The D-Day Training Pocket Manual 1944

The D-Day Training Pocket Manual 1944

Chris McNab
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It will soon be the 75th Anniversary of Operation Neptune, more commonly known as D-Day even though many operations were designated D-Day for their own locations. With this anniversary soon to be upon us several books have appeared but this one is slightly different in that it doesn’t really cover the landings but rather the preparation and planning that went into producing training pamphlets by both the Americans and the British. The success of D-Day, 6th June 1944, required an enormous amount of organization to bring together the various aspects of the invasion and the author-editor Chris McNab has used this book to describe one of the lesser known areas involved.

The Sources for all the information covered in the book are detailed at the end of the book but the Introduction describes the planning involving the feasibility studies of the possible locations for the landings and the logistics of getting so many men with their necessary equipment ashore in one piece and capable of taking the fight to the enemy. There was already a wealth of information which had been learned during invasion experiences of places like Dieppe, Sicily and Italy, coupled with the landings of US forces in the Pacific but this was going to be on a much larger scale and as soon as locations for the landings had been decided, training would need to commence to prepare all those who would be involved in the undertaking. In fact this Introduction is almost a potted version of the planning of the whole invasion up to the point where the first troops went ashore.

In each of the five chapters the editor opens with what is effectively a short description of what was involved in the chapter followed by excerpts from training pamphlets and manuals.
The first chapter groups together the intelligence, planning and preparation necessary for the overcoming of obstacles in the sea and those on the land both on the beach and further inland, while the second chapter details the naval and air support required for both the outcomes of subduing the enemy and that of reconnaissance for the invading troops.

As a means of ensuring initial success in overcoming enemy resources and important locations, an airborne assault was planned with both troops invading by parachute and others landing with heavier equipment in gliders. This is the content of chapter three which is described in some detail.

Chapter four covers the amphibious assault taking into account how the invading troops are to get there, the vessels involved, and the specific requirements to ensure that all transport is used in such a way as to provide how, where and when for the invading force to land in such a manner to be able to engage with the enemy and without undue losses.
The final chapter looks at the instructions necessary for a force which has invaded and needs to establish a beachhead with its lines of defence and offence because the enemy will obviously be attempted to throw the invaders back into the sea. As such, it describes the possible methods of filling in holes/craters in roads and the possibility of having to fight the enemy on its own terms in countryside which favours the defender.

The book is certainly different from those which try to describe what happened on those first days invading Normandy and it is interesting to note that with the use of the internet it is possible to read more of the content of those pamphlets and others readers might find interesting or informative. There are a considerable number of photographs and illustrations illustrating the text though it is a shame that many of the illustrations are so small that reading them is not always easy. This fact, coupled with the colour of paper and type (restricted to a small typeface in the order of 8 point) tends to detract from some of the pleasure reading this book. Certainly the book is one which could be of very useful information to model makers and those researching various aspects of that operation.

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