Saturday, July 8, 1944
The days that marked the Battle of Normandy
July 8 marks the beginning of operation Charnwood planned by General Montgomery. The offensive of the 1st English Corps is preceded by a massive bombardment of Caen during the night of 7 to 8 July: 450 bombers Halifax and Lancaster take off and drop almost 6,000 tons of bombs on the northern part of the city which is reduced to ashes.
The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division launched its offensive east of Caen in the direction of Bretteville-sur-Odon and north of the city while the 59th British infantry division attacked north and east of Caen. The 7th German Army, commanded by General Hausser, did not bend and resist the Allied attacks.
The Highland Light Infantry belonging to the 3rd Canadian infantry division and still blocked near the village of Buron launches a new offensive to liberate the city, supported by armored units. Despite the heavy losses of the previous day (more than 260 soldiers put out of action), the Canadians managed to seize Buron and push back the German soldiers from the 10th St. Panzer division outside the city. South of Buron and two kilometers east of Caen, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders attached to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division attacks the town of Authie. Very violent fighting took place between the Canadians and the Germans of the Hitlerjugend Division and at the end of the day, the S.S. had to withdraw, thus abandoning Authie, liberated by the Allies. The Canadian casualties are heavy: nearly 160 soldiers are put out of action and 7 Sherman tanks are destroyed.
The Americans, for their part, are slowly but surely progressing and their tanks cross the bridges on the Vire river. American forces east of the Cotentin Peninsula are heading south towards Lessay and Périers, while those east of Cotentin and south of Calvados head towards Saint-Lô and Torigni-sur-Vire. The 79th Infantry Division, supported by the tanks of the 749th Tank Battalion, chased the German defenders of the 352nd German infantry division from the town.