M. Podyma Interview at Mont-Ormel

The hill at Mont-Ormel, overlooks the site of the last and one of the bloodiest battles of Normandy. It was here that the Allied forces enclosed the Germans in a pincer movement, forcing tens of thousands of German soldiers to retreat through an ever-narrowing gap – the ‘Falaise gap’ or ‘Falaise pocket’ as it’s often called. The road along which the Germans had to flee became piled high with the carnage of corpses, dead horses, abandoned carriages and tanks, that the Germans called it, ‘the Corridor of Death.’

M. Podyma is a franco-polish veteran, who landed at Arromanches on Gold Beach in July 1944 and fought in the 1st Polish Armoured Division through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany until 8th May, 1945. He played a decisive role in the battle of Mont-Ormel – from August 7th until August 21st, he found himself on the front line. On August 18th, 1944 he was confronted with the 2nd SS Panzer ‘Das Reich’ Division. On August 20th at Boisjos, he saved his Sherman tank and his two radios from destruction – this action allowed the Canadian artillery to direct their fire to the German troops and to circle them.

Since the war, M. Podyma has participated in all the major commemorative events at Mont Ormel. He will be 93 in a couple of months’ time.

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The Falaise-Chambois Pocket: Abbot Launay

During the battle of the “Falaise-Chambois” pocket, the local priest Abbot Launay attached a sheet to the top of his church spire by way of a white flag. This sheet is now displayed at the Mémorial de Montormel.

His flag proved to be ineffective, so he set out in search of the Allies. When he returned to Tournai with a lone Canadian soldier, they took 300 Germans prisoner in what was to become the courtyard of surrender.

Word spread and in the afternoon, a further 1,500 Germans surrendered on the same spot.

His bravery significantly shortened the battle and consequently saved hundreds of lives.

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The Falaise-Chambois Pocket: Summary

In August 1944, after 72 days of fighting, the Allies encircled the German army in the Dives valley.

The “Falaise-Chambois” pocket formed and the German army’s retreat from this pocket would become the last combat of the Battle of Normandy.

The pocket reunited 6 nationalities (German, American, British, Canadian, French and Polish). Between the 19th and 21st August, the Allies closed in a total of 100,000 German soldiers. 50,000 of these soldiers escaped, 10,000 were killed and 40,000 were taken prisoner.


More to follow…

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Direct from Normandy, France