers of 1st Welsh Guards in action near Cagny during Operation Goodwood
Sherman tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, 27th Armoured Brigade, carrying infantry from 3rd Division, move up at the start of Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18 July 1944.
Cromwell tanks moving across ‘York’ bridge, a Bailey bridge over the Caen canal and the Orne River, during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
A Sherman Firefly crosses ‘Euston Bridge’ over the Orne as it moves up to the start line for Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Infantry and tanks wait to advance at the start of Operation ‘Goodwood’.
A King Tiger of the 503rd heavy tank battalion, after it has been rammed by a British Sherman commanded by Lieutenant John Gorman of the 2nd Armoured Irish Guards, Guards Armoured Division during Operation Goodwood. Gorman and his crew then captured most of the Tiger’s crew. The event took place on 18th July 1944 to the west of Cagny, Normandy, France.
Loyd carriers and 6-pounder anti-tank guns of 3rd Irish Guards advance during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Sherman Crab flail tanks advance south of Escoville during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
German PzKpfw VI Tiger tank overturned during the heavy Allied bombing at the beginning of Operation ‘Goodwood’, July 1944.
Cromwell tanks assembled for Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Sherman tanks and Crab flail tanks advance with infantry south of Escoville during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Cromwell tanks of 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry advance near Escoville during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Sherman tanks of 23rd Hussars, 11th Armoured Division, make their way across open ground in front of the factory chimneys at Colombelles steelworks during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Sherman tanks and a Sherman Firefly move through Escoville during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Sherman flail tank moves up to cross the Orne river during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
Smiling German Prisoner of War during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.
A tank commander talks to infantry on his Sherman Crab flail tank at the start of Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18th July 1944.


Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.