Arthur Bridge


These are the memoirs of a Canadian infantryman who was involved in, and survived, the battle of the Falaise Gap, the final phase of the Normandy Campaign, in August 1944. He was a rifleman of 14 Platoon, “C” Company, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. In the author’s own words this account, “is not intended to represent me as being heroic. Far from it. I was terrified most of the time in battle, and eventually ended up a couple of months after St. Lambert as a battle exhaustion casualty. There’s nothing heroic about that. It just happened that I was in St. Lambert at that time, not realizing the importance of the situation until reading about it much later. We low rankers seldom knew what was going on, where we were, where we were going, or what to expect when we got there. It has only been since the war, and with the help of history books, that I have been able to retrace my steps through the campaign and to put names to the places that had no particular meaning at the time -just another place to run in, dig in and prepare for the counterattack.”

The Argylls were part of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, which went to Normandy in July 1944 and relieved the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division just south of Caen. In the battles of early August the Argylls slowly pushed south through the wheat fields, and a determined enemy, suffering heavy casualties in the process. It was obvious that the Normandy campaign was nearing completion, with the American Army running wild further south and west. But the Germans were not giving up easily. As the situation developed, the Americans were advancing northward, and the Canadians were heading south trying to link up and trap the enemy in a massive pocket. The enemy was trying to escape through the few miles that separated the Americans and Canadians, the so-called Falaise Gap. In the centre of the Gap was the small village of St. Lambert-sur-Dives, squarely astride the Germans’ main escape route. It was within this context that the events recalled below took place.