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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2002
This is another book in the excellent Battleground Europe Series.
This book, using accounts from veterans of 43rd Wessex Division, gives a rounded view of those often unsung county regiment soldiers, and their supporting arms, who fought from the beaches of Normandy through to Germany.
The book uses a good number of current and contemporary photographs to help understand the countryside and appreciate the conditions they fought under.
The tours are useful especially for those new to the area and the locations of cemeteries and memorials helps to complete a visit to the area.
Tim Saunders has written a fine book about a fine Division and bitter battle that should be remembered.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2002
With films like Saving private Ryan and T.V. programs like Band of Brothers you wouldn't be wrong in thinking that the really hard fighting was done by the yanks. They engaged the main Panzers while we sat back drank tea and twiddled our thumbs.
The truth is far from it and this single book explains why.
Its a brilliantly executed piece of writting and tells the story of the battle for the hardly heard of Hill 112. Where the 43rd division faced off against the elite of the SS panzer arms.
It brings a tear to your eye when you read about the hard bitter quarterless fight that when over the world forgot.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2013
as Someone who served in the !st Batt Worcestershire Regt. 214 Brigade of the 43 Wessex Division I fouight with my comrades all through July to the end of the capture of this feature Tim Saunders takes the reader right into this protacted action and as such it dispels the myth that the British Army failed to advance, whilst our American comrades made spectacular gains. This erroneaus criticism of the British perpertrated by American and British Press has rankled with those British Soldiers ever since and so it is refreshing that Tim has burst this myth. The truth is that it was the British and Canadian armies that held the might of the German defenders who almost fanatically held onto both Caen And Hill 112. Tim adequately describes the action and also portrays the value that was obtained by the tenacity of those forces that fought so hard in this area so as to allow the Americans a somewhat easier (if any action is easy) objective of clearing the Contenen peninsular and the capture of Cherbourg. I would dedicate this to the memory of my friends and comrades who lost their lives in the eventual capture of this feature CEEjay
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2011
Tim Saunder's `Hill 112: Battles of the Odon' covers the fighting between British and German troops, during the Second World War Battle of Normandy, for the strategically important feature: Hill 112. The book covers the end of Operation Epsom, Operation Jupiter in detail, before concluding with Operations Greenline and Express, the subsequent fighting and the eventual peaceful capture of the hill. The book is part historical analysis and part tour guide.

The opening chapter of this work feels like a complete rehash of Major How's `Hill 112: Cornerstone of the Normandy Campaign'. While there may not be infinite ways to describe military actions or an endless supply of personal testimony to draw upon, this chapter does feel like a reproduction of an earlier work down to the way the text is worded, photographs used, and quotes employed.

However, the book comes into its own from chapter two onwards. The main weight of the book focuses is on the two-day long Operation Jupiter. Detailed information is provided supported by maps showing the various battalion positions and their movements. The narrative moves in a logical fashion presenting the various phases of the battle and the back and forth fighting resulting in stalemate across the front both sides having exhausted themselves, but at the same time a British strategic success. Saunders does not show any bias, presenting information from both sides although the text does seem weighted towards the British. Plenty of personal testimony is on offer that enriches the text and provides first-hand accounts to the horror of war. During this Saunders provides his own critique of the assessment in the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division's divisional history against one of the battalions in action but also tosses in, an out of place and poorly formed opinion on Operation Goodwood. At one point Saunders states that the Wessex's commander decided to launch a renewed assault to take the hill towards the end of the operation, then attempts to balance the issue with the words of the armoured brigade commander who refused to launch his armour over the top of the hill without the reverse position being in the hands of the British infantry; Saunders then tells the reader they should form their own opinion on whether or not the commanding officer had issued the correct order for the infantry to attack. At the end of the day the reader should always form their own opinion on what has been read, but since Saunders is the historian (and an ex-military officer) he should make his opinion fully known and not produce a cop-out such as this.

The penultimate chapter deals in brief with the fighting that followed Jupiter. These operations take us to the peaceful chapter of the hill when it finally lost its strategic significance. The final chapter, along with the opening pages, provide useful battlefield touring information, where to purchase maps, how to get to Normandy from the UK, and what to expect once in Normandy.

Throughout the section on Operation Jupiter the same problem remains as noted at the beginning of this review: so many of the quotes used, feel like they have been seen before in their entirety. Surely there is other personal testimony to use or other ways of presenting it? Maps, while of excellent quality, appear to be period intelligence maps with thrust lines and other information added on top by the author/publisher, they are overloaded with information and no keys are provided; at points they can be as frustrating as much as they are helpful. Another niggling flaw in the work is the continued accusation by Saunders that the British hand held anti-tank weapon, the PIAT, was unreliable and useless, yet he provides numerous quotes of the exact opposite nature of British infantrymen using the weapon to drive off German armoured attacks and to knock out tanks. I have read numerous other accounts, and books, that put Saunders accusations into doubt as well. A major problem throughout the entire work is that no footnotes are provided, the source of quotes is not given, the source of information is not provided, nor is the source for even the photographs (bar a flimsy acknowledgement at the beginning of the book to "other sources"); for a historical work this is a serious critical omission, it loses credibility somewhat as readers or other historians cannot check for themselves the information provided nor find the sources used for their own reference. As with older works, this book first being published in 2001, the author was unable to engage or reap the benefits of works such as John Buckley's `British Armour in Normandy', thus some of the comments pointed towards the tanks of both sides feels a little off. Due to these points, I cannot rate the work as high as the other reviewers.

To summarise, there is a lot of detail here on Operation Jupiter however I feel that Major How's work on Hill 112 outshines Saunders'. However Saunders does provide more information on what happened after Jupiter, in this sense both works complement one another but I prefer the former over the latter as the guide to the fighting on the hill due to the writing style.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2009
I bought this book because I had read serveral books on the subject and where the others fell down was on maps showing the smaller battles around the villages. This covers this in spades, lots of maps showing where the individual companies were and where they were advancing to, this is backed up with lots of pictures showing the areas today and then. The information in the book is also well written, so well that you get a sense of what these men went through, with paragraphs written in the soldiers own words, saying what they went through, from both sides of the conflict.
If you have any interest in the battle of Hill 112 or want to tour the battlefield then this book is for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2010
I cannot praise this account of the battle for Hill 112 more highly. It puts the reader in the middle of the action and to wonder at the bravery and endurance of those engaged - indeed, on both sides. The description of the area of the battlefield as it is today is essential reading for anyone planning to visit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2014
I think that most people, including myself, are or were unaware of how much hard fighting, and how many deaths and injuries took place after D-Day. Having recently visited the town of Mayenne, I became aware that fighting took place there two months after the landings - it is indicative of the difficulty of taking large areas of countryside.
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on 16 March 2015
I chose this book,as I had never heard of this particular action. I had heard of operation Jupiter and Goodwood. I liked the fact that there are, comments from allied soldiers and German soldiers. Also entries from the war diaries of the British units involved. So the reader gets the views of the ordinary soldiers, and the official view of the battle. The book contains some picture's of the battle. The travel/route planner at the back of the book , will be useful to anyone planning to visit the area and hill 112. I also liked the order of battle list for the British army units that took part in this battle. Another useful piece of information,is the SS insignia of rank and the equivalent in the British and American army. All in all I feel it's worth a read.
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on 13 April 2014
I struggled a wee bit to understand the immense detail that Tim put into this book! However, this is first time I have read about "Hill 112" in detail. Most writers gloss over actions like this in favour of the bigger battles. There was so many gains and losses on both sides and different regiments, both allied and german, together with attacks from almost every direction, I was as confused as the guys were in the battle! However, I managed to get WW2 low level photos of the whole area, and suddenly, all became clear. Full marks to Tim for the research he put in. The guide at the back will be handy for the battlefield tourists amongst us. Well done!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2014
Very interesting read.
describes how the fighting and dying of British troops in the Caen area tied down 3 panzer divisions enabling the americans to break out of their sector.
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