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Battle for the Bocage, Normandy 1944 (Paperback)

Point 103, Tilly-sur-Seulles and Villers Bocage

Military Photographic Books WWII > Battles & Campaigns > D-Day & Normandy

By Tim Saunders
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 376
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations & 40 maps
ISBN: 9781526797278
Published: 18th October 2023



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This is the story of the fighting in Normandy by the veteran desert formations brought back by Montgomery from the Mediterranean in order to spearhead the invasion; 50th Infantry and 7th Armoured divisions, plus 4th Armoured Brigade. Heavily reinforced by individuals and fresh units, their task beyond the beaches was to push south to Villers Bocage with armour on the evening of D Day in order to disrupt German counter-attacks on the beachhead.

Difficulties on 50th Division’s beaches and lost opportunities allowed time for the 12th Hitlerjugend SS Panzer Division and the equally elite 130th Panzer Lehr Division to arrive in Normandy, despite delays of their own caused by allied fighter bombers. The result was 4th Armoured Brigade’s thrust south encountered opposition from the start and was firmly blocked just south of Point 103 after an advance of less than 5 miles.

A major counter-attack by Panzer Lehr failed, as did a renewed British attempt, this time by the vaunted 7th Armoured Division, which was halted at Tilly sur Seulles. From here the fighting became a progressively attritional struggle in the hedgerows of the Bocage country south of Bayeux. More and more units were drawn into the fighting, which steadily extended west. Finally, an opportunity, via the Caumont Gap, to outflank the German defences was taken and 7th Armoured Division reached Villers Bocage. Here the County of London Yeomanry encountered the newly arrived Tigers of Michael Wittmann, with disastrous results. The Desert Rats were forced to withdraw having lost much of their reputation.

There then followed what the battalions of 50th Division describe as their ‘most unpleasant period of the war’, in bitter fighting, at often very close quarters, for the ‘next hedgerow’.

Anyone wanting to know about the British army in Normandy will find this a more than useful book.

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Beating Tsundoku

Certainly a well written book by the author Tim Saunders. I really enjoyed reading this book and would think it would most certainly appeal to fans of the fighting in the Normandy area of France in WWII.

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The History Fella

As Featured In

WWII History, April 2022

This new book on the fighting around Point 103, Tilly Sur-Seulles, and Villers Bocage takes the reader into the thick of the hard-fought battles to break out of the Normandy beachheads. Tim Saunders clearly knows the terrain well, and understands the doctrine, equipment, and mindset of the day. His knowledge enables him to weave the relevant maps, documents, pictures and commentary into what is a well-rounded chronology of the British and Canadian Army’s struggle against determined German resistance. The individual actions are broken down into manageable, well-illustrated chapters that make for absorbing reading. The sketch maps and anecdotal accounts add extra depth to the narrative. If you are looking for some insight into the complexities of bocage battles, look no further. This new book is pitched at just the right level for the casual reader or the Normandy buff. It certainly brings the claustrophobic and attritional nature of the fight to win - Great Value.

Guild of Battlefield Guides

If you have an interest in the campaign in North West Europe, and particularly the events surrounding British units in the first couple of weeks that followed on from the landings themselves, this is an interesting read.

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Military Model Scene

A must-buy for military libraries.

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ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

This offering from Pen and Sword is a great read for anyone wishing to read about the fighting during the early period after D-Day, covering the issues encountered and how they were defeated or not and helps bring to life the lives of the men fighting at this time. Richly embellished with a mixture of period photographs and diagrams that better help you understand some of the text.

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If you are looking for some insight into the complexities of bocage battles, look no further. This new book is pitched at just the right level for the casual reader or the Normandy nut. It certainly brings the claustrophobic and attritional nature of the fight to life - Great Value.

Royal Anglian News, September 2021

This book is not easy to put down, it’s a real page turner. You may of course reflect that when you finish it the campaign will be much clearer to you than it was at the time to any of those involved from Army commander to Tommy Atkins. The fog of war has been blown away by Tim Saunders.
We highly recommend this great read.

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Clash of Steel

Another excellent book from Tim Saunders that forensically dissects the action and is well supported by maps and images. Recommended.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Tim Saunders

TIM SAUNDERS served as an infantry officer with the British Army for thirty years, during which time he took the opportunity to visit campaigns far and wide, from ancient to modern. Since leaving the Army he has become a full time military historian and has made nearly fifty full documentary films with Battlefield History and Pen & Sword. He is an active guide and accredited member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.

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