Author
Tim Saunders
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
As I read the acknowledgements at the beginning of this book, I was filled with a slight feeling of dread. The author, Tim Saunders, was playing the COVID card, explaining that he hadn't had access to many of the usual sources as he wrote this book, particularly the war diaries and documents held by the National Archives at Kew or at regimental headquarters. This gave the impression the research and resources behind the book were going to be scarce, with a knock-on effect on the quality of the writing. I'm glad to say nothing of the sort is the case; in fact, if this is what he can produce with limited resources, I now need to get into his back-catalogue to see what he can do with the full range of research resources...

This is quite a niche book: it tells the story of the 7th and 50th Divisions in the 2 weeks after D Day as they battered themselves into the 130th Panzer Lehr Division in the Bocage, the close countryside of the Normandy. As such it is able to get into the gritty detail of almost every incident, supported by absolutely masses of photos, maps and documents. If I am going to have one moan, it is that it could have done with a few clearer colour maps to make it easier to understand the bigger picture - luckily Google Maps came to the rescue!

Tim Saunders has, despite the constraints of COVID restrictions, found a vast array of sources and paints a really detailed picture of life fighting through the hedgerows. He demonstrates how the 7th Division in particular learned hard lessons in the initial days on the beach-head; although an experienced formation, much of their knowledge was based on fighting in the desert of North Africa and it took them a while to realise that many of the lessons from there were not transferable.

Who would enjoy this book? Clearly the Normandy/D Day specialist will love the detail but it may be a little too much for the generalist. It will be great background for Battlefield studies (perhaps unsurprisingly Tim Saunders is an accredited member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides) and should be a must-buy for military libraries. Currently available on Amazon for £18.29 in hardback and £7.19 on Kindle.

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