The Battle for Caen from June–August 1944 was a battle of the Second World War between Allied forces of the mainly Anglo-Canadian Second Army and German forces of Panzergruppe West during the Battle of Normandy. The Allies aimed to take Caen, one of the largest cities in Normandy on D-Day. Caen was an important Allied objective because it lay astride the Orne River and Caen Canal; these two water obstacles could strengthen a German defensive position if not crossed. Caen was a road hub and the side which held it could shift forces rapidly. The area around Caen was open, compared to the bocage country in the west of Normandy and was valuable land for airfields.

On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Caen was an objective for the 3rd British Infantry Division and remained the focal point for a series of battles throughout June, July and into August. The battle did not go as planned for the Allies, instead dragging on for two months, because German forces devoted most of their reserves to holding Caen, particularly their armoured divisions. As a result German forces facing the American invasion thrust further west were spread thin, relying on the rough terrain of the back country to slow down the American advance up to Operation Cobra. With so many German divisions held up defending Caen, the American forces were eventually able to break through to the south and east, threatening to encircle the German forces in Normandy from behind. The old city of Caen—with many buildings dating back to the Middle Ages—was destroyed by Allied bombing and the fighting. The reconstruction of Caen lasted until 1962; today, little of the pre-war city remains.


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