The Germans launched their last major offensive in Normandy, Operation
Lüttich, on the night of August 6 to 7, 1944, worried by the
extremely rapid advance of the Americans in the sector of Mortain.
General von Kluge preferred this date of attack, despite the orders
of Hitler, who wanted that the offensive was ordered the next day, August 8.
All units planned
for the attack had not met yet, but von Kluge ordered the start
of Operation Lüttich, which aimed at cutting the 1st U.S. Army
in two, according to a line joining Mortain to Avranches. Thus,
the Allies supplies could not reach most parts of the 1st U.S. army
and all the 3rd U.S. army.
tanks attacked at dawn with the fog. The 2nd SS Panzer Division
moved to Avranches over a distance of about 10 kilometers. The Americans
decided to engage the 3rd Armored Division to counter the attack,
knowing that the Sherman tanks are less resistant than the German
Tiger tanks, but the German offensive had to be broken at all cost
or even slowed.
air support could not intervene because of the weather, but around
noon, the fog disappeared. Thus, the American fighters attacked
Panzer columns. The take-off of American fighter-bombers marked
the end of operation Lüttich because even before Tiger tanks
could reach the 3rd Armored Division, the U.S. Air Force has fully
stopped the German advance and about 60 German tanks were destroyed.
Von Kluge received
a message from Hitler who wrote that he was extremely disappointed
with this outcome and that he did not understand why did von Kluge
not wait 24 hours before launching Lüttich. But the reinforcements
which arrived on August 7 in the early afternoon were set aside
for a new attack to be launched the next day at the same location.
On August 8,
1944, the Americans are already in Britanny and they have seven
divisions, including two armored divisions, attached to the 7th
corps of General Collins to fight with the 7th German Army led by
General Hausser. Meanwhile, Canadian and British armies advanced
south of the city of Caen toward Falaise.
in the region of Mortain, but operation Lüttich was finally
arrested on August 10, 1944 and the Americans counterattacked to
take control of this city.
A new offensive
began on August 7 South Caen: operation Totalize, led by the 1st
Canadian Army commanded by General Crerar. After heavy bombing during
the night of August 7 to 8 on the flanks of the divisions around
May-sur-Orne, Fontenay in the west and La Hogue, Secqueville in
the east. Four divisions, including two armored, attacked toward
Falaise along the Caen-Falaise road, while bombers attacked the
villages of Bretteville-sur-Laize, Haut-Mesnil, Cauvicourt and Saint-Sylvain,
south-east of Caen.
At the end
of the day, the Canadians have advanced nearly nine kilometers.
The 5th Panzer Army commanded by Eberbach was rushed and went back
to the South.
On August 8,
1944, the 1st Polish Armored Division was involved in the offensive
and attacked the east flank of the 85th German Infantry division.
The 2nd and
53rd Anglo-Canadian divisions attacked in the west through the Cinglais
Forest while the 4th Canadian Armored division moved quickly on
the the Caen-Falaise road.
The 4th Armored Canadian division progressed impressively quickly
and liberated en route the villages Gouvix and Urville, and reached
on August 9 the hill 195 and the village of Les Estrees-la-campagne,
defended by the 89th Infantry division and the 12nd SS Panzer division.
Fierce fighting tanks gave the advantage to the 5th SS Panzer Army
commanded by General Eberbach. The Canadians have lost 47 tanks
on the 52 involved tanks in the region of Urville.
The 1st Armored
Polish Division, led by General Maczek progressed towards the northeast
region of Rouvres while the 49th and 51st iInfantry divisions attacked
towards the south-eastern region of Caen, between Vimont and Saint-Sylvain
defended by soldiers of the 272nd German Infantry division.
The 1st Canadian
Army led by General Crerar continued operation Totalize and went
close to the little town of Falaise, distant about ten kilometers
from the front line at the end of the day.
German armies in troubles
On August 8,
1944, General Bradley noted that the German Army was attacked to
the west by the U.S. and to the east by the British and the Canadians.
Allied forces had the opportunity to surround their enemies. Bradley
proposed to Eisenhower to perform this maneuver at Falaise. . For
the Allies, it is a unique opportunity to hasten the destruction
of the German army in the west of France.
On August 11,
1944, the 15th corps of the 3rd U.S. Army progressed toward Argentan.
Hard fighting took place around the town of Alençon, besieged
in the evening by the 2nd French Armored division of General Leclerc.
French soldiers entered the town but it has taken a few hours to
clean the entire city from German snipers. 25 km have been covered
since August 10, by General Haislip 15th corps.
officers were convinced that only a rapid retreat behind the Seine
river could save a large proportion of their troops and vehicles
engaged in Normandy. But Hitler did not ordered his generals to
leave their positions but told them to fight until death if necessary.
The German officers in Normandy, however, were conscious of the
urgency of the situation and decided to evacuate their troops behind
the Seine river.
the 1st Canadian army led by General Crerar joined quickly the city
of Falaise to avoid any retreat for Germand soldiers and vehicles,
as part of operation Totalize. On the evening of August 11, Canadians
had advanced nearly 10 kilometers in five days of operation.
The 4th Canadian
Armored division approached the village of Potigny, located northeast
of Falaise, but heavy fighting took place against the 12nd SS Panzer
and the 89th Infantry divisions. The 1st Polish Armored division
also progressed south-east of the village of Saint-Sylvain and stopped
counterattacks of the 85th Infantry division.
On August 12,
south-west of Falaise, the 15th corps of the 3rd U.S. Army progressed
to the North despite numerous skirmishes with the SS Panzer divisions.
The 2nd French Armored division then controled the town of Alençon,
were difficult fightings took place since the eve in the streets.
The French went back en route and soon entered Ecouché on
the road to Argentan. The 15th American corps managed to reach in
the evening the region near Argentan: the 1st and 3rd American armies
have pushed the German forces of fifty kilometers in a week.
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