Operation Wild Oats

'Wild Oats' was a British unrealised plan, within 'Perch' (i), by Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey’s 2nd Army for an airborne landing of Major General R. E. Urquhart’s 1st Airborne Division directly onto the airfield of Carpiquet, to the west of Caen in German-held northern France between Lieutenant General J. T. Crocker’s I Corps and Lieutenant General G. C. Bucknall’s XXX Corps, to aid the expansion of the British part of the 'Overlord' lodgement to the south-west (10 June 1944).

As part of the fighting by the British and Canadian forces to take Caen, the Allies envisaged several land and airborne offensives in order to pierce the front firmly defended by the Germans. Indeed, no less than three armoured divisions held the sector at the beginning of June 1944: these were Generalmajor Hyanzinth Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz’s Panzer-Lehr-Division, SS-Brigadeführer Fritz de Witt’s (from 14 June SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer’s) 12th SS Panzerdivision 'Hitlerjugend' and Generalleutnant Edgar Feuchtinger’s 21st Panzerdivision.

On 9 June the British forces' progress was brought to a halt by the German forces, and General Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding the Allied 21st Army Group, then met with Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey and Lieutenant General Omar N. Omar Bradley, commanders of the British 2nd Army and US 1st Army respectively, and proposed a modification of the 'Perch' operation which had began on 7 June. This new 'Wild Oats' operation was to encircle Caen on the east by Crocker’s British I Corps (51st Division and 4th Armoured Brigade) and on the west by Bucknall’s British XXX Corps (50th Division and 7th Armoured Division).

Furthermore, the new plan called for elements of the 1st Airborne Division to be parachuted into the area of ​​Carpiquet, where the Germans occupied the airfield much needed by the Allies. Once the airborne effort had been implemented and succeeded, the 7th Armoured Division was to take Evrecy and Hill 112.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, commander of the Allied air forces, was strongly opposed to the airborne part of the operation on the grounds that it posed unacceptable risks for the crews of the transport aircraft. In addition, Leigh-Mallory said, the designated targets would scatter the 1st Airborne Division too widely for the lightly armed airborne soldiers to overcome far more heavily equipped German armoured forces.

'Wild Oats' was therefore cancelled, and only the encirclement of Caen was maintained as part of 'Perch'.