Military Review

Three truths of Chambois

Three truths of Chambois
The Falaise Cauldron is closed. Corporal Grabowski of the 1st Armored Division shakes hands with Private Wellington of the 90th Infantry Division. In Poland, this photograph has become a must-see for all publications dedicated to the Battle of Falaise.

At a time when the Western media call Poland the Trojan donkey of America in Europe, and the Polish are trying with all their might to create a picture of the traditional brotherhood of arms between the armed forces of Poland and the United States, each anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy witnesses a conflict between American and Polish veterans and military historians.

This conflict began on August 19, 1944 in the small French town of Chambois and still cannot end with an ending that suits everyone. Quite the opposite - he is alive, like a blood feud, passed on to more and more generations of Poles. This conflict is a warning against chauvinism, nationalism and "jingoistic" propaganda. This is a warning to all military men who are thinking of publishing their memoirs in order to carefully weigh words and check facts together with historians. Finally, there is a conflict that affects Germans, Americans, Canadians and French; which surrealistically touched equally veterans and historians of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, the Polish People's Republic and modern, calling itself democratic Poland.

When US President Bill Clinton organized a meeting with American WWII veterans in the White House on July 3, 1997, with their help to promote the idea of ​​NATO expansion to the East, he spoke long and warmly about the traditional brotherhood in arms between American and Polish soldiers. rooted in the battles in the fields of Normandy. The notorious American truth-lover, most likely, did not even think that a man was sitting next to him at that time, whose biography became a complete refutation of what was said. Laughlin Waters, retired lawyer and retired United States Army captain, former California deputy attorney general, and former federal judge, was not an ordinary person. He firmly and originally recorded not only in stories American justice, but also in American military history, and especially the final stage of the Battle of Normandy in the summer of 1944.

In August 1944, Captain Waters commanded a company in the US 90th Infantry Division. On the evening of August 19, on the ruins of the French town of Chambois, he shook hands with Major Vladislav Zgorzhelsky from the 1st Armored Division, General. Stanislava Machka. Thus, the Allies entering Chambois from both sides, after a bloody battle, closed the encirclement around the Falaise Cauldron and began to cut off the roads to retreat from Normandy to a 100-strong German group.

It would seem that the NATO lobby cannot find a better candidate for promoting the idea of ​​Polish membership in the North Atlantic Pact. That the Poles, especially those who fought for the kind of Poland that they have now received, should cherish and cherish Judge-Captain Waters. But no - Waters enjoys neither love nor respect either in Poland or among the Polish emigration of the West and America. Quite the opposite - for them he is the number one enemy of the Polish people! What is the reason? Waters has repeatedly expressed his respect and sympathy for the Poles. But on his war memories of the Poles, an unhealing and aching scar was superimposed. A scar that haunted him until his death in 2002, and about which he wrote and spoke openly both in the United States and in Chambois, which Waters visited annually on the anniversary of the August 1944 battles.

Chambois, with its road and rail junction, became for five nations a symbol of one of the bloodiest nightmares of World War II - the Battle of Falaise in August 1944. Chambois, which was jointly taken by American and Polish soldiers, ran between them as a black cat, although their joint stay was limited to three days. But these three days left eight controversial questions in the history and memories of the veterans, the answers to which from the Polish and foreign sides diverge in exactly the opposite way, leaving no room for contact. And the dispute about these issues comes down not so much to the loss of truth as to the loss of conscience.

The historical science of the Polish People's Republic had its own favorite myths related to military history. She loved to bask in the glory of Poland's defenders in 1939; she did not disdain the actions of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, although it was in the western theater of military operations that most of the underwater rocks were hidden, which were not indicated on the maps of the propaganda department of the Central Committee. Debunking myth of the heroic defense of Westerplatte shocked public opinion, but after half a century of brainwashing in the spirit of "national-patriotism", how long will it take to bring the truth to the consciousness of the Poles? WITH the myth of Monte Cassino The Poles parted relatively painlessly - apparently, they got used to substituting a back seat for other people's interests. Submarine Epic Ogel known and interesting only to specialists and amateurs. But now it was Chambois' turn ...

The Battle of Falaise and the capture of Chambois, oddly enough, were overgrown with historical, journalistic and legal myths not only in Poland, but also among the emigre community. There is a widespread opinion among Poles ascribing the closure of the "boiler" to the Polish 1st Armored Division. They either do not mention anything about the Canadian 4th Armored and American 90th Infantry Divisions fighting in the same place, or write about them as losers, dullards and cowards who, for some unknown reason, ended up under Falaise and only got under the feet of the Poles. Never in Poland - neither in that communist, nor in the present, democratic, one publication did not give a word to the Canadian or American participants in the battle, who fought shoulder to shoulder with the Poles in the "Falaise Cauldron". In the meantime, they have something to say about the events of that time, and things that are diametrically opposed to Polish propaganda dogmas - albeit indestructible in the era of the People's Republic of China, but amenable to research at the present time.

Each of the parties to the conflict has its own authorities. There are several of them on the American side, but Captain Laughlin Waters is perhaps the most famous. On the Polish side, this is Colonel Franchiszek Skibinsky. Skibinsky was deputy commander of the 10th armored brigade of the 1st armored division during the battle for Chambois. After the war, he returned to Poland and, with his literary and oratorical talents, won a leading place among the popularizers of military-historical knowledge in general and about the combat path of Polish units on the Western Front in particular. Memories and studies of the battles of Falaise and Chambois can be found on the pages of Skibinsky's five books. On this he was given a kind of monopoly.

The problem, however, is that Skibinsky was not in Chambois - he fought elsewhere. But this circumstance did not prevent him from becoming the unquestioning authority in Poland on the history of the battle. For this, he used the archival materials available to him and the stories of colleagues. Skibinsky also shone on television. Even now, he remains an authority for many history buffs, although they cannot remember the programs with his participation, and the books of his authorship have become difficult to access. In People's Poland, Skibinsky became a general and head of the Historical Bureau of the Ministry of Defense. From the standpoint of authority and monopoly, for many years he "spoke" to the Poles things that American veterans disgustedly brushed aside.

On the other side of the conflict is the American captain Laughlin Waters - unlike Skibinsky, an eyewitness to the events in Chambois, including war crimes. A hereditary lawyer who was prevented by the war from defending his dissertation, Waters commanded the 7th Company of the 2nd Battalion, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division of the United States Army in the battles for Chambois. Wounded twice during the liberation of France, discharged from the army on disability, returned to America and completed his dissertation in 1946, after which he made a rapid career. Waters was an unwavering enemy of drug dealers and a defender of corporate-hit citizens. Replacing military courage with civil courage, Waters became famous for winning lawsuits against Los Angeles and Long Beach airports that violated the rights of local residents. Waters was sentenced to death three times by the American mafia.

The list of sins against the Americans Franchisk Skibiński, as well as other Poles who write about the events in Chambois, is unique even in our unprincipled times. Encyclopedic notes about Skibinsky certainly begin with the words: “General of the Polish Army Division, historian". How could a professional military and military historian write about his allies from Chambois that they were cowards and traitors ?! Who, if not a military man, knows better that there is no worse accusation for a soldier than accusation of cowardice and betrayal, and this is how Skibinsky vilifies the Americans who fought in Chambois in the pages of his works. In 1947-1951. Skibinsky was the head of the department of armored forces of the Academy of the General Staff, and in 1957-1964. - Head of the Historical Bureau of the Ministry of Defense. He had the opportunity to get complete information about the 90th Infantry Division and its combat path. It is not true that there were no corresponding publications in the NDP - all significant foreign works on the history of World War II were published in Polish translation. And even if something was not published, then the military attachés at the Polish People's Republic embassies abroad would get the required publications at the request of such a high-ranking official of the Ministry of Defense. Even émigré circles covertly collaborated with researchers in the field of military history.

The American 90th Infantry Division was formed specifically for the landing in France. It was an elite unit, staffed by veterans of amphibious operations in the Pacific Ocean and North Africa. The 90th Division has a wealth of documentation and historiography, as well as an active community of veterans and friends. Any information about her can be checked through the military attaché of the US Embassy in Warsaw, the Polish Institute. Sikorsky in London, Poland's military attaché in Washington, or fellow veterans who settled overseas. Instead, Skibinsky wrote all his life about the 90th Infantry Division, as well as the Canadian 4th Armored Division, in a manner that does no credit to a Polish officer and historian. The shame of his writings is not that it originated in Poland, but that it filled the heads of history buffs and even some veterans of the 1st Armored Division with rubbish. Relying on the isolation of Poland from the outside world, Skibiński (although he was not alone) fabricated a mountain of pseudo-facts on the subject of Chambois that went beyond common sense, legality, general knowledge of history that is now verifiable, the patience of Poland's American allies, and in the end, and ordinary human decency.

And so it continues to this day - the Polish People's Republic is in the past, but still it finds followers who are ready to go beyond the communist propagandists in lies on the subject of Chambois. And just as before, no one writing in Poland about the events of that time speaks to American witnesses of those events.

The Americans, who were the first to enter Chambois, fought in it and liberated most of the city, never took the title of "liberators of Chambois". Only Polish literature calls the Poles as such, although the Poles appeared in it on the evening of August 19, 1944, that is, by the end of the last day of fighting for the city. The release of Chambois is also readily admitted by Canadians, who were not there at all. But the reason for the serious enmity between the Poles and the Americans was not this, but the fate of the German prisoners of war.

The ending should ...
Photos used:
From the author's archive.
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  1. Richard
    Richard 29 March 2021 18: 33
    The article is good, but its essence is not entirely clear without a preamble, which the respected author did not give
    The Battle of Chambois is a battle in the Normandy operation during World War II. During the battle from 18 to 20 August 1944, the German 7th Army and several other weakened German units withdrew to the city of Chambois, where they were blocked by the allied forces of Americans, Canadians and Poles.
    After the failure of Operation Luttih, the Germans were forced to retreat to the city of Chambois. On August 17, the 1st Canadian Army captured the city of Falaise, and the Germans were trapped within Chambois by Polish, American and Canadian forces. Walter Model, commander of Army Group B (the main German army in France), redeployed 7th and 5th Panzer armies to the Diva River and took up a new defensive position in an attempt to counterattack. However, the rapid advance of the Allies came as a surprise to him, and the Canadians defeated the Wehrmacht forces on the river and were able to surround Chambois. The Americans also repulsed a German counterattack and began to pinch the Germans in pincers. On August 19, the Germans were completely blockaded at Chambois, and the Allies began to storm the city. Most of the German soldiers were killed or captured in the first attack, but the rest of the Germans, under the command of Paul Hausser, commander of the 7th Army, were able to counterattack and open the encirclement front. The breakthrough was prevented by allied bombing, which finally demoralized the German soldiers. On the evening of August 20, the Americans launched a new attack. The 116th Panzer Division and the 7th German Army were surrounded, and their attempts to counterattack were suppressed. As a result, the 7th Army and its tank units were forced to surrender, the German group was eliminated. General Hausser remained at the head of his army until he was severely shot in the jaw during the battle. This put an end to the Falaise operation and the organized resistance of the Germans in Normandy.
    scheme Falese cauldron
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka 29 March 2021 19: 20
      Hello everyone, special thanks to Dmitry for the comment!
      There is a saying, the brevity of the mother-in-law - the fee, but so even in the story of the cat by the tail did not drag! wink
      1. Richard
        Richard 29 March 2021 19: 44
        Greetings, Vladislav hi
        I personally liked Mikhail's article. That is to say, a detailed analysis of the battle for Chambois, as the author writes "from three sides of the participants in the battle." Such materials are always welcome. The cycle is not over yet - let's wait to continue. I think it will be interesting
        1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
          Kote Pan Kokhanka 29 March 2021 20: 08
          Dear Mikhail, definitely well done! By the way, brevity is also not my reputation, but without your comment Dmitry, I honestly would not have completely “cut through the topic”.
    2. Constanty
      Constanty 29 March 2021 20: 18
      A little better card
    3. Catfish
      Catfish 29 March 2021 21: 18
      Hello Dima. hi

      Paul Hausser, on August 1, 1944, was promoted to Oberstgruppenführer and Colonel General of the Waffen SS. You mean him. It is strange that after the war he was not tried, although he had previously commanded such odious units as the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler", the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Reich" and the 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" ...
      By the way, the allies failed to "tie" the Falaise sack to the end, many German units escaped from it leaving heavy weapons.
    4. vladcub
      vladcub 30 March 2021 10: 23
      Dmitry, thanks for the descriptive and specific comment.
      The author just lacked clarity
    5. Former naval person
      30 March 2021 14: 25
      I apologize for this awkward introduction. the fact is that it was written to study all eight points of the Polish-American conflict, but seven of them may be of interest only to Poles and Americans. well, and the Canadians, but hardly the Soviet people. and the question of war crimes is universal. therefore, for a military review, I pulled out the introduction and part of the prisoners. it is also long, with an analysis of figures and quotes, and without an introduction, much will be incomprehensible. please be patient.
  2. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 29 March 2021 19: 03
    The article has "many letters" but not a single card. If not for the commentator Richard, then it would not be clear at all what this is all about.
    1. Paragraph Epitafievich Y.
      Paragraph Epitafievich Y. 29 March 2021 21: 15
      Quote: Aviator_
      The article has "many letters" but not a single card.

      You see, Sergei, this is not a story about the Falaise cauldron, this is not about a war at all. The author took out someone's underpants and selflessly examines the spots on them, inviting VO readers to share this fetishistic fun with him. For this, the author didn’t give up maps and descriptions of some kind of fights between someone and someone. A fan and a shovel of incense, correctly oriented towards Poland - well, what a hell of a deal? It is clear that the theme "Poles are bad" resonates - it is not clear why the hell are there so many letters to say this? I am far from being polonophile, but the restrained indignation of the representative of Poland (Konstantin) present here is quite understandable - this is a rather cheap obese filth. And the saddest thing is that the author threatened to continue. What for?
      1. Former naval person
        30 March 2021 14: 29
        here is the point every now and then, pan paragraph - you started a war on the Internet to smear Russia with a known substance, but did not think about the consequences. meanwhile, Newton's third law applies not only to physics. with which I congratulate.
    2. Former naval person
      30 March 2021 14: 26
      why do you need a card when analyzing war crimes? Moreover, it is still not known where the executed prisoners are buried?
      1. Constanty
        Constanty 30 March 2021 15: 18
        This article is one big manipulation. First, you create the myth that Falaise is a symbol of the Polish-American brotherhood in arms, which is not true - no one in Poland perceives him that way, and then you want to heroically refute this myth.

        And the repetition of the word "crime" as a mantra to bring people to their heads. Embarrassing game
        1. Former naval person
          30 March 2021 18: 25
          If you really read the article, you would see that the author of the myth of falaise as a symbol of Polish-American friendship is not me, but Bill Clinton. but nothing - I'm used to the peculiarities of the national reading of texts in Poland: here we read, here we do not read, here we wrap the fish: -DDD
          1. Constanty
            Constanty 30 March 2021 19: 22
            The fact that the American president said something like that for cyclical purposes does not mean that anyone in Poland sees it as a symbol of the Polish-American brotherhood in arms. And I emphasize this.

            And by basing the whole structure on the words of one person, without any evidence or documents, what does this prove? About the peculiarities of the national writing of the text in Russia?
            1. Former naval person
              30 March 2021 20: 14
              did you ask something about the continuation of the article? yes - she is already on moderation.
  3. Constanty
    Constanty 29 March 2021 20: 10
    It has been a long time since I read any anti-Polish nonsense other than this one.
    I am not commenting on Westerplatte and other places, but Falaise is not a myth.

    There is a saying about a frog looking at the world from a well.
    Likewise with the opinion of the aforementioned Captain Waters. I can even understand that. Americans could never admit their failure

    Wilmot wrote that "contrary to reports at the time, the Americans did not capture Argentan until August 20, the day after the Allied forces united at Chambois." The US 90th Infantry Division bridging the gap between Argentan and Chambois was, according to Hastings, one of the least effective Allied units in Normandy.

    Skibinsky, however, was the division's chief of staff and had broader views.
    Marshal Montgomery said
    "The Germans were like in a bottle, and the Polish division was a cork with which we locked them in it."
    This is evidenced by numbers and photos.

    The Polish division lost 446 killed and 100 tanks. She destroyed about 570 German tanks and armored vehicles, more than 100 guns, took 5,5 thousand people prisoner. The Poles took prisoners, min. General Otto Elfeldt's LXXXIV Corps Commander

    And the title of the article is very apt. As one of the wise people said, there are three truths: the holy truth is also true, and the shit is true. This article is the third truth
    1. Victor Tsenin
      Victor Tsenin 29 March 2021 21: 55
      But the article is not finished yet and does not contain the epithet crap, everything is polite and objective. Maybe it's wiser to listen to the author's opinion first?
      1. Constanty
        Constanty 29 March 2021 22: 03
        I appreciate this article - this part of it - and this one is just of this level - it is not objective, but based on the subjective opinion of an ordinary soldier. And this proposal is simply not based on facts and figures - they are known and I have quoted them - yes, I know that if facts do not agree with the way you want them to be, so much the worse for facts - but facts are facts.

        The battle of Falaise, Chambois, Mont Ormel is well described. There are also numerous mistakes of the Poles, excessive losses and mistakes in the team. Nobody hides it. And the dispute about which the author writes simply does not exist - no one even mentions it - this is just nonsense.
        1. Victor Tsenin
          Victor Tsenin 29 March 2021 22: 08
          > so much the worse for the facts-but facts are facts.
          So much the worse for those who do not want to see, but we will be objective, first we will wait for the author's thoughts to be fully expressed, after the discussion it makes sense)
        2. Undecim
          Undecim 29 March 2021 22: 19
          Konstantin, you could easily refute the author of the article by citing excerpts from F. Skibiński's book, "Falaise". Unfortunately, I didn’t find it on the net, can it be available to you?
          1. Constanty
            Constanty 29 March 2021 22: 41
            Working at the university library, I have access to this

            (The book itself is available

            and many other books - "Pierwsza Pancerna" by Skibiński, "Od podwody do czołgu" by Maczek .. I am also a historian by profession and I know well the history of the 1st Armored Division.
            But I'm afraid the truth doesn't matter. I can say that 2 + 2 = 4, but as a Pole's way out, there are several people who will give him a minus.

            Never before have I come across an attempt to make Falaise an example of Polish-American brotherhood. Poles fought in the Canadian army, and Polish historiography speaks more about Polish-British cooperation.

            As for the battle itself, you can read about the battles of the Koszutskiego detachment, about the battles in a garden full of German prisoners of war, ... even on Russian websites
            What will it change? For the author, the most important thing is the opinion of an American captain from a military detachment who has de facto compromised himself. Most importantly, he attacks the Poles.
            1. Undecim
              Undecim 29 March 2021 22: 58
              So after all, sketching is the most popular genre of journalism in general and on the site in particular.
              1. Constanty
                Constanty 29 March 2021 23: 06
                It is sad. That here politics wins with facts only to divide two peoples and find an enemy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. There are many examples that, despite the disagreements, the tragic history between our peoples, in the Second World War, the Poles fought to help the USSR - and I am talking not only about the Beurling army, but also about ORP Garland and PQ-16. Nobody talks about it, and like someone said, there is a better chance of throwing shit at a fan to poison our relationship.
                1. Basior
                  Basior 29 March 2021 23: 15
                  I agree with you buddy. We will respect each other, despite the fact that many things divide us. Today we are very torn apart, tomorrow we may have a lot in common.
                2. Catfish
                  Catfish 30 March 2021 14: 42
                  Good afternoon, namesake. smile
                  I fully agree with you, there is nothing to add here.
                  If only about "Garland".

                  On May 27, 1942, escort ships PQ-16 repelled a German air raid on the convoy, the Junkers Ju 88 bomber dropped a bomb 10 yards (9,1 m) from the starboard side of the ship, destroying the crews of guns "A" and "B", as well as starboard side "Oerlikon" and 50 caliber. machine guns (22 killed and 37 wounded). On the ship, the fire control commander and range finder were destroyed, and he was ordered to independently proceed to Murmansk for temporary repairs. It took more than a month to complete them, and on 4 July Garland sailed to Troon as part of the escort of convoy QP 13 for permanent repairs, which were not completed until 21 September.
                  In the Mediterranean, the destroyer, as part of a group of ships, took part in the sinking of the U - 407 submarine off the island of Santorini.
              2. vladcub
                vladcub 30 March 2021 10: 50
                The easiest way to get cheap pluses from a hamster tribe
            2. Former naval person
              30 March 2021 14: 40
              if you really read the book macka, you would know that it is actually called "od podwody do czołgA" and you would know exactly where this name comes from.
              1. Constanty
                Constanty 30 March 2021 14: 58
                A simple typo, and it's ridiculous to build different theories on it.
    2. Former naval person
      30 March 2021 14: 34
      in the professional knowledge of sorts of crap, I, of course, cannot compete with the constant pan. but on the history of war crimes, I still have something to say. I deliberately paused at this point in order to give the panamas from Mexico Platz time to prepare for the exam, but ... apparently, the peculiarities of national tactics worked again, which I will write about in the second part.
      1. Constanty
        Constanty 30 March 2021 15: 33
        Several Polish historians have touched on this topic - for example, Grzegorz Czwartosz does not write that the Poles killed between 800 and 1200 German prisoners of war. He only asserts that "the Poles cannot explain such a number of prisoners taken at Chambois and brought to the 358th Regiment of the 90th American Infantry Division." This is evidenced by the readings of the caps. Waters, about which allegedly reported by a Polish officer, unknown in rank and name, is not a credible source to make such a thesis. To make it more fun, it follows that Capt. Waters waited to announce this sensational event to the world until 1980, when he told the American writer from the 90s, John Colby, and it was also strange that as a lawyer (he seemed to be an assistant attorney general of California). ) he kept silent for so many years that it was as if there was no genocide.
        I don't want to go into such nuances as the problem of hiding so many dead bodies. Where are the bodies? Didn't find anyone?... In connection with the statement of this Polish officer that there were 200 prisoners left due to the lack of ammunition for their execution, I draw your attention to the following. : did the front line allow you to completely use up the ammunition? especially since on the evening of August 20, the Polish 10th PUK was forced to move to the area of ​​the American 385th battalion, because it simply did not have ammunition and could not continue the battle without reinforcements? It is also unclear if the prisoners who were to be handed over to the Americans, for example, were partially transported to the 1st Division assembly point and then, after being checked, to the corps-level transition camp, bypassing Captain Waters.
        In general, a real sensation from rumors that do not have a solid foundation. Yes, this happened with the participation of the Poles, our pilots also fired at downed German pilots, our infantry also destroyed a prisoner in some places in September, and there are reports and documents about this, but these are isolated cases.
  4. Normal ok
    Normal ok 29 March 2021 21: 43
    Many words, and not a single fact. Maybe in "to be continued", something will happen?
    1. Former naval person
      30 March 2021 14: 36
      yes, that's exactly what it was intended to do - all the numbers and quotes in the second part.
  5. Basior
    Basior 29 March 2021 22: 53
    Po polski:
    The Polish tank division was commanded by General Stanislaw Maczek, who never suffered defeat from the Germans (neither in 1939, nor in 1944-1945). In the end, after the war, the British deprived him of his military pension, he could not return to Poland, because the communists would have killed him in prison, like many officers and privates who fought in the west who returned to the country after 1945. controlled by rulers from "Palestine". After the war, he worked in England as a bartender to earn a living. The dog licked the face of the British.
    1. Constanty
      Constanty 30 March 2021 00: 16
      In 1939, Maczek was defeated several times in battles, but he managed to escape thanks to the mobility of the unit. After the war, he worked not only as a bartender, but also as a painter. He just needed to support his family for something. Even if he wanted, he could not return to communist Poland - on September 26, 1946, he was deprived of his Polish citizenship.
  6. kig
    kig 30 March 2021 03: 48
    So I understood what the essence of the Polish-American conflict was. It is clear that their memories of this event are completely different, but where is the specifics? We look forward to continuing.