“Août 1944” remembrance road

Mémorial de Montormel ©Tourisme 61
Memorial of Montormel
The Memorial of Montormel offers a unique view on the Dives valley. It is situated on hill 262 North, precisely on the positions manned years ago by tanks of the 1st Polish Armoured Regiment and infantrymen of the 9th rifle battalion. The name of this hill refers to its altitude on the 1944 maps. Poles called it “the mace” because of its shape, but also because of its crushing impact on the German forces. During 3 days, the Poles defended this piece of land isolated from any other allied unit and constantly attacked by surrounding German forces. Montgomery called the polish position the « cork of the bottle that contained two German armies ». For Canadians, it was all simply “a Polish battle field”.
Manor of Boisjos
The manor of Boisjos (“zameczek” in Polish) is located at the northwestern end of Maczuga and towers over the exit of the Falaise pocket towards Champosoult and Vimoutiers. During the combat of August 1944, it was one of the bastions of the Polish defensive perimeter. In this place, German parachutists under General Meindl arriving from Saint Lambert joined a counter-attack launched by the 2nd SS Pz–Corps coming from outside the pocket. They managed to force an opening between Coudehard and Champosoult. Their action allowed thousands of German soldiers to escape until the following day. During the engagements the manor itself was used as a hospital, while the German prisoners were piled up in the surrounding orchards and fields. Despite the furry of constant attacks, the building was never sized by the Germans. On August 21st, at midday, tanks from the Canadian Grenadier Guards reached the polish positions, definitely sealing the pocket of Chambois – Falaise.
Mont Chauve
Bald Hill
This open field is located north of Montormel, by the side of road D42, overlooking the manor of Boisjos. It is probably the place where the counter-attack of the 2nd SS Pz-Corps was the closest to succeed in overwhelming the polish positions: during the morning of Aug. 20th, the 3rd squadron, 1st pol. arm. regt suffered the loss of 5 Shermans in a couple of minutes due to the counter-attack of the 2nd SS amoured division. Shortly after, a few panzers filtered through polish positions before being destroyed point blank. A stele, written in Polish and French, commemorates the end of the battle of the Falaise pocket on August 22, 1944, and the effort of the 1st Polish Armored Division and the 4th Canadian Armored Division.
Corridor of death
This name was given by Germans to the 6 km long path that runs from the Dives to the slopes of hill 262. This narrow corridor, with its dusty and dark paths blocked by destroyed vehicles and dead horses became the sole escape road for the 100.000 Germans still trapped in the pocket. Shelled by artillery, machine-gunned by planes, some 50.000 soldiers, remains of the once formidable German 5th and 7th armies, managed to find their way out of the “kessel” (cauldron). But most of their equipment is lost…
The ford Moissy opens directly into the “corridor of death” that lead to Coudehard and the slopes of hill 262. From August 19th, along with the bridges of Saint Lambert, it becomes the last crossing point of the Dives. Under incessant shelling of artillery and attacks of the allied aviation, thousands of German soldiers rush through this narrow passage. Tempers flare-up and it is not uncommon to see men fighting to force the passage. Officers at gunpoint try to give a semblance of order to the general chaos that reigns.
It is about 7 PM, on August 19th, when the Poles from the north and the Americans from the south meet in Chambois: the Falaise gap is closed with a symbolic handshake between Major Zgorzelski (10th Dragoons) and Capt. Waters (E Co., 359th IR). Today, several places recall of the battle: in the church, a plaque in memory of the 10th Dragoons is affixed to the wall to the right of the entrance in front of the keep (12th century), a monument recalls the battle and its context toward the exit of the city in direction of Gacé, another monument is placed at the precise location of the encounter between Poles and Americans. The church belongs to the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan killed in Auschwitz on August 14th, 1941.
Saint Lambert
Saint Lambert sur Dives
After Poles and Americans had occupied Chambois, the bridge of Saint-Lambert was the last one remaining in German hands. But soon, the reconnaissance group of the 4th Canadian armoured division reached the edge of the village, on the morning of August 19th… For two days, the Canadians commanded by Major Currie will try to capture the bridges over the Dives. The pressure from retreating German troops is however terrible and Canadian positions are repeatedly on the point to be submerged. Tanks circle around and cover each other with their guns, repulsing German infantry which try to climb on them to place mines and hollow charges. Still, Canadians resist and hinder significantly the German withdrawal. For this feat of arms, Major Currie was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the British Empire and the first one awarded to Canadians during the campaign in North-Western Europe. Today, a belvedere is located at the western entrance to the city, from where Canadians launched their attacks towards the bridges. It traces on several plates the later stages of the Battle of Normandy, and allows understanding the importance of the Canadian action.
Tournai sur Dives

Located in the very heart of the German “kessel”, Tournai was the scene of the defeat of the last units of German army and of the tragedy of the civilians.
It is at the top of the clock tower that abbot Launay manages to attach a white cover (currently visible at the memorial). Then, after many negotiations and an endless trip on the no-men’s-land between the German and Allied positions, abbot Launay succeeds in obtaining the surrender of 300 Germans to a Canadian officer.
This occurs to be the awaited trigger: in the afternoon, 1.500 additional Germans surrender in the same place. All over the battlefield, the surrenders become massive. The battle is over.
A plate is positioned close to the M3 half-track. It recalls the energic action of abbot Launay.

Aubry en Exmes
Hidden in the forest of Gouffern, it is mainly during the night that Germans take their chance to escape from allied artillery and fighter-bombers. As highways and minor roads are jammed with destroyed and abandoned equipment, German engineers have opened holes in the hedgerows in order to allow convoys to pass through. The landscape offers a vision of hell: everywhere, one can see smoking wreckages, decomposing carcasses, wounded horses running all across the plain. Soon, it becomes impossible for German units to get through, there are too many obstacles and the progressing troops entangle with the previously destroyed convoys.