The Germans in Normandy (Kindle)
The Allied invasion of Northern France was the greatest combined operation in the history of warfare. Up until now it has been recorded from the attackers' point of view whereas the defenders' angle has been largely ignored. While the Germans knew an invasion was inevitable, no-one knew where or when it would fall. Those manning Hitler's mighty Atlantic Wall may have felt secure in their bunkers but they had no conception of the fury and fire that was about to break. After the initial assaults of June established an Allied bridgehead, a state of stale-mate prevailed. The Germans fought with great courage hindered by lack of supplies and overwhelming Allied control of the air. When the Allies finally broke out the collapse was catastrophic with Patton's army in the East sweeping round and Monty's in the West putting remorseless pressure on the hard pressed defenders. The Falaise Gap became a graveyard of German men and equipment. To read the war from the losing side is a sobering and informative experience.
In view of the immense volume of literature which has been published about D-Day, it is surprising that so little has been written from the German perspective. Theirs is a fascinating epic of a struggle against the odds; of a highly capable army fighting a series of truly desperate battles to contain an enemy who possessed an overwhelming superiority of aircraft, armour, artillery and manpower. Richard Hargreaves presents a superb chronological account which has been 15 years in the making, following events from the prelude to the invasion to the collapse of Army Group B and the fall of Paris. Using letters, personal diaries, official documents and newspaper reports, he describes the ultimately futile counter-attacks which sought to destabilise the beachhead during the first days, and the subsequent series of grim defensive battles which made the Allies pay a high price for every yard. It also considers the mindset of the German soldier as he was exposed to wildly optimistic propaganda and the undeniable reality that so many had perished and that they were being relentlessly driven back. This is a very welcome addition to a largely untold story, paying tribute to the skill, courage and dogged determination of the German soldier.Pegasus Archive, Mark Hickman