La Percee Du Bocage, Vol.2...

...30 Juillet - 7 Aout 1944, from Heimdal, via Casemate Books

Title:  La Percee du Bocage, Vol.2, Caumont-l'Evente, Saint-Martin-des-Besaces, Le Beny-Bocage, Vire.

Author: Stephane Jacquet

Publisher:  Heimdal

ISBN:  978-2-84048-435-6

A second volume in the series of French language publications from Heimdal covering the operations to break out of the Normandy Bocage.  It is the second volume in this series (a third is planned) of French language books that covers the relatively short period of 30 July - 7 August 1944, and specifically Operation Bluecoat and the operations of VIII Corps (volume I dealt with XXX corps in the same period).  Having said the text is in French, it is important to point out that all the hundreds of photos which illustrate the book have both French and English captions.  It is written by the very knowledgeable author Stephane Jacquet, who you may meet if you are in the region, as he is curator of the excellent war museum in Tilly-sur-Seulles.

A large, hardback book, with nearly 500 pages, the level of detail in here is simply superb, and supported by a host of photos which include portraits of some of the personnel taking part, archive photos of the events along with many modern day comparison images, presented in 'then and now' comparisons.  Add maps, pictures of surviving memorabilia and this is another first class reference for anyone interested in the Normandy campaign of 1944.  It is also packed with personal accounts from veterans, British, German and Civilian.

The book begins with an introduction that provides the general situation as of the 25 July, along with the planning and preparation for Operation Bluecoat and the final plan of attack.  This leads into chapter 1, explaining what happened prior to the new operation, the operational zone of the British VIII Corp between 6 June and 29 July.  That is followed by chapter 2, which provides details of the opposing forces that will feature in the rest of the story.  The British VIII Corps involved  15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, 6th Guards Tank Brigade, 11th Armoured Division and the Guards Armoured Division.  The German defences they would face involved the German 276 and 326 Infantry Divisions, plus schwere SS Panzer-Abteilung 102, schwere Panzerjager-Abteilung, 21 Panzer Division and both 9th and 10th SS-Panzer Divisions.  Given all this background detail, it then moves on the largest single chapter, 3, which is sub-divided to give a highly detailed account of the places and the events day by day, from 30 July through to 6 August.  Even if your French language skills are not ideal, the huge number of photos, all with English captions, will make this one of the best references you will find on this period of the Normandy campaign.  A perfect companion to volume 1 of course too.

Distributed by Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.

Robin