Objective Falaise...

 

...8 August 1944 - 16 August 1944, from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Objective Falaise

Author: Georges Bernage

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47385-762-9

This new hardback edition of a book first published in French by Heimdal back in 2011 is now here from Pen and Sword in an English language edition.  The author, Georges Bernage is an expert on the history of the Normandy campaign and I always find his books interesting on a number of counts.  As he explains in the opening, the American Breakout from the Cotentin and Hitler's insistence on the Mortain counter-attack resulted in a withdrawal of some German armoured units which had been facing the British forces around Caen.  While the Americans continued to advance in the West, and the German forces concentrated to try and stop them, it presented an opportunity for the British and Canadian forces, along with the Polish 1st Armoured Division, to launch new offensives aimed towards Falaise.  The book covers in detail the 8-day period from 8 - 16 August 1944 and Operations Totalize and Tractable.

The book provides a detailed account of the events in a chronological order and with a level of detail enhanced by the personal accounts of those who took part on both sides, and some French civilians who witnessed them.  Throughout the book there are a large number of photos, a mix of wartime archive images along with many modern colour images showing us a variety of surviving items of militaria, and in some cases veterans who have returned to visit the area where they once fought, all those years ago.  Amongst the text we also get a lot of detail surrounding one of the stories which still attracts a good deal of debate, the death of the German tank ace, Michael Wittmann.  Featured with this are some modern photos showing a number of German AFV parts which were recovered from the battlefield by local farmer, Paul Sampson.  These include parts from not only Wittmann's Tiger, but also from a couple of rare Brummbar SP guns which were knocked out there as well.  The ball mounted gun of one even has a 75mm shell embedded in the thick mounting.  Among the photos there are even some original wartime colour pictures, as well as the more common black and white.

Add maps to help give more context, this makes for a very interesting and detailed account of this important week in the story of the Battle of Normandy.  If you visit the area then I heartily recommend this as one to read beforehand (and take with you), to help plan your own itinerary.  Great to see this available in English language now

Thanks to Pen and Sword for my copy.

Robin