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The Bloody Battle for Tilly: Normandy 1944 (Battles & Campaigns) Paperback – 26 May 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; New Ed edition (26 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075093056X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750930567
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 685,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Kent Tout, PhD, served as an NCO with the 1st Northants Yeomanry during the Second World War, fighting in Sherman tanks and saw action at Operation 'Totalize'. He now lives in West Sussex.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael MCCARTHY VINE VOICE on 16 May 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a detailed narrative of one of the most exasperating and costly battles in Normandy in 1944. One that took two weeks to achieve its objective using tactical methods of both defence and attack that would have been very much at home on the Western Front during the First World War. Indeed there was concern amongst some soldiers that trench warfare could evolve, so difficult was the capture of the Verrieres-Bourguebus ridge on which sat the village of Tilly la Campagne, its principal fortress.

Operation Spring barely gets a mention in the official history, however for Canadians it marks a controversy that remains to this day. The battle plan created by the Canadian commander Lt-General Simonds was unusual, given the preponderance of Allied armour, to use infantry to force the Verrieres-Bourguebus ridge just South of Caen. The consequences were serious for the Canadian command and to this day Simonds is a character evoking strong opinions. The author examines in detail the evolution of the attack and uses numerous personal sources to support the narrative. There is much good information concerning the German side and is therefore a balanced account.

The graphic descriptions of ground and the progress of the several assaults are excellent but the absence of good maps is a serious shortfall to what is otherwise an excellent explanation of the battle. The single very poor map is totally inadequate and really inhibits the narrative. A great shame as it is an otherwise excellent book. I used it (together with good IGN maps) to tour the battlefield in detail with a group of Canadian veterans and this book added greatly to the tour content and quality.

Mike Mccarthy
Editor, 'The Battle Guide'
Guild of Battlefield Guides
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hussar on 6 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very traumatic account told by someone who was there always does much to set the record straight and this book is no exception. As one of the other reviewers has said, this should be compulsory reading for the Yanks. The men described in this account fought like lions for so little gain that it becomes most upsetting towards the end. Young lads just wasted, this is one book that doesn't shy away from saying it how it was. War is a s****y, awful business that broke many good men and would go on to break many more.

Fine reading. It doesn't get 5 stars because of one glaring ommission...the maps. There aren't any. Aside form that it a damned good book and well worth the folding.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Grev VINE VOICE on 30 Mar. 2007
Format: Hardcover
American historians (the critically acclaimed Carlo D'este aside) have always been utterly disparaging about Montgomery and the British/Canadian contribution to the events in Normandy and beyond, mistaking the fact that Montgomery possessed a vainglorious and difficult personality as meaning that therefore his skills as a general were negligible. When plan A - taking Caen and breaking out beyond - failed, Montgomery improvised (as all good generals need to do), and concocted plan B - the British and Canadians and their armoured divisions were to act as an anvil for the German panzer corps to smash themselves against, thus fatally weakening them and eventually allowing the American right flank under Bradley to smash through the weakened German lines. Even while the battle was raging American commentators concentrated on the American advance and wanted to know "why don't the British do some fighting?" The British and Canadians were fighting. And this book - written by an author who took part in the battle - provides the proof. It describes a little known and primarily Canadian battle (with British support) and details many of the savage hand to hand combats that took place against some of the best trained and equipped troops that Hitler's Germany ever produced. The next time an American historian feels like criticizing the British and Canadians perhaps he'd do well to read this book first.
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By Euclid on 8 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written account of the fighting around Caen which has never received the publicity it deserves. All Ken Tout's books are worth reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Toughest Fighting in Normandy 11 April 2001
By Rod Szasz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While the Americans were engaging in a War of movement to envelop the bulk of the German forces in Normandy at Falaise the Canadians and the British were tasked with engaging the main German strength in Normandy. To keep the majority, and the best, fighting units of the German army from turning to block the American advance. Montgomery therefore had to push hard enough to keep German strategic minds on the area south of Caen. In the battle that followed hardened Panzer Grenadier, and SS Divisions lead by the most seasoned, battle-trained officers in the history of warfare fought against fresh-faced Canadian volunteer regiments getting their first taste of battle. In some units the casualties approached those their father's regiments had suffered in World War I.
Although the allies had superlative artillery support and control of the air, they faced an amazing disparity in other equipment: German arms were simply better and fired more quickly, more accurately and with a hitting power that could not be equalled in the immediate Normandy arsenal of the allies. The Tiger tank and the 88mm anti-aircraft-cum-anti-tank gun riegned supreme. In commanding positions, direct assaults on German postions around Tilly-la-Campagne garnered a frightfull harvest of death. Whole regiments were wiped out and Tout describes it with the eye of a survivor (Tout served in the Royal Armoured Corps during the Normandy battles).
He gives a good account of the Canadian action and recounts the battle honours of some of the oldest Canadian Highland and French-Canadian Regiments. He describes the relentless charge into Hell across Norman wheatfields of the Canadian Black Watch Regiment and its sudsequent annihilation. The unsuccessful and confusing night attack on Tilly by the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and the deadly game of cat and mouse played in abandoned iron mines between French Canadian Regiments and the 12 SS Hitler Youth.
But the task was achieved and the bulk of the enemy forces never faced the Americans and were therefore unable to save themselves from eventual envelopment, it was a success in inter-allied cooperation between Anglo-Canadian and American forces.
As with most military history books, there never seems to be enough maps. Tout uses aerial photos taken during the battle and these are helpful but difficult to read. His writing style is easy and he really gives you a feel of what it was like to be on the cutting edge of the offensive facing an enemy better trained and armed.
It is also a little short on detail as to where and what the Americans were doing during this time. This is important because timing for all of the crucial operations in Tilly revolved around American movements. This would allow us to get a better feeling of the pressure on the Brits and Canadians to keep pushing, even at times when it was clear that frontal attacks against the well fortified villages, farm houses, orchards and hedges around Tilly were bound to have only a slight chance of success.
If you like military history narratives, this is a very good one.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Major Disappointment 17 Mar. 2002
By Highlander - Published on
Format: Hardcover
With regret, I must conclude that this book misses the mark ... and by a considerable distance. I have a major interest in Canadian military history and was looking for a book that would tell the whole story of the unique Canadian divisions' breakout from Normandy. What I got was a long string of extracts from offical records combined with personal accounts ... lots of trees and no forest.
There is only one map in my text, located right after the table of contents. It is amateurish and confusing. This story begs for maps that picture the many detailed accounts of the Canadian actions, but there are none. Thus, this book repeats a common weakness of military accounts -- describing movement over complicated terrain in words only.
On the other hand, the photographs are interesting and valuable.
I do not challenge the other reviewers' reviews, but we clearly were not reading the same book. Had the accounts in the book been placed in the context of other Normandy actions, had the broader operational and strategic picture been painted, had the individual unit actions been organized and grouped to illustrate the major thrusts of the action, I might have enjoyed the book more. To be fair, the overall Canadian action involved straightforward slugging through an endless sucession of German defenses and that is a difficult story to tell. Unfortunately, the author apporached the story by slugging through an endless sucession of sometimes indistinguishable actions and he did not do it well.
I'm sorry to submit this review, but I think that there are other and better ways and books than this one to understand the Canandian contribution to the Normandy breakout.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Commonwealth Omaha Beach...... 8 May 2001
By Mitch Reed - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be a top choice of most readers who are interested in the Normandy Campaign. The book vividly describes the "hell" of this little know battle. The first person accounts, while common in the book, really describe the problems and bravery of the Canadians during this crucial period. The author also ties in the larger picture as well as writes about the weapons used. This book is a great follow on to Blanford's "Both Sides of the Beach", as well as "Steel Inferno" by Michael Reynolds. One of the better first person accounts around.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Recommended Reading 27 Feb. 2001
By René Hirsch - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have read a lot of books about the Battle of Normandy over the last couple of years. This book is one the finest in my collection. It is a fantastic combination of historic facts and eyewitness accounts. As a person like me, who was born after the war, you will never fully understand what these people must have felt marching into battle. After reading the book your imagination comes a little bit closer to that feeling. If you are interested in the Battle of Normandy this book is a must!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A for Effort 10 Mar. 2010
By S. J. Huse - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Tout was a participant in the battle he writes about. He has done a great job in gathering every shred of writing about the battle, weapons, tactics, units, etc. This book would be an excellent read for any Canadian who was involved in the battle. Indeed, it appears that Mr. Tout's purpose was to fill in the previously undocumented history of Canadian forces in this battle.

All that said, Mr. Tout seems to be a much better tanker than a writer. As much as he tries he fails to bring the battle to life. It is tough going to read it all the way through. As a previous reviewer has said it is all trees and no forest. With few exceptions it is a rather dry recitation of what company did what when.

The book does rate 3 stars because there are delicious tidbits you can pick up here that you can't find anywhere else:

"...In a survey of 65 hits only 3 out of 53 hits by German 75 mm shot failed to penetrate the Sherman armour and all 12 out of the 88 mm shot penetrated.'

In short, Mr. Tout has done a tremendous job of gathering material. The presentation leaves something to be desired.
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