Over the Battlefield: Operation Bluecoat - Breakout from Normandy, Ian Daglish

Over the Battlefield: Operation Bluecoat - Breakout from Normandy, Ian Daglish

Operation Bluecoat was the British contribution to the Allied breakout from Normandy, and was fought in order to prevent the Germans from moving their armoured forces west during Operation Cobra, the key American offensive that broke the deadlock.

This is a very impressive piece of work in many ways - the combination of this of detail and a readable and lucid account is very rare, helped by the use of a massive amount of detailed small-scale maps, many with extra details added to illustrate key incidents. 

Daglish makes some interesting observations about the German army at this date, demonstrating how efficiently new composite units could be formed from the shattered remains of regiments or divisions that had been broken by the Allies. At the same time he shows how the Allies had begun to use the German army's habit of launching an automatic counter-attack against any lost position against them, using it to draw the Germans onto strong defensive positions and pinning several powerful German units in place.

The only flaw with this book is that Daglish doesn't provide much background to the operation, perhaps assuming that anybody interested in this detailed an account of the battle already has a good idea of the background, of the purpose of the operation and of the wider situation, but I would have appreciated a more detailed introduction, and a brief summary of events elsewhere in Normandy.

This book will be of great value to any historian or researcher studying the Normandy campaign, Second World War combat, or the nature of armoured warfare in general.


Part One: Breaking In
1 - Late July: Caumont
2 - Sunday 30 July: Jocks and Churchills
3 - Sunday 30 July: Baffing up the Charlie Love
4 - Sunday 30 July: Reactions

Part Two: Across the Souleuvre
5 - Monday 31 July: Dawn's Early Light
6 - Monday 31 July: Dickie's Bridge
7 - Monday 31 July: An Enemy Divided
8 - Tuesday 1 August: Le Bény-Bocage
9 - Monday 31 July-Tuesday 1 August: Guards go South

Part Three: Breaking Through
10 - Wednesday 2 August: Horns of the Black Bull
11 - Wednesday 2 August: Guards across the Souleuvre
12 - Wednesday 2 August: Arrivals

Part Four: Bite and Hold
13 - Thursday 3 August: Ebb and Flow
14 - Friday 4 August-Sunday 6 August: On Perrier Ridge

Part Five: The Hinge of Normandy
15: Saturday 5 August-Sunday 13 August: Estry
16: Saturday 5 August-Sunday 13 August: Vire & Grouse
17: Mortain to Falaise

Appendix I: British Army Maps and Map References
Appendix II: German Combat Tactics in Normandy
Appendix III: Armoured Reconnaissance in Normandy
Appendix IV: Restructuring the British Armoured Divisions
Appendix V: Montgomery, Bluecoat and the Question of Vire

Author: Ian Daglish
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009

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