Mémorial de Montormel - Montormel - France

Address: Montormel (on top of the hill) (See map)
Telephone: +33 (0)2-33673861
Website: not available

Shop: small shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: not available
Size of the museum/site: small
Year of visit: 2002
Overall rating:

Description: The Memorial (consisting of an actual memorial and a museum) recalls the horrific battle of the Falaise pocket, which lead to Hitler's first order to withdraw of the war in the west, and brought the Allied Normandy campaign to an end. During the battle tens-of-thousands of soldiers, refugees (who thought to have found a safe hiding place amidst the hills of Normandy's inland) and horses (the German army still relied heavily on horses) found their death. The scale of destruction was so massive that for months on end, after the battle, everything in the region was completely covered with flies attracted by the countless corpses.

Focusing attention back to the battle itself, we find the German 2nd SS "Das Reich" division, the 5th and the 7th panzer army almost completely surrounded by British, Canadian and American troops. The only way out for the Germans is the gap between Argentan and Falaise, the so-called "corridor of death". There however, the 1st Polish Armoured Division moved in, and saw wave after wave of Germans coming towards them. With tremendous determination and a very high casualty-rate, they succeeded in standing their ground and sealing off the Falaise pocket, resulting in the complete annihilation of two entire German armies and the virtual wipe-out of the 2nd SS division.

Right, enough history! What about the museum?! Well, the museum consists of three main 'items': First, the visitor gets to hear a detailed description of the events of the battle with the help of an "audioguide" (a sort of headphone), which features a Frenchman doing his best to speak English, combined with a large map of the area with lights marking the movements of the Allied and German Army divisions. After that you can enjoy a fine view over the battlefield while listening to an account of the battle by an enthusiastic museum guide. Finally you'll be shown an interesting film dealing with the events that took place during August 1944.

It's a pity the museum hasn't got much more to offer than these three presentations (some dioramas would form a welcome relief from the tons of information provided by the presentations, and one would expect a few more 'battle souvenirs' from such an important WWII episode than those currently on display in the museum).

Well worth a visit when you want to know more about the furious fighting that went on during the Falaise pocket battle.

Wheeled armoured vehicle used by the "Free French" (the French troops under command of general De Gaulle) during the liberation of their homeland.

The actual 'memorial-part' of the Montormel Memorial, offering a splendid view over the Falaise pocket battlegrounds.

Sherman tank used by the 1st Polish Armoured Division during their vicious ordeal.

Map of the Falaise area, used to show the troop movements that took place during the battle.