The tour below takes you to some points of remembrance of the slaughter
in August, 1944, better known as 'The Falaise Pocket'. We start at Mont-Ormel, but you can start anywhere you like.
To get a good overview of the 'Falaise Pocket' you have to visit Mont-Ormel, 'Hill 262'. This is the
hill from which the Polish troops had a good look into the valley
of the 'Falaise Pocket'. There is a monument to remember the
horror that took place in these area. Underneath the monument is a visitor
centre where the whole story is told, step by step. In a
little cinema they show fragments from 'The Corridor of
Death'. A guide tells the whole story, also in English, of the
struggle that took place on this spot.
Descent from Mont-Ormel into the valley, and head for Chambois, on the D 13, toward
St-Lambert-sur-Dives. You are now driving in the small gap of the 'Pocket' through which
the Germans escaped.
Monument for the liberators of Lambert-sur-Dives.
In September 2002, I had a nice surprise. I found out that
there are still items to be found that reminds us to that
fierce fighting in August 1944. Between Lambert-sur-Dives and
Chambois was a small sector where the Germans could escape
from the 'Falaise Pocket'. In this so called 'Corridor of
Death', I found in a field a 20mm shell, a handle from an
ammunition box and a (so far) unknown part (a German detonator?).
I have to warn you if you're looking for 'souvenirs'. It is
still possible that among the potatoes some 'life' ammunition
is hiding. If you may come across an item you don't trust, LET
IT BE! DO NOT PICK IT UP!
Lambert-sur-Dives, Toen en Nu
Continue the tour towards Trun and head for Falaise. Here was once a museum, the Musée Août 1944, dedicated to the
'Faliase Pocket'. It was located just south of the castle from William the Conqueror (Château de Guillaume le Conquérant).
It is now cloesed and made a restart in Colleville-sur-Mer as 'Overlord Museum'.
In Falaise is very little more to find of the battle which bears it's name. After the
war the town was completely rebuilt.
Head north for Caen, but follow the old road beside the N 158 (the D 658). This is the road the Canadians took in 1944.
After 16 km you drive into Grainville-Langannerie.
POLISH AND CANADIAN CEMETERY'S
Many killed Polish fighters are buried at the Polish
Cemetery at Grainville-Langannerie on the N158, halfway the
road between Caen and Falaise. It is an impressive cemetery
with 650 graves.
Another, Canadian cemetery, lies a few kilometres north from here. Leave Grainville and go north and
head for Urville on the D 131. In Urville, take the first right and take the road to Haut-Mesnil and
head for Cintheaux (on the D 167).
Parallel on the highway, north of Cintheaux is the Canadian cemetery of Bretteville located (and it's
not even located near Bretteville!).
Buried in these grounds are 2957 soldiers (87 with no identity), most of them are Canadian.
Canadian cemetery, Bretteville-Cintheaux.
FROM ST. PIERRE-SUR-DIVES TO VIMOUTIERS
In Cintheaux go left and go over the highway and head for St. Sylvain, towards St. Pierre-sur-Dives, on the D 183.
Three kilometres out of St. Sylvain you'll see on the left side of the road, at the crossroad with the D 91,
a pile of concrete remains of unknown origins. It seems to me it has something to do with the war of 1940-45,
but what was it?
An old V1 launching side? For some pictures of the remains, see the
photopage. At the beginning of the pile stands a small momentum to honour
three killed crewmembers of a B-26 Marauder. The Marauder 'Hitch Hiker' crashed near this point on July 28th, 1944.
The crew of 'Hitch Hiker'.
At this crossraod, take the D 91 south to Maizières. In the village go left on the D 131 towards Estrées-la-Campagne.
On the left of the
road is after a couple of kilometres a small Canadian monument (see the page before this one).
Return to Maizières and head for Ernes and to Pierre-sur-Dives on the D 131. St. Pierre-sur-Dives is a very nice
town to visit. Leave St. Pierre and take the D4 to Hiéville and Livarot. You are now on the road Generalfeldmarschall
Rommel took to Livarot on Monday July 17, 1944. Probably Rommel left at some point the D4 and went on the southern
St. Georges-en-Auge and Montivette to stay under cover of the trees and to avoid Allied fighterplanes.
THE ATTACK ON ERWIN
For the allied fighter pilots it was business as usual on
Monday 17 July, 1944. Spotting German troops, shoot them up or
throw bombs on them. Since the invasion in Normandy thousands
of vehicles were destroyed on French roads. That afternoon,
approximately 16.00 hours, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel
boarded his Horch staff car that was parked outside the
headquarters of SS Oberstgruppenfurher Josef Dietrich,
commander of 1ste SS Panzer Corps, at Pierre-sur-Dives.
Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel
in his staff car.
Rommel took the D4 that should lead him through Livarot. He
was in great hurry, everywhere the allies broke through the
German defences. The roads were blocked at many places by burning
wrecks that were knocked out by fighter-bombers. Because of
some detouring Rommel arrived in Livarot around 18.00 hours
that afternoon. Despite the danger the staff car continued
it's way to Vimoutires on the N179. At that time eight Spitfires, of the No 602 Squadron, flew
in the vicinity. Two Spitfires broke out of the formation when
they spotted the staff car. Squadron Leader J.J. Le Roux, DFC
(an ace with 23½ destroyed enemy airplanes), took a shot at
the staff car. His shells smacked with heavy force into the
Horch. Rommel his driver was hit badly in the arm. Rommel was wounded
in the face and his skull is fractured in three places. Driver
Daniel lost the car and it runs into the verge of the road,
hits a tree and the car turns over. Rommel lands unconscious
besides the car. They fear for his life, but Rommel survives
the attack. Daniel, his driver dies of his wounds that same
On the right where Rommel ended in
You can still find the spot where the Horch staff car hit
the trees. Follow the N179 from Livarot towards Vimoutiers.
After you passed Ste-Foy-de-Montgommery you come across a
gatehouse to the right that belongs to the estate of Usine
Laniel. Opposite of this building, on the other side of the
road, is the spot of the crash.
In this Pharmacie, in Livarot, Rommel received first aid,
(before he was transferred to the hospital in Bernay)
There is some contradiction who was responsible for the shooting at Rommel. Besides
J.J. Le Roux of the 602 Squadron, there is also the claim by Charley Fox, a Canadian pilot from RCAF 412 Squadron.
Also Richard Rohmer of the 430 Squadron claimes to have shot at Rommel.
And there is a pliot of 411 Squadron and an American Thunderbolt pilot who both claim the shooting.
Continue your journey towards Vimoutiers.
THE 'TIGER' OF
For years a lonely 'Tiger' was resting in a ditch near Vimoutiers
A unique monument of the German occupying is
to be found near Vimoutiers. As a lonely remnant to the 'Falaise Pocket'
> stands a 'Tiger'
type-E tank. The tank laid, until 1975, beside the same road were
it came to a halt when it ran out of fuel on 19 August 1944.
The crew tried to destroy the tank, but they failed. An
American bulldozer pushed the tank in a ditch next to the road.
After the Battle no 8. and how the 'Tiger'
stands today as a monument at
The 'Tiger' was sold to a local scrap dealer. But the tank
stayed at its place and became a playground for the local
children and during the years it lost some parts. Other tanks
that were left in the surroundings were all scraped (at least
60). When the owner died, his sister decided to sell it to a
scrap dealer in Caen. The smelter became a threat.
Two heavy duty shovels were used to recover the Tiger
Through a publication in the magazine 'After the Battle'
no.8, and the intervention at the last moment by a former
member of Leclerc Division (see the page on UTAH) the 'Tiger'
is saved. Alain Roudeix from Vimoutiers gets the assignment to
salvage the tank. After a battle of two hours and much pulling
by two bulldozers the tank is recovered from the ditch. After
a big restoration the tank was placed almost on the same spot
were it once came to a stand still, 30 years before. You can
find the tank on the D979 (the old N179) in a corner just
outside town heading for Gace.