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Fighting Through to Hitler's Germany (Paperback)

Personal Accounts of the Men of 1 Suffolk 1944–45

Military > Regimental History WWII > Battles & Campaigns > D-Day & Normandy WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By Mark Forsdike
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781399021517
Published: 3rd October 2023




TOP READS OF 2020 - Soldier Magazine, December 2020 

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After landing on D-Day, 1st Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment fought through France, Holland and into Germany as part of the 3rd (British) Infantry Division. Ever cheerful, the Battalion were opposed by an increasingly ruthless enemy determined to deny the invader their homeland.

As the campaign developed, 1 Suffolk acquired an enviable reputation for getting the job done with the minimum of fuss. Inevitably casualties mounted up and, of the 850 who landed on D-Day, just 178 were still serving on VE-Day; 215 had been killed and 640 wounded.

The Battalion’s success was due in large measure to fine leadership and all four commanding officers went on to enjoy distinguished careers. But without the stalwart fighting spirit and comradeship of all ranks none of the Battalion’s achievements would have been possible.

This fine book draws on the testimonies of officers and men who served in this historic campaign. Recognition of the fighting record of 1 Suffolk is long overdue and the author is to be congratulated for pulling together these inspiring first-hand accounts along with many previously unpublished photographs.

An inspiring account of the Fighting First, the Suffolk Regiment in the final stage of the war in Europe. This account is based on the words of those who were there in an infantry regiment that achieved its objectives, with 178 of the 850 landed on D-Day surviving – Very Highly Recommended

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I highly recommend Fighting Through to Hitler’s Germany for anyone interested in military history or family historians seeking to find details of ancestors who served with the 1st Suffolk Regiment, but who are daunted by the idea of going through regimental diaries and newspapers, this excellent book brings all of those resources together into one handy pile. Mark Forsdike depicts an engaging yet informative read, shining a spotlight on many forgotten men’s stories. Not only is this book engaging but also well-researched. However, this could also interest those who are fascinated by the World Wars and history in general, covering many different groups of people.

If you want to learn the real story of how the Second World War was won in Europe read this book.

Heather Nowlan, Family Tree Searchers

Working with tanks, with artillery support and even local civilians who helped pinpoint enemy positions, it is all here.
The appendices add some more specific detail, with lists of CanLoan Officers, Honours & Awards made to members of the Suffolks, and finally a Roll of Honour. There is also a section of archive images fitted into the book as well. The memories of veterans makes for interesting reading, so sad really that so many were either unable to tell anyone as they became fatalities, and others who never felt able to record their memories. War is not pleasant, but it is important that we don't forget what our fathers/grandfathers experienced that we have the freedoms that we do today. If you are interested in the NW Europe campaign, then I'm happy to recommend this one.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

Listed in the TOP READS OF 2020

Solider Magazine, December 2020

As featured by

Suffolk & Norfolk Life, August 2020

Article by Craig Bradshaw as featured in

Bury Free Press, Suffolk Free Press and Diss Express

I find books, that are presented in the form of the words of the people who were there, to be more informative than the thickest of history books. The book brings life to the story of in this case World War II, and gives an insight into what this war was like. The author deserves praise for the way he has presented the words of these men, as it makes for a very engaging read.

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An affectionate and often gripping account of the officers and men of 1st Battalion The Suffolk Regiment

History of War, June 2020

... for anyone interested in military history or family historians seeking to find details of ancestors who served with the 1st Suffolk Regiment, but who are daunted by the prospect of trawling through regimental diaries and newspapers, this excellent volume demands attention.

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

Every battalion that fought in World War Two should have a history written for it like this, and 1 SUFFOLK are lucky that Mark Forsdike has such a family connection. As said in the last paragraph by an old soldier 'We had a bond.'

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

This book, which focuses on the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment is, in many respects, well overdue. Mark Forsdyke is to be congratulated for pulling together this account of the battalion’s arduous time in France and Germany from the date on which it set foot ashore on the beaches of northern France in June 1944, until VE Day eleven months later. In that short time, of the 850 men who scrambled ashore in France in June '44, just 178 were still serving on V-E Day. 215 had been killed and 640 wounded.

Drawing on first-hand accounts, the author tells the story of the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment's war through the eyes of those who were there. 75 years on from VE Day this book is a welcome addition to Second World War accounts and tells the story of a proud regiment and the men who served with it.

This book features many photographs which are previously unpublished, not to mention the words of the men who were there; the majority of these now rendered in print for the first time.

There are useful appendices detailing honours and awards, a roll of honour, and chapter notes. There is an index, but it would have been helpful to also see a consolidated bibliography. The author has drawn on many sources, both published and unpublished, and has been researching this topic for some years.

This book will appeal to those with an interest in the Second World War generally and those with an interest in the Suffolk Regiment specifically. It is a useful addition to the Second World War library of first-hand testimonies, published when some of the veterans will still be able to read it.

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Paul Nixon

If you want to learn the real story of how the Second World war was won in Europe read this book. Packed with the personal stories of the men who were there in the First Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. The Corps, the division and the brigade barely get a mention. The action is with the battalion, companies, platoons, sections, and individuals. Advances are measured in metres and lives. A sobering statistic revealed at the end of the book is that of the 850 Suffolks who landed in Normandy only 187 made it to VE day. Also as an appendix is a list of medals and commendations awarded to members of the battalion.
A nice set of photographs and some very useful maps round out the text.
Though this book purports to be the story of one battalion of one regiment it is really the story of every one of the ‘poor bloody infantry’ of the British army who fought from Normandy to Germany. This ought to be read by everyone interested in WW2 in Europe because it acts as a reminder that when you see the arrows on a map showing the movement of a corps or division at the very sharpest point of that arrow is one man moving forward wearing a steel helmet and carrying a rifle with bayonet fixed and with his mates behind him. Without his skill and determination the arrow does not move.
We very warmly recommend Mark Forsdike’s book to you.

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Clash of Steel

Good book to read. It was very interesting, and I did learn a lot. It was well written. Good in-depth history. Definitely a fantastic read and look back at the war.

NetGalley, Lisa Houston

Well what can I say about this book, well this is probably the best book that I have read all year, in fact I have had it on the desk in front of me where I have quietly and happily read it from cover to cover. This book follows the men of the 1st Suffolk in 1944-45 and this is their personal accounts as they hit the beaches at Normandy and fight their way through to as the title says Hitler’s Germany. From reading this, boy do they have to fight their way through as they come across heavy German opposition along the way. Reading this book was reading like a live commentary of the events, when they try to take a châteaux it’s amazing anyone survived with the amount of small arms fire, shelling and artillery they were having to survive through and dodge. Or how they had to do training in Scotland but nobody knew what they were training for, leaving them to guess it was the Normandy Landings they would be a part of, and even then it seemed harder getting on to the beaches, than get across them.

The book takes extracts from diaries of various men throughout, and these are really good and powerful as they are written by the men who went through the war at that time. What the book also clearly showed was the conveyor belt of war as you have men going through battle and then as each one is injured or killed, so another is ordered up or transferred from another regiment. I really have to commend the author Mark Forsdike for writing such a riveting read that I couldn’t put down. What shines through the book and really does hit home is the sheer bravery and courage of these men in such devastating circumstances. I will happily give this book a 5 star read, and it will definitely be in my Top Ten books of the year, as I will wholeheartedly recommend it to any fans of WW2 history.

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UK Historian

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed the 9+ hours I spent reading this 304-page history book. While the book was on a British unit, it reminded me a lot of Band of Brothers. Many officers are mentioned only to find that they were later killed in action. There was also a great deal about the movement of the 1st Battalion. I found it interesting to follow them on a map of Europe while I read. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

NetGalley, John Purvis

About Mark Forsdike

Mark Forsdike has strong links with the Suffolk Regiment. His grandfather served with the 4th Battalion in the Second World War spending three and a half years as a Japanese prisoner of war. Mark is proud to be an honorary member of the Old Comrades Association, Standard Bearer of the Ipswich Branch, a volunteer at the Regimental Museum and administrator of theg He is the author of Fighting Through to Hitler’s Germany - Personal Accounts of the Men of 1 Suffolk, 1944 – 1945 (Pen and Sword Military, 2020)
An engineer by profession, he lives in Ipswich with his wife and two children.

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