In the immediate aftermath of the D-Day landings the French Resistance attempted to seize control of a number of quite sizable areas, and use them as bases for attacks on the Germans. It would soon become clear that the Resistance had moved too soon, and the Germans were able to crush most of these uprisings. This book focuses on the major battles fought in the south-east corner of France. In particular it looks at the defeat of the Maquis in the Vercors and the less successful attack on the Tarentaise.
These were quite small-scale battles, and so they are covered in some detail in the text. The sections on the two armies and their commanders illustrate the differences between the two sides, with professional leaders and troops on the German side (with quite good equipment when one remembers that the battle of Normandy was going on at the same time), while the French had a mix of army and enthusiastic amateurs at both officer and soldier levels, with limited equipment. The Resistance leaders in the area requested heavier weapons, but their original plan for a major uprising hadn't been approved, and so no such support was provided.
The fighting itself began with an airborne assault on a key village, using gliders to get German troops into the heart of the Vercors. The paratroops were isolated by bad weather and actually besieged by the resistance, but managed to hold their own until the weather improved and reinforcements arrived. This gives part of the story an unexpected feel, with the resistance attacking and the besieged Germans defending.
This is an interesting examination of one of the larger partisan battles in France in 1944, and provides some useful insights into the mistakes made by the Maquis and the lessons that could be learnt from them.
Origins of the Campaign
The Battle for the Vercors
Author: Peter Lieb