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"Books on the British Beaches on D-Day" Topic

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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2022 7:43 a.m. PST

I'm in the US and I'm having a challenging time finding books about the British and Canadian Beaches through my local library system. I am thinking about buying some used books on the subject and I am looking for recommendations, both for books on specific beaches and general histories.

Andrew LA14 Jun 2022 8:07 a.m. PST

The Pen and Sword battlefield guides have specific books for each D-Day Beach

And if you want the Big Kahuna then go for the After the Battle two volume series on D-Day:

advocate Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2022 8:43 a.m. PST

"Sand and Steel" by Peter Caddick Adams covers all the beaches in great detail (it is a very thick book).
And for the days immediately following, can I recommend the excellent "Stopping the Panzer" by Mark Wilner? Gives a great account of what the Canadians were up to.

Fred Mills14 Jun 2022 9:09 a.m. PST

Mark Milner, Univ of New Brunswick, wrote 'Stopping the Panzers' about the Canadians at and beyond Juno.

The official history of the Canadians in Northwest Europe is available free online at the Directorate of History and Heritage, and there are good battlefield guides by Terry Copp that cover the region in great detail.

Mark Zuehlke has an entire series of popular histories on Juno, the breakout, the Channel Ports, and on through the end of the war.

42flanker14 Jun 2022 12:47 p.m. PST

From the publisher's blurb on 'Stopping the Panzers'

"In the narrative of D-Day the Canadians figure chiefly—if at all—as an ineffective force bungling their part in the early phase of Operation Overlord."

Is this the case? It wasn't my impression.

advocate Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2022 2:15 p.m. PST

Fred Mills – thanks for correcting my mistake.
42Flanker – Max Hastings' "Overlord" and John English "The Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign: A study in failure of High Command" are mentioned. Milner might have taken some of the criticism to heart – it's not just a blurb exaggeration – but in any case, it is a very analysis of the battle the Canadians fought on 7-9 June..

smithsco14 Jun 2022 6:41 p.m. PST

Second Sand and Steel. Reading it right now. Fantastic

Fred Mills14 Jun 2022 6:50 p.m. PST

Milner defends the Canadians' performance in Normandy against those like J. English and others who'd either downplayed it or focussed attention on what they took to be inadequate divisional command (e.g., 3rd Cdn Div) or the slowness of operational movement. Guy Simonds usually comes off best in such mostly-critical assessments, but Terry Copp, Milner, and other historians have more recently emphasized Canadian (and, more broadly, Allied) successes against the supposedly superior mobility and tactical effectiveness of the Germans. It is an old, sometimes tiresome, but entertaining debate, one that dances a bit with the ghosts of Dupuy as well as the old US-UK debate about grand strategy and army group leadership.

mkenny22 Jun 2022 4:10 a.m. PST

Normandy books fall into 2 main categories. The Max Hastings/Keegan type hagiography of all things German and unrelenting criticism of the 'weak' and 'slow' Commonwealth contribution. For example D'Estes 'Decision In Normandy' is a complete hatchet job on Montgomery and his armies where D'Este simply made things up (that Churchill deliberately hid 250,000 possible reinforcements for Normandy in the UK to further the UK post-war aims) to disparage 21st AG. US Published books are nearly all critical (in some way) of the UK. Recent authors take a more balanced view which whilst accepting criticism give more prominence to the Commonwealth forces achievements which were critical to the success of the campaign. You have to have some background on the author before you decide if the book is going to be a fair record of the campaign but generally I would say anything up to the 1990s needs to be treated with caution with Authors like Hastings/D'Este being at the very bottom of the pile because of their blatant bias and distortion.

Arcane Steve22 Jun 2022 4:37 a.m. PST

I've just finished reading Brothers in Arms by James Holland and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is the publishers blurb:

The Sherwood Rangers were one of the great tank regiments. They had learned their trade the hard way, in the burning deserts of North Africa. From D-Day onwards, they were in the thick of the action til the war's end. They and their Sherman tanks covered thousands of miles and endured some of the fiercest fighting in Western Europe. Their engagements stretch from the Normandy beaches to the bridges at Eindhoven. They were the first British unit into Germany, grinding across the Siegfried Line and on into the Nazi heartland.

Through compelling eye-witness testimony and James Holland's expert analysis, Brothers In Arms brings to vivid life the final bloody scramble across Europe and gives the most powerful account to date of what it was really like to fight in the dying days of World War Two.

Brothers in Arms does not disappoint…he has an eye for detail…He seemingly incorporates technical information about tanks and anti-tank weapons so that we get a feel for how men interacted with the technology of war…likewise, amid the numbers that demarcate hills of military deployments, Holland takes us down to the individual's experience.
Times Literary Supplement

There are some very interesting anecdotes and insights. I think that you will find it very informative.
Regards, steve

mkenny22 Jun 2022 4:58 a.m. PST

Brothers in Arms does not disappoint…he has an eye for detail…He seemingly incorporates technical information about tanks and anti-tank weapons so that we get a feel for how men interacted with the technology of war…likewise, amid the numbers that demarcate hills of military deployments, Holland takes us down to the individual's experience.

This is one of those increasingly common books where first-hand accounts are used but the correct technical details of the period are then grafted on to make it sound more authoritative. It irons out the memory failings of the narrator and makes it more acceptable to those who obsess about things like 'there is no such thing as a Porsche King Tiger'. It plays well with the target readership but I do not think it works well as history. I remember the first one I read a few years back and it read like it was two different books by two different authors. I recognised well-known incidents from previous books that, had I not know it was a collaborative work between a veteran and a modern-day author. I would have taken as further confirmation that that it actually happened in sight of the veteran.

UshCha22 Jun 2022 10:54 a.m. PST

I have to say I agree with Arcane Steve about the book he mentioned excelent.

mkenny any history is only as good as the guy who experienced it and or recorded it.

Many authors I have read on Higher level operations seem to lack any real grasp of the subject. The typical here is the 2000 mile front. Patently that line is hypothetical in the minds of an uneducated author. for many miles there will be nobody so how could it be a front if there is nobody so see it? A veteran was there, he may have got it a bit wrong but its real history you have to work with.

thomalley24 Jun 2022 10:40 a.m. PST

Not to be confused with "Brothers in Arms" by Karem Abdul-Jabbar. Which is also a good book on the 761st Tank Battalion.

AndreasB24 Jun 2022 12:23 p.m. PST

Richard Anderson, 'Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall' about 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers.

All the best


hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2022 6:14 p.m. PST

The Pen and Sword guides mentioned above are excellent, although some authors are better than others.

There also are several Osprey books on the different assault beaches, which I use for atmosphere. :-)

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