Last day and we looked into the last days of the Normandy campaign – the Falaise Pocket.
First we stopped to look at the Trun-Chambois gap, the very narrow stretch of land where the German forces had to traverse under artillery and direct fire. It didn’t sound too bad, the gap between the Allied forces were some five kilometres. When you see it you understand how narrow that is, especially considering that the Allied forces had the higher ground.
We stop on the hill near Trun, looking over the gap. The little town below us saw heavy fighting. Can you see the castle in the distance? Above the bus.
It’s near the horizon, in the middle of the picture.
Now? Between the phone-lines, near the horizon, 1/4 in from the left.
OK, between here and there is where the German VII:th Army tried to escape, under constant fire. You can see nearly everything in between, the only cover is some small wood here and there, and some hedges. Approximately 10 000 people died around here.
Close-up of the castle.
After this we went to Montormel. This hill plugged the gap more or less, and was held several days by Polish troops, the First Polish Tank Division (the remnants of the Black Brigade, the Polish armoured unit that fought valiantly and successfully in Poland, escaped the fall and continued fighting on the Allied side in France, escaped that fall, and was reborn as an armoured division). Mont Ormel was under more or less constant attack, and hampered the German movements immensely.
View over the gap
Greyhound Armoured car
Sherman named after the commander of the division
A visit to the memorial followed, another nice museum, where we had far too little time to spend.
After this our bus took us to Paris and the airport and home…. Or so we thought. The French air controllers didn’t think so. They went out in a one day strike, effectively shutting down air traffic over France.
That meant about 1000 cancelled flights from Paris, and a horde of stranded people needing somewhere to sleep and needing to travel home some other day. Our guide spent a couple of hours trying to get us somewhere to sleep that was not a sofa in the airport and a flight home.
We ended up in a luxurious hotel a couple of blocks from Arc de Triomphe. Not too bad, considering. Jan and I had a nice dinner, a nice walk and an even nicer beer at Champs-Elysées.
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Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1
Part 2 – Day 2 - The beaches
Part 3 – Day 2 – Pointe du Hoc
Part 4 – Day 2 – Port-en-Bessin and Memorial
Part 5 – Day 2 – Longues and Arromanches
Part 6 – Day 3 - Merville
Part 7 – Day 3 – Pegasus Bridge
Part 8 – Extra - Bunker Museum in Oustreham
Part 9 – Day 4 - Bocage
Part 10 – Day 4 – Bayeux and Radar Museum