Thursday, August 17, 1944

The days that marked the Battle of Normandy

East of Caen, the front, which has remained frozen since July 18, is finally changing, thanks to the beginning of operation Paddle, which aims to break through the German defenses to the east of the Orne river. The 41st Royal Marines Commando liberates the village of Troarn, evacuated by the Germans, and this liberation allows to resume the progression in this region to the east of Caen, which had not been possible for almost a month.
Thus, the Belgian group led by Colonel Jean-Baptiste Piron progresses towards the east and liberates the village of Sallenelles, near the estuary of the Orne and continues its advance to the locality of Franceville, attacked then liberates towards 20:00 by the 3rd motorized unit.

In the area encircled by the allied armies, the 7th German Army and the 5th Panzerarmee attempt to retreat in good order behind the Seine river. But to do so, they have to leave the pocket that closes slowly on them. Many units managed to retreat because the surrounding area was not completely closed, and a large nine-kilometer corridor persisted in the Chambois region, the objective of the 1st Polish Armored Division and the 4th Canadian Armored Division. The 2nd French armored division also participates in the encirclement and progresses north of Ecouché, in front of the 116th German armored division. On August 17th, the exit door of the encircling pocket is 16 kilometers wide and 32 kilometers long.

The Germans are bombarded continuously, day and night. Allied airmen and artillerymen attack relentlessly the Wehrmacht and Panzer divisions, which retreated eastward towards the Seine river. In spite of the disastrous situation for the German forces, their withdrawal is extremely rapid: on this one day of August 17, almost a third of the encircled Axis forces managed to get out of the cauldron.

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