D day the battle for nor.., p.72
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       D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, p.72

           Antony Beevor

  Montgomery’s personal liaison officer with the First US Army observed later that ‘the drawing off of German panzers and the launch of Cobra put an end to the attempts, mainly by Tedder, to get Churchill and Ike to replace Monty’.


  The identity of this officer is not certain. It might have been Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiss, the commander of the 352nd Infanterie-Division, although his death is recorded several days later on 2 August.


  Hitler, who had approved his appointment, was unaware that Gersdorff had been ready to kill him with a suicide bomb on 21 March 1943 in Berlin.


  Ramcke systematically destroyed the city later by fire and with explosives. ‘It was entirely wiped out!’ he boasted to General von Choltitz later in British captivity. He claimed that he was following the example of Admiral Nelson burning Toulon in 1793.


  The sole hint that the Germans might be planning something came on 2 August through Ultra. The signal said only that 2nd Panzer-Division had carried out ‘withdrawal movements’ on the fiercely contested sector south of Vire and the 1st SS Panzer-Division’s position was unchanged.


  Observers from the 12th SS Panzer-Division Hitler Jugend and the medical officer of the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion were convinced that five Tigers had been knocked out. The other two may well have been knocked out by the 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps.


  The Luftwaffe III Flak Corps was commanded by Generalleutnant Wolfgang Pickert, who in November 1942 had pulled his 9th Flak Division at Stalingrad out during the Soviet encirclement of Paulus’s Sixth Army.


  The unfortunate commander of the 708th Infanterie-Division, Generalmajor Edgar Arndt, was later taken prisoner by an FFI detachment commanded by Colonel ‘Montcalm’. He was executed with two other officers on 25 August, the day of the Liberation of Paris, in reprisal for a massacre in Buchères carried out by the 51st SS Panzergrenadier-Brigade. They had shot sixty-six civilians, mostly women and children, and burned down forty-five houses.


  Within a few days, the 2ème DB set up a recruiting centre in a barn near Sées to process those volunteers who lacked military training. Two weeks later, most of them were sent on by truck to Saint-Germain-en-Laye and billeted in the barracks formerly used by the guard for Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt’s headquarters.


  Fewer than 2,000 German soldiers died at the hands of the Resistance before the retreat of August 1944. Figures during the retreat have proved impossible to establish. Yet up to the Liberation, the Germans and the Vichy Milice killed some 20,000 people. Another 61,000 were deported to concentration camps in Germany, of whom only 40 per cent returned alive. In addition, 76,000 French and foreign Jews were deported east to concentration camps. Very few returned.


  That autumn, both Pierre Laval and Marshal Pétain, the latter under protest, would be taken back to Germany to the castle of Sigmaringen. In 1945, both would be tried in France, Laval receiving a death sentence and Pétain life imprisonment.


  When Arletty, the great actress and star of Les enfants du Paradis, died in 1992, she received admiring obituaries. These tended to pass over her controversial love affair conducted largely in the Hôtel Ritz with a Luftwaffe officer (who subsequently became a West German diplomat and was eaten by a crocodile when swimming in the River Congo). But then letters to some newspapers revealed a lingering bitterness nearly fifty years later. It was not the fact of her sleeping with the enemy that had angered them, but the way she had eaten well in the Ritz while the rest of France was hungry.


  The Canadians at the end of Operation Tractable had suffered 18,444 casualties, including 5,021 killed.


  Kenner in his account confused the 7th Armored Division with the 5th Armored Division, probably because the 5th Infantry Division was also joining the battle.


  The RAF claimed that during the period of the encirclement they had destroyed 257 armoured vehicles and 3,340 soft-skinned vehicles, while the Americans estimated that they had accounted for 134 armoured vehicles and 2,520 soft-skinned. But the Operational Research Section could find only 133 armoured vehicles knocked out in the whole area. Of these only thirty-three had been hit by air attack. Almost all the rest had been abandoned and destroyed by their own crews. But of the 701 soft-skinned vehicles, the team found that half had been destroyed by air attack, most by cannon and machine-gun fire.


  Werner’s account states that the tanks were Shermans from the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, but the testimony of an officer from the 12th SS Panzer-Division Hitler Jugend holds that the Allied tanks were Polish, near the northern Hill 262, and the remainder withdrew rapidly.


  In their Normandy battles, the Poles had lost 135 officers and 2,192 men.


  The British and Americans between them took some 50,000 prisoners and estimated the enemy dead at 10,000.


  It appears that Juin was particularly disliked by senior officers at SHAEF. Juin, like Leclerc, appears to have been very critical of the Americans’indiscriminate use of artillery. According to Air Chief Marshal Sir James Robb, Eisenhower’s chief of air staff, ‘Bedell, Ike and all hands curse the French and say they can’t depend on them. Bedell says that he has taken all he cares to from Juin, who thinks that the Americans don’t know how to run a war.He says that if an American officer said to him what Juin had, he would have hit him in the face.’ Forrest Pogue, who interviewed Juin later, thought him‘so like an American Chamber of Commerce secretary’ that he could not understand why US Army generals distrusted him so much.


  Choltitz also railed in horror at Churchill’s speech in the House of Commons on 28 September. ‘Have you read Churchill’s speech?’ he exclaimed to General von Schlieben the next day. ‘Appalling, beyond all words! A Jewish brigade to go to Germany!’


  The French Communists seemed to overlook the fact that it was General Franco’s foreign legionnaires who, in October 1936, had first invented what later became known as the Molotov cocktail, when they were attacked by Soviet T-26 tanks south of Madrid.


  That day some forty Germans were killed and seventy wounded, while 125 Parisians died and nearly 500 were wounded.


  Even before Eisenhower came to his decision, the supply side of SHAEF began to prepare for the relief of Paris. On 21 August, when the first news of the uprising in Paris arrived, a cable from Com Z (Communications Zone) Forward alerted General Rogers back in England to the likely need of feeding Paris. Rogers flew to France to start planning. The first convoy was on its way to Paris on 25 August, the day of its liberation.


  For reasons which are still unclear, Montgomery ignored Eisenhower’s invitation to send a token British force and later refused to join Eisenhower and Bradley on their visit to Paris.


  Dronne himself was mounted in his Jeep named ‘Mort aux Cons!’ - ‘Death to Idiots!’ When he first noticed this, Leclerc asked Dronne, ‘Why do you want to kill everyone?’


  The liberation of Paris cost the Germans 3,200 dead and 14,800 prisoners. The FFI probably accounted for at least 1,000 of the German casualties. The 2ème DB lost seventy-one men killed, 225 wounded and twenty-one missing in the advance on Paris and its capture. Altogether, 2,873 Parisians were killed in the month of August.


  Patton in fact died as a result of a traffic accident in Germany in December 1945.



  Antony Beevor, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy



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