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Retracing the Paths of My Uncles 4

Discussion in 'Philosophical Musings' started by cincibuck, May 17, 2017.

  1. cincibuck

    cincibuck You kids stay off my lawn!

    Patton is free and he romps around. He heads east towards Paris and then north. It's August, the weather is good, more troops are coming in across the artificial harbors at Omaha and Gold beaches. The Brits are finally through Caen and pushing north too. A Plan develops: It's now a war of movement. The Americans will keep pushing east and north, Montgomery will continue to push up the coast and sightly east.

    As I drive around Normandy I see a beautiful part of the world. Orchards - hey, you gotta make the cider and the cavados - are in bloom. The small towns seem to be prospering. The French have kept the small store alive. Grocery shopping means separate shops for cheese, bread, meat, and wine. There are department stores for clothes, but no Walmart, get-it-all-here places. No malls.

    I can only guess what Uncle Bobby was experiencing. It must have been exhilarating and frightening in near equal parts. I know from Uncle Ray and Uncle Cliff that at some point in this time frame Bobby was ordered to retrieve the evening meals for the rest of the men in his squad. When he came back to their position the men were all dead or wounded from counter-battery fire.

    While Patton moves the German command becomes desperate and tries to force a narrow gap between the two forces. The attack is stopped at Mortain and now the Brits and the Americans begin to attack both sides. Soon the Germans are caught in a vice with only one exit point - straight down the Dive River valley to the town of Argentan.

    Patton and Montgomery seize the high ground along the 15 mile area, tanks, heavy and light artillery pour fire down on the escaping force. Both the RAF and the Army Air Corps bomb and strafe all day long. Patton races to Argentan and is ordered to stop so that Montgomery's forces can meet him there and close the escape hatch. For whatever reasons, Montgomery's forces just can't make it in time. By the time the Polish First Armor Division meets up with the 90th division enough Germans have managed to escape to reorganize and fight a defensive retreat back to the safety of the Siegfried Line.

    Accounts of what happened in the pocket from Falaise to Argentan are horrific. The smell of death was permeating everything. A pilot stated he could smell the rotting flesh in his cockpit. Shortly after the battle ended, Eisenhower flew in to inspect. "I could have walked on dead bodies from one end of that valley to the other and not step on ground."

    Today I drove along two roads that run parallel to the valley - one on the east and one on the west - roads that were used by the Americans and the British forces and looked down into the valley. I could see why the allies won the battle. What's the expression, "Like shooting fish in a barrel?"

    I drove through villages that had been obliterated in the fighting, now restored and going on as if nothing more significant than everyday life took place here. Here and there I spotted a memorial and at a wide spot in the road named Chambois I found the spot where the men of the 90th US Infantry Division met the men of the Polish 1st Armored Division.

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    Zippercat and NJ-Buckeye like this.

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