...A Battleground Normandy Guide from Pen and Sword
Title: Operation Totalize
Author: Tim Saunders
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
This is a new addition to Pen and Swords excellent Battleground series of touring guides. In this case we get a close look at Ooeration Totalize, one of a number of attempts to break out of the Normandy bridgehead. In this case it was undertaken in early August 1944 and an attempt by armoured and infantry units to advance South from Caen on the road towards Falaise.
Totalize was notable for being a joint operation, involving Canadian and British Divisions plus the Polish armoured division. They came up against experienced troops of the 12 SS Hitlerjugend. After some initial success, and an advance of over 8 miles, it was eventually brought to a halt. The book gives a detailed account of the course of events over the course of the operation, and considers the actions of all the units involved. As well as the armoured unit advances, by-passed villages had to be dealt with by the infantry.
One particular action occurred during Totalize, and this is detailed, the death of the famous German tank commander, Michael Wittman near the village of St. Aignan-de-Crasmenil, where his Tiger I was knocked out by Firefly gunner Joe Ekins, of the 2nd Northants Yeomanry. As is usual with this series, there are plenty of maps, many showing unit positions, along with appropriate archive photos mixed in with some modern photos of the battlefield, and what you can see there today.
Following the historical account there are Appendices which include an Order of Battle of the units involved as well as a tour (by car) of the of the battlefield. Having been to the area myself, this is a good guide and very handy to have with you if you are planning a visit. The countryside is lovely, and there have been some modern changes such as the modern N158 dual carriageway that cuts through the area. Off this on the country roads, there is still much of the battlefield to see. Another good guide from author Tim Saunders.
Another Battleground guide which is an ideal size to take with you in your car on holiday to France.