This book is made up of hundreds of first hand accounts of the British Army's battles between D-Day and the end of the Second World War in Europe, with most taking up less than a page. Most battles are described by several different eye witnesses, giving a variety of views of the same events. The author himself took part in the campaign, and includes several of his own accounts, which tend to have a self deprecating tone.
The author assumes that you are familiar with the events being described. There are brief introductions to set the scene, but this isn't intended to be a narrative history of the campaign. Instead we are getting the views of the men who actually fought in the battles,
These accounts make it clear that from the point of view of the infantry the campaign fell into four broad phases. The first was the hard fighting in Normandy, characterised by costly assaults on strongly held German positions. Next came the 'great swan' - the rapid period of advance across France and Belgium, with the troops greeted by cheering crowds and only occasional resistance. Third was the period on the German border and the Rhine, where the hard fighting resumed, with the added misery of a cold wet winter. Four was the final advance into Germany, with more resistance than during the 'great swan', but also the feeling that the war was nearly over.
This is a very useful book, giving a clear picture of the horrors of war as seen by the fighting men, as well as the bond between soldiers and the occasional elation of victory.
1 - Overlord
2 - Beachhead Assault
3 - Additional Battles in the Bridgehead, June
4 - The War of Attrition Continues - July
5 - August Break-out
6 - Operation Neptune and the Great Swan
7 - Operation Garden
8 - Long Hard Winter - the Maas and Peel Country
9 - The Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge
10 - Breaking the Siegfried Line: the Reichwald Battles
11 - From the Rhine to the Baltic: 'Twilight of the Gods'
Author: Patrick Delaforce
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2014 edition of 1996 original