Books - Normandy

 

10 Commando by Ian Dear

Pegasus Archive review: A fascinating account of the formation, training and deployment of No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando; one of the most extraordinary units of the Second World War. Its numerous Troops, of Belgians, Dutch, French, Norwegians, Poles, Yugoslavs, and the German and Austrians of the mysterious X Troop, served with particularly high distinction in North-West Europe and across the Mediterranean. This is one of very few books to tackle this most intriguing subject, though the author admits that it cannot be the definitive history as the records are sparse, the ingrained culture of secrecy prevented many of its members from speaking of their deeds for decades, and so few of the original members of the Commando are now alive to enlighten us. 10 Commando is, nevertheless, a very fine introduction to a unit which deserves much wider attention. Price: £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2594

 

13 - Lucky for Some: The History of the 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion by Andrew Woolhouse

In 1943, 250 men belonging to the South Lancashire Regiment volunteered to become paratroopers and assault Europe. Jumping on D-Day they fought across France, suffered the cold of the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge and marched across Germany. This is the story of the veterans themselves. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Airborne Armour by Keith Flint

Airborne Armour is a history of the use of tanks within 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. Beginning with a thorough examination of the development of the Tetrarch light tank and the gliders which flew them into action, the book discusses the origins of the Regiment as "C" Special Service Squadron, which, in 1942, played a part in the little known amphibious assault on Madagascar. The book details the conversion of the Squadron to the Airborne role, and then describes the actions of this pioneering formation with the 6th Airborne Division throughout the 1944-45 campaigns in Normandy, the Ardennes, Operation Varsity and the Advance into Germany. The author, Keith Flint, has researched the subject matter well and provides a very complete assessment of the role of Airborne Armour during the Second World War. Highly recommended. Price: £21.95. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.helion.co.uk/

 

Air War D-Day: Assaults from the Sky by Martin Bowman

Pegasus Archive review: A part of the Air War D-Day series, Assaults from the Sky focuses on the airborne operations carried out in Normandy by the 6th British, and particularly the 82nd and 101st US Airborne Divisions. Almost entirely composed of a very wide range of veterans accounts, including aircrews as well as paratroopers and glider troops, they each present a most vibrant recollection of events, beginning with their take-off and flight across the English Channel, and ending with their arrival on the drop zones and the first phases of the various actions which were carried out on the ground. Although their story has been told many times before, the sheer quantity of material in this book will nevertheless interest anyone who has a passion for the Airborne Forces. Price: £15.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/air-war-d-day-assaults-from-the-sky/p/3821/

 

Air War D-Day: Winged Pegasus and the Rangers by Martin Bowman

Pegasus Archive review: A part of the Air War D-Day series, primarily focusing on the activities of the 6th Airborne Division on D-Day. The book is divided into four chapters; the capture of the Pegasus and Horsa Bridges and their defence by the 5th Parachute Brigade; the seaborne landing of the 1st Special Service Brigade and their advance to the bridges; the attack on the Merville Battery by the 9th Parachute Battalion; and an entirely different subject, the capture of Pointe du Hoc by the 2nd Ranger Battalion. There are no shortage of books which describe these famous actions, but what sets this one apart is that it is almost exclusively told in the words of those who were there. Their numerous stories span a very broad range of perspectives and provide a colourful and extremely detailed account of these remarkable operations. Price: £19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Air-War-D-Day-Winged-Pegasus-and-The-Rangers-Hardback/p/3991

 

Apprentice to Airborne: Memoirs of a World War Two Royal Engineer transcribed by Peter Dunstan

Synopsis: Peter Dunstan is the son of Harry Ivor Dunstan, the Royal Engineer who became a Mining Engineer after World War Two. Beginning at Beachley Technical School near Chepstow, these memoirs follow the teen-aged apprentice in training to the soldier and Royal Engineer experiencing the Dunkirk evacuation, and then into action as a paratrooper on D-Day. Various records were transcribed and edited by Peter Dunstan, in particular his father's letters to home, his assorted scrapbook recollections, and a few short digital files that he left behind on a single floppy disk as he strove to master new computer technology in his final years. Up until his death in 2004, Harry Ivor Dunstan kept his army issued silk map and four pages of hurriedly hand-written notes that he carried with him in Normandy as he detailed the events firsthand. It is from this personal and direct perspective that readers will find themselves drawn into the atmosphere and events of those critical years, when Europe descended into the turmoil of war. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apprentice-Airborne-Memoirs-World-Engineer/dp/1515146251/

 

Armoured Warfare in the Battle for Normandy by Anthony Tucker-Jones

Pegasus Archive review: As with all titles in the Images of War series, this book presents a wide variety of rare photographs accompanied by detailed captions, describing the course of the Normandy campaign from the build-up of the invasion forces through to the Falaise Gap and the advance on Rouen. It begins with the German armour which would meet the Allies, including the famous Tiger and Panther tanks, but also the less glamorous range of self-propelled guns, captured French armour, and the wide variety of anti-tank weaponry available, including the track-mounted Goliath radio-controlled bomb. The Allied arsenal is naturally dominated by the Sherman, Cromwell and Churchill tanks but it also looks at their innumerable and diverse variants, including the DD, AVRE and flail tanks of Hobart's Funnies, and the less familiar range of self-propelled guns and reconnaissance vehicles. The chapters go on to detail the several Allied offensives which attempted to break-through the German lines, giving a vivid sense of the scale of the destruction which followed, and also look at the exploits of the 2nd French Armoured Division and their entry into Paris. Price: £14.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Armoured-Warfare-in-the-Battle-for-Normandy-Paperback/p/3428

 

Battle of the Odon by Georges Bernage

Pegasus Archive review: In Normandy on the 26th June 1944, the 2nd British Army launched Operation Epsom with the objective of securing a foothold over the River Odon and quickly outflanking the strongly-held and pivotally important town of Caen. What would become known as the First Battle of the Odon, after a promising start, ultimately ended in failure with heavy losses on both sides, as the advance was gradually brought to a halt by the repeated and determined counter-attacks of the II SS Panzer Korps. Yet this and other offensives like it nevertheless succeeded in forcing the Germans to engage in a relentless battle of attrition which inevitably resulted in the collapse of their line. This is a beautifully presented and thoroughly researched book which describes the various phases of the offensive from both sides, brought further to life with a considerable number of maps, veterans accounts, and photographs, including images of key areas of the battlefield as they appears today. Price £16.50. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Battle-of-the-Odon-Hardback/p/13922

 

Blood and Steel - The Wehrmacht Archive: Normandy 1944 by Donald E. Graves

Pegasus Archive review: A fascinating miscellany of information about the composition, training and employment of the Wehrmacht during the Battle of Normandy, drawing upon German unit war diaries, operation orders, personal accounts, and Allied intelligence summaries. These take up the larger part of the narrative and give an insight into the German tactical mindset and the methods they employed to meet the invasion and sap its momentum. It highlights the great skill of the German soldier, but it also reveals his lack of air support and deficiencies in terms of artillery and armour; all of which the Allies had in abundance and did not hesitate to make full use of. Later chapters focus on specific aspects, including training, difficulties of supply, problems of low morale, and reports of tensions between themselves and the SS. To anyone who only knows the Battle of Normandy from the Allied perspective, this book is crammed with revealing information. Price: £19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Blood-and-Steel-Hardback/p/4114

 

Commando Despatch Rider: From D-Day to Deutschland 1944-1945 by Raymond Mitchell

Pegasus Archive review: Raymond Mitchell served as a despatch rider with No.41 (Royal Marine) Commando, and we must be grateful that he chose to disobey the order against the keeping of diaries or this remarkable memoir would not have been produced. It describes his Commando training and the extensive service which he saw on the Continent; landing in Normandy on the 6th June 1944 and defending the Orne Bridgehead, advancing through France, Belgium and Holland, including the difficult fighting of the Walcheren Campaign, before ending the War in Germany. It is a richly detailed account and would be worthy of mention if it were just that of an ordinary infantryman's experience, but it is all the more valuable as the lot of the despatch rider has never received much attention. While it provides a superb insight into their role, it also gives a precious perspective on the activities of No.41 Commando as Mitchell came into contact with all elements of the unit and this level of access afforded him a point of view which few others could enjoy. Price: £10.39. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Commando-Despatch-Rider/p/6770

 

Commando Men: The Story of a Royal Marine Commando in World War Two by Bryan Samain

Pegasus Archive review: Bryan Samain served as the Intelligence Officer of No.45 (Royal Marine) Commando, and so was very well placed to write this detailed account, published soon after the event in 1948, of the time which the Commando spent on active service in North-West Europe. It begins with their arrival on Sword Beach as part of the Normandy landings on the 6th June 1944, and goes on to document their lesser known role in the wider campaign until their withdrawal to the UK in September. The subsequent chapters dwell on their return to the continent in January 1945, with a period spent in Holland before taking a leading role in the Rhine Crossing in March and the advance into Germany, culminating in an assault crossing of the River Elbe in early May. It is a very clear, readable, and quite personal account of the remarkable exploits of No.45 Commando, which serves as a fine tribute to the courage and skill of its personnel, who may be considered an elite in the truest sense of that much over-used word. Price: £6.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/commando-men/p/863/

 

Commandos in Exile: The story of 10 (Inter Allied) Commando 1942-1945 by Nick Van der Bijl

Formed from members of Free Forces who had escaped from German occupation, 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando was one of the most unusual units in WW2. All members had to pass the Green Beret commando course at Achnacarry in Scotland and the book begins by describing this training. With no less than six national troops, plus X Troop drawn from exiled Jews, 10 Commando never fought as an entity but loaned troops for specific operations, such as One Troop (French) taking part in the Dieppe Raid, 2 Troop (Dutch) fighting at Arnhem, 5 Troop (Norwegian) raiding the Lofoten Islands etc. At other times groups played a key intelligence role questioning POWs, translating captured documents, conducting reconnaissance patrols and intelligence gathering on the D-Day beaches. Price: £19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1715

 

Crossing the Bridge - The Forgotten Manuscript by Kay Larsen

Synopsis: Crossing the Bridge is a collection of reminiscences by Private Kay Larsen, a RAMC orderly who landed by glider on the eve of D-Day near Pegasus Bridge. His introduction to war is brutal, slumped alongside him within minutes of crossing the enemy coast is his best friend, killed by anti aircraft fire. Under intense fire, unarmed, and protected only by a Red Cross armband, he attends to the wounded, both friend and foe. This first hand account, often tragic, though sometimes humorous, gives an unique insight into the work of the 195 Airlanding Field Ambulance RAMC on D-Day and the days that followed. That dedication to duty often comes at a price in the form of Post Traumatic Stress that comes back to unsuspectingly haunt the sufferer out of the blue months and even years later. This book is a tribute to the men and women of the Royal Army Medical Corps that have followed in the footsteps of Larsen in the many conflicts following WW2. Price: £9.95. Copies may be purchased from Amazon

 

The Day the Devils Dropped In by Neil Barber

The first hours and days following the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 have strong claim to be the most crucial in world history. Spearheading this vast undertaking were crack British and American airborne forces. The Day the Devils Dropped In examines in fascinating detail the pivotal role of the 9th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment over the first week of the landings. Tasked with neutralizing the mighty Merville Battery, capturing Le Plein and the Château St Côme on the Bréville Ridge, failure by the Paras to achieve any of these key objectives could well have unraveled the whole OVERLORD operation with catastrophic consequences. In his quest to uncover the true story of the early days of the landings, Neil Barber has successfully tracked down surviving participants in the operation. As a result he is able to tell the full story of the fierce fighting that characterized the early days of the landings largely in the very words of those who lived through the experience. This adds much to the credibility and immediacy of this enthralling book which paints a superb picture of what soldiers care to call 'the fog of war'. The result is an inspiring and revealing read and a fine tribute to those whose contribution must never be forgotten. Price: £19.95. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.mervillebattery.co.uk/

 

Dear Mona: Letters From a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones

Synopsis: Jonah Jones served in the 224th Parachute Field Ambulance. In Dear Mona artist Jonah Jones records in his own words not just the story of his early life and his relationship with Mona Lovell, but also that of the Second World War, of being on the Home Front, on the European battlefield and in the nascent Israel. These letters are a remarkable first-hand account of how Jones' character evolved. Like a number of conscientious objectors he eventually took a more active role in the fight against fascism by becoming a non-arms bearing medic. In this role he was parachuted into northern Europe and took part in the Ardennes and German campaigns, and in the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp. After the war he was posted to Palestine, where he observed the issues surrounding the establishment of Israel, but was also able to hone his artistic skills for the benefit of his regiment. It was in Haifa that, much to Mona Lovell's dismay, he met and married another woman - Judith Grossman - with whom he returned to Britain to set up as an artist, now known as Jonah Jones. Dear Mona gives detailed insight into the evolution of Jones' character, as he changed from gauche Len Jones to artist Jonah Jones. It also tells in intimate detail the story of the Home Front, of conscientious objection, of the European campaign following D Day and of the tensions in Palestine, which resonate still today. It is a remarkable, immediate account: personal, intimate and yet also history, played out before his eyes. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/dear-mona-letters-conscientious-objector

 

D-Day by Francis Crosby

Pegasus Archive review: A part of the Images of War series, this book displays a marvellous collection of photographs, mostly drawn from the archives of the Imperial War Museum. The majority have rarely been printed before, and each are presented in a large and clear format with detailed explanatory notes. Despite the seemingly limited title, the book encompasses the wider Normandy campaign, with chapters detailing the build-up to the invasion, the consolidation of the beachhead and the advance into France. The photographs portray events from the Allied perspective with a balanced coverage of nationalities and the contributing arms; of infantry, tanks, shipping, and a number of quite dramatic images of bombing and low-level air attacks. Also included are a number of the much less lauded but essential factors, including supply, maintenance, the preparation of landing strips in the invasion area, and the evacuation of wounded by air. Price: £10.39. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/D-Day/p/612

 

The Devil's Own Luck: Pegasus Bridge to the Baltic 1944-45 by Denis Edwards

Synopsis: With the fine disregard for orders from the highest level that soldiers were strictly forbidden to keep diaries, Denis Edwards managed to record his experiences throughout nearly all his time in Europe in 1944-45. Since he was one of the first both to land on D-day and was among the first to join up with the Russians bear the Baltic in the Spring of 1945, his record covers the entire period of the fighting after the landings in Normandy. And a very remarkable record it is too. After a brief account of his upbringing and early training under the command of the indomitable Major John Howard, he goes on to describe the airborne landings at Pegasus Bridge and the events of each day thereafter. His account of the nearly disastrous Rhine Crossing is particularly important. The Devil's Own Luck brilliantly conveys what it was like to be facing death day after day, night after night, month after month, with never a bed to sleep in nor a hot meal to go home to. This is warfare in the raw - brutal yet humorous, immensely tragic but, sadly, all true. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Fighting Brigadier: The Life of Brigadier James Hill DSO MC by Peter Harclerode

Pegasus Archive review: A much overdue account of the wartime career of James Hill, who had a profound influence on the airborne movement and led paratroopers with considerable skill throughout the war. Hill's own words feature strongly in the first part of the narrative, dealing with his experiences in France with the British Expeditionary Force and the 1st Parachute Battalion at the beginning of the Tunisian Campaign. The second part is more so an account of the actions of the 3rd Parachute Brigade in Normandy, the Ardennes and Germany, again interspersed with Hill's lively recollections. Price: £19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2595

 

Fighting With the Commandos: The Recollections of Stan Scott No.3 Commando by Stan Scott

Pegasus Archive review: A superb and very down to earth account of a private soldier who joined the Commandos in late 1943, and participated in all the subsequent actions of No.3 Commando, from D-Day and the months of hard fighting in Normandy alongside the 6th Airborne Division, to their entry into Germany in March 1945. Scott also dwells on life outside the Commandos, including his partially successful but ultimately frustrated attempt to join the Army despite being well under the legal age, and his brief post-war service with the Military Police before demobilisation. It is a very involving story which describes the lot of the ordinary infantryman and the terrifying, humorous and bizarre situations which are thrown his way. Above all else this is a brilliant account of one man's Normandy campaign, and it will occupy a proud place in the library of Commando memoirs. Price: £19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/fighting-with-the-commandos/p/1612/

 

Gales's Eyes by Carl Rymen

Gale's Eyes is a who was who during the British 6th Airborne Division's time in Normandy in June 1944. Meticulously researched by the author, every officer that served with the division has been examined and is listed. Also included are an examination of the battle casualties of each unit and its effects on the command situation. The book has been divided into two parts: Part I focuses on the division's headquarters and the parachute and air landing brigades. Part II focuses on the support units of the division and attached units. 224 pages. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or www.tl219.com.

 

General 'Boy': The Life of Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning by Richard Mead

Pegasus Archive review: This fascinating biography follows the life of "Boy" Browning through his days at Eton and into the Grenadier Guards, with whom he served as a junior officer in the First World War, and on to his aspiring inter-war career, culminating in his part in laying the foundations of the British Airborne Forces during the Second World War, and, later, serving as Chief of Staff to Mountbatten in South-East Asia. Browning was respected throughout the Army as a highly capable officer who inspired the highest standards in his subordinates, but Richard Mead also exposes the warmer, more personal side of his character that only a select few were allowed to witness. He also chronicles Browning's enduring, but troubled marriage to Daphne du Maurier, and his last tragic years, which, as a consequence of a lifetime of unceasing work, were defined by a series of ailments, both mental and physical. Lieutenant-General Browning has become one of the most maligned figures in the history of the Airborne Forces movement, and so it is most refreshing, not merely to read an account which considers matters from his perspective and attempts to answer the criticisms, but one which acknowledges that Operation Market Garden consumed but a single month in the life of a man whose long career in the military, before and beyond September 1944, was as distinguished as it was highly regarded. Price: £20. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2604

 

The Germans in Normandy by Richard Hargreaves

Pegasus Archive review: In view of the immense volume of literature which has been published about D-Day, it is surprising that so little has been written from the German perspective. Theirs is a fascinating epic of a struggle against the odds; of a highly capable army fighting a series of truly desperate battles to contain an enemy who possessed an overwhelming superiority of aircraft, armour, artillery and manpower. Richard Hargreaves presents a superb chronological account which has been 15 years in the making, following events from the prelude to the invasion to the collapse of Army Group B and the fall of Paris. Using letters, personal diaries, official documents and newspaper reports, he describes the ultimately futile counter-attacks which sought to destabilise the beachhead during the first days, and the subsequent series of grim defensive battles which made the Allies pay a high price for every yard. It also considers the mindset of the German soldier as he was exposed to wildly optimistic propaganda and the undeniable reality that so many had perished and that they were being relentlessly driven back. This is a very welcome addition to a largely untold story, paying tribute to the skill, courage and dogged determination of the German soldier. Price: £19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Germans-in-Normandy-Hardback/p/1259

 

Go To It by Peter Harclerode

The history of the 6th Airborne Division, in Normandy, the Ardennes, the Rhine Crossing, Far East, and Palestine. The book contains more than 200 pictures and is signed by the author Peter Harclerode. It costs £25 and is available from DRA Books, 8 Creykes Court, The Millfields, Plymouth, PL1 3JB. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Go To It - The story of the 3rd Parachute Squadron RE by Major J. S. R. Shave MC

Written in 1947 it follows the history of the squadron centred on one troop from its formation in 1942 to the end of the war in Europe. Covers the Normandy invasion, The Ardennes, The Rhine Crossing and the final advance into northern Germany. The author Commanded no 2 troop for almost the entire period and wrote it whilst the events were fresh in his mind. This is the only first person, 'grass roots', account of a wartime airborne engineer squadron and its daily work in existence today. Foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales. Pages - 144, Illustrations - 8 maps, Photographs - 19 B&W. Price: £10 softback, £15 hardback + £0.50 p&p. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or by sending a cheque made payable to N. Gibson to Mr N Gibson, 48 Phoenix Road, Lords Wood, Chatham, Kent, ME5 8TA. Tel Home - +44 (01634) 862389, email n.d.gibson@blueyonder.co.uk.

 

Hill 112: Battles of the Odon - 1944 by Tim Saunders

Pegasus Archive review: As the British advance in Normandy began to move around Caen, the innocuously named Hill 112 and its dominating heights became a vital position for both sides, changing hands several times. This book focuses on Operation Jupiter, which ended in a stalemate with neither side able to fully control the hill, though it did succeed in drawing the German armoured reserves into a costly battle they could ill-afford, helping to pave the way for the American breakout in the west. In the time honoured style of the superb Battleground Europe series, Tim Saunders compresses a substantial amount of information into a remarkably small space, with his clear and concise narrative excellently supported by numerous veterans accounts, reports, photographs and detailed maps. Price £14.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Hill-112-Paperback/p/227

 

History of the Glider Pilot Regiment by Claude Smith

Pegasus Archive review: An excellent account of this most unique of Regiments by one of its former members. Despite a seemingly small number of pages, the book contains a great wealth of detail which follows the evolution of the glider element of the British Airborne Forces from its early experimental days to its peak in 1944/45, and then the post-war years where the increasingly obsolete concept was ultimately disbanded. Smith remains focused solely upon the Regiment's activities and does not wander off, as others have done, into the familiar and well-worn story of the wider events of the time, and though he does not dwell too much on the individual recollections of glider pilots, what he presents is a thorough account of the operations in which they were involved, including some which are not widely known even amongst experts in the field. Price £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/History-of-the-Glider-Pilot-Regiment/p/1540/

 

Hobart's 79th Armoured Division at War by Richard Doherty

This fascinating book describes how Major General Percy Hobart created, trained and commanded 79th Armoured Division, a unique formation crucial to the success of the D-Day Landings and the Allies' drive through to Germany. Hobart's reputation as an armoured warfare specialist began in the pre-war era. In 1923 he transferred from the Royal Engineers to the Royal Tank Corps and quickly established himself as one of the foremost thinkers on armoured warfare. By 1938 he was GOC Mobile Division, later 7th Armoured Division, in Egypt. Unable to suffer fools at all, he was relieved of his command in 1939, retired in 1940 and became a corporal in the Home Guard. At Winston Churchill's inspired behest, he was called back to create and train 11th Armoured Division which, once done, he was seen as too old to lead in action. Instead he was ordered to form 79th Armoured Division and charged with developing specialized armoured vehicles necessary to breach the Atlantic Wall. 'Hobart’s Funnies', as these innovative weapons were known, included mine-clearing tanks, bridge-carrying tanks, flamethrowers, swimming tanks and amphibious assault vehicles. Brigades and units of 79th Division were deployed wherever they were needed by Second (British) and First (Canadian) Armies. Indeed, no major operation between Normandy and the final victory took place without their involvement. Post-war the adoption by all armies of specialized 'funnies' is the lasting tribute to his vision and genius. Based on detailed research and personal recollections, Hobart's 79th Armoured Division at War is a worthy tribute to this extraordinary man and his legendary Division, both of which played so significant a part in the Allied victory. Price: £15.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Hobarts-79-Armoured-Division/p/3230/

 

Juno Beach by Tim Saunders

Pegasus Archive review: Another superb addition to the Battleground Europe series, primarily focusing on the landing of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division on Juno Beach, the difficult and costly fighting to secure their initial objectives, and the advance inland. The first chapters also describe their training, the assault plan, and the formidable Atlantic Wall defences they faced, while later ones touch on the related activities of the 79th Armoured Division as well as the Commandos of the 4th Special Service Brigade, and their protracted battle around the Douvres radar station. As with all books in this series, the concise narrative succeeds in packing a considerable amount of detail into a relatively small space, and it is generously supported with photographs, maps, and veterans accounts. Though intended as a battlefield guide, with the final chapter highlighting numerous places of interest across the Juno area, it is also a very worthy historical study in its own right. Price £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Juno-Beach-Paperback/p/591

 

The Lone Piper by Col Roy Stanley II

Synopsis: On June 6, 1944, Brigadier Lovat led the British Commandos ashore at Sword beach on the coast of Normandy. Accompanying him, was his Personal Piper, Private Bill Millin. Without a rifle, carrying only his bagpipes, Bill marched into war wearing his father's World War I kilt. Brigadier Lovat was Lord Lovat, the Chief of Clan Fraser, who quickly rose through the ranks to lead the British Commandos on D-Day. Private Bill Millin was part of the Commando Demonstration Troop at Commando Castle in Achnacarry, Scotland and the Brigade's best piper. A Clan Chief would never march his troops into battle without having the bagpipes to lead the way. After a daring midnight glider raid, the commandos landed and advanced inland to link the airborne forces with the seaborne forces, linking Sword beach to the Pegasus bridge. Above the roar of the war, the skirl of the bagpipes could be heard sounding the liberation of France. "We were pinned down on the beach, many of our comrades dead or dying," recalled Private René Rossey of No. 4 Commando, "but when Lovat's piper walked up and down the beach, piping his lungs out, the Germans seemed stunned, as if they’d seen a ghost. They briefly stopped firing and we made it to the barbed wire at the top of the beach." This is the story of Bill Millin and Lord Lovat, as told through the eyes of the commandos and paratroopers who witnessed their legendary bravery. Price £9.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon

 

Looking Down on the War: The Normandy Invasion June 1944 by Col Roy Stanley II

Pegasus Archive review: This book takes an innovative approach to describing the much-trodden territory of the D-Day landings by using a very broad range of aerial photographs to tell the story of the invasion, from the reconnaissance flights over the Atlantic Wall during the planning stages to the assault itself, devoting a chapter to each of the beaches, Pointe du Hoc and the British and American airborne landings. What makes this book extraordinary is that its author was a former photographic interpreter and so is able to pick out innumerable details in the photographs which would otherwise be overlooked. Each are accompanied by notes which account for all that is going on within the picture, and by using a number of photographs in a sequence, or of the same scene taken later in the day, they describe phases of the attack as they unfolded and give a clear impression of the obstacles being faced by the troops on the ground. Price £20.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Normandy-Invasion-June-1944/p/3848/

 

Major and Mrs Holt's Definitive Battlefield Guide: D-Day Normandy Landing Beaches

Pegasus Archive review: Major and Mrs Holt have established something of a benchmark when it comes to battlefield guides, and a quick browse through this book is sufficient to demonstrate why. Complete with GPS references, maps and hundreds of photographs, it takes on the monumental task of exploring the entire breadth of the invasion area, with sections devoted to museums, monuments, and innumerable places of interest which range from the major to the obscure. Each entry comes with a concise and clear history, and the detail into which this comparatively small book manages to go is most impressive in view of the scale and complexity of the subject matter. For anyone seeking a guide for a very thorough and efficient tour of all or just selected parts of the Normandy invasion area, there is no need to look any further. Price £13.50. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Major-and-Mrs-Holts-Definitive-Battlefield-Guide-to-the-D-Day-Normandy-Landing-Beaches/p/3077

 

Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges by Carl Shilleto

Pegasus Archive review: A very significantly updated second edition to Carl Shilleto's "Pegasus Bridge / Merville Battery" battlefield guide. This first book has now been expanded into two volumes, each comparable in size to the original and so containing a great wealth of additional information. Whilst it possesses all that one would desire from a battlefield guide, it seems unfair to regard this as its only purpose as its historical narrative is not content with a vague overview of events, but quotes from reports, veterans accounts and gives specific details of actions which range from the major to the relatively obscure. It is, therefore, quite a comprehensive historical study in its own right, indeed I must say that the original volume was of very considerable use to me when I was carrying out my own research many years ago. Price £10.39. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Merville-Battery-amp-The-Dives-Bridges/p/3021/

 

The Mortarmen by Michael Connelly

The Mortarmen is the epic and never before told story of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion. The men of the 87th landed on Utah Beach on D-Day with their 4.2" mortars and quickly became one of the most sought after fire support units in the European Theater of Operations. They fought for 326 straight days and were in almost every major battle in France, Belgium, and Germany. Their mortars placed devastating fire on the enemy from the beaches of Normandy to the Cherbourg Peninsula, and from Aachen and the Hurtgen Forest to the Battle of the  Bulge. In this 292 page book you'll read their story presented as if it comes from today's headlines. You'll hear from the men who were there and see the pictures they took, many of which have never been published before. You'll also hear from some German soldiers who faced the 87th in battle. Price: US$24.95, C$31.00, EUR20.15, £13.96. To read excerpts from the book or place an order go to http://www.trafford.com/04-2710 or  Amazon.

 

Normandy 1944: The Battle for Caen by Simon Forty

Pegasus Archive review: A part of the "Images of War" series following the advance of the British 2nd Army beyond the D-Day beaches, and in particular the protracted and costly struggle for the control of Caen. It had over-optimisitcally been intended to fall on the first day, but this became impossible with the chance arrival of the 21st Panzer Division in its suburbs, and instead it was two months before the British finally passed through the ruins of this historic town. The photographs document the numerous offensives which the 2nd Army launched in the area, including Operations Perch, Martlet, Epsom, Windsor, Charnwood and Goodwood, and though these failed to achieve a decisive break through they nevertheless forced the Germans into a relentless and bloody attritional battle which they could only lose. As would be expected of this series the detailed photographs show a broad range of units and equipment with a heavy emphasis on armoured vehicles, and it includes a section dedicated to the famous action of Tiger ace Michael Wittmann and his severe mauling of the 22nd Armoured Brigade near Villers-Bocage. Price £14.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Normandy-1944-The-Battle-for-Caen-Paperback/p/14752

 

Normandy 1944: The Battle of the Hedgerows by Simon Forty

Pegasus Archive review: A part of the "Images of War" series following the post D-Day efforts of the 1st US Army to capture the Cotentin Peninsular with its important port of Cherbourg, and then the struggle to expand the beachhead southwards, ending with the fall of Saint-Lô and the buildup to Operation Cobra, which finally achieved a decisive break in the German lines. Much of this took place in the notorious bocage areas where the narrow roads and thick, almost impenetrable hedgerows severely restricted the ability of the Americans, and above all their tanks to manoeuvre, and so gave their opponents a considerable advantage. The photographs vividly convey the immense difficulties posed by this terrain and show the typical manner in which the battle was fought, covering a broad range of subjects and units with many different types of vehicles and equipment on display. These include the bulldozer and improvised Rhino tanks; Shermans with teeth welded to the front, both of which were used to great effect to force paths through the hedges. Price £14.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Normandy-1944-The-Battle-of-the-Hedgerows-Paperback/p/14734

 

Objective Falaise by Georges Bernage

Pegasus Archive review: The battle to close the Falaise Gap and trap the German 7th Army marked the final phase of the Normandy campaign in August 1944. With the Americans racing through the open terrain to the south, this book follows the difficult advance by the 1st Canadian Army from the North over devastated ground and against prepared German defences. The book is divided into two parts to cover Operations Totalize, which after an initially promising start was brought to a halt by the 12th SS Panzer Division, and then Tractable which ultimately forced a path through to Falaise. With the addition of first hand testimonies, this is a lavishly decorated account, filled with excellent and in many cases colour photographs, showing scenes from the advance, as well as equipment, insignia and personalities. Price £13.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Objective-Falaise-Hardback/p/15242

 

Operation Totalize by Tim Saunders

Pegasus Archive review: Operation Totalize was an attempt by the 2nd Canadian Corps to push through to Falaise in the hope of trapping the large German forces who were failing to contain the American break-out. Tim Saunders does a splendid job of explaining the difficult context of this operation, which arrived on the back of several offensives two months into the Normandy campaign, and despite making some progress failed to achieve its ultimate objective, requiring a subsequent offensive to reach Falaise. It describes the initially highly successful start to Totalize, with the Corps quickly overcoming the impressive German defences along the Verrières Ridge which had previously halted attempts at a break-out, only for a delay in unleashing their armoured divisions to allow time for the 12th SS Panzer Division to organise a counter-attack which sapped their momentum and gradually bogged the offensive down as new defensive positions were arranged. The Battleground series is famed for its concise narratives and impressive ability to pack an extraordinary level of detail, including official reports, maps and photographs, into a relatively small space, and as this is an unusually large entry in the series it certainly succeeds in raising the bar. Price £14.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Operation-Totalize-Paperback/p/15787

 

Pegasus Bridge & Horsa Bridge by Carl Shilleto

Pegasus Archive review: A very significantly updated second edition to Carl Shilleto's "Pegasus Bridge / Merville Battery" battlefield guide. This first book has now been expanded into two volumes, each comparable in size to the original and so containing a great wealth of additional information. Whilst it possesses all that one would desire from a battlefield guide, it seems unfair to regard this as its only purpose as its historical narrative is not content with a vague overview of events, but quotes from reports, veterans accounts and gives specific details of actions which range from the major to the relatively obscure. It is, therefore, quite a comprehensive historical study in its own right, indeed I must say that the original volume was of very considerable use to me when I was carrying out my own research many years ago. Price £10.39. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Pegasus-Bridge-and-Horsa-Bridge/p/2477/

 

The Pegasus Diaries: The Private Papers of Major John Howard DSO by John Howard and Penny Bates

Pegasus Archive review: The name of Major John Howard is synonymous with the assault on Pegasus Bridge during the first minutes of the D-Day landings, and while many books have attempted to describe this most famous of actions, there can surely be no substitute for the words of the man who trained, planned and led the attack. The Pegasus Diaries is an extremely detailed and personal memoir of a man who was commissioned from the ranks into the 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and it follows his career from taking command of "D" Company in 1942 to the end of the war, including the intense training leading up to D-Day and his account of all that took place on the 6th June 1944. It continues to describe his part in the remainder of the Normandy campaign, and also the tragic end to his career when he was badly injured in a road accident and, despite his best efforts to recover and return to the Airborne, ultimately invalided out of the Army. Essential reading. Price: £6.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/the-pegasus-diaries/p/1778/

 

The Pegasus and Orne Bridges by Neil Barber

Pegasus Archive review: Many books have attempted to describe the famous capture of the Pegasus and Horsa Bridges in the opening minutes of the Normandy Landings, but this volume surpasses them all. As with his previous book detailing the destruction of the Merville Battery, The Day The Devils Dropped In, Neil Barber strives to keep his own narrative to a minimum and instead allows the words of innumerable veterans to describe events, beginning with the formulation of the invasion plan in February 1944, and then the months of intense training, culminating in D-Day itself, the successful capture of the bridges, and the efforts of the 5th Parachute Brigade to defend them until finally relieved in the early hours of the 7th June. The result is an extremely readable and utterly comprehensive, if not definitive account of the actions around the bridges. Highly recommended. Price: £25.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=1908

 

Stirlings in Action with the Airborne Forces by Dennis Williams

Pegasus Archive review: This book traces the wartime history of 190 and 620 Squadrons, who shared the same airfield and, as part of No.38 Group, had been formed to transport the British Airborne Forces into battle, participating in the Normandy landings, the Rhine Crossing, and also Arnhem; where the successive resupply missions suffered heavy losses and saw what some have described as the most courageous flying of the war. Yet these operations occupied only a fraction of their time. They also flew innumerable and often dangerous sorties in support of the Special Operations Executive and the SAS, with small formations of aircraft dropping men, agents and equipment deep behind enemy lines, both before and after D-Day. This is a superbly researched account of the many activities of these squadrons, generously supported with many photographs and veterans accounts. Price: £25.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Stirlings-in-Action-with-the-Airborne-Forces-Hardback/p/1551

 

Sword Beach by Tim Kilvert-Jones

Pegasus Archive review: Continuing the tradition of superb battlefield guides crammed with a wealth of historical detail coupled with a great many maps, photographs and veterans accounts, this edition of the Battleground Europe series focuses on the landing of the 3rd British Infantry Division and the 27th Armoured Brigade on Sword Beach on D-Day. It first outlines the Atlantic Wall defences which awaited them and their preparations for what would be the largest amphibious assault in history, before going on to describe the landing and the difficulties they experienced in securing the beach. Much has been made of the Division's failure to capture Caen by the end of the day, but Kilvert-Jones correctly regards this as an ambitious objective even without the unexpected arrival of the 21st Panzer Division in its suburbs, and demonstrates that the 3rd Division did remarkably well to beat off the counter-attack of this formidable unit and ultimately secure a firm foothold. Price £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Sword-Beach-Paperback/p/232

 

The Tale of Two Bridges by Barbara Maddox

This book is about the role that 7 Para played in the "D" Day landings. It is based on the original diaries of their CO Lieutenant Colonel R. G. Pine-Coffin DSO MC plus memoirs of some of the men who served under him. In their own words they relate a story which they believe is untold, of the forgotten heroes of 7 Para's actions and their role in changing the course of history. The 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion, of the 6th Airborne Division, were to take over the defence of the bridges over the Caen Canal and the Orne River. How they achieved all this is revealed by these, step by step, first hand accounts of the officers and men upon who's shoulders this heavy responsibility rested. They tell of each others bravery, the total trust in their CO and in each other. Of their encounters with the enemy, equipment failures, and of the comradeship which still exists today. Price: £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.thetaleoftwobridges.co.uk/

 

Tigers in Normandy by Wolfgang Schneider

Pegasus Archive review: This is a magnificent study of the impact of Tiger tanks during the Normandy campaign. Predominantly employed in the counter-attack role, Schneider concludes that, although no more than 134 saw service in the battles around Caen, wherever they went they tended to bring a measure of stability to the German front, as time after time the British assaults struggled to overcome difficult country, determined resistance, and this most feared of tanks against which few of their weapons had much effect. Using maps, a wealth of archive photographs, photographs of the battlefields as they appear today, and a great many veterans accounts, Tigers in Normandy is an extremely thorough analysis of all the major actions to which they were committed. Price: £20.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tigers-in-Normandy/p/3448/

 

Two Steps Forward: A Case Study of the 8th Parachute Battalion, its German adversaries and the 4th Parachute Battalion by Carl Rymen

Synopsis: In 1942 the British Army was building a Parachute Army. The 4th Parachute Battalion was formed early 1942 and the 8th late 1942. Men were needed to volunteer for these battalions. Officers addressed units in the hope that enough men would take two steps forward. Once they volunteered the first step in becoming a paratrooper was pre parachute training at Hardwick, the second step was parachute training at Ringway. Once a man had made these two steps with success he became a qualified paratrooper. Who were these men? How did they experience the two steps in becoming a paratrooper? Can we know? Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Visiting the Normandy Invasion Beaches and Battlefields by Gareth Hughes

Pegasus Archive review: A well thought-out guide which has been designed to cover all of the principal sites in two days, with a day each spent in the American and British sectors, including a number of options to visit more museums, memorials, cemeteries, and areas of interest on subsequent days if time allows. Each area comes with an address, directions and contact details, an approximate time of how long will be required, and alongside maps and photographs includes a concise but detailed historical account of what took place there. A very useful guide for anyone visiting Normandy, and in particular those who are on a tight schedule or leading an organised group. Price: £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Visiting-the-Normandy-Invasion-Beaches-and-Battlefields-Paperback/p/12283

 

Walking D-Day by Paul Reed

Pegasus Archive review: An essential battlefield guide for anyone interested in walking the more well known areas of the D-Day landings. Divided into twelve sections, Walking D-Day describes two walks around Pegasus Bridge and the Merville Battery in the 6th Airborne Division's sector, two for each of Gold and Juno Beaches, one for Sword with an additional walk covering the advance of the 1st Special Service Brigade to Pegasus Bridge, and single walks describing Omaha Beach, Utah and the 101st Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, and Pointe du Hoc. The walks are precisely referenced and easy to follow with a historical background accompanying each, providing about as comprehensive a description of the events which ensued as is possible in the necessarily limited number of pages devoted to each subject. This, together with many photographs and veterans accounts, adds significant life and further dimensions to what would otherwise be a standard battlefield tour of monuments and museums. Price: £11.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Walking-D-Day/p/3461/

 

What D'Ya Do In The War Dad? by Barry Parr

Synopsis: This book is: 'Dedicated to Peace - which sadly can only be achieved through War.' It tells the true story of my father Wally Parr who took part in the famous raid to capture Pegasus Bridge in Normandy on the eve of D-Day in 1944. It not only covers his war years but also his latter life when, at the 40th anniversary of D-Day, the author Stephen Ambrose wrote 'Pegasus Bridge' a book that told the intimate story of the raid and reunited many of my father's comrades for the first time since the war. After my mother's death my father retired to Normandy and became actively involved in preserving the old bridge when it was replaced with a new one. He was also involved in the team that was responsible for the building of a new museum in Benouville that housed the old bridge and a full scale replica of a Horsa Glider. He met Prince Charles when he opened the museum in the year 2000. The purpose of this book is to preserve and honour the memory of these fine men and to pass on to the next generation the importance of what they did. My family story is similar to thousands of others from all over the world - my hope is that this book may inspire others to record their own history for their children and their children's children. This is not your basic war history book - far better equipped authors have covered the ground more than adequately, instead it is a first-hand account given to me personally. There will be people out there who will demand to see my credentials, others will ask what qualifications I have - to those people my answer is simple: I have only one - I am my father's son. www.pegasus-parr.co.uk. Price: US$22.59, C$25.98, EUR18.56, £12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/view-item?item=18875.