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falaise pocket

Article about: The retreat of the German army towards the River Seine in order to escape encirclement in the Falaise 'Pocket' in August 1944 also provided the Allied tactical air forces with an abundance o

  1. #1

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    falaise pocket

    The retreat of the German army towards the River Seine in order to
    escape encirclement in the Falaise 'Pocket' in August 1944 also
    provided the Allied tactical air forces with an abundance of targets,
    and great claims of destruction were made. On 18 August RAF 2nd TAF
    alone claimed 1 159 vehicles destroyed and 1 700 damaged together with
    124 tanks destroyed and 100 damaged. On the same day the Ninth Air
    Force claimed 400 vehicles destroyed.

    During the period of this retreat nearly 9 900 sorties were flown by
    the RAF. Destruction was claimed of 3 340 soft and 257 armoured
    vehicles or some 36 targets destroyed for every hundred sorties. The
    USAAF claimed 2 520 soft and 134 armoured vehicles destroyed during
    nearly 2 900 sorties, or some 91 successes per hundred. Overall claims
    therefore amount to a successful strike approximately every second
    falaise pocket
    Shortly after the pocket had been closed No.2 ORS conducted an
    extensive investigation in the area to determine the German losses
    caused by air attack and the effectiveness of air-to-ground
    weapons.The principal roads taken by the Germans were patrolled in
    three areas; the 'Pocket' itself around Falaise, the area at the mouth
    of the pocket near Chambois and referred to as the 'Shambles', and the
    area known as the 'Chase' which led to the Seine crossings. The result
    of the investigation is shown in the following tables:
    falaise pocket
    Of the 133 armoured vehicles of all types located by the ORS in the
    'Pocket', only 33 had been the victim of any form of air attack. The
    remaining hundred had been destroyed by their crews or simply
    abandoned. Air attacks were far more effective against soft-skinned
    vehicles. Of 701 cars, trucks and motor cycles found in the 'Pocket',
    325 had been the victim of attack from the air, and of these 85 per
    cent were hit by cannon or machine-gun fire - a testament to the
    effectiveness of this form of attack. The fact however remains that of
    a total of 885 vehicles of all types lost by the Germans in the
    Falaise pocket nearly 60 per cent were destroyed or abandoned by their
    crews rather than as the direct result of attack from the air. The
    large number of armoured and motor vehicles abandoned or destroyed by
    their crews is hardly surprising in such a retreat, and it was thought
    many of those destroyed by air weapons had already been abandoned. Air
    attack, though, was considered responsible for much of the abandonment
    as a result of causing disorganisation; moreover, destroyed vehicles
    had completely blocked roads. Cannon and machine gun attacks had
    proved to be extremely effective against the densely-packed motor
    transport. Such vehicles hit by cannon or machine gun rounds were
    invariably burnt out, and the report noted that where pock marks of
    strikes appeared in the roads a burnt vehicle was usually found.
    falaise pocket
    In the 'Shambles' so many German vehicles were found that it was
    impossible to examine each in detail; they were classes either as
    burnt or unburnt as an indication of wether they had been hit by air
    weapons or abandoned. A total of 1 411 tanks and vehicles were classed
    as burnt, and 1 380 as unburnt. Of the 187 tanks and SP guns found in
    this area, 82 were examined in detail, of these only two were
    destroyed by attack from the air and eight by ground fire, while all
    but one of the remainder were either burnt by their crews or merely
    abandoned. There was no evidence - such as rocket craters - to suggest
    that any appreciable number of those burnt tanks and SP guns not
    examined had been destroyed by air weapons. A sample of 330 of the
    softskin vehicles, and 31 of the lightly armoured vehicles, found in
    the 'Shambles' were also examined in detail. Of the softskin vehicles,
    110 were found to have been destroyed by air weapons and 135 abandoned
    intact, while of the lightly armoured vehicles 6 were credited to air
    weapons and 13 were found abandoned intact. The effectiveness of
    strafing against soft-skin and light armoured vehicles was again
    confirmed, this being the greatest known cause of destruction.
    falaise pocket
    The 'Chase' area yielded a count of 3 648 vehicles and guns, and of
    3 332 light armoured and soft-skin vehicles, 2 390 were classed as
    burnt and 942 unburnt. The ORS were unable to cover every road in such
    an extensive area, so the absolute number of vehicles and guns was
    unknown but thought to be less than twice that recorded. Of the 150
    tanks and self-propelled guns 98 were examined. None were found to
    have been destroyed by rockets, nor were there any craters to suggest
    rocket attacks had been made in the area. Most, amounting to some 81
    per cent, had been destroyed by their crews or abandoned.

    To allow for the possibility of German vehicles and guns being missed
    in wooded terrain or along unchecked roads, No.2 ORS estimated that
    the Germans had lost some 10 000 vehicles and guns during the retreat,
    a figure not thought to be in error by more than 2 000 either way.
    This was broken down as 1 500 in the 'Pocket' area, 3 500 in the
    'Shambles', and 5 000 in the 'Chase'. As it was estimated that the
    Germans must have had a total of some 30 000 vehicles it was
    considered that two-thirds, including about 250 tanks and SP guns, had
    escaped across the Seine. This was regarded as the result of the air
    forces attempting general destruction rather than trying to achieve
    interdiction by attacking key 'choke' points, a charge strongly
    refuted by 2nd TAF as taking no account of weather, flak levels, or
    bomblines set by friendly ground forces. In fact No.2 ORS
    overestimated the number of German tanks that had escaped, as on 22 -
    23 August the German Army Group B, reporting on the state of its eight
    surviving Panzer divisions, listed only some 72 tanks.

    The retreat to the Seine clearly reveals the limitations of Allied
    air-to-ground weapons against tanks, particularly the 3-inch rocket.
    Only ten out of 301 tanks and SP guns examined, and three out of 87
    armoured troop carriers examined, were found to have been destroyed by
    this weapon - these figures must be compared with 222 claims of armour
    destruction made by Typhoon pilots alone. In contrast is the marked
    effectiveness of cannon and machine guns, and to a lesser extent
    bombs, against soft-skin transport vehicles. By destroying large
    numbers of these, thus blocking roads and increasing congestion, the
    fighter-bombers indirectly caused the abandonment of many tanks.
    Moreover, many of the tanks and SP guns were found abandoned without
    petrol, not least because trucks carrying their fuel had been shot up
    from the air. German prisoners described how the threat of air attack
    restricted movement to the hours of darkness until congestion and
    haste compelled movement by day. They also told how whenever aircraft
    appeared crews stopped to take cover and vehicles were driven off the
    main roads into side roads which in turn became blocked. In effect,
    the almost continuous fighter-bomber attacks in daylight, within a
    restricted area upon retreating troops, caused a great deal of
    demoralization and delay which prevented many tanks and vehicles

    font: Ian Gooderson's 'Air Power at the Battlefront'
    pd: snack one and count ten

  2. #2


    Good info and a very nice painting!...

  3. #3


    Great info,been there many times.

    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture falaise pocket  

  4. #4


    Been there a few times myself, regardless of the true amount a Tanks ect damaged or knocked out by the Typhoons, we must remember their morale effect on the Germans.

    Dean O
    Ajax Canada

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