August 12-21, 1944 ~ The Battle to close the Falaise Pocket
The Third U.S. Army under the command of LTG George S. Patton has been steaming across France since being unleashed on August 1st.
Patton’s rapid advance had nearly encircled the German 7th Army and placed him within 15-miles of linking up with troops under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery who were advancing South from Caen.
Army Group Commander LTG Omar Bradley ordered Patton to halt his advance towards Falaise and withdraw troops near Argentan, which ended the pincer movement and left an exit for the German forces to escape.
German Army Group B commander, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge realized that his Army was in real danger of being surrounded and ordered a withdraw in violation of Hitler’s orders.
Although short of fuel and under constant artillery fire, Seven German divisions put up a stiff resistance to ensure that the ‘Falaise Gap’ stayed open.
For 10 Days British, Canadian, and Polish Troops attempted to close the gap and trap the escaping Army, but fierce resistance and counterattacks ordered prevented full encirclement allowing the bulk of what remained of the German 7th Army to escape through the narrow 15 mile gap.
On August 20th, Allied forces linked up and closed the gap trappings remnants or the 7th German Army.
No one is quite sure how many Germans escaped from the ‘Pocket’, but 50,000 German troops were captured and 10,000 more counted dead.