Michael Wittmann, one of the most successful panzer aces in World War II, is best known for his single-handed actions at Villers-Bocage on 13 June 1944, when he ambushed elements of the British 7th Armoured Division. The circumstances of his death nearly three months later, however, were disputed for many years. On 8 August 1944, the Allies launched Operation Totalize, an assault on a small pocket of resistance around Falaise. Wittmann and his platoon were stationed nearby to attack Cintheaux. During his advance on the town, he overcame a small team of Canadian Shermans, before ending up in a small wooded hamlet near Guamesnil. Here, they came under attack and Wittmann was killed. There have been many claimants for the attack, including the 1st Polish Armoured Division, 4th Canadian Armoured Division and 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. The SS, in an attempt to position Wittmann as ‘helpless’ under attack, blamed the RAF. Following in depth research, it is now widely believed he was hit by fire from the Sherman Firefly of British gunner Joe Elkins of the 1st Northampton Yeomanry.
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