Francia / Storia
Chambois was the block in the so-called Falaise pocket. The junction in Chambois village, made on 19 August 1944 by American and Polish troops, marked the closure of the Falaise pocket and announced the end of the Battle of Normandy.
Chambois is located in the French Department of Orne, on the River Dives. In the centre of the town stands its 12th century medieval castle. This was once at the heart of the Battle of Normandy. On 16 August 1944, it was between this town and the commune of Trun that General Montgomery gave the order to close the Falaise pocket on what remained of the 7th German Army.
At the same time, the High Command had ordered the general withdrawal of the German armies along the River Seine. The soldiers of the American 90th Infantry Division were then 5km from Chambois, and the Polish forces of the 1st Armoured Division were 25km further north, in Jort. While the German forces resisted the American troops’ push to maintain an open gap, the Polish forces of the 10th Dragon Regiment and the 24th Lancers were progressing rapidly. On 17 August, the two Allied armies were only 9km apart, forming the bottleneck of a 32km by 16km pocket, in which nearly 100,000 German soldiers were trapped.
On 19 August, the tanks of the Polish battle group of Colonel Zgorzelski climbed the hill of Mont Ormel, which dominated the outskirts of Chambois, before taking the town. In the evening, the Americans of the 2nd Battalion, 359th Regiment, US 90th Infantry Division, along with General Leclerc’s 2nd Armoured Division, joined forces with the Polish and Canadian troops who had arrived in the centre of the town. Chambois was taken, but the pocket was not closed.
For three days there was intense fighting around Trun, Saint-Lambert, Chambois, Coudehard and Tournai. German troops tried to flee by any possible means, breaking the existing encirclement by passing through Chambois. Of these troops, 45,000 managed to escape in the direction of the River Seine, however, 10,000 German men were killed and 50,000 were taken prisoner. The day of its liberation, Chambois experienced a complete nightmare of devastation that remains forever attached to this place of carnage.
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