France / Monument

Hill 67 and the Verrières ridge




The Battle of Verrières Ridge took place from 19 to 25 July 1944, on the road towards Falaise. At Saint-Martin-de-Fontenay, an orientation table serves to preserve the memory of this battle.

Toward Falaise, the main objective of the Allies was the Verrières Ridge, an elevated position overlooking the Caen-Falaise road, eight kilometres south of Caen.

Two Canadian Infantry Divisions supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade were involved in a fight against elements of three German Panzer divisions. The ridge was defended by German veterans who had been pushed back from Caen (liberated in two phases on 9 July and 19 July) and had established a strong defensive position there.

As part of Operation Atlantic, the Canadian component of Operation Goodwood, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division crossed the Orne and the Odon rivers and established two bridgeheads at Vaucelles and Louvigny. However, after liberating Cormelles-le-Royal, Fleury and Louvigny, it remained blocked on July 19, on the crest of Verrières defended by the 9th SS Division and the 272nd Infantry Division.

Four days of fighting were not enough to defeat the German grenadiers. The outbreak of a new offensive on 25 July, Operation Spring, allowed the infantry of the 2nd Canadian Division to invade Verrières in the morning and then, after having repelled three counterattacks during the day, to definitively liberate the village.

However, the Canadians were unable to take the ridge from the hands of the Germans. In the fighting, the Canadian Black Watch battalion lost 315 men out of 325 initially engaged fighters, making 25 July the day with the most fatalities for Canadians since the Dieppe Raid of 1942.

The crest of Verrières was finally taken during Operation Totalise on 7 August 1944.

One kilometre north of the village of Saint-Martin-de-Fontenay, the Canadian Monument on Hill 67 commemorates the fighting in this area of several Canadian regiments. From this point, visitors can appreciate the panoramic view over the villages of Saint-Martin-de-Fontenay and May-sur-Orne as well as the Verrières Ridge.

It was during this battle that Gérard Doré was killed. At sixteen years, he was the youngest of the Allied fighters to perish in Normandy. Doré, member of the Canadian infantry regiment of Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, had falsified his identity card at the time of his voluntary engagement. Doré was fatally hit on 23 July 1944 by a machine gun shot in front of Verrières Ridge.

Cote 67, 14320 Saint-Martin de Fontenay-Verrières