The Battle out of Normandy 1944
One of the aims of the Invasion was for British and Canadian troops to engage all available German troops and armour in heavy battles. The purpose of this was to act as a decoy so that the American 1st Army could break out of Normandy with a reduced opposition.
The American progress was slower than expected owing to the geographical terrain, flooded marshes, and the bad weather which made it very difficult to get accurate air support.
The main objective of the Americans was a market town on the River Vire called Saint Lo. Panzer divisions were brought from other parts of France to defend the town. The town was eventually captured on the 18th July after a blood bath where the Americans had 40,000 cvasualties.
General Patton had arrived in Normandy and in the lst week of June he launched the great American offensive to drive the Germans out of Normandy
Whilst the Americans were organising their offensice the British launched their powerful offensive, "Operation Goodwood". It had two objectives, firstly to clear out the Germans east and south of Caen, therefore opening up the Caen-Falaise road, and secondly to pin down German armour so the Americans could break out.
The British objective was Mont Pincon in Eastern Brittany which was difficult and troops were regularly ambushed or killed by mines in the road or on grass verges. Once they reached the slopes of Mont Picon there was vicious fighting and many died, but eventually the Hussars pushed on and took the mountain.
Now that the troops were on the move there was concern that the Germans were still in position to the south of Caen. The Allies planned to take Falaise and push the Germans back to the River Seine. A night attack took place on the 7thAugust. The Allied losses were devastating, vehicles were lost in bomb craters, there were traffic jams with devastating enemy fire as they stood with nowhere to go. Amongst all this was inaccurate bombing by the Allied planes bombing Allied forces rather than the German forces. The fighting was the toughest of the whole campaign and was called off three days later as the loss of men and machinery had been so severe.
Closing the Falaise Gap
A new plan was made to trap the Germans in the Falaise Gap by taking control of a narrow corridor, some 20 miles by 15 miles. The Canadians were tasked to do this and then move on to Argentan to join up with the Americans. The offensive started on 14th August in the middle of a drought with a shortage of water. The troops were attacked by mosquitoes and flies and the vehicles created dust clouds wherever they went. It took 3 days, but the Canadians captured Falaise but in doing so the town was razed to the ground. The Germans fought to get out of the trap as the battle moved through the countryside.
The polish division joined up with the Americans and trapped the Germans within the gap. These men were either slaughtered or taken prisoner. The reports were that 10,000 Germans died and 50,000 were taken prisoner.
Moving on through Europe
By the middle of August the Allies held nearly all of North Western France to the Seine in the East and the Loire in the South. On the 25th August the German Military Governor of Paris surrendered to the Free French who were serving with the American 1st army. The Allies continued on through Belgium and Holland in the direction of the German Ruhr valley. More Allied forces had landed in the South of France at Marseilles and were pushing to the North and East. At the same time the Red Army was pushing the Germans away from their borders and the British were pushing in Italy. Berlin was in sight.
The Invasion of Normandy enabled the conquest of Europe. Allied casualties including killed, wounded and missing amounted to 210,000 whilst German casualties were 300,000 plus. Without the sacrifice of these brave men the conquest of German occupied Europe would have been impossible.
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