D Day 1944 – The making of Victory

D Day 1944 – The making of Victory

Author
Anthony Tucker Jones
Operation Overlord was truly the appliance of science and a battle of the boffins.’

This book considers the build up to Day and beyond on both sides. The first five chapters deal with the disastrous Dieppe raid and the German reaction to that which was to fortify the coast. In 1942, Von Rundstedt was appointed Commander in Chief West and his belief to defend against any allied landing was to have the defences as a screen behind which mobile forces would manoeuvre to engage the allies after the landing and drive them back to the sea. In 1943, Rommel was appointed to take charge of the Atlantic Wall defences and his belief was that the Allies needed to be hit with everything on the beaches immediately to prevent consolidation; thus the main German commanders in the West had differing defensive approaches.

After Dieppe the allies realised that seizing a fortified port was probably not possible and that an over the beach assault was required and the next seven chapters deal with putting the right people into place and touches on the scientific and engineering aspects of landing an army over the beaches from the sea. The chapter on Percy Hobart and the 79th Armoured Divisions specialist vehicles concentrates mainly on the duplex drive tanks and their engineering and training, touching on the flails and Royal Engineers armoured vehicles. This is an area where I expected more detail on the thought, engineering and creation of the ‘funnies’ which were so useful at D-Day and beyond. Other subjects dealt with are the Mulberry Harbours, specialist Engineers, deception, electronic warfare, the ‘weather war’ which importantly the Allies got right and the Germans wrong, and the almost real time observation of the German reactions to the initial stages of the invasion provided by Bletchley Park. Some of these chapters brought together parts of D Day I never thought about, even though I should have realised they were there.

The chapters dealing with the immediate invasion give a good picture of the organisation, the chaos despite the training, the assaults, the immediate German attempts to repulse the invasion, the blood, guts, bravery, and personal glimpses of men in action. It made me look at Terence Cuneo’s painting of D Day in a new light.

The last quarter of the book deals with the storm and damage to the Mulberry harbours, through the British stalemate at Caen, through the American breakout to the Cotentin Peninsula, Cherbourg and Brittany. In this part Jones supports the version of events that Monty held the bulk of the German armies in the Caen area allowing the Americans to breakout and create the battle of manoeuvre which led to the Falaise Pocket and the withdrawal by the Germans across the Seine.

The book was an interesting and at times technical read. However, with the strap-line ‘Operation Overlord was truly the appliance of science and a battle of the boffins.’ I expected more technical detail, especially with the specialist armoured vehicles. At times some of the detail is wrong in the weights of the vehicles. The spelling and grammar seems pretty good with the exception of an unfortunate reference to the 'Isle of White.' Thankfully, this seems to be the only incorrect detail, but not being a subject matter expert, I may have missed some.

I enjoyed the book, it reminded me on the great planning and sacrifice for our present day freedoms that were made those 75 years ago. 3.5 Mr Mushroom Heads

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