This is without doubt my favourite Normandy tour – and many who have taken this tour would readily agree. This outstanding tour explains the closing actions of the Normandy campaign where the German 7th Army and 5th Panzer Army were outflanked and caught in the most desperate struggle to escape an ever decreasing pocket. US forces held the southern line whilst British, Canadian and Polish forces pushed the remaining German units into a no-win situation of complete encirclement. The final 36 hours must go down in history as one of the most punishing defeats ever inflicted on an enemy, which the Allied Commander General Eisenhower descibed as the worst site he ever witnessed when guided through the carnage in the aftermath just 48 hours later – ‘scenes that could only be descibed by Dante’ – were his exact words. I have studied this area in great depth and know the ground like the back of my hand. There are many stops in and around the places listed below – harrowing stories of the frenzied German withdrawal through the ‘Corridor of Death’ – stories of downright cold-blooded bravery and honours won – the stubborn courage of the Polish (completely surrounded and out of ammunition) – the local priest who negotiated a large scale surrender – and the civilian population hopelessly trapped in the pocket as the battle raged all around. The area has some of the most spectacular and beautiful countryside in Normandy, disguising well the events of the past but brought to life by personal stories and photographs that reveal the horror of the final battle of Normandy in August 1944 – rounded off by visiting Rommel’s crash site and the only German Tiger in Normandy.
Le Château d’Aubry
Hill 262 North – The Mace (Maczuga)
Rommel’s Crash Site
Gary — Just a brief note to thank you for the outstanding tour with your excellent overview discussions and photos, maps and the superbly selected sites all of which combined to help portray: 1) the strategic sweep of the operations in and around Caen; 2) the final desperate “every man for himself” panicked escape in the final collapse of the Gap; and 3) the once violent destruction that took place in the now again serene villages and roadways.
The final collapse contrasted with and belied the earlier organized and orderly retreat of the German armies as they attempted their escape! The visions of the Corridor of Death and the horrors and destruction within the Falaise Pocket will from now on always be a part of our sense of Normandy — every bit as much as the horror of the beachheads!
Again, it was pleasure meeting you — and thank you for your historically comprehensive and yet most comprehensible descriptions during the tour. More importantly, perhaps, is that we enjoyed the friendly and personable rapport that we all shared with you.
You have our best wishes for your continued success. Ed Behrens, USA