Share via Email In the early hours of 6 June , the allies launched the greatest amphibious assault of the second world war. Assisted by bombers and airborne troops, Operation Neptune, the first phase of Overlord, was the precursor to a campaign intended to drive the Germans out of France and the Low Countries. The attack took place during a brief break in unseasonally bad weather. Antony Beevor begins his account of this now almost mythic narrative five days earlier, by describing the head of the allied weather forecasting team, James Stagg, receiving a broadside from General Harold Bull, assistant chief of staff to the supreme commander, Dwight D Eisenhower.
|Published (Last):||18 November 2018|
|PDF File Size:||18.44 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||12.85 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one If the traveling party seemed a little uncomfortable — well, free trip to Europe. Cold, dank, miserable weather. A lack of crowds. A lack of things that were open. And of course, in true Clark Griswold fashion, my dad insisted on wearing a beret.
I was past the age of being mortified by him, and well into the age of being constantly irritated with him. Our excursion is mostly memorable for the low points. The bleak melancholy of a post-Christmas, wintry London.
The high point, at least for me, was our trip to Normandy. Because it was off-season, Bordeaux felt deserted. We stayed in one of the few hotels taking lodgers. We drove to the D-Day landing beaches on empty roads. The weather was bone-achingly cold, and charmed by wind-whipped sleet. When he walked onto Omaha Beach, near Colleville-sur-Mer, we experienced something quite unexpected: solitude.
We were absolutely alone on one of the most famous battlefields in human history. Even allowing for that, it was sometimes hard to imagine the epic struggle that took place on this sand, amid the grass-swept dunes and craggy heights.
The fates of nations balanced here one day — I thought it would be bigger. There, 9, crosses and Stars of David lay before you in terrible, beautiful symmetry. You think you know 9,; then you see it spread before you in mathematically precise rows. The dead who lay beneath white stone did not all fall during the first day of the D-Day invasion.
In terms of blood, it really began. Its focus can be found in its subtitle: the ferocious inland push against a determined German foe. Contrarians love to point out how the USSR fought bigger battles, lost more men, and drained the Third Reich like an enormous leech. But as Beevor points out, in statistical, per capita terms, the fighting in Normandy was as costly and vicious as the battles in the East.
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy is a sturdy, well-constructed history. That is not an issue here. This book is straightforward, chronological, and thorough.
Though the subject is well-trod, Beevor attempts to present different viewpoints than those already published. Once the beachhead is established, the book follows the American forces as they moved west along the Cotentin Peninsula, and the British under Bernard Montgomery, as they struggle to take Caen in the east.
Beevor ends his tale with the liberation of Paris. Intermixed with the military history are sharp character sketches and fascinating side conversations that cover varied topics, such as P. There is also a chapter devoted to the July 20th plot against Adolf Hitler. I enjoyed seeing this oft-told event placed in its wider context. When you read a lot of World War II books, you start to notice an odd tension: near-constant criticism of Allied forces coupled with grudging and sometimes not-so-grudging admiration of the fighting capabilities of the Wehrmacht.
This manifests itself in severe critiques of the martial abilities of men like Montgomery, Dwight Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley. The oddness, of course, is that the Allies won the war, with this reality attributed to some vaguely defined inevitability.
A great example of this is the Falaise Pocket. By any measure, it was a great Allied victory: many Germans were killed; many more were captured. But Allied actions at the Pocket are often criticized because not enough Germans were killed; not enough were captured. To be sure, Beevor has some harsh words for many of the Allies, particularly Montgomery whose reputation was always questioned, but who has taken an even more severe beating in the postwar years.
But Beevor, unlike, say, Max Hastings, is more charitable in his observations, and more cognizant that war is an imperfect practice, and that battles are not fought on maps, with pushpins, but on physical terrain, amongst human beings. Beevor is a well-respected historian of World War II. When you read one of his books, you know you are in good hands. He is not as beautiful a writer or as gifted a storyteller as Rick Atkinson, who recently covered this same time period in his magisterial The Guns at Last Light.
He also does not have the acid tongue or contrarian instincts of Max Hastings. This is not a criticism, by any means, since Atkinson and Hastings are two of the best.
But it is a way of saying that Beevor — in terms of literary merit, at least — works with a lower ceiling. I strive to avoid crowds by going places at the time of year that the least number of people are visiting. So, not only are we constantly traveling to distant battlefields, but the weather is always terrible.
Needless to say, this will likely become a separate article in the divorce proceedings my wife eventually files against me.
Fair stood the wind for France
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one If the traveling party seemed a little uncomfortable — well, free trip to Europe.
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor: review
It was true: although Anglo-American losses ran at 2, men per division per month after D-Day, higher than the Russian losses of 1, per month on the Eastern front at the time, the Germans — who lost 2, per month — were comprehensively defeated in the campaign. Yet as Antony Beevor never fails to point out in this most humanitarian work of military history, French civilian losses were huge too; in the first 24 hours of Operation Overlord alone, more than 3, French civilians were killed — more than double the number of American GIs who died on Omaha Beach. Caught in the crossfire between the biggest amphibious assault in history and fierce German resistance, even bombarded by their own Free French Navy, the people of Normandy paid heavily for their liberation. The chapter on the Omaha Beach landings is almost the literary version of the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan, with the same horror and pace. In the 30 minutes before H-hour, the US 8th Air Force dropped 13, tons of bombs there, but because they did not want to hit the oncoming armada and flew in across the beaches rather than along them, the bombs missed, and German machine-gunners wreaked terror and chaos as the invaders disembarked. With 11 of the 13 amphibious trucks carrying howitzers sinking, some men landing miles from the designated sites, and German mortar shell explosions turning beach pebbles into grapeshot, the beach soon resembled an abattoir. It is testament to their sheer doggedness that the Americans landed no fewer than 18, men there that day.
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy