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Poles and Falaise pocket - WWII


Prince 15 | 590  
4 Feb 2009 /  #1
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falaise_pocket

The Falaise pocket was the encirclement and destruction of German forces in the Normandy area of France during August 1944 by the Allied armies, as part of the larger Battle of Normandy, during World War II.

Pocket Poland

Polish Infantry moving towards cover on Mont Ormel, 20 August 1944.

After Match:

By 22 August, the Falaise pocket had been closed, and all German forces west of the Allied lines were dead or in captivity. Although perhaps 100,000 German troops succeeded in escaping the Allies because of the delay in closing the gap (many of them wounded), they left behind 40,000-50,000 prisoners and over 10,000 dead. German material losses included 344 tanks and self-propelled guns, 2,447 soft-skinned vehicles and 252 guns abandoned or destroyed in the northern sector of the pocket alone. In the fighting around Hill 262 alone, German casualties totalled 2,000 killed and 5,000 taken prisoner, in addition to 55 tanks, 44 guns and 152 armoured vehicles. The formidable 12th SS Panzer Division had lost 94% of its armour, nearly all of its artillery, and 70% of its vehicles. Composed of close to 20,000 men and 150 tanks before the campaign, it had been reduced to 300 men and 10 tanks. Several German formations, notably remnants from the 2nd and 12th SS Panzer Divisions, had managed to escape eastward to the Seine, albeit without most of their equipment.

German forces surrendering in St. Lambert on 21 August 1944

Canadian: ~5,500 casualties
Polish: 1,441 casualties
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 10,257  
4 Feb 2009 /  #2
They took so long mainly because of a ferocius resistance from a bunch of 17year olds from the SS Hitlerjugend....

Kurt Meyer's 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, supported by tanks from the 101st Heavy Tank Battalion and the remnants of the 89th Infantry Division, was fighting to held a 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) front against the Canadians.[31] Despite initial gains on Verrières Ridge and near Cintheaux, the offensive was delayed repeatedly on 9 August,[32] due to strong German resistance, as well as poor Canadian unit leadership and fighting power,[33] resulting in heavy casualties for both the 4th Canadian and 1st Polish Armoured Divisions.[34]

historyplace.com/worldwar2/hitleryouth/hj-boy-soldiers.htm

The HJ were off to face an enemy that now had overwhelming air superiority and would soon have nearly unlimited artillery support. The Allies, for their part, were about to have their first encounter with Hitler's fanatical boy-soldiers.

The shocking fanaticism and reckless bravery of the Hitler Youth in battle astounded the British and Canadians who fought them.
They sprang like wolves against tanks. If they were encircled or outnumbered, they fought-on until there were no survivors. Young boys, years away from their first shave, had to be shot dead by Allied soldiers, old enough, in some cases, to be their fathers. The "fearless, cruel, domineering" youth Hitler had wanted had now come of age and arrived on the battlefield with utter contempt for danger.

OP Prince 15 | 590  
4 Feb 2009 /  #3
I agree SS formations had very high morale but couldn't break surrounded Poles on hill 262.
nunczka 8 | 458  
4 Feb 2009 /  #4
I remember my Grandfather telling this story. He was in the American third Army. The third Army completly routed the Germans in the south, and were closing the escape gap to entrap the whole German Army. Things went well, but The British commanded py Montgomery. could not close the gap. The troops fought well but due to foul ups in the rear,they failed to close the gap. Thus allowing a lot of Germans to escape.. Much to the dismay of SHAEF.

The next combat that the 1st would see was in September 1944, Operation Market Garden. On D-Day, both the 1st Parachute and 1st Air-Landing Brigades were landed at their DZ/LZ's. The 4th Parachute Brigade was scheduled to land on D+1 and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade would arrive on D+2. As with all plans, the execution did not go as planned. The 4th landed 4 hours late due to fog over Merry ol' England. The 1st Polish Glider element arrived as scheduled; but, the parachute element did not arrive for another 2 days. This miscalculation, in conjunction with the intelligence boondoggle and poor planning by Montgomery and his staff, led to the destruction of the 1st Airborne Division.

According to my Grandfather, It is true that the Hitler fought Valiantly at first. But after the failure of the battle of the bulge they surrendered in droves, crying for their mothers. He told me that there were kids as young as thirteen.
OP Prince 15 | 590  
5 Feb 2009 /  #5
The same army later liberated Holland.

In Polish (top): "Thank you, Poles." in Dutch (bottom): "Freed by the Poles." Liberation of Breda, Netherlands, 1944.
Babinich 1 | 455  
5 Feb 2009 /  #6
Prince,

Where the hell do you find this stuff? It's wonderful!!!
OP Prince 15 | 590  
5 Feb 2009 /  #7
I read a lot of books and I use internet search engine :)
wiesiek 1 | 36  
5 Feb 2009 /  #8
My father was one of those soldiers who liberated Breda (1st Armoured Division Gen Maczek), but I remember him telling me that the reason the Dutch put out statement thanking the Poles was because the British at first claimed that they had liberated Breda.

I have no evidence only what my father told me.
jeep - | 23  
10 May 2009 /  #9
The Polish First Armoured was part of the British Army when they fought at Falise.
It is not incorrect to say the British releived Breda.

It was felt unwise to fan flames of anger amongst the Nazis occupying Poland.
It was also felt unwise to fan the same flames of anger with the Ruskies.

If you consider the way the bloody handed Wehrmacht butchered unarmed Polish civilians in the undefended parts of Warsaw during and after the Rising, you may understand the wisdom in that decision.

If you consider way the Russians held back whilst the Polish Free Army fought the SS during the Rising, you may understand the wisdom in that decision.
nunczka 8 | 458  
10 May 2009 /  #10
Another story that I remember my grandfather told me.

During the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest on the border of Belgium and Germany. The American Army was hit by superior forces from the Wermacht. They the Americans suffered great casualties. This was the first introduction of the German King Tiger tanks. Our 57MM anti tank guns were ineffective against the. As the Americans retreated in a holding fashion, they managed to delay the Wermacht from keeping up with their time table.

They retreated to a town called Elsenborne where they were reinforced by a Polish brigade from the British army. He shared a foxhole with two Polish soldiers. This is where the German advanced stopped
jeep - | 23  
11 May 2009 /  #11
The 101st Airborne also stopped the Nazi advance Nunczka, they made their stand at Bastogne.

Our Typhoons (Brit/Polish) were our main anti-tank weapons against Nazi armour, along with our 17 pounders.
Bad flying weather meant that the Typhoons could not be used against the Nazis during the early stages of their break out.

The American M18 tank destroyers were effective against Nazi Tigers during the Battle of the Bulge.
1jola 14 | 1,879  
11 May 2009 /  #12
They took so long mainly because of a ferocius resistance from a bunch of 17year olds from the SS Hitlerjugend....

These kids were inexperienced but some of their mates a few years older who served in the LSSAH and were later transfered to the 12th Panzer Division Hitlerjungen were formidable foes and by then very experienced. An example comes to mind of Rudolf Roy and his gunner Fritz Eckstein when they laid it into the Brits on 9 August 1944. From his citation for the Knight's Cross:

" In an independent decision Oberscharführer Roy attacked the tanks in the flank. Of the 15 attacking enemy tanks only 2 were able to escape. Oberscharführer Roy destroyed 13 tanks on this day, within 5 days 26, and increased his total number of knocked out English and Russian tanks to 36."

Oh, s***, it's Roy and Fritz from the Kinder Division!

He was killed by a sniper later but his gunner survived the war.
jeep - | 23  
11 May 2009 /  #13
Bratwurst, whilst it's true that the Hitler Youth faught with fanatical courage, you may reduce the romance in your contributions if you study they way Nazi High Command distributed their best units, expecially their best armoured units, against Europe's Liberators.
nunczka 8 | 458  
11 May 2009 /  #14
The 101st Airborne also stopped the Nazi advance Nunczka, they made their stand at Bastogne.

This is true Jeep.The battle of the Bulge was a battle fought by many Divisions.There was the 2nd division north at Manchou, south of them at Loshiem Gap was the 99th, south of the 99th was a St Vith. Before the Germans struck on the morning of December the 16th. They were damn near decimated. The Germans broke through their lines and advanced toward Bastogne. The 101st Airborne was in a rest area after being relieved from the Hurtgen forest. They were sent in to reinforce Bastogne

After about a week the weather cleared and the air force came in to help. Meanwhile George Pattons 3rd Army came up from the south

and that is as far as the Germans got at Bastogne

The watch on thewRhine as Hitler called it was not the only plan that he had. Very few people know about this. My Gramps told me a lot. Hitler called it Operation NORWIND.( Look it up) It was an attack to the south toward Alsace. It damn near succeeded. One hell of a story . Read up on it.

Coventry?? Gramps told me that that was the most bombed city in England during WW2. He told me a lot of stories. He was wounded twice and spent time as a German POW.. He was shot up bad, but the Us government took excellent care of him. He spent 14 months in Army hospital before being discharged in 1946
jeep - | 23  
12 May 2009 /  #15
Coventry was the first British city to get "Coventrated" Nunckza.
I don't know if it was the most bombed.
I think that one raid in 1940 more or less wiped it out.
And wiped much of our motor industry out.

London was probably the most bombed, but it was a lot bigger, and wasn't wiped out.
Although the Docklands got a pretty good pasting.
Night, after night, after night until East Enders were nearly ready to throw in the towel in fact.

Have you read 'Up Front' by Bill Mauldin Nunckza?
A brillant account by a Doggie of a Doggie's life from Africa to the South of France via Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and the South of France.

South of France was his best "invasion".

It always amuses me to read that Americans "invaded" Europe.
From our point of view, Italy was the last invasion.
The landings in Normandy was us liberating Europe from the Nazi Jackboot.

Somewhere in his book Bill tells what life was like for a Doggie in terms that the folks back home might understand.
He makes the point that American soldiers didn't know what it was like to have their homes destroyed, their wives raped, and their children killed, so they had a different view of the enemy, whom he calls Germans or Krauts.

Too true, over here, we called them for what they were, Nazis.
Our Sweats reckoned that the only good son's of Evil Adolph were those hanging from trees.
We knew most of them weren't German.
We knew that they came from every country in Europe.

I read elsewhere on this forum that the so called "Germans" surrendered without much of a fight and cried like babies.
I expect it's true since it's an account of an eyewitness account.
Bill records how, in the South of France, "Germans" prefered to be captured by his 45th Division to being taken by the French civilians fighting with rifles ahead of the doggies.

In Normandy, our guys, which included the Polish divisions, found the opposite.
They found the enemy kept their fingers on the triggers until they were close enough to stick their bayonets in them.
And that Nazis came from every country in Europe, even from Poland.
When the Poles finally broke into Cassino, they found Poles fighting stubbornly for the Nazis, not one was taken alive according to a friend who served with the Polish Corps.

Another book well worth reading if you are interested in Poland's experiences at the hands of the Nazi Army is the 'Wehrmacht' by Wolfram Wetter.

The first 100 or so pages are about as dry as dust, the rest is better.
I found it helped me understand what I had learned from WW2 veterans, and how most of the Hollywood accounts portraying the Vehrmacht as human beings was pure bunkum.

/Wehrmacht-History-Myth-Reality/dp/0674025776/

I expect you've found: ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/gcpol2.htm

but I'll mention it just in case.
Salomon 2 | 436  
12 May 2009 /  #16
Poles haven't formed anny Waffen SS units (units supporting Germans formed form foreigners).

Without German citizenship you couldn't join Wehrmacht. Volksdeutsche were Polish citizens but :

The Deutsche Volksliste categorised Poles into one of 4 categories:

Category I: Persons of German descent who had engaged themselves in favour of the Reich before 1939.

Category II: Persons of German descent who had remained passive.

Category III: Persons of German descent who had become partly "polonized", e.g. through marrying a Polish partner or through working relationships.

Category IV: Persons of German ancestry who had become "polonized" but were supportive of "Germanisation".
jeep - | 23  
12 May 2009 /  #17
'German infantry rode their tanks into battle, and the dogfaces shot them off like squirrels but they didn't get them all ___ some came in and bayoneted our guys in their holes.

Four American tank destroyers crossed the canal and bounced shells off a Tiger until it turned its massive gun and disintegrated them with 5 shells.

Bodies of fanatical you Germans piled up in front of teh machine guns, and when the guns ran out of ammunition the Wehermacht came through and was stopped only by point blank artillery.'

I know why the Germans fight so stubbornly even when they seem to have lost the war. They don't want to take the rap for what they've done.

Germans know how much people hate them. When they surrender, most Germans say "We are regular army -- not SS". Maybe they feel a little less guilty.

No actor on earth could have imitated the thorough contempt and disgust and hatred that was on the face of every French child who watched German prisoners march by.

From an eyewitness account by a frontline infantryman autumn '44.

Included to give a picture of the sort of problems faced closing the Falaise gap.

It wasn't like they show on the movies.
.
Salomon 2 | 436  
12 May 2009 /  #18
Szarotka Cassino was empty and Brits can't fight.
jeep - | 23  
12 May 2009 /  #19
Salomen, I've read the rules about Volksdeutch, and know the way the Nazis applied them.

My Polish cousin by marriage and his two brothers were recruited into the Kreigsmarin, to save their parents' lives.
They lived near the German Polish border but were 100% Polish and had no Nazi sympathies.

When their U-boat was sunk, they survived, travelled across Europe on the underground, re-trained in Persia, and joined the 8th Army in North Africa.
My cousin was seriously injured at Cassino.

A friend in the Polish Home Army tells me the Nazis in Warsaw recruited any one they could get.
It was simply a case of signing on the bottom line, no questions asked.
If you stop to consider that the total population in German in 1939 was a bit over 50 million, less than half of whom were males.
That many of the males were too young, too old, not medically fit, you will realise that the Nazis had a serious man-power shortage considering they were fighting on three fronts in 1944, and had lost huge number to prison camps and graves.

If you check you will find the Nazis kidnapped hundreds of thousands of Polish children to Nazify.
By 1944, a proportion of those children would be fighting with the Hitler Youth.
By 1945, their brainwashing was so complete that most of them refused to accept they were Polish and refused to return home.

From what I read on the Internet, Poles were spread through various units rather than concentrated in one place.
nunczka 8 | 458  
12 May 2009 /  #20
Salomon Edited by: Salomon Today, 13:13#19

Szarotka Cassino was empty and Brits can't fight.

It was claimed that the Abby was empty from German Forces,but Mt. Cassino was fortified by German paratroops. But the Allies bombed the Abby anyhow.

There were many Allied nation troops trying to take Mt Cassino. The Brits, Yanks, Indians, Poles. They all fought well, but the Germans were tenacious fighters. The American 36th Texas division lost so many men that there was a Congressional hearing against Gen Mark Clark for incompetence. He was vindicated. It was the Poles that finally captured Cassino.
jeep - | 23  
12 May 2009 /  #21
Salomen, I've read the rules about Volksdeutch, and know the way the Nazis applied them.

My Polish cousin by marriage and his two brothers were recruited into the Kreigsmarin, to save their parents' lives.
They lived near the German Polish border but were 100% Polish and had no Nazi sympathies.

When their U-boat was sunk, they survived, travelled across Europe on the underground, re-trained in Persia, and joined the 8th Army in North Africa.
My cousin was seriously injured at Cassino.

A friend in the Polish Home Army tells me the Nazis in Warsaw recruited any one they could get.
It was simply a case of signing on the bottom line, no questions asked.
He was active in defending Poland from the Nazis from the Nazis from 1939 until the end of the Rising.
He is due to travel to meet the President in Warsaw this summer.
He has already been awarded the Krzyż Komandorski Orderu Odrodzenia Polski.
His knowledge of what what teh Nazis got up to in Warsaw is probably as reliable as any.

If you stop to consider that the total population in German in 1939 was a bit over 50 million, less than half of whom were males.
That many of the males were too young, too old, not medically fit, you will realise that the Nazis had a serious man-power shortage considering they were fighting on three fronts in 1944, and had lost huge number to prison camps and graves.

If you check you will find the Nazis kidnapped hundreds of thousands of Polish children to Nazify.
By 1944, a proportion of those children would be fighting with the Hitler Youth.
By 1945, their brainwashing was so complete that most of them refused to accept they were Polish and refused to return home.

From what I read on the Internet, Poles were spread through various units rather than concentrated in one place.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704  
12 May 2009 /  #22
And that Nazis came from every country in Europe, even from Poland.

Oh boy, it may be a fact but it will certainly be interesting seeing reactions :)

Poles haven't formed anny Waffen SS units (units supporting Germans formed form foreigners).

The highlanders did,or are you forgetting that. Every country in Europe had traitors in the SS,even a British unit.

Szarotka Cassino was empty and Brits can't fight.

More like,after months of hard fighting by units of the British US and commenwealth forces who had been fighting non stop across africa and up Italy ,a fresh unit of Poles were the ones who managed to get to the top.A position that was a shadow of the strenghth it had been when "the brits" were dying in droves under falschirmjager bullets.

It can also be argued that as the french north africans had managed to bypass cassino that they "won" the battle,but try getting arab soldiers into the history books.....

Poles were spread through various units rather than concentrated in one place.

It would seem a large number were manning the machine guns over Omaha,but that will need verified,certainly many people claiming Polish citizenship were captured in nazi uniform in normandy,1st armoured openly recruited some of these.

There is no point in missplaced national pride when it comes to the war in europe,every nation involved had honorable ,brave people,as well as traitors and cowards.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 10,257  
12 May 2009 /  #23
No actor on earth could have imitated the thorough contempt and disgust and hatred that was on the face of every French child who watched German prisoners march by.

Oh puleeeeze!

I know why the Germans fight so stubbornly even when they seem to have lost the war. They don't want to take the rap for what they've done.

Oh jeeezus!

Where do you get all your insight??? Oh I better don't ask...
nunczka 8 | 458  
12 May 2009 /  #24
There is no point in missplaced national pride when it comes to the war in europe,every nation involved had honorable ,brave people,as well as traitors and cowards.

The only American soldier executed in WW2 for cowardice.. He was a Polish American from Detroit. There was also a movie made of this story.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Slovik
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 10,257  
12 May 2009 /  #25
....and one of the last defenders of Berlin were the french SS unit Charlemagne...nobody would call them cowards!
jeep - | 23  
12 May 2009 /  #26
Bratvurst, why do you think a doggie in the US Army's Fighting 45th Division,
who'd gone in under fire at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and the South of France,
a man with a substantial International reputation for integrity
would lie?

Just to embarrass and confuse you 65 years later perhaps?

If you really want to know what the Heer behaved like, read the Whermacht, by Wolfram Wetter.
Read the eye witness reports from Warsaw civilians.

It's all available now that the Cold War is over.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 10,257  
12 May 2009 /  #27
That wasn't your sentences I objected too...:)
McCoy 27 | 1,275  
12 May 2009 /  #28
The highlanders did

bollocks. gerries tried to form the unit and failed.
jeep - | 23  
12 May 2009 /  #29
They were not my sentences Bratwurst.

Those sentences were written in '44 by a doggie liberating France.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 10,257  
12 May 2009 /  #30
>>"Those sentences were written in '44 by a doggie liberating France."<<

Explains the lacking insight in the happenings...

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