One of the key objectives of British forces on D-Day was the capture of the strategically vital city of Caen. General Montgomery saw Caen as the key to Normandy and the springboard for the Allied breakout, but so did the Germans and the city did not fall. It took three major offensives and more than 30 bloody days of struggle to finally take Caen. In the process the city was controversially devastated and its civilian population decimated. The Allies paid a high price for Caen but the horrific German casualties bled their forces in Normandy white and helped open the way for the American breakout in Operation Cobra.