The battle of the Falaise Pocket
, fought during the Second World War
from 12–21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy
. Taking its name from the pocket
around the town of Falaise
within which Army Group B
, consisting of the German Seventh
and Fifth Panzer
Armies became encircled by the advancing Western Allies
, the battle is also referred to as the Falaise Gap
after the corridor which the Germans sought to maintain to allow their escape. The battle resulted in the destruction of the bulk of Germany's forces west of the River Seine
and opened the way to Paris and the German border.
By the evening of 21 August, the pocket was closed for the last time, with around 50,000 Germans trapped inside. Although it is estimated that significant numbers managed to escape, German losses in both men and materiel were huge, and the Allies had achieved a decisive victory. Two days later Paris was liberated, and by 30 August the last German remnants had retreated across the Seine, effectively ending Operation Overlord.
(25 March 1778 – 6 July 1819) was a French aeronaut
and the wife of ballooning
pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard
. Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Blanchard entertained Napoleon Bonaparte
, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing André-Jacques Garnerin
. On the restoration
of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII
, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration".
Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a few occasions, endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon crashed in a marsh. In 1819, she became the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death. She is commonly referred to as Madame Blanchard and is also known by many combinations of her maiden and married names.