Falaise Operation of 1944

Falaise Operation of 1944


an offensive operation of World War II carried out by the American and British armies between August 10 and 21 in order to surround and destroy fascist German troops in the vicinities of Falaise, Mortain, and Argentan in northern France.

While repelling the counterattack of a large concentration of fascist German troops (as many as 12 divisions) in the Mortain area between August 7 and 10, the Allies were presented with the opportunity of surrounding and destroying the main forces of the fascist German Army Group B, comprising the Fifth Panzer and Seventh armies. The Twenty-first British Army Group, under the command of General B. Montgomery, and the Twelfth American Army Group, under the command of General O. Bradley, occupied a line east of Caen and west of Mortain, Mayenne, and Le Mans. The Allies had the superiority in forces and matériel, especially in air power.

The XV Corps of the American Third Army struck north from the Le Mans area and on August 13 reached Argentan, halting its offensive, however, at the line dividing the Twelfth and Twenty-first army groups. The II Corps of the Canadian First Army attacked south from the Caen area toward Falaise. The British Second and American First armies attacked in a southeasterly direction, pushing the enemy from the front. On August 17, British troops captured Falaise, and the “Falaise pocket” was formed; the fascist German troops could escape only through a narrow corridor between Falaise and Argentan. On August 19, units of the Canadian II Corps advanced toward Chambois and Trun, having linked up with American troops advancing from the south, and surrounded a large part of the enemy forces. On August 20, the command of the fascist German Army Group B launched a counterattack, using large panzer units, and broke through the encirclement. The bulk of the Fascist German troops, having lost as many as 10,000 killed and approximately 50,000 prisoners, abandoned the Falaise pocket and retreated across the Seine River.

The Falaise Operation was a success for the Allied armies, although the Allies did not succeed in surrounding and annihilating the fascist German group despite favorable conditions. The command of the Allied armies and corps was slow and overly cautious, fearing to cross the established dividing lines and overestimating the capabilities of their own air power.

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