The Battle for the Cotentin Peninsular...

 

...9-19 June 1944, from Pen and Sword

 

Title: The Battle for the Cotentin Peninsular, 9-19 June 1944

Author: Georges Bernage

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47385-763-6

This is a new English language version of this book by Georges Bernage which was originally published in French by Editions Heimdal, back in 2013.  As a fan of the detailed work Georges has put into the various aspects of the Normandy campaign it is great to see this now available in English.  The basic story covers a relatively short, but important element of the story of the Western bridgehead of the invasion.  The US Paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions were recovering from the scattered drops and missed landing grounds of D-Day itself while US troops and the support of naval artillery as well as the tanks and artillery which had landed on Utah beach provided them with additional support.  Still confined to a narrow area of land behind Utah Beach itself there was a need to expand the bridgehead to create the space for more follow up troops and equipment to be able to 'fit' in the available space.

The book opens with the situation in the area following the initial landings.  Particularly the need to break out and this looks at the Causeway at La Fiere, where the Merderet River had been allowed to flood and provide an obstacle, limiting the crossing points to only a small number of roads.  After defending the causeway against German attempts to attack the beach, it became one of the few routes for the Americans to mount their attacks to break out from the bridgehead.  It also covers two German batteries, at Crisbecq and Azeville, which were both scenes of more fighting and which remain today as museums which are really well worth visiting.  It moves on as the US troops moved across the Cotentin to cut it in half, with the aim of defeating the German forces in the peninsula and opening up the port of Cherbourg for shipping to carry in supplies.

The text provided the detail of the course of the fighting, the units involved on all sides, along with memories from veterans and civilians.  These are accompanied by many maps and a lot of photos, which are a fine mix of both archive records as well as modern day comparisons.  Helpful captions are provided for them all.  If you plan to visit the area, this would be an excellent book to have with you.  Despite being a battleground back in 1944, these days it is a beautiful part of the world to visit, and as illustrated by a number of photos in the book, there are still plenty of relics from the war which are well worth visiting.  I have read a good number of books on the Normandy campaign by Georges Bernard and I have never been disappointed.  He is knowledgeable and has a clear fascination for his subject which shines through.  Definitely one to recommend for anyone with an interest in the Normandy campaign of 1944. 

Robin