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Operation Totalize

Operation Totalize

Tim Saunders
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because it has been produced in a format that is ideal for any story about military conflict. It is beautifully written and detailed, has scores of maps and photographs, has numerous personal accounts and has fine descriptions of the troops involved on both sides, their equipment, their planning and subsequent orders, the conditions, the terrain, the objectives and hour by hour accounts of the battles.


Operation Totalize was part of the Battle for Normandy in 1944 during which the Allies sought to drive out the Nazi occupiers of north-western Europe. Essentially, after the invasion of France by the Allies in June 1944, the US forces moved north-west to take the Cotentin peninsular while the British and Canadians held the invasion coast to a depth of about 10 miles while consolidating then building up forces and supplies ready for the breakout towards Paris and, ultimately, Germany.

The US forces, having taken Cotentin, swept south then west to take Brittany and east to take the area around Falaise. This was the point at which the British and Canadians broke out of the Caen area to battle their way south to join the Americans near Falaise and Argentan. Led by the Canadians with support from British and Polish forces, the three day Operation Totalize was part of this battle.

The Book

A decent Introduction is followed by a detailed campaign background before an examination of the combatants and their equipment. It is here that the bitter and bloody three day battle and Allied advance are described meticulously. Every page of this account is richly illustrated with photographs, maps, aerial views of the battlefields and even the regimental badges of those involved. The descriptions of the equipment used – from light ordnance, through artillery pieces and rocket-firing aircraft, to heavy battle tanks – is given the attention it deserves. There are even descriptions and photographs of the remotely controlled light robot tanks employed by the Germans.

Option Totalize was a series of ferocious infantry encounters and tank battles - it is here that Sherman tanks of the Allies were up against the Tiger and Panther tanks of the Germans. Interestingly, there is an account of the destruction by a Sherman tank from the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, of the Tiger tank commanded by SS Hauptsturmfuher Michael Whitman, acting commander of his squadron and a folk hero due to his successes on the Eastern and Western fronts. The fateful round has been proven to have been fired by Trooper Joe Elkins who was firing the Sherman’s 17lb gun from 800 yards during his first tank battle.

The book goes on to cover every encounter during the battle and even touches on the Allied losses from friendly forces when mass American B-17 aircraft bombed the advancing Canadian 10th Brigade and the Polish Armoured Division near Courmelles during the fog of war.

This superb book concludes with the victory of the Canadian-led forces over the Germans near Falaise and then provides an Order of Battle plus a suggested battlefield tour with maps and such detailed descriptions that could it easily be a publication in its own right.

A first-class book that will be valued and appreciated by all who read it.

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