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Normandy 1944, The Battle for Caen...


...another Images of War from Pen and Sword


Title: Normandy 1944, The Battle for Caen

Author: Simon Forty

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-47382-375-1

Yet another new addition to the  Images of War series of archive photo references, this time looking at the story of the fighting for the city of Caen in Normandy.  As it tells us in the Introduction, Caen was planned to be captured on D-Day but wasn't finally taken until 6 August.  At the time, and over the years since, there has been plenty of discussion finding Montgomery at fault for failing to achieve the original plan.  This is also considered in the book.

The reality was that the story of Caen lasted longer than expected, and involved a variety of operations which did eventually lead to success, though at a cost to Allied and German troops, as well as the French civilians in the region.  The book is divided into 7 chapters following the introduction.  These cover D-Day Objective: Operation Perch: Operations Martlet and Epsom: Operations Windsor and Charnwood: XXX Corps against Panzer Group West: Operation Goodwood: and finally, Blunting the Panzers.  Each chapter starts with a few pages of text which tell the specific story and leads into a collection of well captioned archive photos from the campaign.

If you have studied the Normandy campaign before, then some of the photos you may well recognise, but a high proportion were new to me.  The selection covers all sides, with British, Canadian and German troops and equipment all featured.  They show individual details of uniforms and equipment as well as the variety of vehicles to be seen along with the terrain they fought in.  Another clear lesson that is well illustrated was the Allied control of the skies above Normandy.  Many of the photos show units with vehicles lined up ready to start the various operations, and which would have made a very tempting target if German airpower had been more capable at the time.  It also provides a good illustration of one of the talking points of the Normandy campaign, the strengths and weaknesses of the armoured vehicles used by both sides.  For someone new to studying the Normandy campaign I think this is excellent, and even those who have studied it will still find plenty to interest them.  Modellers I think will like it especially for the visual references.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.


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