Falaise Gap

As a military vehicle owner I often came to France to visit various sites & museums.

In 1984 a small group came over & visited the Falaise gap, where the Poles fought & held off the Germans. Not far from Falaise our group stopped near a small wood with a farm opposite. The farmer came out to talk to us & told us of a small battle which occurred at the farm. A Tiger tank without fuel was parked in his farmyard while a company of German soldiers rested in the woods next door. Suddenly, from a track within the woods, a Bren gun carrier, acting as a recce patrol, appeared & engaged the resting troops. These were to the right of the track & took the crew’s attention.

Suddenly the Tiger fired its main gun at the carrier, missed, & the shell exploded amongst the soldiers who were now beating a hasty retreat across the road. Now aware of the tank the carrier turned into the wood but could not get very far. The gunner then jumped out with the gun & ran the last 30 yards to the road firing an occasional burst on the move. No mean feat! The Tiger, meanwhile, had reloaded & shot at the now stationary carrier, blowing it to pieces!

I have no idea which units were involved or whether the carrier crew survived, but a wander round the area revealed an interesting picture.

In the woods we came across 2 live panzerfaust rockets leaning against a tree, a brake wheel cylinder partly embedded in a tree close to where the carrier was hit, a tube of shaving cream, razor & other bits of personal kit beside the track which the gunner had ran along, 3 rusty bren gun magazines in the ditch on the corner of the track & road, & lots of live rounds in a pile just inside the tree line opposite the woods.

I hope that the Bren carrier crew were rescued by the main unit arriving in time, but the farmer had gone for cover at the start so could not tell us the outcome.

That gunner was a very brave man.