Day 6: Mont-Ormel, The Falaise Gap and Domaine de la Hamberie

La Hamberie is at the heart of the final battle for Normandy in August1944. and the farm was used as a field hospital where the wounded of all sides were tended.

By the18th August 1944 the German Army in Normandy was in retreat but despite the Allies’ command of the skies this was no Rout . The situation was fluid but the Germans maintained their discipline. The bulk of the German army was retreating from West to East making for a gap between the American forces in the South and the Canadians in the North.

The Americans were moving from West to East in the region of Alencon and Argentan and the Canadians were pushing South  to the East of and through Falaise against well prepared rearguard defences.

The British were to the West and pursuing the bulk of the Germans who had got trapped in this pocket, pushing them relentlessly towards the ever narrowing  gap between the Americans and Canadians. This gap between Falaise and Argentan was held open by the forces under the command of General Mayer the Commander of the Hitler Jungen Division, He set out his defences to the South of Falaise protecting the routes to the East which were still available to the retreating divisions. 
His HQ was in the church tower at La Hougette (1) and on the night of the 18th August, what remained of his division were defending the ridge above la Hamberie from la Hohuette through Fresne la Mere to Mortaux Coulibeuf.  By next day he had withdrawn via the old log road (2) through the Bois de St Andre to Necy to the South and just by the main Falaise to Argentan Rd.From the church to
wer at Necy he directed the retreating army, of over 50 000 men and equipment crossing the Road from West to East. and sent them on their way via the small villages towards the river Dives which they must cross at or near St Lambert sur Dives between Trun and Chambois.

As the Canadians took Trun (3) and the Americans reached Chambois (4) the neck of the bottle was getting ever narrower. It was under constant attack from the air but also from the massed artillery of the Canadian army, the American army the British army the French and Poilsh armoured divisions.The Germans were being funneled into a narrow corridor and to make matters worse for the Germans the Polish Armoured Division had leapfrogged the Canadians and now faced the retreating Germans (and others returning to dislodge them) on the high ground to the East of the Dives (5). The green tracks leading from the Dives to the High ground of Mont Ormel came to be known as the Corridor of Death (6).  At least 20 000 Germans died in that corridor.and a further 20 000 and more were taken prisoner. To this day more bodies are unearthed every year.

By 22nd August the resistance was at an end and the German army in Normandy was defeated. Two days later the French Armoured Division entered Paris.