Operation Totalize: the break towards Falaise, 7 to 11 August 1944.





​​​On 7 August 1944, German forces cleared their defences south of Caen to counterattack Mortain. This provided General Montgomery with the unique opportunity to clear the block that, for two months, had prevented the Allies from making the breakthrough towards Falaise. This push to Falaise was called Operation Totalize.

​​​​On the night of 7 August 1944, the first phase of Operation Totalize was triggered by artificial moonlight. 1,000 bombers dropped 3,500 tonnes of bombs on both sides of the Caen-Falaise route.

Thirty minutes later, an artillery rolling barrage preceded the advance of two infantry divisions: to the east of the road was the 51st British Division, to the west the 2nd Canadian Division, supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade. More than 1,000 vehicles and armoured vehicles carrying infantry as close as possible to the Front set off in an indescribable mess. The ridge of Verrières, Tilly-la Campagne, May-sur-Orne, Fontenay-le-Marmion, and Secqueville were taken, whilst Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil was liberated by the Scots of the 51st Highlands.

At midday, new bombings were launched from Bretteville-sur-Laize to Saint-Sylvain. These mistakenly reached some allied positions: 300 Canadian and Polish soldiers were killed or wounded.

The second phase saw the engagement of the Canadian and Polish armoured divisions on both sides of Cintheaux. These units struggled against the 89th German Division and remains of the 12th SS. Under the impulse of Kurt Meyer, the German forces launched a counterattack with twenty Tiger tanks of the 101st SS battalion. The Polish division lost 40 tanks in one day. However, that same day Michael Wittmann, German commander, died under fire from the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry’s tanks. Wittman was known for his 138 victories with his tank against the opposition between 1939 and June 1944.

On the evening of 8 August, the advance had covered 7 km. Canadians of the Worthington Force (4th Armoured Brigade) set out for Hill 195. However, confusing their objective with Hill 140, they got lost near Estrées-la-Campagne, before being decimated by a fighting group of the 12th SS.

The Polish troops managed to break the German resistance line and entered Estrées-la-Campagne. However, they were quickly counter-attacked and forced to withdraw. They were therefore unable to liberate the village until the night of 10 to 11 August.

Meyer prohibited any access to Falaise by grouping the remains of the 12th SS, tanks of the 101st battalion, and some of the armoured of the 9th SS in front of the wood at Quesnay. The advance stopped more than 10km from the city. On 14 August, Operation Tractable was launched which would finally allow progress towards Falaise.

In 2019, an orientation table located along the national road 158, at Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil, informs visitors about Operation Totalize.


​​Rue des Perree​, ​​Le Castelet​, 14540