on 19 May 2011
This is yet another very good book in the Forgotten Voices series.
The book is compiled using interviews with those who took part, were involved in Operation Overlord.
It includes accounts of the preparations for D-Day, the deceptions, the tragedy of the exercise off Slapton Sands, the airborne attack prior to the landings, and the landings and the fight to gain a foothold in Normandy and so head towards Germany, and end the war.
The book looks at this operation from a British perspective, which makes a change, having read a few books about D-Day.It proves that the Yanks didn't win the war single handed.
A recommended read for those interested in the history of WW2,we owe those guys so much, young men mostly putting their lives on the line in the fight against Hitler!
on 12 March 2013
My Uncle is 87 and has recently moved into a care home. He is in the early stages of dementia but in conversations with him he remembers clearly his time in the army and in particular, the D-Day Landings. It's difficult to try and keep his interest sparked on anything for too long as he's been used to being at home and doing things for himself and has taken a wee dip since moving into care but I gave him this book and normally when you give him books to read on things like this he dismisses them as "tosh, didn't happen like that" but the fact that these were recollections from the memories of old soldiers has grabbed his interest and he's thoroughly enjoying reading it. Thank you.
Although this book suffers from the perennial curse of this series; photo's are printed on ordinary paper; it's a more minor issue in this one. The problem with not using decent quality paper for photo's is that detail can be lost. Whether the original photo's used here are larger, better quality, or whether it's because so many of them are more panoramic in nature, not too many of them suffer. That, however, is not why I don't think this is worthy of 5*.
I found the book slightly disappointing because of what it is lacking. The blurb begins "the day the Allied forces crossed the Channel...", but it doesn't deal with the Allied forces. Both the author & the writer of the introduction make the valid point that the British & Commonwealth contribution tends to be under-stated, especially by Hollywood, which naturally focuses on America. The way to redress such an imbalance is not to simply ignore the US!
The FV Great War book drew on recordings of Americans, French & Germans as well as British & Commonwealth memories. I am sure there must be a similar range of recordings in the IWM archive for WWII. Despite that probability, despite the fact that the book begins as far back as early 1942, there is nothing from the Free French; not even anything from Europeans e.g. Poles fighting in British uniform; scarcely anything from women or civilians, nothing from Americans; bar one passage from a US journalist (it does cover the Slapton Sands disaster, and Utah & Omaha beaches, but only from the viewpoint of British servicemen); nothing from the German side, and their memories (if there's any in the archive) would have been of great interest in the context of the book.
The greater oddity is the fact that book stops dead on D-Day. In similar books in the series, such as the Somme & Dunkirk, the timeline begins well before the battle / campaign, and moves through it to the aftermath. D-Day ends on the 6th June, which is an astonishing cut-off. I'm not suggesting that it should have run into the Battle for Normandy, but the author himself acknowledges, in the preamble to the final chapter, that it took a full ten days to fully secure the beaches. To stop it on the 6th denies the reader a wealth of further experience, including any mention of the putting together & use of the iconic Mulberry harbours.
The strength of the book, naturally, is the excellent & varied selection of accounts that have been used. Earlier criticism aside, all 3 services are represented, all branches of those services are represented; you've everything from beach obstacle clearance units to sappers to airmen, landing craft crews, gunners, infantry, commandos, air-crew; rank & file, NCOs, officers & generals are all there. It's a shame about the missing content, but it's a book well worth the money.