This map from Kenneth Macksey's excellent book
Having secured the Napoleonic Royal Military Canal, infantry of the 55th Infantry Regiment, part of the 17th Infantry Division have pushed into the small seaside town of Hythe. Supported by paratroopers of the 20th Parachute Regiment they are sweeping out any resistance to ensure the bridgehead is secure before more troops and heavy support units are landed later in the day. The town though is still held by forward elements of the 2nd London Brigade, this is acting as a rear guard as survivors from the landings stream back to reform in the Elham Valley. Despite government advice there are also strong elements of the home guard from Hythe and Seabrook who having 'fought them on the beaches' have now pulled back into the town to support the regular troops. The defenders are low on ammunition but not courage and the Germans have not at this early stage been able to land more than a few armoured vehicles and Tanks.
The British have set up rudimentary road blocks around the church and are hoping to hold the advance at least to buy time along the main high street. The Germans objective is to sweep them out of the town.
A view of the main high street and church. Germans are advancing from the south.
The 55th Infantry Regiment, supported by two units of Fallschirmjager, two MG34
and the first armour to get ashore, a 35(t) in the distance a Panzer II and an armoured Reccon vehicle Sdkfz 222
The Seabrook and Hythe Home guard advance through allotments,
they haven't even had time to get into uniform.
The Parachutists push forward towards the buildings whilst the MG34 starts to lay down covering fire. But it is not all plain sailing the unit which has made it to the hedge have run straight into a hail of bullets and are seriously pinned down.
The veteran Fallschirmjager use cover and move forward supported by regular infantry all to plan !
A shot captured on the day by Nazi propoganda ministry
At the far west of the Main Street the British have dug in around a pill box, so the Germans have sent the armour they do have to push through
A shot from behind the church shows the British infantry rather than hiding are running across the street, but surely the are already beaten ? The first signs of concern started to show on the German commanders face ! He was under orders to clear the town quickly and things aren't going to plan.☹️
Even the Seabrook home guard are advancing, Shop keepers looking to out flank the Wehrmacht !
.........and then the unthinkable veteran Fallschirmjager having thrown grenades into the occupied building refuse to charge in ! Worse than that they panic and pull back. (ED. no you can't make this stuff up ! What is the German for Fubar😀)
Emboldened by the apparent lack of drive by the German Parachutists the Seabrook Homeguard move cautiously around the church to attempt to outflank the German lines. Safe to say this was not a wise move and they were ruthlessly cut down. The Germans believing them terrorists out of uniform no prisoners taken here.
The German commanding officer was luckily on hand to halt the retreat and bring back some sense of order.
With time pressing before the main invasion fleet hits the beaches the infantry who had occupied the post-office have been ordered to attack across the street to subdue the fire coming from the town hall. This they bravely did, but rushing across in the open without adequate support was always going to be a risk. They suffered and were wiped out. The two tanks began a duel across the street
Things were at this stage balanced, although it clearly wasn't going to be a quick victory the Germans were confident.........then the Panzer II was damaged by accurate artillery fire. It could still fire but it's track had been blown off.
.....and then the 35 t Panzer was hit by a direct strike by the Matilda II and it exploded in flames.
With much of their infantry either dead or casualties the Germans now had little chance to take the town. They had managed to inflict considerable damage on the defenders but had come off worse.
The remaining Germans carefully push forward but they would have to await significant extra support before they could take the town. The captain was dreading having to report back to Regimental command he had failed to take what had looked like an easy day one objective. His superiors would be unforgiving.......but most of all he was concerned that if this was the type of fight the Wehrmacht were going to face in Great Britain then it was not going to be the easy defeat they had been encouraged to hope for.
An excellent first battle in what I hope will be a very long running campaign. I have many more ideas for battles and loads more stuff to collect, build and paint😀