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The Germans in Normandy (Paperback)

Military WWII > Battles & Campaigns > D-Day & Normandy WWII > German Forces & Weaponry

By Richard Hargreaves
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 271
ISBN: 9781526760678
Published: 28th May 2019


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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.

Here’s a book that will interest D-Day and other WW2 ‘aficionados’. Whereas most history is written by the conquerors, it is always refreshing to read books written by and about ‘the other side’.
This book reads a little like Cornelius Ryan’s famous The Longest Day. It is comprised of reports and letters written at the time by German soldiers and officers interlaced with explanations and chronological battle reports.
The red line throughout the German comments is that they are totally awed by the incredible amount of materiel the allied bring to shore in never-ending transport operations. That and the total air supremacy by the allied air forces, making it near impossible to move anything on the ground during daylight times.
Clearly, as we know, and as is confirmed also by the German side’s stories, things could have turned out quite different if it hadn’t been for some grave errors and miscalculations on the German side. Not having strong units defending the – unfinished – Atlantic wall was only one of those issues. Not having control over the armored forces immediately, not having sufficient air coverage, not having agreement on the seriousness of the situation, most important officers not being present, and then some.
Looking at all the German comments on the impossibility of beating the onslaught of the allies, it is indeed surprising to see how long the Germans did, in the end, hold out. Until the Falaise Gap closed, the allies were not really making much progress in spite of various offensives.
The book is very well researched and offers a wealth of footnotes in each chapter, referring to sources used. Very interesting reading indeed. Well done!

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WW2 Traces

This is a remarkably interesting account of the defence of Northern France and the ensuing North West Europe (“French”) campaign. It is professionally researched and beautifully written making it very enjoyable to read. I highly recommended it as a version of the campaign from the German’s perspective.

Dr Stuart C Blank

This is an excellent book looking at the whole campaign from the German side and throughout there is the same theme of fighting for Germany against all odds. It is somewhat strange that the Germans consider themselves outfought by both the number of men and the amount of materials the Allies possessed.

Worth reading? Definitely.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

The words of the men facing these events have been provided by the author in a way that makes it very easy to forget that these were German soldiers. It does make you realise that these were just soldiers doing a job and gives them back their individuality and humanity. This offering from Richard Hargreaves is a book I strongly urge you to read if you want to learn about as aspect of World War II from the Germans perspective using the words of those who were there.

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You might be tired of Normandy books – but even if you are I reckon you will appreciate The Germans in Normandy. It certainly renewed my interest in that beautiful and once very bloody part of France.

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Lars Gyllenhall, Blogger

Good accounts, well written and researched.

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Paul Reed via Twitter

A book proving that there are still valuable new insights into the Normandy fighting that add greatly to established knowledge. The story of the Allied landings in Normandy have been told very well from an Allied perspective but remarkably little has been written about the experiences of the Germans who were the recipients of the largest amphibious landing in history – Highly Recommended

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A book that I recommend to all history and story lovers.

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Old Barbed Wire Blog

I found this terrifically informative exciting and compelling, and would highly recommend it.

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A Question Of Scale, Seb Palmer

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

About Richard Hargreaves

Richard Hargreaves is a journalist. His previously published books include The Germans in Normandy and Blitzkrieg Unleashed. He lives at Gosport near Portsmouth.

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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…

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