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James Bourhill
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
The Normandy Invasion is a central part of any Second World War history. The day that Germany’s defeat was sealed by the Allies; 6,939 vessels, 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops and countless air sorties threw an invasion force ashore in a tight interval set by weather fronts and tides. A Panzer counterforce immobilised by Hitler’s indecision and Rommel’s sea defences are all well recorded. A generation of ARRSE members grew up on Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day and the subsequent film where John Wayne, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda et al crowded the cast list. No CGI but a panoply of armed forces cooperation.

15th August saw the landing of 90,000 troops consisting of VI (US) Corps and a collapse of German opposition that saw the liberation of most of Southern France within four weeks. The operation was initially planned to co ordinate with Overlord as Operation Anvil, however, a lack of sea lift caused postponement and re-titling as Operation Dragoon. The plans were bedevilled by political concerns over post war French identity and diversion of assets from the Northern Front where the Allies were in headlong pursuit of German forces.

Somehow Dragoon never captured the public imagination here, possibly by the low British land content and geographical distance.

The author has taken a broad view looking at both the Resistance/SOE /SF build up as well as the main battle. The air war is covered fairly briefly. To the majority of readers this will be an informative book which is long overdue. The Timelines, sources index and notes will be of real use to the serious reader. A good innovation is separately listing the electronic sources. One omission is an Orbat which is invariably useful.

In adopting a wide canvas the details are perhaps slanted to the Resistance battle but the details do make good reading. James Bourhill has also published Come Back To Portofino and Deveron to Devastation

Pen and Sword produce to their normal high standard with good glossy images that are relevant. The book runs to 405 pages in total. Cover price £25 with copies on Amazon from £15.71.Kindle £8.63

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