Falaise Bloody Falaise.

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by sapper, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. cash_13

    cash_13 Senior Member

    Whats the name of that Ford through the River Dives that the Germans got trapped in, I remember that someone posted a picture recently.....
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Gotthard -
    Hate to throw some facts into a discussion BUT the Falaise offensive started on August 7th - finished on August 21st - Monty was in charge until the end of August when Eisenhower took over as Field Commander - Sapper is quite right - Neither Monty nor Dempsey were given the credit for that victory as by then the Americans were approaching the majority of troops in that campaign- but with limited fighting to that point - Cobra was weeks late - and Marshall was insisting that they flex their muscles - many believe - along with Field Marshal Alanbrooke - that this change of leadershp caused the war to be extended by at least six months causing untold casualties to all combatants....
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Whats the name of that Ford through the River Dives that the Germans got trapped in, I remember that someone posted a picture recently.....

    Moissy ford, Martin Bull posted some images both here and on WW2Forum.
  4. cash_13

    cash_13 Senior Member

    Thanks now found it on Google earth, I am only staying about 20 km's away so me and the wife are going to take a look there and have a picnic and just have a moment to reflect
  5. jagdpanther44

    jagdpanther44 Senior Member

    Here are some photos of the Moissy ford.

    The first one is an allied recon photo taken after the breakout (note all the knocked out vehicles strewn about the fields and tracks), I have added coloured arrows which show where, and in which direction I took my photos. The grey lines indicate the tracks and pathways that lead to the ford.

    The germans approached the ford from top and right to bottom left in this photo.

    Red arrow

    Blue arrow

    Green arrow
    von Poop likes this.
  6. cash_13

    cash_13 Senior Member

    Thanks for that great pictures,

    Regards Lee
  7. Trevster

    Trevster Junior Member

    Great pictures especially with the link between the old picture and the modern, thank-you.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    John !

    I am impressed :D

    Cheers for the heads up
  9. Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart

    Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart Senior Member

    Erik H has some good Falaise photos on his site.
    Canada at War - Photos: Normandy - Falaise

    I'll include one here of a Panther amongst the carnage of dead horses.

    Art Bridge sent me this photo, St Lambert-sur-Dives.

    The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (P.L.)

    By the middle of August 1944, the German Seventh Army was in full retreat in Normandy. It was close to being totally encircled by the allied armies and captured whole. It was a disaster with as much gravity as the huge defeat at STALINGRAD a year and a half before. The British and Canadians were closing in from the north while the Americans were closing in from the west and south. Only a small opening near the town of FALAISE remained for the Germans to retreat through. It would come to be known as the FALAISE GAP.
    The Germans were being mercilessly pummelled by allied artillery and air power. Losses were enormous and units were involved in a confused race to get through the gap before it was closed by Canadian and Polish forces.
    On 18 August 1944, "B" Company of the Argylls was placed under command of "C" Squadron of The South Alberta Regiment (SAR) which was commanded by Major Dave Currie. This composite group was tasked to close the road running through ST. LAMBERT-SUR-DIVES which was the main German escape route between the towns of CHAMBOIS and TRUN.
    In the early morning of 19 August 1944, "B" Company and "C" Squadron attacked ST. LAMBERT and cleared half of the town and consolidated in the centre having insufficient troops to clear the rest. The fighting was vicious with German tanks being destroyed at close range with grenades and PIATs. Company Sergeant Major George Mitchell and Private MR Holmes distinguished themselves by rescuing the driver of a burning SAR tank while under fire. The Argylls suffered 6 wounded that day. "C" Company of the Argylls joined the force in ST. LAMBERT at 1900 hours (7:00 PM).
    On the 20th of August 1944, heavy counter attacks were beaten off as the desperate Germans attempted to force their way past the Canadians. Thousands of Germans were trying to flee down the road through ST. LAMBERT. Major Ivan Martin, Officer Commanding "B" Company went forward on foot alone twice to call down artillery fire on German self propelled guns. He was killed later in the day. After the battle, he was awarded an American Distinguished Service Cross.
    The fighting was confused and desperate and lasted all through the day. The Argylls lost 3 killed and 13 wounded.
    By 21 August 1944, most of the heavy fighting was over and the town was finally cleared of enemy resistance. The roads leading to ST. LAMBERT were clogged with destroyed vehicles and abandoned equipment. Private McAllister of "B" Company won acclaim by single handedly taking 150 prisoners. The 21st would see 5 Argylls killed and 2 more wounded.
    Within the town itself, 300 Germans had been killed, 500 wounded and 2100 taken prisoner. Seven tanks, twelve 88mm guns and 40 other vehicles were destroyed. Major Dave Currie of the SARs would win a Victoria Cross for his leadership at ST. LAMBERT.
    By the end of the action, "B" and "C" companies had only 70 men between them. They would be amalgamated on 22 August 1944 under the command of Major Alex Logie, son of Major General WA Logie who had been first Commanding Officer of the Argylls in 1903. Lieutenant General Guy Simmonds, Commander of 2nd Canadian Corp, came forward to inspect the town. He had to get out of his staff car and walk as the piles of wreckage made the road impassable.
    The battle at ST. LAMBERT-SUR-DIVES was a significant victory for Canada, the Argylls and the SARs. Less than 200 Canadians held off attacks by literally thousands of Germans for three days and played a major role in closing the FALAISE GAP which signalled the defeat and destruction of the German Seventh Army.

    Why is the cupola on the wrong side of that knocked out Panther?
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    This Panther?

    It looks on the correct side (Left) to me
  11. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I think that the cupola is on the right side of the turret as in the shot the Gun is facing you.

    The commanders cupola was at the rear left side of the turret.

    The possible answer is that the negative has been reversed. Not an uncommom fault on books.

  12. Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart

    Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart Senior Member

    This Panther?

    It looks on the correct side (Left) to me

    The Panther in the photoraph is facing the camera, now either a Tiffy's rocket has blown the cupola all to shit from one side of the turret or you lot want to open your minces... how's reversing the negative have owt to do wiv it?

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Headlines: France, with Falaise, road, destruction Specially information: France, with Falaise. - German truck, Krad with sidecar in destroyed French locality (signpost/guide before column/monument: 59km to Caen, 25km to Falaise); KBZ upper one west

    Headlines: France, with Falaise, destruction in locality Specially information: France, with Falaise. - destroyed buildings in locality. Signpost/guide " Caen, Bagnoles de l' Orne, Granville". Old woman between the rubble, in the middle of June 1944; KBZ upper one west
    France, with Falaise, destroyed buildings in locality Specially information: France, with Falaise. - destroyed buildings in locality. Krad with sidecar signpost/guide " Caen, Bagnoles de l' Orne, Granville" happening; KBZ upper one west
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Headlines: France, destroyed vehicles on highway Specially information: France. - destroyed tanks and truck on highway in wooded area, in the middle of June 1944; KBZ whether west
  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Attached Files:

  16. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter

    My Dad was with the Canadian 3 LAA, 2nd Canadian Division at Falaise. He never spoke about it much or what he experienced during WWII. The main thing he spoke about regarding Falaise was the smell. Just like Sapper, he said that the rotting smell of decaying flesh stayed with him all his life - just thinking of it could turn his stomach. It was a sight from the gates of hell.

    Sapper and I exchanged posts on this on the WW2 Forum.

    I am just reading the Falaise description of Reverend R.M. Hickey in his book The Scarlet Dawn published in 1949 about his experiences with the North Shore Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Division. "...the graveyard of his army, Falaise, with its grim toll of fifteen thousand dead ordying men. You had to see Falaise to believe it, the paper reports of it were mild. For miles and miles the roads were strewn with the charred hulks of German army trucks; tall chimneys, standing gaunt in piles of ashes were all tha t maked the one time hallowed spot of family firesides; dead German soldiers and horses still lay as they fell under the deadly aim or our Typhoons and artillery. If there ever was a valley of death Falaise was it." Of course, in 1949 no publisher would let someone describe it in the detail we now know about. The North Shore Regiment on August 8 during the fighting for Falaise lost one hundred officers and men to Allied bombs.
  17. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter

    From George Blackburn The Guns of Normandy "No senior officer or instructor during the years of training in England, including the walking-encyclopedias of gunnery, the Instructors in Gunnery of Larkhill and Senneybridge, ever once gave the slightest indication they knew, or even suspected, the terribly persuasive fire-power placed in the hands of FOOs by the invention of Mike, Uncle, and Victor targets.

    In an OP in normal circumstances, when the rumble of neighbouring artillery or local enemy activity is not interfering with your hearing, there's a familiar sequence of sounds through which you follow your shells onto target. First comes a distant, faint thumping somewhere back behind you, then nothing for a few seconds. Suddenly overhead there's a sinister sizzling and crackling, followed by an abrupt, split-second silence, then a fury of cataclasmic flashes erupting in the target area amidst violent black puffs of smoke and dirt. This rapidly builds without pause into a hellish cauldron that gives off the reverbrating roaerof the wicked, overlapping thunderclaps that only 25-pounder shells pelting a Mike target can create.

    Horrifying enough when viewed from a distance of three or four hundred yards, but until you have lived through the terrible screams of 25-pounder shells arriving on target and experienced the distinctive, jolting whacks of their explosion around you, it is impossible to conceive of the full horror of a Mike Target to which the attacking Germans are subjected again and again on a regular basis."

    ..."As your 2nd Battery convoy crosses along the ridge to move down the Caen-Falaise highway past burned-out and derelict Allied tanks and vehicles, through what was no-man's-land for more than eighteen days, you are struck by the number of unburied German dead strewn across the shell-blasted fields, their upturned faces blackened by the sun and bloated by the torrid heat - many of them, unquestionably, the victims of the guns now rolling along behind you.

    And for the first time you see disabled German tanks in numbers, some with their turrets blown right off and lying upside down on the ground, providing mute testimony to the accuracy and blasting power of Typhoon rockets. ....

    It will be week, however, before you get any real concept of the extent of the carnage - not until you receive a firsthand account from an officer you'd known ... who after th abattle is put in charge of the party collecting bodies for burial, combing the gulleis and the thickets. He will tell of fields and woods littered with dead, hundreds in field-grey uniforms, sprawled in black pools of dried blood carpeting the ground, filling in some ditches and lying in layers in gullies. Horrible, bloated things expelling a stench so powerful Air OP pilots retched as they flew overhead."

    Eisenhower describes it as well in his book Crusade in Europe. "Roads, highways and fields were so choked with destroyed equipment and with dead men and animals that passage through the area was extremely difficult. Forty-eight hours after the closing of the gap, I was conducted through it on foot to encounter scenes that could be described only by Dante. It literally was possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh."

    In Fields of Fire by Terry Coppy he quotes from the War Diary of the Grenadier Guards who "reported the loss of four tanks in the advance to Pt 262 and offered a vivid description of the scene:
    No. 1 Squadron led off at 0800 hours in the pouring rain. The road, as were all the roads in the area, was lined and in places pradctically blocked by destroyed German vehicles of every description. Horses and men lay rotting in every ditch and hedge and the air was rank with the odour of putrification. Most of the destructio nwas caused by the air force, but the Poles done their share...No. 1 Squadron's co-axes fired almost continually...until arriving at Pt 262 and the results were devastating ...The picture at 262 was the grimmest the Regiment had so far come up against. The Poles had no supplies for three days; they had several hundred wounded who had not been evacuated, about 700 prisoners-of-war lay loosely guarded in a field ...unburied dead and parts of them strewn about by the score...The Poles cried with joy when we arrived..."

    The more I've read the more I've understood what haunted my Dad. He was bombed twice - once by the Americans and then by the RAF and RCAF during the battle for Falaise. The Canadians did what they were asked and then told that they also had to close the pocket because others wouldn't. The culmination of the sights, sounds, and smells created in the horrendous maelstrom of death and destruction within the Failaise Gap that he witnessed lived with him every day of his life. Just reading the descriptions, and then again when I read Sapper's posts in the sharpness of how he feels, I recall the look on my Dad's face that one and only time he spoke of Falaise.
  18. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Like many Vets, we will never forget that smell of rotting flesh. talking about barrages,(having been under several) What did impress me, was that when they brought back the 25 pounders after the Yanks were short of ammo. In Holland instead of firing a barrage of 25 pounders, they lined all the guns up and fired all of them at the same time. Very impressive indeed.
    That was North of Venraij
    Cheers sapper
    James S likes this.
  19. canuck

    canuck Closed Account


    There has been much criticism by historians of the British/Canadian "lack of drive" in not closing the pocket earlier. As one who was there, what is your take on that opinion?
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Can't think of the book I read this in but it alleges that Patton was boasting that as he would close the pocket - he might just carry on and throw the British back into the sea for another Dunkirk - Dempsey having had some experience of Patton in Sicily took that as a threat and called off the battle at that point - Patton then 'swanned" off towards Paris....


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