Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Recollections of War: "Capture Caen!"

Canadian Soldiers advance through Caen      
        Operations Goodwood & Atlantic were the codenames of the offensives by the British and Canadian Forces to capture and liberate the French city of Caen just south of the D-Day Invasion beaches.
        And 70 years ago this day, July the 9th, the city of Caen, for the most part, was in Allied hands by the evening.  It was the end of a ferocious and hard fought battle that had stretched from June 6th until a little over a month later.
        My grandfather, who served with the Canadian Army in WWII, (more on that another day) passed very close by Caen the day after it was liberated, and he told me how it looked:
                                  "It was destroyed . . . the church was in ruins . . . but by the end
                                   of that day we were well away from the town."

The damaged Cathedral interior.
        The Allied forces, prior to advancing upon the German fortifications, had bombarded the city severely, and there were many casualties both among the military forces and what was left of the civilian population.   Early in the morning the Third Canadian Infantry Division had advanced on Caen from the west, capturing Carpiquet Airfield before moving against the city.  After a hard fight at the German line, which boasted over five hundred guns of many sizes, the Allies quickly forced their way to the other side of the city, and Caen, and Carpiquet airfield were in Allied hands.
        The British and Canadian soldiers had had a hard time in and around this area, but with the fighting over Caen and the surrounding area finished, the Allies could now focus on breaking out of Normandy into the rest of France, and finally on towards Germany.

The Battle of Normandy was over.  The Battle of France had just begun.

                                                               ~ William Moore