Hill 262 in Normandy (elevation 262 m), also known as The Mace (in Polish Maczuga - because the ridge on this hill resembled a caveman's mace with two bulbous heads) and Mount Ormel, was a vital command post during World War II. It has an excellent view on the area around Chambois and Vimoutiers.
It was held by the Germans throughout the war until it was captured by the Polish 1st Armoured Division. The battle for Hill 262 is an action normally ignored in the West, but vital to the Allied breakout.
The Mace is a level on the popular video game Call of Duty 3
For two days, the Polish Armoured Division defended the area against continuous assaults launched by overwhelming enemy forces (mostly remnants of the German 7th Army), taking thousands of prisoners. The Poles finally captured it on the evening of August 19 1944 as the Canadian II Corps reached and reinforced their positions.
Capturing Hill 262 meant the Polish Armoured Division dominated the "Corridor of Death", and ultimately secured the flank from German forces attempting to push into the gap.
"The Poles had closed the Falaise Pocket. The Poles had opened the gate to Paris."1
The battle for Hill 262 had cost the Polish 1st Armored Division severely: 1,290 troops killed, 3,820 wounded, and 22 missing in action. It is estimated that from 20,000 to 40,000 Germans managed to escape across the only remaining crossing at Saint-Lambert before the Falaise pocket closed completely on August 21. However, 10,000 had been killed and 50,000 taken prisoner, and nearly all the German tanks and artillery pieces had been left behind or destroyed.
Approximately 650 Polish fighters are buried at the nearby Polish Military Cemetery in Grainville-Langannerie.
On the 20th anniversary of Falaise, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower commented, "No other battlefield presented such a horrible sight of death, hell, and total destruction."
- Guttman, Jon. "World War II: Closing the Falaise Pocket" (originally in the September 2001 issue of World War II magazine, retrieved on: September 1 2007.
- "August 19th, 1944: the closing of the pocket" Memorial of Coudehard - Montormel, retrieved on: September 1 2007.
- A Polish Battle, Normandy 1944 (Translated from the French) by Jim Dillon, BBC, retrieved on: September 1 2007.
- McGilvray, E. (2005). The Black Devil's March - A Doomed Odyssey: The 1st Polish Armoured Division 1939-1945. Helion & Company Ltd. ISBN 1-87462-242-6.
- Dallas, Gregor (2005). 1945: The War That Never Ended. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-30010-980-6. Pages 157 - 160.
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