Operation Tractable was the final offensive conducted by Canadian and Polish troops, supported by one brigade of British tanks, as part of the Battle of Normandy during World War II. The goal of this operation was to capture the strategically important French town of Falaise and then the towns of Trun. During two days of continuous fighting, Polish forces using artillery barrages and close-quarter fighting, managed to hold off counter-attacks by seven German divisions. On 21 August, elements of the First Canadian Army relieved the Polish survivors and this led to the surrender and capture of the remaining units of the German 7th Army in the pocket. By the afternoon of 7 August, Operation Lüttich had been defeated by concerted, large-scale fighter-bomber air strikes against the German Panzers, in the process, forces of the German 7th Army became further enveloped by the Allied advance out of Normandy. This offensive was designed to break through the defences in the Anglo-Canadian sector of the Normandy front, Operation Totalize would rely on an unusual night attack using heavy bombers and the new Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers to achieve a breakthrough of German defences. By 10 August, Canadian troops had reached Hill 195, north of Falaise and they were unable to advance farther immediately and they had been unable to capture Falaise. Operation Tractable incorporated lessons learned from Operation Totalize, notably the effectiveness of mechanized infantry units, unlike the previous operation, Tractable was launched in daylight. Their advance would be protected by a large smokescreen laid down by Canadian artillery, field Marshal Bernard Montgomery hoped that Canadian forces would achieve control of Falaise by midnight on August 14. From there, all three formations would advance towards Trun,18 kilometres east of Falaise, with the assistance of the Polish 1st Armoured Division. Once in Trun, a linkup with the American 3rd Army at Chambois could be quickly accomplished, the main opposition to Simondss force was the 12th SS Panzer Division, which included the remnants of two infantry divisions. German forces within the Falaise Pocket approached 350,000 men, had surprise been achieved, the Canadians would likely have succeeded in a rapid break-through. However, on the night of 13/14 August, a Canadian officer lost his way while moving between divisional headquarters and he drove into German lines and was promptly killed. The Germans discovered a copy of Simonds orders on his body, Operation Tractable began at 12,00 on 14 August, when 800 Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers of RAF Bomber Command struck German positions along the front. As with Totalize, many of the bombers dropped their bombs short of their targets, causing 400 Polish. Covered by a smoke screen laid down by their artillery, two Canadian divisions moved forwards, throughout the day, continual attacks by the Canadian 4th and Polish 1st Armoured Divisions managed to force a crossing of the Laison River. Limited access to the points over the Dives River allowed counterattacks by the German 102nd SS Heavy Panzer Battalion. The town of Potigny fell to Polish forces in the late afternoon, by the end of the first day, elements of the Canadian 3rd and 4th Divisions had reached Point 159, directly north of Falaise, although they had been unable to break into the town
Canadian forces moving toward Falaise on 14 August 1944
Canadian troops with armour support advance cautiously through the streets of Falaise, encountering only light scattered resistance.
Polish Infantry moving towards cover on Mont Ormel, 20 August 1944