Historyczne punkty orientacyjne

​​The Massacre of Abbaye d’Ardennes (Ardennes Abbey)​





​​​​During the Battle of Caen, eighteen Canadian soldiers, all prisoners of war, were executed by SS soldiers inside the Abbaye d’Ardennes (Ardennes Abbey). It was not until early 1945 that their bodies were found.​​​

​​​​The abbey is a 12th-century gothic building located in Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe, west of Caen, with towers that form an ideal observation point overlooking the area north of Caen and out to sea. On 7 June 1944, Kurt Meyer, leader of the German 25th Panzer Grenadier regiment of the 12th SS, moved his HQ here, in part due to this view.

That day, in the midst of the Battle of Caen, Meyer could see from atop the abbey that the Canadian troops were progressing, and so decided to launch his counter-attack. The troops of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were launched into the Battle of Authie, a nearby village. The battalion of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division left Buron on the morning of 7 June, in the direction of Carpiquet and its airfield.

During the fighting at Authie, held by German troops in the afternoon, 84 Canadian soldiers and seven civilians were killed. Twenty Canadian soldiers were taken prisoner and sent to the Abbaye d’Ardennes: eleven of these were executed that afternoon and buried in the abbey’s gardens, while the others were taken to Bretteville-sur-Odon. Five of the eleven men who were executed belonged to the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, the other six to the 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment). On 8 June 1944, seven additional prisoners of war from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders were taken to the abbey and interrogated by the SS, before being executed with a shot to the head. It was only in late winter that year, and early spring of 1945, that the bodies of all the soldiers were recovered. The crimes were attributed to Meyer’s unit.  

The abbey, severely damaged by the fighting, was taken by the Canadian Army in the evening of 8 July. Years later, on 6 June 1984, a memorial was unveiled in the garden where the tragedy took place, near the southwest wall. The memorial garden was set up by the Canadian authorities, with the help of the Vico family who lived there during the occupation and even after the war. The garden has an oratory, in memory of the eighteen soldiers massacred there by the SS, and every year on 7 June a commemoration is organised there.

A total of 156 Canadian soldiers were executed by the 12th SS in the days and weeks following D-Day.​​​


​​Avenue d’Ardennes​, ​​​Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe, 14280