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As the Normandy beachhead was consolidated and the build-up of troops and equipment proceeded, the American planned an breakout to the west under the name operation Cobra. General Patton was to swing wet and south and then come around behind the German lines to Falaise.

The Canadian directives assigned them the objective of driving south to Falaise where the could meet up with the American forces and cut off a large German force in a pocket. Lieutenant General Simonds developed a innovative plan for conducting a night attack. The plan called for a heavy bomber attack on he German forces by U.S. bombers, and then utilizing searchlights, tracer bullets and radio beams to guide the Canadian forces through the darkness to specific points of attack inside converted self propelled gun carriers known as Kangaroos. The darkness would thus act as an advantage for the assisted Canadian troops.

As with most newly developed tactics, the executing was not perfect and some confusion occurred and many casualties resulted from lost troops and misdirected efforts. The attack continued and by the middle of the next day most of the objectives had been reached and the Canadian forces began to dig in for the expected counterattack by the Germans.

The initiative of attack soon began to fade as the confusion of the battlefield increased and an accidental friendly fire incident occurred when American B17 bombers mistakenly dropped their payload on the Canadian and Polish troops killing or wounding over 300. The resultant logjam began to bring the operation to a standstill. Simonds tried to restart the offensive by ordering tanks from British Columbia Regiment, carrying infantry from the Algonquin Regiment, to attack. on August 9th,  and take the high ground near the Quesnay Wood on route to Falaise. This was once again a night attack and the a replication of the chaos and confusion occurred in addition to running straight into the crack German 12th SS Division. Unable to break the German Division or stand up to their fierce counter attack, they were cut to pieces by the experienced and elite German forces suffering 240 Casualties and the loss of 47 tanks.

On the 10th The Queen's Own Rifles and the North Shore Regiment were committed to action in an attempt to restart the offensive and take the Quesnay Wood but were counterattacked by a unit of Hitler Youth and the 12th SS. They withstood the attack suffering 165 Causalities but the Canadian attack had once again been blunted. The pressure on Simonds to breakthrough the German lines and hook up with the Americans at Falasie was growing. The Americans had shattered the German front to the west and the Germans were almost trapped in a large pocket with town of Falaise being the only escape route left. 

Simonds had decided that a return to daylight attacks might be the wiser plan and he launched Operation Tractable on August 14th. A smokescreen, air support and an artillery barrage covered the attack lead by two armoured groups which were supported by infantry in their Kangaroos. Unfortunately another friendly fire incident occurred when allied aircraft once again bombed Canadian and Polish troops resulting in 400 casualties. The armoured columns pushed forward and breeched the Laison River and by a innovative display of initiative that penetrated the German lines which were mainly troops who had recently arrived from Norway. On August 15th the Canadian Scottish Regiment moved forward and once again the 12th SS filled the gap refusing to surrender, and dying in their places. The Canadian Scottish Regiment experienced their worst losses since the landings on June 6th.

Hitler had decided that the remaining German forces inside the Falaise pocket would be allowed to retreat in order to avoid the loss of large number of men. The American forces had completed their sweep around to their prearranged position for the closing of the gap and were waiting for the Canadians to close the 30 kilometre gap and trap the Germans. 

Another attack was launched and Falaise fell to the 2nd Canadian Division, while the 1st Polish Armoured Division and the 4th Canadian Division raced around the east side of the town to block the escaping Germans. The Free French, Polish and Canadians frantically tried to seal the pocket and push the German relief troops to the west back while containing those that were trapped. On August 19th contact was made with the Americans and the gap was closed. The Polish forces were repeatedly attacked by German forces on both sides and lost over 2,300 men but they held their position and sealed the fate of the Germans trapped inside the pocket.

The commander of the South Alberta Regiment, David Currie, became the focal point of the battle while holding their position against German Tiger tanks their desperate attacks. The South Alberta knocked out 7 German tanks, 12 - 88 antitank guns, 40 other vehicles and over 2,000 German troops. For his courage and leadership he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The Normandy Campaign was now over and the race across France began with the Germans in complete disarray and retreating on all fronts. The war looked as though it would be over in a matter of months.

 

Battle:

August 12 - 21, 1944

Campaign:  Normandy June 6 -  August 21, 1944
War: World War II 1939 - 1945
 
Where: Falaise
Western Front
France
 
 

Opponents

Belligerents: Canada Germany
Britain  
United States  
France  
Poland  
 
Commanders:
Harry Crerar - Cdn
Bernard Montgomery - Br
Omar Bradley - US
Miles Dempsey - Br
Courtney Hodges - US
George Patton - US
Gunther von Kludge
Walter Model
Paul Hausser
Heinrich Eberbach
Forces: 17 Divisions 15 Divisions
 
Result:

Decisive Allied Victory

 
Casualties: Canada & Allies Opponents
Killed - 1,470 60,000 Casualties
Canada Others - 5,500



Article/Document/Material Source:
Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/war/war.html