The Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Falaise Pocket (12–21 August 1944) was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy. A pocket was formed around Falaise, Calvados, in which the German Army Group B under Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel with the 7th Army under SS Oberstgruppenführer Paul “Papa” Hausser
and the Fifth Panzer Army (formerly Panzergruppe West) under General of Panzer Troops Heinrich Eberbach
were encircled by the Western Allies. The battle is also referred to as the Battle of the Falaise Gap, after the corridor which the Germans sought to maintain to allow their escape and is sometimes referred to as the Chambois Pocket, the Falaise-Chambois Pocket, the Argentan–Falaise Pocket or the Trun–Chambois Gap. The battle resulted in the destruction of most of Army Group B west of the Seine river, which opened the way to Paris and the German border for the Allied armies.
Following Operation Cobra, the American breakout from the Normandy beachhead, rapid advances were made to the south and south-east by the Third U.S Army under the command of General George Smith Patton. Despite lacking the resources to defeat the U.S. breakthrough and simultaneous British and Canadian offensives south of Caumont and Caen Field Marshal Günther von Kluge, the commander of Army Group B, was not permitted by Adolf Hitler to withdraw but was ordered to conduct a counter-offensive at Mortain against the U.S. breakthrough. Four depletedpanzer divisions were not enough to defeat the First U.S Army, Operation Lüttich was a disaster, which drove the Germans deeper into the Allied envelopment.
On 8 August, the Allied ground forces commander, General Bernard “Monty” Montgomery, ordered the Allied armies to converge on the Falaise–Chambois area to envelop Army Group B, the First U.S. Army, nickname “Doughboys” under General Omar Bradley, forming the southern arm, the British Second Army under Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey the base and the First Canadian Army under General Harry Crerar, the northern arm of the encirclement. The Germans began to withdraw on 17 August and on 19 August, the Allies linked up in Chambois. Gaps were forced in the Allied lines by German counter-attacks, the biggest being a corridor forced past the 1st Polish Armoured Division, nickname “Black Devils” on Hill 262, a commanding position at the mouth of the pocket.
By the evening of 21 August, the pocket had been sealed, with c. 50,000 Germans trapped inside. Many Germans escaped but losses in men and equipment were huge. Two days later the Allied Liberation of Paris was completed and on 30 August, the remnants of Army Group B retreated across the Seine, which ended Operation Overlord.
By 22 August, all German forces west of the Allied lines were dead or in captivity. Historians differ in their estimates of German losses in the pocket. The majority state that from 80,000–100,000 troops were caught in the encirclement of whom 10,000–15,000 were killed, 40,000–50,000 were taken prisoner, and 20,000–50,000 escaped.It’s estimated that the remnants of 14–15 divisions were in the pocket. In the northern sector, German losses included 344 tanks, self-propelled guns and other light armoured vehicles, as well as 2,447 soft skinned vehicles and 252 guns abandoned or destroyed. In the fighting around Hill 262, German losses totaled 2,000 men killed, 5,000 taken prisoner and 55 tanks, 44 guns and 152 other armoured vehicles destroyed. The 12th SS-Panzer Division had lost 94 percent of its armour, nearly all of its artillery and 70 percent of its vehicles. With close to 20,000 men and 150 tanks before the Normandy campaign, after Falaise it was reduced to 300 men and 10 tanks. Although elements of several German formations had managed to escape to the east, even these had left behind most of their equipment. After the battle, Allied investigators estimated that the Germans lost around 500 tanks and assault guns in the pocket and that little of the extricated equipment survived the retreat across the Seine