Fontaine-le-Pin (Calvados)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: August 15, 1944  

Deployed units:

Drapeau polonais 8th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1 Dywizja Pancerna

Drapeau canadien de 1944 Argyll and Sutherlands Higlanders of Canada, 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Armoured Division

Drapeau nazi 12. SS Panzer-Division “Hitlerjugend”

Drapeau nazi 89. Infanterie-Division


At the dawn of August 11, 1944, the Anglo-Canadians put an end to Operation Totalize, which aimed to pierce the front to the south-east of Caen in the direction of Falaise. The Argyll and Sutherlands Higlanders of Canada (10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Armored Division) are less than 500 meters from the first houses of Fontaine-le-Pin and overlook the area from the heights of the coastline at point 195, north Of the village, which they took the day before. Reinforced by the 1st Polish Armored Division (1 Dywizja Pancerna), they plan to resume the progression from daybreak but this one is slow and difficult, the Germans defending the sector with relentlessness. In order to break the new line of defense, the Allies decided to develop a new large-scale offensive, called Operation Tractable. Armored noises and troop movements in the direction of the front line are noticed by German advanced observers who suspect their opponents of relaunching the offensive very soon. The Allies renew major air raids on 12 and 13 August. These assumptions were confirmed on the night of August 13-14, 1944 when a Canadian officer, who lost himself on his way to the command post, crossed the German lines and was killed: he had a copy of General Simonds for the next day’s attack.

On August 14, 1944, at dawn, the Germans stood ready to contain the Canadian assault. But no sign of advance was reported by the outposts and there was no aerial bombardment: was the message found on the Canadian officer’s body a forgery intended to deceive the 89. Infantry Division Defends Fontaine-le-Pin, reinforced by elements of the 12. SS Panzer-Division “Hitlerjugend”? The Germans did not wait long to get an answer: at noon 800 Halifax and Lancaster bombers dropped 3,700 tons of bombs on German positions, mainly in the Fontaine-le-Pin area, but this time again on some allied positions : 400 Canadian and Polish soldiers were put out of action in the first few seconds of Operation Tractable following the bombing errors. However, troops under General Crerar set off and stormed the opposing positions, bypassing the town of Fontaine-le-Pin by the north-east and making a turning movement in order to quickly melt on Falaise. The 1st Polish Armored Division, under the orders of General Stanislaw Maczek, reached the outskirts of the village in the early afternoon and engaged the fight against the German infantrymen. Fontaine-le-Pin is finally released and the elements of the 89. Infanterie-Division fold back towards Falaise.

Fontaine-le-Pin maps:

Image : Carte de Fontaine-Henry dans le Calvados


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