Battle of Caen

The Battle of Caen was part of the Battle of Normandy, which took place during the Second World War. It was fought from June 6 to August 6, 1944, between the Allied forces and the German Army, in and around the French town of Caen, Normandy. Caen was one of the main Allies objective during Operation Overlord, as it lay on the Orne River and the Caen canal, which were natural obstacles for the Allies advance. It was also located on an important road intersection, enabling the Germans to get resupplied with relative ease. The British 3rd Infantry Division, under the command of Major General Thomas Rennie, was assigned the mission to capture this French town.

The Battle of Caen began on the evening of June 6, 1944, when the German 21st Panzer Division, reinforced by the 12th SS Hitlerjugend, launched a fierce counterattack which stopped the British 3rd Infantry Division in their tracks, 4 miles from Caen. Then the Allies realized that an early and easy capture of the French town was not possible as the British and Canadians were trapped in the cornfields around the city. Thus, in the several Allies attempts to take the town, Caen remained the focal point of a series of battles from June to August.

The second attempt to capture Caen was Operation Perch, which was assigned to the British XXX Corps. It also failed due to the German stiff resistance. Then the British launched Operation Epsom, which also ground to a halt. The Battle of Caen got bogged down as the fighting turned into a static war in which troops on both sides holed up in trenches, a somber reminiscence of the Great War, and the town was bombed several times by the Allies, killing French civilians and creating a heap of rubble in which the Germans entrenched and tenaciously fought. Finally, on July 18, the commander of the British 2nd Army, General Miles Dempsey, launched Operation Goodwood. By July 20 the German outer defences had been breached as the British armored divisions had advanced 6 miles. By August 6, after having suffered heavy casualties, Caen was in British hands. The Allied lost 4,800 soldiers, the Germans 2,000.

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