Saturday, August 12, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
Southwest of Falaise, the 15th Corps of the 3rd US Army advances towards the north, despite numerous clashes with the SS Panzer divisions. The 2nd French armored division now controls the town of Alençon, where violent street fights took place the day before. The French immediately set out and entered Ecouché, on the road to Argentan. The 15th Corps even reaches the region near Argentan in the evening: the 1st and 3rd American armies have just repelled the German forces of about fifty kilometers in a week.
The American front, which was still oriented north-south on August 5, is now oriented east-west. Further north, the 2nd British Army and the 1st Canadian Army advance southward. Between the two fronts, the Germans are locked up and there is only one exit gate: the Falaise area.
American and Commonwealth troops now face each other, creating serious problems for Allied officers: the Germans, surrounded, are bombarded by British and American gunners and aviators, and the two fronts are coming closer together. In such a situation, the Allies risk shooting themselves. General Patton, commander of the 3rd Army, asks General Bradley for permission to close the pocket and join the Canadians at Falaise. But Bradley is worried about the risks of friendly fires and he asks Patton to stay at Argentan level and secure the surrounding area. The three-star general of the 3rd Army can not bear it: if he closes the Falaise pocket right away by joining the town of Falaise, the German Army is finished in Normandy. But the American high command is formal, Patton must stop his progression for a few hours. Hours that will benefit thousands of German soldiers, reaching the Seine.