Atlantic pockets

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In World War II, the Atlantic pockets were important points along the coasts of the Netherlands, Belgium and France chosen as centres of resistance by the occupying German forces, to be defended as long as possible against land attack by the Allies. As well as concentrating men and matériel to control the surrounding area, their purpose was to deny the use of port facilities to the Allies and to secure their continued use by German submarines in the Battle of the Atlantic. In addition, so long as they remained in German hands, they had propaganda value.

On 19 January 1944 Adolf Hitler declared fourteen places along the Atlantic Wall to be fortresses (Festungen), to be held until the last man or the last round—the so-called Atlantikfestungen. Other places were added to the list after the Allied invasion on 6 June 1944 in further directives of 17 August and 4 September.

In France, six pockets were captured by the Allies between the initial invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and October 1944, after which the rest were put under siege. Three were liberated by French forces in April 1945, while the remainder surrendered after the capitulation of Germany in May 1945.

List of pockets in or offshore from France[edit]

The Atlantic pockets in or offshore from France, with the date any Allied assault began and date the defenders surrendered, are shown below.

Place Allied assault began Surrendered
Cherbourg 06 June 1944 30 June 1944
Saint-Malo 03 August 1944 14 August 1944[1]
Le Havre 10 September 1944 12 September 1944
Brest 07 August 1944 19 September 1944
Boulogne-sur-Mer 17 September 1944 22 September 1944
Calais 25 September 1944 30 September 1944
Royan 12 September 1944 17 April 1945
Pointe de Grave 12 September 1944 20 April 1945
Île d'Oléron 12 September 1944 30 April 1945
La Rochelle 12 September 1944 07 May 1945
Dunkirk 15 September 1944 09 May 1945
Channel Islands Not attacked 09 May 1945
Lorient 12 August 1944 10 May 1945
Saint-Nazaire 27 August 1944 11 May 1945


  1. ^ The island of Cézembre held out until 2 September 1944


  • Rémy Desquesnes. Les poches de résistance allemandes sur le littoral français: août 1944 – mai 1945. Rennes: Éd. Ouest-France, 2011. ISBN 978-2-7373-4685-9; (in French).
  • (fr) Stéphane Simonnet (2015), Les poches de l'Atlantique: Les batailles oubliées de la Libération Janvier 1944 - mai 1945, Tallandier, ISBN 979-10-210-0492-4
  • Sortir de la Seconde Guerre mondiale (3/5): La libération des poches de l'Atlantique (in French), France culture - La fabrique de l'histoire, 6 May 2015, retrieved 14 Aug 2015