Atlantic pockets


In World War II, the Atlantic pockets were important points along the coasts of the NetherlandsBelgium 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

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

Place Garrison Allied assault began Surrendered
Cherbourg 15.000 men 06 June 1944 30 June 1944
Saint-Malo 12.000 men 03 August 1944 14 August 1944
Le Havre 14.000 men 10 September 1944 12 September 1944
Brest 37.000 men 07 August 1944 19 September 1944
Boulogne-sur-Mer 10.000 men 17 September 1944 22 September 1944
Calais 7.500 men 25 September 1944 30 September 1944
Royan 5.000 men 12 September 1944 17 April 1945
Pointe de Grave 3.500 men 12 September 1944 20 April 1945
Île d’Oléron 2.000 men 12 September 1944 30 April 1945
La Rochelle 11.500 men 12 September 1944 07 May 1945
Dunkirk 10.000 men 15 September 1944 09 May 1945
Channel Islands 28.500 men Not attacked 09 May 1945
Lorient 24.500 men 12 August 1944 10 May 1945
Saint-Nazaire 30.000 men 27 August 1944 11 May 1945


German soldiers placing landing craft obstructions, 1943

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel visiting the Atlantic Wall defences near the Belgian port of Ostend, part of the fortifications which today comprise the Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum at Raversijde.

D-Day – The Last German Holdouts

Operation Blücher: The Last German Attack in France, April 1945 – The Heroes of Dunkirk.

Daring German Naval Raid Normandy 1945

German Paratrooper Prison Break 1944

Read about WWII here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s