Cassel- the BEF’s ‘Alamo’

The pages that follow document the heroic defence of Cassel between 25th May- 30th May 1940 by Brigadier Nigel Somerset’s 145 Brigade, an ad-hoc mixture of regular British Army troops and Territorials, including 367 Battery of the 140th Field Regiment.

To some extent the British sacrifice at Cassel in 1940 has parallels with the 1836 Battle of the Alamo between Mexican invaders and Texan forces trapped within the Alamo mission.  In the early morning of March 6th 1836, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo. After repelling two attacks, the vastly outnumbered Texan defenders were unable to fend off the third attack. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, most of the Texan fighters withdrew into interior buildings where the majority were slain by Mexican cavalry as they attempted to escape.

One hundred and four years later, on the evening of the 29th May 1940, at the end of four days of continuous and furious fighting and having failed to quieten the British guns, the Germans decided against continuing their full frontal attack on Cassel. They bypassed the town, having lost considerable numbers of tanks and suffered delays that may have been decisive in allowing the ongoing evacuation of the BEF from the Dunkirk beaches.