Monday, August 7, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
The Germans launched their last major offensive in Normandy, operation Lüttich, on the night of 6 to 7 August. Concerned by the extremely rapid advance of the Americans in the sector of Mortain, General von Kluge preferred to advance the date of the attack, and in spite of the orders of Hitler, who would rather wait for the the following day, August 8th. All units planned for the attack have not yet been assembled, but already von Kluge has ordered the launch of operation Lüttich, which aims to cut the 1st US Army into two zones along a line linking Mortain to Avranches. Allied supplies could no longer join part of the 1st Army, and the entire 3rd US Army.
145 German tanks attack shortly after midnight by an impenetrable fog. The 2nd SS “Das Reich” Panzer division goes to Avranches. The Americans decide to engage elements of the 4th Infantry Division as well as the Combat Command B of the 3rd Armored Division to reinforce the 30th Infantry Division to counter the attack. The Sherman tanks of the American forces will not weigh against the Tiger tanks, but the German offensive must be at any price broken or slowed down.
Allied aviation can not intervene at dawn because of an important fog but around midday, it dissipates. Thus, American fighter-bombers attack the columns of Panzer. The take-off of American fighter bombers marks the end of operation Lüttich, because even before the Tiger tanks made contact with the 3rd Armored Division, aviation stopped the German advance and nearly sixty tanks were destroyed. Von Kluge receives a message from Hitler that his Führer is extremely disappointed with this result and that he does not understand why he did not wait another 24 hours before launching Lüttich. Reinforcements that arrived on August 7 in the early afternoon are set aside for a new attack which must start the next day in the same place.
On the British side, operation Bluecoat is suspended so that a new offensive can begin south of Caen: operation Totalize, led by the 1st Canadian Army commanded by General Crerar. After severe bombing in the night of August 7-8 located on the flanks of Canadian divisions in the areas of May-sur-Orne, Fontenay in the east and La Hogue, Secqueville in the east, four divisions of which two armored attack in the direction of Falaise along the Caen-Falaise road, while bombers attack the Bretteville-sur-Laize, Haut-Mesnil, Cauvicourt and Saint-Sylvain sectors to the south-east of Caen. At the end of the day, the Canadians advanced nearly nine kilometers. The 5th Panzer Army led by Eberbach is jostled and folded to the south.