The Battle for Carpiquet
July 5th, 1944. At five o'clock, the Canadians will attack the German-occupied industrial suburb of Carpiquet.
 

The Battle

Battle for Carpiquet Airfield
Painted in 1946 by Orville Fisher (1911–1999)
The 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade at Carpiquet airfield on July 4, 1944. Orville Fisher, an official war artist serving in the Canadian Army, used the image of a destroyed, but still standing, aircraft hangar to symbolize this determined, but ultimately unsuccessful, effort.
Only 150 teenagers from the Hitler Youth occupied Carpiquet, and the Canadians outnumbered the Germans by a ratio of 18 to one. But, to their advantage the Germans were positioned on higher ground and could move through a series of interconnected underground blockhouses. They also had a highly sophisticated radio intelligence squad which foresaw the movements of the Canadian forces.

On 4 July, General Dempsey launches operation Windsor. The first target is the Carpiquet airfield; it was one of the initial objectives set for the D-Day, like Caen, and that has been resisting since nearly a month. The Canadians of the 3rd Infantry division 8th Brigade, reinforced by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, conquer the town of Carpiquet on 5 July. But it takes three more days of fierce fightings to take the airfield to the Hitlerjugend panzergrenadiers, who defend their trenches, for much, to the bitter end. The Canadians have to push back several counter-attacks of the Leibstandarte division units supported by tanks; but on 8 July, the Allied forces are at the gate of Caen.

The price of this partial victory had once more been high. The Winnipegs had 40 fatalities out of a total of 132 casualties; the North Shores reported 46 killed and 86 wounded. Carpiquet is still remembered as the graveyard of the North Shores because these were the heaviest losses it suffered during the entire campaign. "I am sure that at some time during the attack every man felt he could not go on", one of the North Shores recalled. "Men were being killed or wounded on all sides and the advance seemed pointless as well as hopeless. I never realized ... how far discipline, pride of unit, and above all, pride in oneself and family, can carry a man even when each step forward meant possible death." It had been another hard lesson for Canadian soldiers who were quickly becoming accustomed to such horrors.

 Audio & Video Files

 The Battle for Carpiquet, July 5th, 1944
It's two minutes to five in Normandy. Sitting with a company of Western Canadian machine gunners in a stone barn, the CBC's Matthew Halton begins his countdown. At five o'clock, the Canadians will attack the German-occupied industrial suburb of Carpiquet.
 
 Photo Gallery
Briefing of Canadian troops outside a hangar on the airfield at Carpiquet. 12 July 1944,  Carpiquet, France.
Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa machine gunners firing through a hedge during the attack on Carpiquet, July 4th, 1944.
Private Leopold Marcoux with a prisoner of war. 4 July 1944, Carpiquet, France.
Sappers of the 16th Field Company, R.C.E., removing a damaged rail from the Paris-Cherbourg railway line. 8 July 1944, Carpiquet, France (vicinity).
Sapper A. Lajambe manning a Bren gun position on the airfield at Carpiquet. 12 July 1944, Carpiquet, France.
Carpiquet, France; July 4,1944---- Canadian Private Leopold Marcoux with German prisoner of war taken during battle for Carpiquet In Airport.
Canadian soldiers with a member of the Luftwaffe taken prisoner. July 7, 1944.
Officers of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada discussing tactics. July 8, 1944, Carpiquet, France.
Canadian soldiers manning a former German strongpoint on the airfield at Carpiquet. 12 July 1944.
Canadian soldiers manning a former German strongpoint on the airfield at Carpiquet. 12 July 1944.
Soldiers of the Highland Light Infantry of Canada having breakfast. July 9, 1944, Caen and Carpiquet Front, France.
Personnel of the Royal Canadian Engineers extinguishing fire caused by German shelling. July 12, 1944.
 

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