Beginning on 25 July, General Eisenhower's forces unleashed a heavy air and ground attack west of St. Lô and smashed the enemy opposition blocking the Allied advance. In four weeks the battle of stalemate in the bocage had changed to one of great mobility as the Allied forces searched out the enemy along the Loire and toward Brest, encircled and destroyed thousands of German troops in a great enveloping movement at Falaise, and dashed to the Seine to cut off the Germans and threaten Paris. All this was in accord with the broad outlines of earlier plans, but the speed with which the drives were executed and with which the enemy opposition collapsed west of the Seine followed from the unexpected opportunities which Allied commanders had turned to their advantage. (Map II)
The Breakout and Pursuit to the Seine
On 18 July as the British opened an offensive south of Caen, the U.S. forces ended their fight for St. Lô which had been carried on sporadically since June. The battle had been unusually bitter, costing elements of five U.S. divisions nearly 11,000 casualties in two weeks. In gaining St. Lô the First U.S. Army opened an important road center to the south and east from the OMAHA and UTAH beaches and provided maneuver area for a drive to the south then being planned.1 To the east, the British were poised for further advances in the direction of Falaise.
The Allied Situation in Late July
Despite these victories, the Allied gains still did not appear impressive when measured on a map of France. After nearly seven weeks of fighting, the deepest penetrations were some twenty-five to thirty miles deep on an eighty-mile front. The British and Canadians had suffered some 49,000 casualties, and the U.S. forces some 73,000. These losses had been almost completely replaced before the attack, and at the time of the breakout units were practically up to strength. At that time the British and Canadians had an equivalent of sixteen and the U.S. forces seventeen divisions in the field. By 23 July, a cumulative total of 591,000 British and Canadian and 770,000 U.S. troops had been landed in Normandy.2 The U.S. forces had, in addition to the two airborne divisions
then being re-equipped after their work in the assault, three divisions in the process of moving from the United Kingdom to the Continent, two more ready to move from the United Kingdom, and other divisions in the Mediterranean and the United States ready to move at the rate of three to five a month.3
The supply situation was for the most part favorable. Allied naval and air forces had virtually eliminated any threat to shipping in the Channel. Landing of cargo over the beaches continued to increase, and on 19 July the first supplies were brought in through Cherbourg. The ammunition shortage, which had been apparent in the first days of the invasion, had not been solved but had been improved. Supply detachments were being strengthened to handle augmented demands, although they were cramped for space as a result of the restricted area held by the Allied forces.
Notwithstanding the favorable situation, the Allies had not forgotten the gale of mid-June and the fact that the bulk of their supplies and personnel still had to come over open beaches which were at the mercy of Channel storms. The opening of both the Brittany and the Seine ports was necessary, the Allies believed, if they were to be sure of their logistical support during the fall and winter months. Their previous experience in rehabilitating ports destroyed by retreating Germans demonstrated the necessity of capturing the ports within a few weeks if they were to be put back in working order before bad weather closed in. Early planning after the invasion, therefore, emphasized operations to seize Brest, Le Havre, Quiberon Bay, Morlaix, and other French ports. While General Eisenhower looked toward the German border and beyond to the Rhine and to Berlin, he was interested immediately in the vital French ports.
The difficulties under which the enemy labored before D Day became greater as the battle in Normandy continued. The old problems of divided authority, low state of troops in France, lack of mobility and armament, and almost total absence of air support still remained. Allied naval fire power had been unexpectedly heavy in the beachhead during the early days of the invasion. Allied air superiority made movements of German reinforcements and supplies almost impossible while permitting the Allied forces to land their matériel and move it forward with impunity. Hitler's continual interference in tactical decisions caused confusion among the field commanders. Misjudging Allied intentions, the Fuehrer and OKW held the main forces of Fifteenth Army in the Pas-de-Calais until nearly the end of July. Throughout all of June and two thirds of July the enemy assumed that a second landing would be made north of the Seine, and it was not until the 19th that the first armored division was released from
The German Situation
Fifteenth Army for the Normandy front.
Widespread differences existed between OB WEST and OKW as to the nature of the battle to be waged in Normandy. The Germans had been forced into a defensive battle, their reserves were being committed piecemeal, and lack of replacements brought a thinning of the front which, without speedy reinforcement, meant the German line must ultimately collapse. Hitler's orders to stand and fight required units to be kept in untenable positions until there was no chance for them to withdraw without heavy losses. Von Rundstedt and Rommel discussed the situation with Hitler at the end of June, and on 1 July Rundstedt proposed that the Germans abandon the Caen bridgehead and establish a defense line running roughly from Caen to Caumont. Jodl, chief of the operations staff of OKW, opposed this move on the ground that it foreshadowed a German evacuation of France. When Hitler backed Jodl, Rundstedt replied that, unless his line was shortened in a few days, several of his armored divisions would soon be too battle weary for further action. Rundstedt was replaced a short time later as Commander in Chief West by Generalfeldmarschall Guenther von Kluge. Geyr von Schweppenburg, commander of Panzer Group West and a supporter of Rundstedt's views, was replaced by General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Eberbach.4
On 20 July an unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life uncovered evidence of a conspiracy in which a number of generals and members of the General Staff were implicated. This effort, intended to open the way to a negotiated peace which would save Germany from total defeat, proved to be premature. Some of the bolder officers were court-martialed and executed and others were removed from posts of responsibility. Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler's power over internal security was increased. Commanders who recommended evacuation of territory or who spoke of possible defeat were often looked upon with suspicion.
Among the commanders suspected of complicity in the plot was Field Marshal Rommel, although he had been incapable of participating in the attempted assassination because of injuries he had received on 17 July when an Allied plane strafed the staff car in which he was riding in Normandy. Suffering from an injured eye, a fractured skull, and a brain concussion, he was out of combat throughout the summer and early fall of 1944. He died in the middle of October from poison which he took in preference to standing trial. His reward was a state funeral ordered by the Fuehrer.5 Rommel's command of Army Group B was assumed in mid-July by von Kluge in addition to his other duties.
Enemy losses for the period 6 June-23 July were approximately the same as those suffered by the Allies. German sources estimated casualties for that period at 116,863. While the Allies had replaced nearly all their losses by the end of July, enemy reinforcements numbered only some 10,000. The effect appeared in the number of understrength divisions which
the enemy had for use against the Allies. On the 25th, the Seventh Army had at most thirteen weak divisions to oppose fifteen full-strength U.S. divisions. Panzer Group West, facing a British equivalent strength of seventeen divisions, had nominally nine infantry divisions and six or seven panzer divisions, of which two or three infantry divisions and one panzer division were only then in the process of being transferred to that front. It was assumed that an additional thirteen or fourteen divisions could be brought into the battle area. Of these, two had been rehabilitated in southern France, two divisions were being sent to Normandy from other theaters, five divisions were due to arrive by mid-August from northern France and Belgium, and five additional units could be raised by stripping the coasts of the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France.6
FIELD MARSHAL ROMMEL
FIELD MARSHAL VON KLUGE
Despite obvious weakness, the enemy's position was not hopeless, as his stout resistance to Allied action demonstrated. The hedgerows of Normandy were favorable to the defender, and the Germans,
expert at digging in, still made good use of the terrain to compensate for their inferiority in manpower and matériel. Also in their favor was the fact that the Allies still lacked room in which they could maneuver and bring the full force of their mobile units to bear. As long as they could be kept locked in the Cotentin peninsula and hemmed in at the Orne, there was a hope that Normandy could be held.
As early as 1942, planners of the Combined Commanders in London had visualized a landing in the Caen area and a swing southward into Brittany and then eastward to Paris. The COSSAC planners in their outline plan of 1943 had done the same. Both terrain features and military considerations favored such a campaign. An attack due south from St. Lô toward the Loire and a turning movement to the east at the base of the Cotentin peninsula would have several advantages. Such an attack would cut off the Brittany peninsula, give the formations advancing on Paris a secure right flank on the Loire, and permit the Allies to force the enemy back against the Seine. The enemy would be compelled to withdraw through hilly country lying between the British forces in the north and the U.S. forces in the south instead of using the better escape route lying through the Orléans Gap--a level area located roughly between Chartres and Orléans. A retreat southward through this area would give the Germans an opportunity to join up with their forces in southern France or to gain contact with units in Alsace. This could be forestalled by the Allies with an armored thrust that would put them in a position to outflank such a movement and force the enemy into a narrow area north of Paris. Meanwhile, it was possible that the swing to the south would cut off enemy units in the Brittany peninsula from those in the rest of northern France and permit them to be defeated in detail. The Allies hoped that the opening of the Brittany ports would follow rapidly.
Plans for the Breakout
Less than two weeks after the invasion of Normandy, as the Allied forces strained to edge forward a few hundred yards each day, 21 Army Group planners outlined a plan for exploiting a deterioration in the German capacity to resist. They forecast a much more rapid sweep to the east than SHAEF planners had envisaged in their pre-D-Day plans which were based on the assumptions that the enemy would resist to the Seine and that the Brittany ports would be captured and furnishing some supplies for the U.S. forces before any major drive began to the east. This original concept of a deliberate advance to the Seine, followed by a three-week build-up, was abandoned by the 21 Army Group planners in favor of a British crossing of the Seine with the mission of enveloping Paris on the north, while the First U.S. Army followed through the Orléans Gap and south of Paris as fast as maintenance would permit. It was hoped that a pause to regroup would not be necessary until the forces were east of the Seine.7
Seeing no chance of any sudden deterioration of the German capacity to resist, SHAEF Planning Staff members reacted unfavorably to several features of the 21 Army Group plan. They believed that the early capture of Seine ports would not compensate for the lack of ports in Brittany, and took the position that the proposed plan would be acceptable only if it did not greatly delay the capture of the latter ports. Without a greater build-up of U.S. supplies, they saw no chance of supporting any but the smallest U.S. force east of the Seine or south and southeast of Paris. They believed, therefore, that the proposed pursuit must be limited in scope,8 suggesting that it might be possible for British and Canadian forces to cross the Seine, while U.S. units guarded the 21 Army Group right flank west of the river.9
Before the Allies could rush their forces to the Seine, they first had to break out of the confines of the bocage country. It was to this problem that General Eisenhower and his commanders turned their attention in the early days of July. The direction of such an attack had been discussed even earlier. A broad plan indicating that the main offensive was to be on the U.S. front and would consist of a turning movement at the base of the Cotentin peninsula had been made by 21 Army Group before D Day and approved by General Eisenhower.. At the end of June General Montgomery had directed First Army to swing southward and eastward to the general line Caumont-Vire-Mortain-Fougéres, to send one corps westward into Brittany, and to plan for a wide sweep eastward toward the objectives Laval-Mayenne and Le Mans-Alençon.10 Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Bradley had discussed future plans on 1 July. By 10 July, General Bradley and his First Army staff had drawn up Operation COBRA, designed as a limited attack for the purpose of penetrating "the enemy's defenses west of St. Lô by VII Corps and exploiting this penetration with a strong armored and motorized thrust deep into the enemy's rear towards Coutances"11 Montgomery approved the plan shortly after the middle of the month, and the field commanders then took up with Tedder, Leigh-Mallory, Spaatz, and other tactical and strategic air commanders the coordination of the air efforts for the attack.
At this crucial period between stalemate and breakout, the Allied command arrangement of D Day was still in effect. General Eisenhower made frequent visits by plane to his field commanders while maintaining his forward command post at Portsmouth and his main headquarters at WIDEWING. Often he was called on to do little more than to give a nod of approval to the plans made by the field commanders. He and his staff influenced the operations in this period by phasing forward additional units, by speeding up deliveries of ammunition and equipment, and by coordinating the Allied air effort. In some cases, General Eisenhower, by virtue of his control of U.S. forces as theater commander, dealt more directly with General Bradley than with General Montgomery.
Actual control of all ground operations was still in the hands of General Montgomery. He, in turn, allowed General Bradley considerable freedom relative to plans for First Army. General Bradley has said of this relationship:
He [Montgomery] exercised his Allied authority with wisdom, forbearance, and restraint. While coordinating our movements with those of Dempsey's, Monty carefully avoided getting mixed up in U.S. command decisions, but instead granted us the latitude to operate as freely and as independently as we chose. At no time did he probe into First Army with the indulgent manner he sometimes displayed among those subordinates who were also his countrymen. I could not have wanted a more tolerant or judicious commander. Not once did he confront us with an arbitrary directive and not once did he reject any plan that we had devised.12
General Montgomery's attacks for Caen were to gain additional maneuver room and to aid the U.S. drive toward the south. His offensive of 18 July was designed to draw enemy forces from General Bradley's front west of St. Lô, so that U.S. forces could get into position for a largescale advance. When General Bradley's attack, initially set for 18 July, was postponed because of bad weather, General Montgomery set the 24th for the second try and restated his over-all plans for the breakout. The First Army was to cut off the enemy in the Périers-Lessay area in the southern Cotentin; the Third Army was then to swing south and east on the western flank into Brittany. Meanwhile, the Second British Army, fighting hard on the eastern flank, was to keep the enemy pinned down in the Caen sector and maintain a continuous threat of an advance toward Falaise and Argentan. Not sure of what might happen, General Montgomery said he "intended to 'crack about' and try to bring about a major withdrawal in front of Brad."13
To encourage General Bradley in "the largest ground assault yet staged in this war by American troops exclusively," General Eisenhower sent the First Army commander a message accepting full personal responsibility for the "necessary price of victory." Pointing out that the British forces were to carry on a vigorous attack, the Supreme Commander said that this aid would enable Bradley "to push every advantage with an ardor verging on recklessness." General Eisenhower looked ahead to the possible results which might be attained and prophesied that, if the Second Army should break through simultaneously with the U.S. forces, the results would be "incalculable."14
General Bradley's operation got off to a false start on 24 July. The attack was postponed because of bad weather after some of the heavy bombers had actually started their preparation in the break-through area. On the following day, better weather made possible the launching of the saturation bombing plan worked out by IX Tactical Air Command (Maj. Gen. Elwood R. Quesada) and First Army. At 0940 approximately 350 fighter bombers made a twenty-minute attack on a 250-yard strip along the Périers-St. Lô road, west of St. Lô. This action was followed by an hour's bombing of an area 2,500 by 6,000 yards in which 1,887 heavy and medium bombers and 559 fighter bombers of the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces dropped more than 4,000 tons of explosives. The ground forces, despite casualties suffered by forward elements from bombs that fell short, moved forward at 1100. It was found that the air attack had stunned the enemy, destroying his communications and rendering many of his weapons ineffective. The VII Corps commander, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins later concluded that "the bombing was the decisive factor in the initial success of the breakthrough." One tragic feature of the air assault was the death of General McNair, who had gone forward to view the attack and was struck by one of the U.S. bombs which fell short. To replace General McNair as head of the fictitious 1st U.S. Army Group, the War Department sent Lt. Gen. John L DeWitt, former commander of the Western Defense Command.15
The COBRA Operation
The VII Corps followed the bombing with armored and infantry attacks. In the next three days its two armored and four infantry divisions overran enemy positions. At the same time, General Bradley's other three corps were making steady advances. News of the initial successes was slow in reaching General Eisenhower, but he maintained that the men were fighting for all their worth and that the enemy would soon crack under the pressure. Impressed by the reported effects of bombing on enemy morale, he felt that a concerted intensive drive could break through the whole defense system of the enemy on a selected front, and that the Allies were going "to get a great victory, very soon."16
The COBRA operation was completed in its basic details on 28 July with the First
Army's capture, of Coutances. The four U.S. corps were then ordered to press their attack southward General Bradley reported that he and his men were feeling "pretty cocky" and refused to have their enthusiasm dampened by reports that the enemy was sending reinforcements. "I can assure you," he told General Eisenhower, "that we are taking every calculated risk and we believe we have the Germans out of the ditches and in complete demoralization and expect to take full advantage of them." He paid special tribute for his success to the tactical air forces, pointing to the close liaison between planes and tank formations and the "picnic" the air forces had enjoyed in dealing with enemy daylight movements. "I cannot say too much," he added, "for the fine cooperation Quesada and his command have given us in the last few days."17
The enemy commanders in their own way paid tribute to the effectiveness of air-ground co-operation. They complained that low-flying planes subjected traffic to long delays or stopped it entirely, with the result that reinforcements could not be brought up readily. Composite experiences of German commanders were described after the war in the following statement:
Covered by their air force, the [Allied] troops who had penetrated into the line affected the rear of the German units to such an extent that the unity of the defense deteriorated and the battle finally turned into separate fights for hills, localities, and individual farms. The command was almost entirely dependent on radio-communication, since all wire-lines had been destroyed and messengers were shot in the enemy-saturated terrain. The separate units fought--on their own--as small combat teams, and had hardly any contact with neighboring troops.18
While the U.S. forces advanced in the west, General Montgomery moved his British and Canadian forces forward on the eastern flank. Early on 25 July, before the heavy bombardment west of St. Lô, Canadian forces had started southward toward Falaise. In a day of desperate fighting, troops of Lt. Gen. G.G. Simonds' 2d Canadian Corps struck at an area heavily held by enemy armor. They suffered more than 1,000 casualties in an attack that took little territory but helped to conceal the direction of the main offensive and to delay the enemy's shift of reserves to the U.S. front.19 General Montgomery now directed the Second British Army to strike in the Caumont area and ordered all British and Canadian forces to attack to the greatest degree possible with the resources available. He declared that the enemy "must be worried, and shot up, and attacked, and raided, whenever and wherever possible; the object of such activity will be to improve our own positions, to gain ground, to keep the enemy from transferring forces across to the western flank to oppose the American advance, and generally to 'Write off' German personnel and equipment."20
Shortly before this directive was issued, the First Canadian Army had become active on the Continent. Its commander, General Crerar, had been in Normandy since mid-June, but because maneuver space for another army was lacking his headquarters did not become operational
until 23 July. On that date he took over 1 British Corps and the extreme eastern sector of the Allied front; on 31 July 2d Canadian Corps came under his command. The Canadian Army now held the front south of Caen.21
As the U.S. attack gained momentum, General Eisenhower pressed General Montgomery to speed up his advance in the Caumont area. "Never was time more vital to us, and we should not wait on weather or on perfection of detail of preparation." In the same spirit of urgency, General Montgomery ordered General Dempsey to throw all caution overboard, to take risks, "to accept any casualties and to step on the gas for Vire."22
On 28 July, Generals Montgomery, Bradley, and Dempsey discussed plans for the "complete dislocation" of the enemy, and General Montgomery informed the Supreme Commander of the prospects for a great victory.23 Highly pleased, Eisenhower replied: "From all reports your plan continues to develop beautifully. I learn you have a column in Avranches. This is great news and Bradley must quickly make our position there impregnable. . . . With Canadian Army fighting intensively to prevent enemy movement away from the Caen area Dempsey's attack coupled with Bradley's will clean up the area west of Orne once and for all. Good luck."24
Severely shaken by the bombardments of 25 July and hard hit by the advancing ground forces, Field Marshal von Kluge on 27 July obtained OKW's permission to transfer a panzer corps from the British front to the western side of the line.25 On the same day, he also requested the transfer to the combat area of two divisions from the Pas-de-Calais, a third from the Atlantic coast of France, and a fourth from southern France. In support of his request for shifting forces from the Pas-de-Calais, OB WEST reported that there was a possibility that an alleged newly organized 12th Army Group containing the Third U.S. Army and three corps was shortly to be sent to Normandy, and that it seemed probable that no second landing would be made. Hitler approved the release of units from the Pas-de-Calais and the Atlantic coast, but refused to weaken the defenses of southern France. At the end of the month, OB WEST again pressed OKW to strip all quiet sectors in order to prevent an Allied breakout.26
Hitler Outlines His Plan
On 31 July, Hitler held a particularly significant conference in his East Prussian headquarters with Jodl and other military advisers. In the course of the meeting he revealed his deep distrust of the high-level commanders of the Army, his reasons for pressing the battle in the west, and the plan of campaign he had for the coming months. Hitler's bitter reactions to the attempt on his life of 20 July bared the gulf between him and the Regular Army commanders. He described it as the symptom of blood poisoning which permeated the highest command. Condemning many of
the field marshals and generals as "destroyers" and traitors, he asked how he could keep up morale among ordinary soldiers when once-trusted leaders dealt with the enemy. He declared that the signal and supply systems were filled with traitors and insisted that he could not inform his field commanders in the west of the broad strategic plans of the Reich, since they would be known to the Allied powers almost as soon as the details reached Paris. He decided, therefore, to tell von Kluge only enough of future plans for the Commander in Chief West to carry on immediate operations. Concluding that the imminent development in the west would decide Germany's destiny, and that von Kluge could not assume such an immense responsibility, Hitler ordered a small operations headquarters established which could serve him later when he expected to go to Alsace-Lorraine or western Germany to assume the direction of operations in the west.27
Throughout the talk, which was little more than a monologue, the Fuehrer stressed the problem of leadership, demanding that in the future his commanders be picked on the basis of loyalty and willingness to fight rather than in accordance with seniority. He asked that brave men, regardless of rank, be selected to hold the Channel and Atlantic ports and not "big mouths" like the commander at Cherbourg who had issued bold declarations and then had surrendered at the first Allied blow. He caustically condemned commanders, particularly those of noble birth, who felt they would do well by surrendering to the Allies. He paid tribute to Marshal Tito, saying that here was a man without military background who deserved the title of marshal because he had the will to fight.
Hitler's strategy of holding tenaciously to ports and ground in the west, a policy much attacked after the war by his commanders, can be better understood in the light of the arguments he advanced to Jodl. He insisted that Germany's problem was a moral and not a material one. So far as the Eastern Front was concerned, he believed that Germany would be able, with some effort, to stabilize the existing grave situation. He lashed out at those who felt that it was possible to come to some sort of arrangement with the Reich's enemies, saying that this was not a struggle which would be settled by negotiation or some clever tactical maneuver, but rather a Hunnish war in which one or the other of the antagonists had to perish. Speaking of his worries over the Balkans, Hitler made clear that continual losses might lead to defection by Hungary and Bulgaria or to a change in the attitude of the countries which were then neutral. A decisive action or a successful large-scale battle was essential to strengthen Germany's position.
Hitler explained that he did not wish to keep his armies tied up in Italy, but he felt that a withdrawal would free Allied forces in that area for fighting elsewhere. He added that it was better to fight in another country than to bring the battle to the Reich.
For France, the Fuehrer was quite specific. He knew that he had to make long-range plans for a withdrawal, but insisted on keeping them secret. He repeated that he intended to withhold knowledge of his broad plans from the Commander in Chief West, but did agree that certain definite points would be outlined. His orders to von Kluge included the following: (1) if
German forces had to withdraw from the French coast, all major ports were to be held by garrisons under carefully picked commanders who would hold their positions to the last; (2) all railroad equipment and installations and all bridges were to be destroyed in territory that was abandoned; (3) the Commander in Chief West was to provide certain specific units with organic means of transportation and with mobile weapons; (4) no withdrawing from the line then occupied could be tolerated-the ground had to be held with fanatical determination. It was better to stand than to withdraw, Hitler pointed out, since any retreat confronted the Germans with the disadvantages of mobile warfare in an area where the Allies had air superiority. Further, the Germans lacked prepared positions to which they could pull back. Any surrender of ports increased the opportunities for the Allied forces to build up a crushing superiority in men and matériel.
Despite his fear of a retreat that would give the Allies more room for maneuver, Hitler did issue orders for the construction of new defense positions along the Somme and the Marne. He indicated his displeasure with previous efforts, saying that there was a tendency to build a "show place" in the fortifications and to display these to inspectors, while hiding the weakness of the defensive lines. Delays in constructing positions, he maintained, were due to the demands of army groups to retain control of their rear areas. Now, he insisted that the work be done by the Organization Todt with the assistance of local labor.
At the close of the conference a further meeting was held between Hitler, Jodl, and Jodl's deputy, General der Artillerie Walter Warlimont, who was to go to France to acquaint von Kluge with such parts of the new plans as it was thought proper for him to know. Warlimont vainly endeavored to obtain from Hitler or Jodl a clear statement of what he was to tell von Kluge. Under his persistent questioning, he finally succeeded in obtaining from a thoroughly vexed Hitler an abrupt answer: "Tell Field Marshal von Kluge that he should keep his eyes riveted to the front and on the enemy without ever looking backward. If and when precautionary measures have to be taken in the rear of the theater of operations in the West, everything necessary will be done by OKW and OKW alone."28
Shortly after Warlimont's departure, a special staff was formed to execute measures which had been discussed at the conference, the military governor of France was charged with the responsibility for constructing the Somme-Marne position, and the commander of the Replacement Army was ordered to refit the West Wall.
Meanwhile, the command of U.S. forces was being reorganized in preparation for the next phase of their offensive. On 19 July General Bradley stated that as soon as Operation COBRA was completed the U.S. forces on the Continent would number eighteen divisions and would soon afterward be increased by three more. In accordance with a SHAEF memorandum of 1 June 1944, he recommended that they be organized into two armies and a U.S. army group be brought in to command them.29 General Montgomery, who was aware that such a change would be made when the U.S. build-up on the Continent required two American armies and that
Eisenhower Prepares for Action
this would be followed in due course by General Eisenhower's assumption of personal control of operations, agreed to the proposal.
On 25 July, General Eisenhower directed that the U.S. ground forces on the Continent be regrouped into the First and Third Armies under the control of 12th Army Group which General Bradley was to command. The regrouping was to take place on a date set by Bradley, who was to give three days' prior notice to SHAEF and 21 Army Group. The new army group was to remain under the command of the commander in chief of the 21 Army Group until the Supreme Commander allocated a specific "area of responsibility" to the commanding general of the 12th Army Group. It was understood that Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges, assistant commander of the First Army, was to succeed General Bradley in command of that army, and that General Patton, the Third Army commander, was to take over some of the divisions then on the Continent. To prepare them for their task, General Bradley on 28 July directed Hodges to keep touch with the three left corps, and told Patton to form the six divisions on First Army's right into two corps while they were on the move. The Third Army commander was instructed to keep track of these corps so that he would be familiar with the tactical situation when his army became operational. General Bradley set 1 August as the date for the new arrangement to go into effect. For the next month General Montgomery retained over-all control of ground forces on the Continent, but channeled all orders to U.S. forces through the 12th Army Group.30
General Eisenhower, encouraged by the reports of late July to hope for a complete break-through, again reminded General Montgomery of the need for bold action by Allied armored and mobile columns against the enemy flanks. He indicated that supplies could be dropped by aircraft to such units in case of an emergency, and recalled that the tremendous assets in the Troop Carrier Command and in the mastery of the air should not be neglected. "I know," the Supreme Commander added, "that you will keep hammering as long as you have a single shot in the locker."31
In his optimism, General Eisenhower foresaw a chance for the Allies to win a tactical victory and create virtually an open flank. If this happened he proposed to send only a small part of his forces into Brittany while using the bulk of the Allied units to destroy the enemy west of the Rhine, and exploit as far to the east as possible. As an alternative, in case the enemy stripped the area south of Caen and tried to set up a line from Caen to Avranches south of Vire, Montgomery was to thrust forward in the lower Seine valley. Operation SWORDHILT, a combined amphibious-airborne operation to seize the area east of Brest, was also to be launched. The Supreme Commander did not believe that the enemy could interfere with his plans and predicted that if the Allies could have a period often days to two weeks of really good weather they could secure "a most significant success.32
The 21 Army Group commander, it will be recalled, had already ordered the
British forces to continue their drive southward in an effort to keep enemy armor away from the west, while First Army forces turned southeastward toward Vire and Third Army began the task of clearing the enemy from Brittany. Now that the First Army had opened the corridor at the bottom of the Cotentin peninsula, the spotlight was to be shifted to the Third Army. Patton's forces were ordered to advance south from the vicinity of Avranches to Rennes, then to turn west and capture the Brittany peninsula and open the Brittany ports.33
GENERAL PATTON. (Photograph taken in 1945)
So far as his reserves in Brittany were concerned the enemy was ill prepared to meet the armored onslaught being prepared by the Third Army. Piecemeal commitment of enemy forces from Brittany during June and July had resulted in the serious weakening of the German position there. French Resistance forces had harassed the enemy and interfered with his movements. On 1 August, German forces in Brittany amounted to fewer than ten battalions of German infantry, four Ost battalions, and some 50,000 naval and service troops.34 These troops were scattered among the various ports and so disposed that miles of front were left entirely
open to the Third Army's advance. General Patton explained this situation to his staff, although he jokingly warned them not to let the newsmen know how weak the enemy was.35
Despite their weakness in Brittany, it was clear that the Germans could cause the Third Army some difficulty. Col. Oscar Koch, General Patton's chief of intelligence, warned on 2 August that the reported movement of enemy armor westward created the possibility of a major counterattack to drive a wedge to the Channel between the northern and southern columns of the Third Army, rendering the southern columns logistically inoperative. General Patton's characteristic reaction was that, while his units might be cut off for a short time, he would not find it difficult to re-establish his position.36
General Montgomery by 30 July had pushed two corps forward from the Caumont front toward Vire and Mont Pinçon, pinning down II SS Panzer Corps so that it was not available for an enemy counterattack at Avranches. On 1 August the Third Army sent one corps due west into Brittany, but launched two others southward and southeastward, holding a fourth in reserve. By 4 August Rennes had fallen and armored spearheads had bypassed St. Malo and Dinan and were headed for Brest. First Army units at the same time swung toward Vire. These rapid drives were aided not only by the weakness of enemy opposition, particularly in Brittany, but by air cover furnished the armored columns by the tactical air commands, whose scale of support increased daily.37
General Montgomery answered the Supreme Commander's request for continued exploitation of the enemy's weakened position on 4 August by ordering General Crerar, whose forces held the eastern flank of the British line, to drive for Falaise not later than 8 August and cut off the withdrawal of German forces then facing General Dempsey west of Thury-Harcourt. Dempsey was to continue his move south and east toward Argentan. Meanwhile, Montgomery noted, General Hodges was to maintain his swing eastward with his left flank on the Domfront-Alençon axis. General Patton's army, save for one corps needed to clear up Brittany, was to attack due east from Rennes toward Laval and Angers. The British commander, saying that the Allied forces had "unloosed the shackles that were holding us down and have knocked away the 'key rivets,'" swung the Allied right flank toward Paris with the intention of forcing the enemy back against the Seine, whose bridges had been destroyed between Paris and the sea. Minor counterthrusts that von Kluge had been making at the base of the Cotentin were discounted, since his delaying actions seemed likely to provide an opportunity for the Allies to swing around quickly and cut off the German routes of escape.38
The Germans, meanwhile, were planning a counterthrust by the Seventh Army to pierce the U.S. line between Mortain
The Mortain Counterattack
and Avranches in the southern Cotentin and cut off and destroy U.S. forces in Brittany. Hitler's order for this counterattack reached OB WEST on 2 August and was passed on to von Kluge at Army Group B headquarters. The Commander in Chief West later declared that he believed the plan to be grandiose and impossible of fulfillment, but at the moment he appears to have expressed agreement with the directive.39
Hitler authorized von Kluge to shorten his line slightly east and west of Vire and move forces from there and from the Caen front to the area of Sourdeval for the counterattack. Units were also sent from the Pas-de-Calais area, inasmuch as the Germans now thought a landing in that area unlikely. A gap which had been opened between Panzer Group West and Seventh Army was closed by German forces on 3 August.40 They succeeded in consolidating their lines on their northwestern and western front and in forming a security line to the south. Fully accepting the threat to Brittany, von Kluge pushed preparations for his operation, deciding to attack at the end of the first week of August even if the assembly of troops was not complete. Hitler, for once somewhat cautious, held that the attack could succeed only if it was postponed until all available troops were concentrated. Moreover, he ordered General Eberbach to lead the attack, but the Commander in Chief West, deciding that it was impossible to delay any longer and too late to change commanders, retained Generaloberst der Waffen SS Paul Hausser in charge of the operation.41
After Hitler had given his last-minute permission to execute the attack as planned, provided the two army commanders would trade places immediately after the attack, he decided to send Generalmajor Walter Buhle from his own headquarters to see that his wishes were carried out.42
In the late evening of 6 August, von Kluge launched the Mortain counterattack. Hitler described it as "a unique, never recurring opportunity for a complete reversal of the situation." Elements, many very small and scattered, of six armored divisions struck by way of Mortain to assault the area between the Sée and the Sélune Rivers. The force of the leading armored units hit the First Army, dealing a heavy blow to the 30th Division. Elements of the unit were encircled but continued to fight. The Germans made some progress in the early hours of 7 August,
but the Allied air forces blasted them near noon. The enemy credited these attacks with stopping his initial thrust, mentioning especially the work of British Typhoons. German air support was almost nonexistent.43
General Bradley quickly countered the German thrust with two additional divisions. In the meantime, Third Army units filled the area between Laval and Le Mans, threatening the south flank of the enemy. To the northeast, General Crerar's army struck on 7 August with tanks, artillery, and air east of the Orne on the Caen-Falaise road, menacing the rear of the attackers. To meet this new situation, the Germans were forced to draw on newly arrived armored and infantry elements intended for the attack on Avranches. Toward midnight on 8 August, von Kluge found it necessary to discontinue his attack. Nonetheless, he ordered preparations for its later renewal.44
Hitler was not immediately convinced that his drive toward Avranches had failed. Still hoping to cut off Allied forces in Brittany and then turn north to retake important harbors and parts of the sea coast essential to Allied supply, he insisted on resuming the counterattack. On 9 August he blamed von Kluge for making his first attack too early and at a time especially suited for Allied air operations. He ordered the Commander in Chief West to renew the action, this time from the area of Domfront, southeast of Mortain. To free additional units for the operation, the Seventh Army was permitted to withdraw to new positions. Hitler declared that he alone would give the date for the new attack. At the same time, the First Army, was supposed to assemble an attack force in the Paris area.45
While Hitler in East Prussia indulged himself in the illusion that he could roll up the U.S. forces in the Cotentin, the Allies moved boldly to encircle his troops. The enemy in sending the mass of his armored forces into the area southwest of Falaise had given the British and U.S. armies an opportunity to trap them between Falaise and Argentan. But the adoption of such a plan of action was not without its dangers for the Allies. Twelve U.S. divisions had been pushed through the corridor at Avranches and were still open to the menace of an enemy break-through to the sea which would cut the lines of communications. The question was whether to use General Bradley's remaining four divisions to hold the front at Mortain or to send them around the enemy's left flank. After some consideration, the Allied commanders decided on the bolder course. Noting that the enemy was trying to hold both Avranches and in front of Caen, General Eisenhower on 8 August concluded
Closing the Falaise Gap
that the U.S. right wing, then driving due eastward, should turn to the north and attack the enemy in the rear. "On a visit to Bradley today," he wrote, "I found that he had already acted on this idea and had secured Montgomery's agreement to a sharp change in direction toward the Northeast instead of continuing toward the East, as envisaged in M-517 [Montgomery's directive of 6 August] ."46
On the following day, the Supreme Commander reported to General Marshall: "Under my urgent directions all possible strength is turned to the destruction of the forces facing us." Seeing the chance to clear the enemy from France, he was unwilling to detach forces merely to speed capture of the Brittany ports.
Patton, Bradley, and Montgomery [he added] are all imbued with the necessity of acting and alive to the opportunity. Patton has the marching wing which will turn in rather sharply to the northeast from the general vicinity of Le Mans and just to the west thereof marching toward Alençon and Falaise. The enemy's bitter resistance and counterattacks in the area between Mortain and south of Caen makes it appear that we have a good chance to encircle and destroy a lot of his forces. You can well imagine how badly I want additional ports and the second that the issue of this battle is determined I will turn into Brittany enough forces to accomplish the quick downfall of the ports.47
General Montgomery confirmed the new plan in a directive of 11 August. Preparing now to deal with the Germans between the Loire and the Seine, the 21 Army Group commander called for the U.S. forces to swing their left flank from the Le Mans area almost due north to Alençon. The First Canadian Army was to seize Falaise and move on Argentan, while the Second British Army on its right moved to the west and south. General Bradley directed the Third Army to shift its left wing toward the northeast, seize a bridgehead over the Sarthe at Le Mans, and prepare to strike the enemy flank and rear in the direction of Argentan. To its left, the First Army was to smash the enemy in the area Vire-Mortain-Domfront. General Hodges' drive, while not as sweeping as General Patton's, was more complicated. The First Army advance "consisted of a thrust toward the southeast and a ninety-degree turn toward the northeast at the enemy flank and rear. It was a left wheel against the inter-army boundary and the effort of the First Army was to be directly at and perpendicular to the boundary between our army and that of the British." All Allied forces were to be prepared to put into effect a wide envelopment at the Seine should the enemy escape the trap near Falaise.48
The airborne planners at SHAEF now proposed operations to bar the escape of the enemy by way of the Paris-Orléans Gap and across the lower Seine. They worked up a plan to capture and control important road nets during the period 16-27 August (Operation TRANSFIGURE). Variants on the plan called for airborne forces to block attempts at escape across the upper or lower Seine and to expedite pursuit across that river. General Bradley on 13 August even discussed the possibility of cutting off the German retreat by drawing airborne forces across the roads leading northeast from Falaise and Argentan, although he agreed with General Brereton's view that they should not be used "in
small harassing operations such as requested by General Montgomery." He felt there was a possibility of using them two weeks later in making the "Long Hook" at the Seine, but saw no value in tightening the noose in the "Short Hook" near Falaise unless the drop could be made within five days.49
General Eisenhower tentatively decided on 15 August to cancel TRANSFIGURE and utilize the airlift needed for the operation to carry gasoline to the ground forces in the Le Mans area. His decision virtually brought to an end planning for that drop. When General Patton's forces soon overran the drop area, General Whiteley, SHAEF deputy chief of operations, suggested that available airborne forces be used to seize Boulogne or Calais. Air Chief Marshal Tedder and General Eisenhower, though still uncertain whether an air drop might be needed at the river itself, authorized the necessary plans. General Bradley on 19 August informed XVIII Corps (Airborne) that no assistance would be needed for a crossing in his zone of action, and representatives of 21 Army Group indicated that, if by 21 August ground troops were able to cross the Seine without delay, no call would be made on the airborne force for aid in that area.50
With the Allied turning movement under way, the enemy's only chance for escape lay in an immediate withdrawal to the east. Instead Hitler was regrouping his forces for another attack toward Avranches. On 10 and 11 August, von Kluge sent repeated messages to OKW on the dangerous situation in which he found himself. Late on the loth, he announced that the Allies were advancing from Le Mans toward Alençon and that it was clear the U.S. forces were trying to join British forces in the north to pinch off the Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army. Pointing out that a major German attack could not be made for at least ten days, he asked permission to make a short, sharp armored thrust at the U.S. spearheads pushing to the north. Before giving his approval, Hitler asked for more specific justification for the ten-day delay. Von Kluge consulted with his chief subordinates and declared at midday of 11 August that another strike at Avranches was no longer feasible. Instead, wholehearted measures would have to be taken against the impending envelopment by the Third Army forces. He proposed to regroup the armored forces for an attack near Alençon and to withdraw Seventh Army's western salient, and he asked for additional forces to protect his flanks against the Allies. Without waiting for Hitler's permission, he took the responsibility of giving preliminary orders for such action.
Hitler took von Kluge's proposal as a personal affront, particularly when von Kluge insisted that the Fuehrer make a final decision. He held that the Commander in Chief West wanted an order to retreat--a possibility that Hitler was unwilling to consider. Telephone conversations between Jodl and von Kluge may have convinced Hitler of the need for a temporary reversal of attack direction. On the afternoon of the 11th, Hitler suspended his order of 9 August for a renewed attack on Avranches and declared that the primary aim was to eliminate the
threat to the south flank of the German army group by launching a concentric armored attack under General Eberbach against the flank of American XV Corps. In addition he directed First Army to assemble the forces at its disposal around Chartres to meet threats in that area. He ordered troops concentrated on both wings of the northern front for defensive action in the areas of Falaise and Mortain, agreeing that von Kluge could shorten his line near Sourdeval and Mortain in order to free forces.51
Hitler's change of plans came too late to meet von Kluge's immediate needs. The German situation on the north had worsened steadily since 7 August when British and Canadian forces had attacked on both sides of the Orne. German units had been forced to withdraw southward on both the 8th and 9th. To the south, elements of the Third Army were near Chartres. The Seventh Army lost its rear installations during the period, and the task of supplying it had to be assumed by the Fifth Panzer Army. Shortly afterward an Allied thrust to the north cut off all but one of the enemy's supply roads.52
As German armor withdrew to new lines in mid-August, the First Army pressed to the northeast. Meanwhile, the Third Army, with all its corps active for the first time, threw its full weight into the battle. One corps hammered away at fortresses in Brittany, while the others pushed to the north and the east. By 14 August, elements of Patton's forces were north of Argentan; Dreux, Chartres, and Orléans were set as goals for the rest. The Third Army's northern swing sharply compressed General Hodges' zone, pinching out two corps on 15 and 16 August.
As early as 14 August many signs pointed to the enemy's collapse west of the Seine. Not only were spectacular gains being made in northern France, but a landing in southern France scheduled for 15 August was expected to shake enemy morale.53 General Eisenhower, sensing the possibilities of the situation, called on the Allied forces to seize the fleeting but definite opportunity to gain a major victory in France. He sent the following appeal to the troops under his command:
I request every airman to make it his direct responsibility that the enemy is blasted unceasingly by day and by night, and is denied safety either in fight or flight.
I request every sailor to make sure that no part of the hostile forces can either escape or be reinforced by sea, and that our comrades on the land want for nothing that guns and ships and ships' companies can bring to them.
I request every soldier to go forward to his assigned objective with the determination that the enemy can survive only through surrender; let no foot of ground once gained be relinquished nor a single German escape through a line once established.54
The deterioration of the German position was marked at this point by a command
FIELD MARSHAL KESSELRING
FIELD MARSHAL MODEL
crisis in the west. On 14 August, Hitler, still angered by von Kluge's request for a final decision on Normandy, blamed the Commander in Chief West for the situation which had developed, saying that the difficulties had followed from improper handling of the attack on Avranches. On the morning of the following day von Kluge left the headquarters of the Fifth Panzer Army with the intention of meeting the commander of the Seventh Army and General Eberbach for a conference at the latter's command post at the front. An Allied strafing attack, which wounded members of his staff and destroyed his radio, prevented von Kluge from reaching Eberbach's headquarters until late in the day. News of his arrival did not reach OB WEST or OKW until early the next morning. This absence of the Commander in Chief West during a highly critical period when the subordinate commanders were clamoring for instructions led Hitler to order first that General Hausser temporarily take command of Army Group B and then that Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring and Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model come to OKW. One or the other was to be chosen as successor to von Kluge in case he did not return. His absence had another and more sinister effect in that Hitler gave credence to the rumor relayed to him that von Kluge had been on his way to meet Allied representatives to arrange for a surrender of his forces. Confessions that heavily implicated von Kluge had been forcibly obtained from some of the members of the 20 July conspiracy and given to Hitler by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Chief of the Security Police and Security
Service. The result was that Hitler on 16 August decided to remove von Kluge and appoint Model to the command of OB WEST.55
Hitler gave orders on 16 August to fight the battle of Falaise to the end. The forces in the pocket astride and west of the Falaise-Argentan road were to be moved first east of the Orne and then east of the Dives. Army Group B was to hold the "corner post" of Falaise and widen the escape corridor by mobile action in the area of Argentan. On the 16th General Jodl gave Model some verbal directives on the future conduct of operations in the west, supplementing them with instructions from the Fuehrer for the establishment of a new position as far west as possible in front of the Seine-Yonne line. German forces withdrawing from southwestern and southern France were to be integrated in this new position.56 The big problem at the moment was to prevent the Allies from crossing the Seine and getting beyond Paris. Shortly before his relief von Kluge discussed this problem with Generalleutnant Dietrich von Choltitz, Armed Forces Commander Greater Paris, and directed him to hold the city as long as possible.
On 17 August von Kluge was formally relieved of his command. Two days later, while en route to Germany by car, he took cyanide and died. Suicide, he said in a last letter to Hitler, appeared to be the only honorable course left open to him. While he felt no guilt for the defeat of his forces, he saw little prospect of a sympathetic hearing in Germany. He called upon the Fuehrer to recognize the hopelessness of the German situation and to conclude a peace.57
Despite the problems of the enemy, the task of closing in for the final kill in Normandy was not easy. Not only did the Fifth Panzer and Seventh Armies fight fiercely to hold open the jaws of the trap that was slowly closing, but the difficulty of readjusting Allied army group boundaries in the battle area interfered with the optimum use of Allied forces committed in the Falaise area. As early as 6 August, the 21 Army Group commander had set a boundary between the British and U.S. forces some sixteen miles south of Falaise and a few miles south of Argentan. On 11 August, in disregard of this arrangement, General Patton directed Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip, commander of the XV Corps, to "push on slowly direction of Falaise allowing your rear elements to close. Road: Argentan-Falaise your boundary inclusive. Upon arrival Falaise continue to push on slowly until you contact our Allies."58
By the 13th, the XV Corps had reached the vicinity of Argentan and other elements
of the Third Army were pushing east and northeast of that city. General Bradley, to avoid colliding with the British forces coming from the north, firmly ordered General Patton to halt at Argentan and build up his forces on that shoulder.59
In the next two or three days, between the time that forward elements of General Patton's forces were barred from proceeding north of the army group boundary and the time that a readjustment in the line was made, the enemy withdrew some of his divisions while carrying on counterattacks around the eastern edges of the trap. General Patton felt that the order to halt had deprived him of a chance to take Falaise and close the gap, thus permitting a number of the enemy to escape. How many of the thousands that ultimately got out of the trap could have been held in the Falaise Pocket on 13 or 14 August if forward elements of the Third Army had been pushed across the army group boundary cannot be firmly established. Some of the enemy commanders who were in Normandy at the time were inclined to believe after the war that the rigid boundary had interfered with an envelopment of the Seventh and Fifth Panzer Armies.60
General Eisenhower later explained that the rapidity of U.S. movements during August made it impossible for General Montgomery "to achieve the hour-by-hour coordination that might have won us a complete battle of annihilation." Mixups had occurred along the front which could be straightened out only by stopping units in place, even at the expense of permitting some Germans to escape. When U.S. commanders had protested to General Bradley against restrictions on their movements across the interarmy boundary, the Supreme Commander had backed the 12th Army Group commander's decision to adhere to the boundary established.61
On 15 August, General Montgomery decided to change the boundary to permit U.S. troops to come further north. On the same day, the First Army troops pushed their way to the boundary west of Argentan, and General Hodges asked permission to continue his advance north of the line to Putanges. The 21 Army Group commander, some of whose advisers had previously favored a shift in the line, readily agreed, and the U.S. forces pushed their way across the army group boundary, advancing north of the Flers-Argentan road. Later, he approved U.S. thrusts north of the line toward Chambois and Trun.62
From the 15th on, the enemy attempted
to pull his forces out of the trap near Falaise. Some frantic efforts were made to cut off Allied armored spearheads and thus keep open an escape route to the east. Supply difficulties increased constantly and efforts were made to fly in fuel for the German armored elements covering the retreat. Meanwhile, the 2d Canadian Corps was racing southward to close the gap. General Simonds' two armored divisions, one Canadian and one Polish, were given this task. Canadian forces took Trun on the 18th, while Polish and Canadian forces sped toward Chambois. Here on the evening of 19 August, elements of General Hodges' V Corps met Polish tankers to complete the encirclement of Seventh Army and parts of Fifth Panzer Army, an estimated 125,000 men.
Just before the trap was closed, Hitler had given Field Marshal Model a number of heavy tasks. The new Commander in Chief West was ordered to withdraw Seventh Army across the Seine in order to avoid being cut off, to use armored forces to connect elements forming the ring around Paris, to defend the area southeast of Paris so that Nineteenth Army troops from the south of France would be able to withdraw, to prevent an Allied crossing of the Seine south of Paris, and to bar Allied advances in a northerly direction along the lower Seine. These orders came too late to aid many of the forces in the trap. For three days, fighter-bombers and massed artillery had been punishing them as they sought desperately to escape. Seventh Army, its position now virtually hopeless, decided to move its headquarters out of the threatened area. Most of the staff escaped, but General Hausser, the army commander, was wounded. Once the pocket was completely closed, the Fifth Panzer Army, which Eberbach again commanded, regrouped for a counterattack to free elements of Seventh Army. The units still in the trap forced open a small corridor while simultaneously armored elements smashing from east of the encircled area hit the Allies near Trun and St. Lambert-sur-Dives and helped to extricate the escaping units. In the course of heavy fighting during the next three days, some 30,000 to 35,000 soldiers escaped, leaving the bulk of their tanks, vehicles, and artillery behind. The Fifth Panzer Army, placed in charge of the entire area from the Channel to just west of Paris, was ordered to collect fleeing units of the entrapped divisions at points west of the Seine. Few of the units were in any condition to continue the fight.63
Withdrawal to the Seine
On 19 August, General Eisenhower had discussed with his army group commanders plans for the pursuit of the fleeing enemy. They defined their immediate objective as the destruction of the enemy forces west of the Seine. To gain this end, General Montgomery the following day directed elements of the First Canadian Army and of 12th Army Group to hold
firmly the northern and southern sides of the "bottle" in which the enemy was trapped, keeping the "cork" in position in the eastern end. Other elements of the 12th Army Group were to drive northward to the lower Seine to block the enemy's withdrawal. The 21 Army Group was to give first priority to mopping up the Falaise Pocket before pushing to the Seine. When it was ready for this latter drive, the U.S. forces pushing to the north were to withdraw from the British front.64
These widespread shifts of Allied units created great confusion in Allied lines of communications. Already on 19 August, General Eisenhower had reported that U.S. and British units were entangled as a result of "rapid advances and consequent overlapping in attacks on a converging and fluent front." These problems were magnified when U.S. forces made a wide envelopment northward along the left bank of the Seine directly across the Second British Army's front. Generals Montgomery and Dempsey, occupied in mopping up enemy forces in the Falaise Pocket, had accepted the American maneuver as a means of destroying the enemy west of the Seine in that area and of cutting off the German retreat across the Seine.65
Elements of both the First and Third Armies wheeled northeast along the left bank of the Seine after 20 August. The Third Army, whose widely separated units had announced the capture of St. Malo on 17 August and the establishment of a bridgehead across the Seine at MantesGassicourt on 20 August, now sent its left wing marching in the direction of Vernon. To its left, the First Army pushed a corps almost due north of Dreux on 20 August. Elements of this unit were in Evreux on the 23d and by the 25th had carried directly across the front of the Second British Army to Elbeuf some eleven miles southwest of Rouen.66
The Second British Army started its drive for the Seine on 20 August. Grounding one corps, whose transport was taken for the advance, General Dempsey sent forward the two other corps under his command. One corps passed through U.S. forces northeast of Argentan on the 20th and pushed forward to the Verneuil-Breteuil area where it stopped on the 23d as elements of the First Army drove across its front toward the north. The other corps, moving forward rapidly from Chambois, on the 26th sent elements across the axis of the First Army's advance in preparation for a crossing of the Seine at Louviers. The First Canadian Army, with a Canadian and a British corps under its command, sped eastward on 23 August leaving two divisions to complete mopping up activities in the pocket. The 2d Canadian Corps reached the Seine and made contact with U.S. forces near Elbeuf on the 26th. Meanwhile, General Crerar had sent the British corps under his command along his seaward flank toward the Seine. Despite heavy opposition in the Pont-l'Evêque and Lisieux areas, elements of this unit reached the Seine on 27 August.67
The Allies by 26 August had driven the retreating Germans into new pockets near the loops in the lower Seine between Elbeuf and Le Havre. No bridges existed across the Seine below Paris, and the ferries were insufficient to accommodate the troops hurrying to cross the river. Allied airplanes destroyed the few military bridges that were erected almost as soon as they were set up. Panic increased as troops and vehicles piled up and fighter-bombers blasted massed columns waiting to cross. Allied tanks added to the confusion when they reached the river and began firing on the ferries. In view of these difficulties, some German generals later expressed surprise that they were able to bring anything across at all.68
Some confusion resulted from the northward thrust of U.S. forces across the British front. General Montgomery, in authorizing the move, had been aware of this possibility and had authorized direct contact between ,army, corps, and division commanders to settle difficulties. A misunderstanding arose, nevertheless, when General Dempsey was quoted in early September as saying that he had been delayed forty-eight hours when required to hold back his units while the U.S. forces withdrew. General Bradley, feeling that this statement was a reflection on his command, pointed out that the drive northward had been approved by General Montgomery after the 21 Army Group commander had said British forces were not in the position at the moment to carry out the maneuver. The U.S. commander argued that the First Army's push to Elbeuf had speeded the advance of the Second British Army by removing the enemy from its path. General Montgomery, informed of the complaint, immediately sent his "profound apologies" to the 12th Army Group commander. General Dempsey later declared that, while he still believed his troops could have reached the Seine earlier but for the delay caused by the withdrawal of U.S. forces across his front, he would be glad to be held up again if he could have the type of support he received from General Bradley's forces on that occasion.69
Although the Allies had not destroyed all of the enemy forces in Normandy, they had won a resounding victory. German troops that escaped to the right bank of the Seine arrived there with little more than their rifles. Five decimated divisions had to be sent to Germany. The broken remnants of the remaining eleven infantry divisions yielded personnel barely sufficient for four reconstituted units, each with only a handful of artillery pieces and little other matériel. What remained of five Army and six SS panzer divisions, when bolstered by newly arrived personnel and matériel replacements, amounted to eleven regimental combat teams, each with five to ten operationally fit tanks and a few batteries of artillery.70
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (10) * Next Chapter (12)
1. [2d Lt. David Garth] St. Lô , AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION (Washington, 1947).
2. Cumulative strength includes only the number landed and does not reflect evacuated wounded, dead, or those units taken back to the United Kingdom for refitting. Statistics for British and U.S. casualties and strength were seldom reported for the same time of the day and often not on the same day. In the present case 22 July at 2400 is taken for U.S. casualties (SHAEF G-3 Summary 51, 27 Jul 44) and 23 July at 0600 is taken for British casualties (SHAEF G-3 Summary 30, 26 Jul 44). The nearest date to these on which both British and U.S. cumulative strengths are listed is 21 July (SHAEF G-3 Summary 47, 23 Jul 44). Statistics for 1 August 1944 show a greater disproportion both of strength and casualties. Cumulative strength for that date shows 934,000 U.S. and 682,000 British and Canadian, with casualties of 86,000 U.S. as opposed to approximately 56,000 British and Canadian (SHAEF G-3 Summary 58, 3 Aug 44).
3. Twenty U.S. divisions were actually on the Continent by the time the drive for the Seine began. The Polish Armored Division and the 4th Canadian Armored Division were committed by 5 August. Three additional U.S. divisions came in as part of the invasion forces in southern France in mid-August.
4. Panzer Group West was assigned to Seventh Army on 7 June 1944. On 10 June 1944 the headquarters of Panzer Group West was bombed out and the remnants were subordinated directly to OB WEST for rehabilitation. On 28 June 1944 Panzer Group West was assigned to Army Group B and took command of the Seine-Drome sector.
5. Official Notes by Martin Bormann Reference to Field Marshal Rommel, 28 Sep 44; Statement on Rommel's death by Heinrich Doose (who drove the car in which Rommel died), 30 May 45. Both in Officer's Personnel Files, OKH/Heeres-Personalamt, Personalakten.
6. OB WEST, KTB 1.-31. VII.44, 24 Jul 44; SHAEF G-3 Daily Summary, 25 Jul 44; Situation map (1:200,000) of the WFSt Operations Abteilung (H) (referred to hereafter as WFSt/Op. H]), dated 26 Jul 44, showing situation on 25 Jul 44; 12th A Gp situation map for 25 Jul 44; 12th A Gp Final Rpt G-2, Vol. 3, Annex B; MS # B-722, The Situation, 24 July 1944 (Gersdorff). The last-named document is the first of a series of reports, MSS # B-722 to 729, The Campaign in Northern France 25 Jul 44-14 Sep 44, written in part by von Gersdorff, chief of staff of Seventh Army in Normandy, and in part by field commanders participating in that campaign.
7. Development of Operations From the Bridgehead to Secure Lodgment Area and Advance Beyond, 21 A Gp plans. Opn LUCKY STRIKE, examination by planning staff, 20 Jun 44, and app., 21 A Gp, Appreciation of Possible Development of Operation LUCKY STRIKE, 18 Jun 44; 21 A Gp, Opn LUCKY STRIKE, Appreciation of Possible Development of Operations From the Bridgehead, 27 Jun 44. All in SHAEF AEAF 928. SHAEF planners paper, Post-NEPTUNE Courses of Action After Capture of the Lodgment Area, Sec. II, 30 May 44, and G-3's covering letter, 31 May 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post-OVERLORD Planning, I.
8. SHAEF Operations LUCKY STRIKE, BENEFICIARY, and HANDS UP, examination by Planning Staff, 29 Jun 44; SHAEF Operation LUCKY STRIKE, BENEFICIARY, and HANDS UP, examination by Planning Staff, 3 Jul 44. Both in SHAEF AEAF 928. The initial 21 Army Group draft, recognizing the difficulties that might face U.S. forces inasmuch as they might have to move 150 miles in ten to fifteen days, had indicated the possibility of stopping the advance on the line Cabourg-Sées to re-form U.S. forces and construct airfields.
9. The air members of the SHAEF Planning Staff held that the group was too cautious and unimaginative in giving this unfavorable report. Memo by Gp Capt Peter Broad, 28 Jun 44; SHAEF Operation LUCKY STRIKE, BENEFICIARY, and HANDS UP, examination by Planning Staff, 3 Jul 44. Both in SHAEF AEAF 928.
10. Montgomery dir to army comdrs, M-505, 30 Jun 44, FUSA files L-348 21 A Gp dirs.
11. Operation COBRA, 13 Jul 44, FUSA files L-348 (18 B); Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 316-32. The COBRA operation is frequently misnamed the St. Lô operation apparently because the attack on that city was so recently in the news and possibly because the short name was helpful to headline writers. COBRA is also used incorrectly to refer to the entire breakout and pursuit period. LUCKY STRIKE, the name for the earlier 21 Army Group plan to exploit a deterioration in the German will to resist, is also incorrectly used to refer to the breakout and pursuit period. No single code name covers the entire operation from 25 July to 25 August. COBRA is properly applicable only to the period 25 July-1 August 1944. The British attack made at the same time was called GOODWOOD and that of the Canadians SPRING. Later British and Canadian attacks were known as TOTALIZE and TRACTABLE.
12. Bradley. A Soldier's Story, pp. 319-20.
13. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-514, 24 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file.
14. Eisenhower to Montgomery for Bradley, FWD-12438, 24 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file.
15. Unpublished draft account of VII Corps actions in Hq ETOUSA Hist Sec narrative on Opn COBRA; Eighth Air Force, Special Report on Operations, 24-25 Jul 44, dtd 11 Sep 44; USSTAF, Report of Investigation, 14 Aug 44; 12th A Gp, Effect of Air Power on Military Operations. All in OCMH files. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, pp. 231-43. Statistics on the number of airplanes and tons of bombs dropped vary in different accounts. The author has used those given in the Craven and Cate volume, p. 232.
The bombing at St. Lô, although heavy, was actually only the third largest in Normandy in number of tons dropped according to the report of Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory. The largest was that at Caen on 18 July when 1,676 heavies and 343 mediums dropped 7,700 tons. The second largest was in support of the Canadian Army along the Caen-Falaise road on the night of 7-8 August and the succeeding day. More than 5,200 tons of bombs were dropped by 1,450 bombers of the Eighth Air Force and Bomber Command. There were three other important preparations in Normandy: in support of British at Caen, 8 July--2,662 tons by 467 bombers of Bomber Command; in support of British south of Caumont, 30 July--2,227 tons by 693 heavies of Bomber Command and over 500 light and medium bombers of AEAF; in support of Canadians near Falaise, 14 August--3,723 tons by 811 bombers of Bomber Command. FUSA Rpt of Opns, 20 Oct 43-1 Aug 44, Bk. I; Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Despatch to the Supreme Commander, AEF, November 1944, Supplement to The London Gazette, December 31, 1946, pp. 64-65.
16. Eisenhower to Montgomery, 26 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file.
17. Bradley to Eisenhower, 28 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file. See also Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, pp. 235-43.
18. MS # B-723, The American Breakthrough in the Direction of Avranches (Gersdorff).
19. Stacey, The Canadian Army, pp. 190-94.
20. Montgomery to army comdrs, M-515, 27 Jul 44, 12 A Gp 371.3 Military Objectives, I; Montgomery, Normandy to the Baltic, pp. 139-41.
21. Stacey, The Canadian Army, p. 194.
22. Eisenhower to Montgomery, 28 Jul 44; Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-68, 28 Jul 44. Both in Eisenhower personal file.
23. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-70, 29 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file.
24. Eisenhower to Montgomery, SHAEF FWD 12505, 31 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file.
25. MS # B-723 (Gersdorff).
26. OKW/WFSt, KTB Ausarbeitung, der Westen I.IV.-16.XII.44 (referred to hereafter as Der Westen Maj. Percy Schramm]); OB WEST, KTB 1.-31. VII.44, 25, 26, 27, 31 Jul 44; Panzer-Armeeoberkommando 5 (referred to hereafter as Fifth Panzer Army), KTB 10.VI.-8. VIII.44, 26, 27 Jul 44.
27. Minutes of conference of 31 July 1944: Besprechung des Fuehrers mit Generaloberst Jodl am 31.7.1944 in der Wolfsschange (near Rastenburg, East Prussia); Der Westen (Schramm).
28. MS # C-099 a, OKW Activities - "Der Westen" (1 Apr-31 Dec 1944), Pt. II (Warlimont).
29. See below, pp. 261-63.
30. Bradley to Montgomery, 19 Jul 44, and Montgomery's concurrence; Memo, Eisenhower for Bradley, 25 Jul 44, sub: Comd and Organization, U.S. Ground Forces, SHAEF G-3 322.011-1 Command and Control of U.S./British Forces; Bradley to Eisenhower, 28 Jul 44, Eisenhower personal file.
31. Eisenhower to Montgomery, 2 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning, I (a).
32. Eisenhower to Marshall, S-56667, 2 Aug 44, Eisenhower personal file.
33. Montgomery dir to army comdrs, M-515, 27 Jul 44, FUSA files L-345; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44- 2 Feb 45, Bk. I, p. 1; FO 1, 4 Aug 44 (confirmation of verbal orders issued 1 Aug 44), TUSA AAR, I.
34. Ost battalions had been formed on the eastern front from anti-Bolshevik Russian peoples, frequently prisoners of war. They had been transferred to the west at the rate of two Ost battalions for one German battalion.
35. Entry in diary of historical officer with the Third Army, OCMH files, G-2 Periodic Rpt, 2 Aug 44, TUSA AAR, II.
36. G-2 Periodic Rpt, 2 Aug 44, TUSA AAR, II; entry in diary of historical officer with Third Army, 2 Aug 44, OCMH files.
37. TUSA Rpt of Opns, I; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, Bk. I, p. 4; MS # B-725, The German Counterattack Against Avranches (Gersdorff): Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, 243-53.
38. Montgomery, dir to army comdrs, M-516, 4 Aug 44; Montgomery, dir to army comdirs, M-517, 6 Aug 44; Both in SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning, I(a).
39. OB WEST, KTB 1.-31. VIII.44, 2 Aug 44; Der Westen (Schramm); OI Special Interrogation Report 39, Rittmeister Wilhelm Scheidt, 30 April 1947, The War in the West, 6 Jun 44-Mar 45, Headquarters, 7707 Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757, U.S. Army (referred to hereafter as OI-SIR/39 Scheidt]). The author of this report was the assistant to Generalmajor Walter Scherff, Hitler's Plenipotentiary for Military History. Scheidt relied heavily for his information on Der Westen (Schramm), which was made available to him after his capture. Consequently this report gives a good over-all picture as well as interesting details, but lays no claim to complete accuracy of fact and dates. No copy of Hitler's order of 2 August has been found so far. Its general content is reflected in the teletype from von Kluge to his army commanders ordering the preparations of the attack toward Avranches, 3 August 1944. Heeresgruppe B (referred to hereafter as Army Group B), Ia Operations Befihle 9. VI.-31. VIII.44.
40. Panzer Group West was renamed Fifth Panzer Army, effective 5 August 1944.
41. Actually Hitler was not so much concerned with relieving General Hausser as with eliminating the XLVII Panzer Corps commander, General der Panzertruppen Hans Freiherr van Funck. The attack proper was led by General Funck as the corps commander under General Hausser as the Seventh Army commander.
42. OB WEST, KTB l.-31.VIII.44, 3 to 6 Aug 44; Der Westen (Schramm); OI-SIR/39 (Scheidt; Army Group B, KTB 16.VII.-4.X.44, 3 and 6 Aug 44; Situation maps (1:200,000) of WFSt/Op.(H), 3 to 5 Aug 44; Armeeoberkommando 7 (referred to hereafter as Seventh Army), KTB Anlagen (Reports and Orders) 31.VII.-19.VIII.44, 4 Aug 44.
43. OI-SIR/39 (Scheidt); OB WEST, KTB l.-31.VIII.44, 6, 7 Aug 44; Teletype Army Group B to OB WEST, 6 Aug 44. Army Group B, Ia Operations Befehle 9. VI.-31.VIII.44. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, p. 249, gives statistics of British and U.S. air forces. A British Operations Research Group with the 21 Army Group which examined the knocked-out and abandoned tanks in this area shortly after the attack concluded that more of the tanks were knocked out by U.S. artillery and bazookas than by British or U.S. planes. The group did agree that the air forces were responsible for a number of indirect losses that resulted when crews fled leaving their tanks intact or when they destroyed them with special charges. (The report was shown to the author by a member of the team that made the report.)
44. Seventh Army, KTB (Draft) 6. VI.-16.VIII.44, 8 Aug 44.
45. Der Westen (Schramm); Hitler's order of 2300 hours, 9 Aug 44 (WFSt/Op.Nr.772801/44). Army Group B, Ia Fuehrerbefehle 17.VI.-25.IX.44, 10 Aug 44; Warlimont statement, 12 Aug 44. Der Westen (Schramm).
46. Eisenhower Memo, Diary Office CinC, 8 Aug 44.
47. Eisenhower to Marshall, S-57189, 9 Aug 44, Eisenhower personal file.
48. Montgomery dir to army comdrs, M-518, 11 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning; 12th A Gp Ltr of Instructions 4, 8 Aug 44, 12th A Gp Rpt of Opns, V; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, Bk. I, pp. 9-10.
49. Outline Plans 1, 2, and 3, dtd 17 and 19 Aug 44, included in SHAEF G-3 Crossing of the Seine GCT/24562/A. B; Lewis H. Brereton, The Brereton Diaries (New York, 1946), pp. 323-24, 329-30, 332-33.
50. Whiteley to Chief Plans Sec G-3 SHAEF, 17 Aug 44, SHAEF G-3 24533/Ops Future Opns; Tedder to Eisenhower and latter's reply, Diary Office CinC, 19 Aug 44.
51. General Eberbach on 9 August 1944 took command of a provisional Panzer Group Eberbach temporarily turning command of the Fifth Panzer Army over to SS Oberstgruppenfuehrer und Generaloberst der Waffen SS Sepp Dietrich. First Army was transferred from Army Group G to Army Group B on 11 August 1944.
52. OB WEST, KTB 1.-31. VIII.44, 7 to 11 Aug 44; Army Group B, Ia Lagebeurteilungen 20.V.-II.X.44 and Ia Tagesmeldungen 6.VI.-31.VIII.44, 7 to 11 Aug 44; Der Westen (Schramm); Seventh Army, KTB (Draft) 6.VI.-16.VIII.44, 11 Aug 44; MS # B-725 (Gersdorff); OI-SIR/39 (Scheidt); Hitler's order of 11 Aug 44 (WFSt/Op Nr. 772830/44). Army Group B, Ia Fuehrerbefehle, 17.VI.-25.IX.44, 12 Aug 44; Warlimont statements, 12 and 18 Aug 44. Der Westen (Schramm).
53. See below, Ch. XII, for account of landing in southern France.
54. Messages to Troops of the AEF, 14 Aug 44, SHAEF AG 335.18. This message was not included in SGS file of the Supreme Commander's messages to AEF, but it was broadcast by General Eisenhower. It was mimeographed and distributed to the troops.
55. This shift in command was followed at the beginning of September by the relief and arrest of Generalleutnant Han Speidel, Army Group B chief of staff, for suspected complicity in the 20 July plot. OB WEST, KTB 1.-31. VIII.44; Der Westen (Schramm); Minutes of conference between Hitler and Generalleutnant Siegfried Westphal and Generalleutnant Hans Krebs on 31 Aug 44, part of the collection known as Minutes of Conferences between Hitler and Members of the German Armed Forces High Command, December 1942-March 1945 (referred to hereafter as Minutes of Hitler Conferences); Jodl Diary, 31 Jul 44; Hans Speidel, We Defended Normandy (London, 1951).
56. OB WEST, KTB l.-31.VIII.44, 16 Aug 44; Warlimont statement, 18 Aug 44. Der Westen (Schramm); Lt Col Karl Kleyser statement, 25 Aug 44. Der Westen (Schramm).
57. Von Kluge's suicide was interpreted by the Nazis, particularly by Bormann, as a means of escaping trial and almost certain execution. Minutes of Hitler Conferences, 31 Jul 44; Kluge file, 20 Jul 44 trial collection; Ltr, von Kluge to Hitler, 18 Aug 44, in Dietrich v. Choltitz, Soldat unter Soldaten (Zuerich, 1951).
58. Montgomery dir to army comdrs, M-517, 6 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning, I(a); 12th A Gp, Ltr of Instructions 3, 6 Aug 44, 12th A Gp Rpt of Opns. V: CofS Third Army to CG XV Corps, 12 Aug 44, TULSA Rpt of Opns, I.
59. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 375-77. See George S. Patton, Jr., War as I Knew It, p. 105, for suggestion that he may have been stopped because British forces had sowed time bombs in the area. Stacey, The Canadian Army, p. 204 (footnote), notes that 12th Army Group informed the British that time bombs had been dropped in the Argentan-Falaise area. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, pp. 257-58, says that U.S. air forces did plant time bombs in the area to prevent the enemy's escape but concludes that "the halt order of 13 August could not reasonably have been occasioned by fear that delayed-action bombs would take American lives."
General Bradley in his memoirs notes that General Montgomery had never prohibited nor had he (Bradley) ever proposed that U.S. forces close the gap from Argentan to Falaise. He adds: "To have driven pellmell into Montgomery's line of advance could easily have resulted in a disastrous error of recognition. In halting Patton at Argentan, however, I did not consult with Montgomery. The decision to stop Patton was mine alone; it never went beyond my CP." (p. 377.)
60. MS # B-727, The Battle of the Falaise-Argentan Pocket (Gersdorff); MS # B-726, Defensive Fighting of the Fifth Panzer Army from 25 July to 25 August 1944 (Gersdorff).
61. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, pp. 278-79; Diary Office CinC, 17 Aug 44.
62. Ltr, Bradley to Eisenhower, 10 Sep 44, Eisenhower personal file; Ltr, Brig Williams to author, 10 Aug 51.
63. Stacey, The Canadian Army, pp. 204-06; Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, pp. 256-75. Der Westen (Schramm); OB WEST, KTB1.-31.VIII.44, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20 Aug 44; MS # B-727 (Gersdorf); Army Group B, Ia Tagesmeldungen 6.VI.-31. VIII.44, 19, 20 Aug 44; Fifth Panzer Army, KTB9. VIII.-9.IX.44, 20 Aug 44. Rad, Army Group B to Seventh Army, 18 Aug 44; Rad, Army Group B to II SS Panzer Corps and Fifth Panzer Army, 18 Aug 44. Both in Army Group B, Ia Operations Befehle 9.VI.-31. VIII.44. Teletype, Army Group B (Ia Nr. 6078/44) to Fifth Panzer Army, 16 Aug 44; Order by Model (Ia Nr. 6376/44) to Fifth Panzer Army, 21 Aug 44. Both in Fifth Panzer Army, KTB Anlagen 9.VIII.-9.IX.44. For the information on units that escaped from the Falaise Gap, the author has relied on a special study of German units conducted by Mrs. Magna Bauer of OCMH.
64. Notes of a conference between Bradley and Patton, 19 August 1944, in which the former outlined plans agreed on at a previous meeting the same day between Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Bradley; Memo for record, 19 Aug 44. Both in 12th A Gp 371.3 Military Objectives, I. Montgomery dir to army comdrs, M-519, 20 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning, I(a).
65. Bradley to Eisenhower, 10 Sep 44, Eisenhower personal file, discusses the conference with Montgomery and Dempsey in which this envelopment was approved. See also Bradley dir to army comdrs, addenda to Ltr of Instructions 5 (17 Aug 44), 19 Aug 44, 12 A Gp Rpt of Opns, V; Montgomery dir to army comdrs, M-519, 20 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning, I(a).
66. Montgomery, Normandy to the Baltic, p. 172.
67. Ibid., pp. 176-78; Stacey. The Canadian Army pp. 207-08.
68. OB WEST, KTB 1.-31.VIII.44, 26 Aug 44; MS # B-729, Report on the Fighting of the Fifth Panzer Army from 24 August to 4 September 44 (Col. Paul Frank): MSS # T-121, 122, and 123, Geschichte des "Oberbefehlshaber West," edited by Generalleutnant Bodo Zimmermann (Ia G-3] of OB WEST), Pt.I,B, IV (referred to hereafter as MS # T-121, MS # T-122, or MS # T-123 Zimmermann et al.]). This is a million-word manuscript prepared in part by Zimmermann, in part by generals and general-staff offcers associated with OB WEST, OKW, OKL, OKH, OKM, and various subordinate commands. It was written under the auspices of the Historical Division, U. S. War Department, between 1946 and 1948.
69. Clipping from London Daily Telegraph and Morning Post, September 5, 1944, Diary Office CinC; Ltr, Bradley to Eisenhower, 10 Sep 44, Eisenhower personal file; Interv with Dempsey, 12 Mar 47.
70. Rpt. Army Group B (Ia Nr. 6704/44) by Model to Chief OKW/WFSt, 29 Aug 44. Army Group B, Ia Lagebeurteilungen 20.V.-11.X.44.