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Books - Second World War - Western Europe - D Day and Normandy

Normandy and D-Day

Smashing Hitler’s Guns – The Rangers at Pointe-du-Hoc D-Day 1944, Steven J. Zaloga . An excellent study of the US Ranger’s attack on the gun battery at Pointe-du-Hoc, looking at the dangers posed by German coastal guns, lessons learnt from previous landings, the aerial and naval bombardments of the guns, their status on D-Day and the threat they may still have posed, the other Ranger activities on D-Day including their important role on Omaha Beach, the post-war portrayal of the raid, and of course an excellent account of the actual attack, including the relatively easy capture of the battery and the far more dangerous battle to actually hold onto it (Read Full Review)
Tanks of D-Day 1944 – Armor of the beaches of Normandy and southern France, Steven J. Zaloga. A useful look at all of the ‘funnies’, the special tanks that were considered for use on D-Day, looking at their development, purpose and suitability, followed by an examination of how they were deployed and how they performed on each of the D-Day beaches and during Operation Dragoon. Nice to have the descriptions of these vehicles combined with a good account of how they actually performed in battle (Read Full Review)
Objective Falaise - 8 August 1944-16 August 1944, Georges Bernage. Looks at the two largely Canadian attacks, Operations Totalize and Tractable, that were launched to capture Falaise and help close the Falaise gap from the north. A good account of these two battles, with plenty of eye witness accounts from both sides to support the narrative of these two rather different battles, all supported by an impressive array of photographs and maps, tracing how the Canadians slowly pushed back the Germans. (Read Full Review)
Objective Saint-Lo, 7 June 1944-18 July 1944, Georges Bernage. Looks at the brutal battles in the bocage country as the Americans attempted to reach Saint-Lo, a key road junction and the starting point for the planned breakout from Normandy. A very detailed account of the fighting seen from both sides, giving us a good idea of what it was like to take part in this hard fought battle, following the experiences of one particular German unit and two American officers in great detail (perhaps at the cost of the overall picture) (Read Full Review)
The Normandy Battlefields - Bocage and Breakout, From the Beaches to the Falaise Gap, Simon Forty, Leo Marriott & George Forty. A good visual guide to the fighting in Normandy, combining a good narrative of the battle, with an impressive selection of photographs, including a series showing the locations of key battles as they were in 1944 and how they are now, supported by a good introduction to the campaign and a series of studies of key aspects of the battle, from Allied air power to the Tiger tank. A good combination of well written history and illustrations (Read Full Review)
The Liberation of Europe 1944-1945 - The Photographers who Captured History from D-Day to Berlin, Mark Barnes. A photographic history of the campaign in north-western Europe, as seen by the photographs of the newspaper group that owned The Times during the Second World War. Covers a wide range of topics, from the D-Day landings to the post-war Nuremburg Trials, with interesting notes on the technical aspects of war photography in the period, as well as detailed captions often based on the original wartime notes(Read Full Review)
Caen Controversy - The Battle for Sword Beach 1944, Andrew Stewart. Looks at the plans for the attack on Sword Beach, the question of if Caen was an Allied target for D-Day, and if so why it wasn't captured on the day. Provides a good account of the beach landings, as well as the wider battle, before looking at the controversy surrounding the failure to take Caen on or close to D-Day, one of Montgomery's stated aims before the invasion (Read Full Review)
Cherbourg 1944: The first Allied victory in Normandy, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the entire Cotentin campaign, from the first battles to expand the D-Day beach head, through the advance west across the Peninsula, the attack on Cherbourg itself and the final mopping operations west of the port. A good account of this campaign, supported by a series of high quality campaign maps and well illustrated, and telling the story from both sides. [read full review]
Normandy June 1944: The Night of Liberation, Gilles Vallée and Christophe Esquerré. A heavily illustrated book that follows one stick of paratroops from the 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment as they dropped behind Utah Beach on D-Day. A splendid educational publication that doesn't pull its punches, following a stick that saw its leader killed before reaching the ground, suffered heavy losses and fell into German hands almost immediately. Also follows the aircraft that flew them to Normandy and its aircrew. [read full review]
Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944, Ben Kite. Looks in detail at the role of each element in the British and Canadian military machine during the Normandy Campaign, including each aspect of the ground forces from the infantry to the armour, intelligence, reconnaissance and medical services, as well as the air support and the fire power provided by the massive Allied fleets off the Normandy coast. A very useful companion to narrative accounts of the campaign, helping to explain how the British and Canadians managed to overcome the determined German resistance on their front [read full review]
Paris '44 - The City of Light Redeemed, William Mortimer-Moore. Covers both the Resistance uprising within Paris and the military campaign to liberate the city, focusing on the role of the French 2e DB (armoured division), the Free French unit that liberated the centre of Paris. A moving account of the various strands that led to the comparatively painless liberation of Paris, a city that avoided the devastation ordered by Hitler. An excellent study of one of the more remarkable incidents of the liberation of France [read full review]
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The Normandy Battlefields D-Day and the Bridgehead, Leo Marriott & Simon Forty. A good photographic history of the Normandy invasion, with a good mix of well chosen contemporary and modern photographs of the battlefields. Focuses on the five D-Day beaches and the areas immediately behind them, so each area is covered in some detail. Includes a good set of modern aerial photographs with useful annotations showing key areas of the battlefield and war memorials. [read full review]
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Objectif Cherbourg 22-30 Juin 1944, Georges Bernage. A heavily illustrated but French language account of the battle for Cherbourg of late June 1944, the one of the first major US victories during the Normandy campaign. Well over half of the book is devoted to an excellent selection of photos and supporting maps, each with useful captions (at least as far as my limited French allows me to tell!). [read full review]
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Marching to the Sound of Gunfire - North-West Europe 1944-1945, Patrick Delaforce . Contains hundreds of short first-hands accounts that illustrate aspects of the British Army's battles between D-Day and the end of the Second World War in Europe. Most useful if you are already familiar with the events being described, in which case it helps put the human face on these battles. Also includes a number of passages written by the author himself, who served as a junior officer during the campaign. [read full review]
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D-Day and the Normandy Invasion, Adam Powley. Covers the pre-invasion planning, the D-Day landings, the battle of Normandy, the break-out and the fighting in the Falaise pocket. A good narrative, broken up by chapters on special topics, and supported by some excellent photos. A good overview of the D-Day and Normandy campaigns, packing plenty of information into its 64 pages. [read full review]
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To the Last Man - The Battle for Normandy's Cotentin Peninsula and Brittany, Randolph Bradham. An account of the American campaigns in the Cotentin and in Brittany, the first well known as part of the D-Day campaign, the second less familiar as the focus of the action began to move east. The second half is stronger, partly because of that lack of familiarity. [read full review]
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Deceiving Hitler, Terry Crowdy. Looks at the full range of methods used to deceive the Germans during the Second World War, from the earliest attempts to discourage a German invasion to the triumphant deception plans that surrounded the D-Day landings. Covers physical deception (models, false radio signals etc) and the famous double cross network of controlled German agents to paint a full picture of the British deception campaign. [read full review]
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The Devil's Garden - Rommel's Desperate Defense of Omaha Beach on D-Day, Steven Zaloga. An excellent attempt to work out exactly why the attackers on Omaha Beach took so many more casualties than on any other D-Day beach, looking at each of the possible factors that have been suggested over time and examining how valid each actually is. Comes up with some convincing conclusions, and adds a great deal to our understanding of this battle. [read full review]
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The Cover up at Omaha Beach: Maisy Battery and the US Rangers, Gary Sterne . A very detailed account of the US Ranger's involvement on D-Day and in the following days, including the famous attack on Pointe du Hoc and the almost forgotten assault on the nearby Maisy gun batteries, written by the man who rediscovered that long-buried German position. At its heart is a fantastic collection of eye witness accounts, some from interviews conducted by the author himself. [read full review]
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Blood and Steel: The Wehrmacht Archive: Normandy 1944, Donald E. Graves. A look at the German view of the fighting after D-Day, taken from the archives of the First Canadian Army, and mainly based on captured German documents. Gives an interesting view of an army under heavy pressure and the attitude of its soldiers, from the private soldier's diaries to the orders coming from high command. [read full review]
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Looking Down on War - the Normandy Invasion June 1944, Colonel Roy M. Stanley II. A fascinating collection of aerial photographs of the D-Day landings, with commentary by a professional photo interpreter. Pictures you won't have seen before, with an expert interpreter to point out aspect of them that I would have missed. [read full review]
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Walking D-Day, Paul Reed. A selection of twelve walks that cover all of the main battlefields of D-Day, including the five invasion beaches, the commando and ranger operations and the airborne operations. Splits each section into a historical introduction followed by the walk itself. A successful format and a book that should act as a good guide to the area around the Normandy beaches. [read full review]
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Tigers in Normandy, Wolfgang Schneider. A detailed history of the role of the Tiger Tank during the Battle of Normandy, tracing the fate of most individual tanks as well as the role they played in the overall battle. Supported by a huge number of photos, most of which are tied to the text and by some excellent maps. [read full review]
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Pegasus Bridge & Horsa Bridge, Carl Shilleto. One of two entries in the Battleground Normandy series devoted to the exploits of 6th Airborne Division, this one provides a guided tour of the Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge areas, supported by first-hand accounts of the fighting. [read full review]
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Hobart's 79th Armoured Division at War: Invention, Innovation and Inspiration, Richard Doherty. Combines a biography of General Percy Hobart and a history of the 79th Armoured Division and Hobart's 'funnies', the special purpose tanks that became famous on D-Day. Follows the division from D-Day, though the fighting in Holland and on to the crossing of the Rhine and the end of the war. [read full review]
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If Chaos Reigns, Flint Whitlock. Focuses on the activities of the Allied airborne forces on both flanks of the D-Day beaches, covering the British, American and Canadian paratroopers and glider-borne troops. Most of the book covers the fighting on D-Day itself, although the author also includes a history of the development of airborne troops [read full review]
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Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges, Carl Shilleto. One part of a two part guide to the British airborne operations at the Merville Battery and Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. The book combined an account of the attack on the Merville gun battery and nearby operations with a guide for visitors to the modern battlefields. [read full review]
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Wittmann v Ekins: The Death of a Panzer Ace (DVD). A low-key but effective documentary looking at the career and final defeat of the German Panzer Ace Michael Wittman and the experiences of Joe Ekins, a British tank gunner who may have fired the shots that killed him. Nicely presented with much of the filming done on the actual battlefields in Normandy [read full review]
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The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division, Patrick Delaforce.  A narrative history of the role played by 11th Armoured Division in Normandy, northern France, Belgium, Holland and northern Germany, written by a professional historian and member of the division who took part in the events he describes. Well supported by eyewitness accounts, and with some interesting material on less familiar aspects of the fighting. [read full review]
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Churchill's Desert Rats in North-West Europe, From Normandy to Berlin, Patrick Delaforce. An account of 7th Armoured Division's part in the fighting between D-Day and the final German surrender, a period that saw the Desert Rats take part in some of the most famous battles in Normandy, the 'Great Swan' across France, the liberation of parts of Belgium, the crossing of the Rhine and the capture of Hamburg [read full review]
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Eagles and Bulldogs in Normandy, 1944, Michael Reynolds. An account of the experiences of the British 3rd and American 29th infantry divisions during the fighting in Normandy, looking at their experiences on Omaha and Sword beaches and their roles in the capture of St. Lo and Caen, two early targets that took more than a month to reach [read full review]
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Over the Battlefield: Operation Epsom, Ian Daglish. A detailed account of the first great British set-piece offensive in Normandy, an attack that failed to achieve its own objectives, but that forced the Germans to commit units that had been earmarked for their own never-to-be launched massed attack towards the coast. Well supported with reconnaissance photographs taken during the battle. [read full review]
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Over the Battlefield: Operation Goodwood, Ian Daglish. Although it only lasted for two days, Operation Goodwood had a lasting impact on the British army and became a standard part of a staff college education. This very detailed account of the battle attempts to cut through the layers of myths that have accumulated around the battle to produce an accurate picture of what actually happened in this short but famous battle. [read full review]
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SAS Operation Bulbasket, Behind the Lines in Occupied France 1944, Paul McCue. A detailed examination of one of the SAS's missions in occupied France after D-Day, an attempt to cut railway lines, delay German reinforcements and co-operate with the Maquis. A German raid on the SAS camp was followed by war-crimes and some of the most accurate Mosquito pin-point raids of the war, carried out in revenge for the murder of an SAS officer. [read full review]
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Over the Battlefield: Operation Bluecoat - Breakout from Normandy, Ian Daglish. A very detailed but still readable account of Operation Bluecoat, the British contribution to the final Allied breakout from Normandy, supported by an impressive number of small scale maps and aerial photographs. A very valuable piece of work. [read full review]
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The D-Day Companion, ed. Jane Penrose. A selection of thirteen separate essays on different aspects of the D-Day lands, from the initial planning to post-war memorials; this is an excellent piece of work that sets the D-Day landings firmly in context. An excellent starting point for anyone who wants to learn more about Operation Overlord, but its wide range of topics means it is likely to be of value to anyone with an interest in the subject. [see more]
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Rangers Lead the Way: Pointe-du-Hoc D-Day 1944, Steven J. Zaloga. This is the first entry in a new Osprey series, looking at some of the most famous raids in military history, starting with the US Rangers' attack on the German gun battery on Pointe-du-Hoc on D-Day. The result is a detailed account of the raid that includes some very interesting material about the German coastal defences, as well as a good account of the raid itself and the German counterattack. A promising start to this new series. [read full review]
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Normandy 1944 , (campaign series) Stephen Badsey. Detailed maps and colour plates plus some excellent data on effectiveness of anti-tank weapons and tank armour make this a good buy for the wargamer. A section at the end of the book deals with wargaming the battles but the serious historian should look elsewhere for more detailed accounts.
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