The Falaise Gap Battles, Normandy 1944...
...a Past and Present series title from Casemate Books
Title: The Falaise Gap Battles, Normandy 1944
Author: Simon Forty and Leo Marriott
Publisher: Casemate Books
Another recent addition to their Past & Present series of paperback books from Casemate Publishing. What we refer to as the 'Falaise Pocket' was the culmination of a number of operations, by both the Allies and the Germans which created a significant defeat for the German armies in France. The sections of text tell the story and they are accompanied by copious photos which show not only archive pictures of the time, but also modern day comparisons showing what you can see today. These include a variety of memorials, among which is one of the most interesting, the Tiger 1 at Vimoutiers, which remains very close to where it was finally abandoned all those years ago.
As for the story itself, the text takes us through the background with The Pocket Forms, through Operation Cobra, the US Third Army becoming operational and introducing General George Patton to the Normandy battlefield, Operation Bluecoat, Operation Luttich (the unsuccessful German counter offensive at Mortain), Operation Totalize, when Canadian General Guy Simmons first used the 'Kangeroo' troop carriers, then Operation Tractable, which was the northern pincer of the offensive. That takes us on to the closing of the Pocket. This confined the German forces and limited their escape routes which then created congestion that in turn created the Killing Ground. Among the units involved in the final stages is the Polish 1st Armoured Division, who occupied a dominating position on the Mace, the site of a memorial and museum now.
The area is a lovely place to visit these days, very different to the death and destruction that once lay there. I can recall my own father's comments on his shock at what he saw, and as pointed out in the book, especially by the number of horses used by the German army at this late stage of the war. Many died still in their harnesses. Next time I visit the area I will certainly take this one with me. Good value at an RRP of just £9.99 too.
Thanks to Casemate Books for our example