The Waffen-SS in Normandy; July 1944, operations Goodwood and Cobra

The Waffen-SS in Normandy; July 1944, operations Goodwood and Cobra

Author
Yves Buffetaut
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
One of the greatest paradoxes of the battle of Normandy is that the German Divisions found it much harder to reach the frontline than the Allies, who had to cross the sea and then deploy into a cramped Bridgewater until the American breakthrough in late 1944. The Waffen-SS were no better off than the Wehrmacht units and the German high command never quite got on top of operations, as the divisions were thrown into the melee one by one.
During the month of June 1944, the Panzer divisions that were present in the field succeeded in containing the Allies in a small Bridgewater. In July, the arrival of more SS divisions should have allowed the Germans to counter-attack decisively. This did not happen. The Allies in the same period had strengthened in number and kept the assaults coming, one after the other. Each SS Panzer Division had a different experience of the fighting in July.

This book by Casemate Illustrated, looks at each division, one by one, throughout the two major operations fought in July 1944; Operations Goodwood and Cobra. These operations saw large tank battles and the eventual collapse of the German frontline in Normandy.

It includes over 100 photographs as well as biographies of the unit commanders and colour profiles of tanks and trucks which played such a key part in operations as the Allies succeed in breaking through the German line of defence. This book serves as a companion to the previously reviewed volume The Waffen-SS in Normandy: June 1944.

An excellent timeline starts the book off, explaining the build up to the disaster in the Roncey pocket, where elements of six German Panzer divisions were trapped an the U.S. Armoured Division inflicted over 5,500 German casualties; which led to the eventual wholesale collapse at Fallaise in mid-August. An excellent map on page 83 details the formation of the Roncey pocket. Interesting to note is how few US divisions faced down double their number and succeeded.

The SS divisions in Normandy - LSAH, Das Reich, Hohenstaufen, Frundsberg, Hitlerjugend and Gotz von Berlichingen - always short of armour, artillery, transport and even enough basic Anti-Tank weaponry, generally undermanned and often with inexperienced 18 year olds in the ranks, were nevertheless a powerful strike forces. Had they been deployed and utilized in a more cohesive overall strategy, then perhaps the entire complexion of the Normandy campaign, and by implication the rest of the war in Northwest Europe, might have been different.

One of the many things I liked while reviewing this book was the amount of wheeled vehicles featured in it. As well as the German Bussing-NAG heavy truck, there are a number of Italian trucks, including an M35 DOV-SPA, a TL37 gun tractor, SPA L.39's, Fiat 626BM light truck's. The tracked vehicles aren't forgotten either. There is a large number of StuG 1 & 111's, SdKfz 250's & 251's, Panzer 111 Beobachter and Panzer 1VH and Tigers and Panthers. A Flakpanzer 1V Wirbelwind with 2cm Flakvierling makes up the coloured pictures.

As a photographic record, this book is first rate. As an historical account, excellent. The author has included some rarely seen photos with his biographies and also in the telling of his story. The colour pictures are superb with good views for model maker and historian alike.

Like so many of the books in this series, Buffetaut has worked well on his research and the end result is an excellent mix of photographs and text, depicting an historically accurate volume for the Casemate Illustrated series.

Highly rated.

Smeggers.

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