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Books on the British/Canadian experience in Normandy


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I would like to ask for titles of good books on the British experience in Normandy, both books like Hill 112 by J.J. Howe and personal accounts such as With the Jocks by Peter White. 

Who can recommend me some?

Edited by Aragorn2002
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Hey Aragorn, Have you read Zuehlke's books on the Canadian experience in Normandy (and everywhere else)?  I've read most of these.  Sometimes I would wonder if the Brits were trying to get all the Canadians killed but would then remember that Brit casualty rates weren't low either.

https://smile.amazon.com/Mark-Zuehlke/e/B001HO8UPA/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

author's site:

https://zuehlke.ca/

good Brit tank commander memoir:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IRQITIY/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

 

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44 minutes ago, danfrodo said:

Hey Aragorn, Have you read Zuehlke's books on the Canadian experience in Normandy (and everywhere else)?  I've read most of these.  Sometimes I would wonder if the Brits were trying to get all the Canadians killed but would then remember that Brit casualty rates weren't low either.

https://smile.amazon.com/Mark-Zuehlke/e/B001HO8UPA/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

author's site:

https://zuehlke.ca/

good Brit tank commander memoir:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IRQITIY/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

 

I've got almost all of his books and like them a lot, especially Ortona and the Juno series. I don't think the British tried to sacrifice the Canadians. They were among the best units and gave everything when they fought. Never understood Dieppe, that must be said. 

Hills book looks good too!

Edited by Aragorn2002
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8 minutes ago, slippy said:

Over the battlefield' series by Ian Dalglish. Three books covering Epsom, Bluecoat and Goodwood, are really good as are the battleground Europe series

 

 

Got them all, Slippy, and yes, all great books. Dalglish is very good. 

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4 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

 I don't think the British tried to sacrifice the Canadians. They were among the best units and gave everything when they fought. Never understood Dieppe, that must be said. 

Couple of interesting links on Dieppe here, including the German side takeaways:

https://www.historynet.com/what-if-the-dieppe-raid-had-succeeded.htm

The German View of the Dieppe Raid

Dieppe convinced many in the German high command that a cross-Channel attack could be stopped right at the water’s edge. “At Dieppe,” Hitler declared, “it needed only a regiment, engaged at the right time, to repel a raid which in a few hours might have involved three divisions. In no case must we allow the landing to last more than a few days—if not a few hours. The example of Dieppe must serve as a model.”

The raid therefore trumped the arguments of German commanders who favored a flexible defense based on a strong counterstroke by armored forces. 

Interesting take, though rather tenuous, given that by mid '44 the Germans had also faced major Allied landings in Sicily, Ozereyka Bay, Salerno and Anzio.

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21 minutes ago, LongLeftFlank said:

to repel a raid which in a few hours might have involved three divisions.

The 'Detail' is the word 'Raid'. In that sense the operation failed too as the exit strategy failed too. Hitler as usual shined as an NCO fortunately for us he tied up his General Staff. 

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I can recommend this account of a platoon commander in the 15th Scottish Infantry Division, it’s quite beautifully written and the experience of Operation Epsom is bleak and harrowing (I picked it up to read after recently completing the Scottish Corridor campaign in CMBN) 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23534415-lion-rampant

This is an excellent Sherman Tank commander memoir, what I particularly like is the author goes into Normandy as a green replacement so you get a matching viewpoint as you read along. The audiobook on Audible is really good too. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tank-Action-Armoured-Commanders-1944-45-ebook/dp/B01BT3Z9WK

Final recommendation is this book, which is slightly heavier than a pure memoir, but goes into forensic detail how all the different branches of the Canadian and British armies got through the Normandy campaign. If you want real specifics of how things were organised and fought on the ground I think it’s pretty great.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stout-Hearts-British-Canadians-Normandy/dp/1909982555

(It’s quite a thick and large book so the paperback is your most reasonable option)

Edited by jamxo
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2 hours ago, jamxo said:

I can recommend this account of a platoon commander in the 15th Scottish Infantry Division, it’s quite beautifully written and the experience of Operation Epsom is bleak and harrowing (I picked it up to read after recently completing the Scottish Corridor campaign in CMBN) 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23534415-lion-rampant

This is an excellent Sherman Tank commander memoir, what I particularly like is the author goes into Normandy as a green replacement so you get a matching viewpoint as you read along. The audiobook on Audible is really good too. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tank-Action-Armoured-Commanders-1944-45-ebook/dp/B01BT3Z9WK

Final recommendation is this book, which is slightly heavier than a pure memoir, but goes into forensic detail how all the different branches of the Canadian and British armies got through the Normandy campaign. If you want real specifics of how things were organised and fought on the ground I think it’s pretty great.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stout-Hearts-British-Canadians-Normandy/dp/1909982555

(It’s quite a thick and large book so the paperback is your most reasonable option)

Thanks jamxo, I've ordered Lion Rampant on Kindle. 

Does Stout Hearts contain many first person accounts?

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I realize the op is asking for specific books from British and or Canadian perspective, but I'll recommend 'Grenadiers' Panzer Meyer's book (Last half of the book, prior his capture and the trials), if you haven't read it already.

Edited by Blazing 88's
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4 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

Thanks jamxo, I've ordered Lion Rampant on Kindle. 

Does Stout Hearts contain many first person accounts?

Yes quite a few, but they are interspersed amongst the chapters in paragraphs to help illustrate the various topics being discussed rather than being entire chapter accounts. If you have a kindle it says the kindle version is really cheap, and you can preview it with the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon so you perhaps can preview a little of it. I really can’t recommend the book enough if you want to really get deep into understanding how things were organised and fought. 

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17 minutes ago, jamxo said:

Yes quite a few, but they are interspersed amongst the chapters in paragraphs to help illustrate the various topics being discussed rather than being entire chapter accounts. If you have a kindle it says the kindle version is really cheap, and you can preview it with the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon so you perhaps can preview a little of it. I really can’t recommend the book enough if you want to really get deep into understanding how things were organised and fought. 

Good idea, I will do that.

I've also been looking for Bloody Buron by Snowie. One of the few books that got away. 

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On 3/23/2021 at 11:44 AM, zaybz said:

John Buckley's 'Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe' is highly recommended if you want something with a wide scope, perhaps to complement a first-hand account.

I've dl-ed the kindle version, thanks!

I'm also curious about Howie's Bloody Buron, but it's only available second hand and at a ludicrous price.

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3 hours ago, slippy said:

I see Tim Saunders has a new book out about the 12th SS Hitlerjugend in normandy, not read it yet though.

 

Saunders is a must buy for me. There seem to be two new books by this author. One on the 12th SS, one on Normandy 1944: The Fight for Point 103, Tilly-Sur-Seulles and Vilers Bocage.

 

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1 hour ago, Aragorn2002 said:

Saunders is a must buy for me. There seem to be two new books by this author. One on the 12th SS, one on Normandy 1944: The Fight for Point 103, Tilly-Sur-Seulles and Vilers Bocage.

 

Yes saw that also Aragon. Have you looked at some of the editions heimdal books also? There is one called 'three days in hell' which has been published in French and English, I have not read it, but it covers the battle at Buron. I have a few of their Normandy series on Rauray and Op Martlet and they are very good. They are in French though which I can't read , so I use google translate 😉.

 

Also Pen and Sword seem to be publishing some of the French editions Heimdal into English, I think they have done battle for St Lo, Carentan, and battles of the Odon so far. 

Edited by slippy
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1 hour ago, Aragorn2002 said:

Saunders is a must buy for me.

 

I have most of his books. These look like must buys to me, too.
My real last name is Saunders. I figure if I ever get to England, I’ll look up good ol’ “Cousin” Tim and see if he’ll put up his long lost relative for a bit!

Edited by mjkerner
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, slippy said:

Yes saw that also Aragon. Have you looked at some of the editions heimdal books also? There is one called 'three days in hell' which has been published in French and English, I have not read it, but it covers the battle at Buron. I have a few of their Normandy series on Rauray and Op Martlet and they are very good. They are in French though which I can't read , so I use google translate 😉.

 

Also Pen and Sword seem to be publishing some of the French editions Heimdal into English, I think they have done battle for St Lo, Carentan, and battles of the Odon so far. 

I know the Heimdal books, Slippy and did buy several, among them Three Days in Hell. It covers the fighting on 6-7th June, while Bloody Buron covers the fighting on the 8th July. I won't buy Heimdal books in the French language anymore since several are already translated in English and hopefully more will follow. Waste of money to buy them twice, my French is horrible.

Another good Heimdal book in English is Hell on Hill 112.

Edited by Aragorn2002
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2 minutes ago, mjkerner said:

I have most of his books. These look like must buys to me, too.
My real last name is Saunders. I figure if I ever get to England, I’ll look up good ol’ “Cousin” Tim and see if he’ll put up his long lost relative for a bit!

In the end we're all one big family, MJ. 😉

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  • 5 weeks later...

I very much enjoyed Roman Jarymowycz, Tank Tactics From Normandy to Lorraine (Stackpole, pb pub 2009), several years ago, with these comments:

1. The author is opinionated! Very much of the 'Monty was a murderous monster who should have been hanged' school, as I recall. 

2. But the amount of focus on Canadian and Polish units is refreshing.

3. So with the understanding that the book has a decided POV, I thought it was interesting and, certainly, different.

And last year I read James Holland's Normandy '44, and though it was superb. Covers all the allies (not much about the French or Polish units, though, as I recall), nice balance of high-/mid-/grunt-level perspectives, and brings in lots of recent technical work on such questions as 'Were 88s really such a big deal?' and so forth. I thought he neglected the Canadians a bit, but then I'm biased!

 

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Tout's Battle of Tilly is a nightmare to read, being the perfect storm of turgid writing, hard to read type and near zero white space. This is unfortunate because there's lots of great information and accounts of various aspects of the battle in in it, including how well hidden Tiger 1s in tank pits in cornfields were: practically invisible, but able to wreak havoc on the towering by comparison Shermans, most of whose hull and turret were exposed above the corn. Another good one was the German nickname for the Panzer IV. It translated as Rothbard or Rothbart with the weak chin, referring to the 50 mm turret front armor, the weak point in the tank's frontal armor. The battle for the coal pit was memorable, too, unusual and really ugly. 

If I could find that British infantry combat account I refer to in my Still Searching OP, would give that an unqualified recommendation.  At the time that concerns us, the author of the diary commanded an infantry company, which is about as pertinent to what you seek as it gets, right down to how many men with full sized shovels were immediately sent forward to fortify the area around a newly captured farmhouse before the Germans could counterattack.

Stopping the Panzers by Marc Milner got five stars on Amazon and won the Brigadier General John L. Collins Prize. A quick perusal of the Look Inside ringingly affirmed the immense value of this book, which is all about the previous unrecognized signal contribution of the Canadians to preventing the Panzers from attacking the invasion beaches. A single paragraph describing the combat experience of a Panther column butchered by Firefly fire through the flanks was enough to convince me this book is a must read. Gets down to the level of a named TC's tank gets hit, the gunner is killed, and what happens thereafter upon bailing out. Intimate look at tank warfare from the German side, but if that's the way the rest of the book is done, then it's easy to see why it got five stars on Amazon. 

Patrick Delaforce's Taming the Panzers is all about the 3 RTR at war, including Normandy. It's first rate. 

Have not read it yet (want to), but Blackburn's book, The Guns of Normandy, on serving with 25 pounders in Normandy, has gotten great comments on the CM Forums and was followed by The Guns of Victory which covers the British artillery to the end of the war in Europe: Belgium, Holland and Germany. One juicy morsel from the first book was of near instant fire support while on the move in column. A battery was designated for the job, and someone carefully tracked the location of the battery on the road. When a fire request came in, the battery would pull off next to the road, deploy, load and open fire. Once the mission was over, the battery would pack up and return to the column as before. And while the battery wasn't in the march column, the column  kept rolling.

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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