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The World War II Photo of the Week
for 13 December 2004

Inside the Pocket ...

   A Canadian Army sergeant walks through the devastated streets of the town of Falaise, France, hammered nearly flat by heavy artillery shelling and constant bombing from the air. After D-Day, the Americans had consolidated their beachheads, moved north and captured the port of Cherbourg by the end of June, and then moved south to break through the German lines at Avranches. Spreading out to the west, south, and east, they flanked the German 7th Army and reached Argentan. The Americans had moved swiftly, encountering less resistance than the British and Canadians who — after taking Caen — inched slowly southward to meet up with the Americans at Argentan. This was an attempt to cut off the German 7th Army. Fierce, bloody resistance was met at the town of Falaise. The Germans fought to keep a corridor open for retreat, but the advancing Allied armies ultimately closed all avenues of escape, created the infamous "Falaise Pocket." Almost 100,000 Germans managed to escape, but nearly 10,000 were killed, and another 50,000 were captured along with tons of heavy equipment and supplies. When the Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the aftermath, he wrote "It was literally possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh." Falaise, ultimately occupied by the Canadians, became known as "The Killing Grounds." Associated Press photo dated August 1944.

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