Operation Epsom was the first of a series of great set-piece offensives launched by Montgomery in Normandy, and despite failing to achieve its original objectives was still a very significant step towards Allied victory. Largely un-tried British formations proved that they were able to blow a hole in the German front line, even if they were unable to maintain the momentum of the attack, or to hold onto the most advanced areas captured in the first three days of the battle.
Similar fresh British units were then able to withstand a counterattack led by some of the German's most famous units, stopping them at the first of a series of defensive positions - indeed the German attack was such a failure that Allied intelligence failed to realise that it had been their main effort!
One of the key strengths of this series of books is that Daglish goes back to the original primary sources whenever possible, corrected a series of (mostly minor) errors that have crept into many accounts of the battle. His text is supported by, and informed by, a mass of reconnaissance photographs taken at the time, which often allow some sense to be made of fights that are otherwise rather confused.
In this volume he also does a good job of contrasted the inexperienced men on the British side (mostly from the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division) with their rather more battle-hardened German opponents, amongst them two SS Panzer Corps. Daglish demonstrates how the German obsession with the immediate counter-attack forced them to throw these units into the battle before they were fully concentrated, greatly reducing their chances of ever launching a full scale counter-attack.
This is a very valuable account of Operation Epsom, supported by a great deal of original research both in the official archives and in other eyewitness accounts of the battle, as well as providing an insight into the evolution of British and Allied tactics during the battle for Normandy.
1 - Mid June: Days of Frustration
2 - Late June: Plans and Preparations
3 - Monday 26 June: Break In
4 - Tuesday 27 June: To the Odon
5 - Wednesday 28 June: The Scottish Corridor
6 - Wednesday 28 June: Over the Odon
7 - Thursday 29 June: The Counterblow
8 - Thursday 29 June-Friday 30 June: The Argylls Besieged
9 - Friday 30 June-Saturday 1 July: Roles Reversed
10 - Saturday 1 July and Beyond: The Reckoning
I - Army maps and map references
II - The infantry experience
III - British antitank forces
IV - 10.SS Panzerdivision Epsom Order of Battle
V - 15th (Scottish) Division Epsom Order of Battle
VI - The mystery of the missing colonel
VII - British tank-infantry cooperation
VIII - Gavrus, the French experience
IX - Canloan
X - The P.R. sorties
Author: Ian Dalgish
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military