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Guards VC: Blitzkrieg 1940 Paperback – 1 May 2006
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Features the war diary of the 1st Guards Brigade during the Fall of France, reconstructed using eye-witness accounts and contemporary records from both sides. This work includes an account, from both sides, of the action in which L/Cpl Harry Nicholls of the Grenadier Guards won his Victoria Cross on May 21st, 1940.
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Reading between the lines you can extrapolate the rationales of strategy between the two armies, the Germans' use of fighting Patrols to probe for weaknesses and the British of holding and maintaining The Line. This is the first account (for me) that gives Lord Gort's perspective as the man on the ground, often in accounts he is referenced too as a man promoted above his ability, but this book shows how in fact he performs brilliantly especially when you consider the command structure and his geographical position. Lord Gort was able to be militarily objective which brought him into conflict with Churchill, which may probably explain why after May 1940 we loose sight of Lord Gort.
From this book I discovered: the logistics' of the BEF concerning Cherbourg and St Nazaire, the almost encirclement of the BEF when the Belgium front collapsed, incidence of `friendly fire' & `friendly conflict'! The numerous acts of bravery; and the mention and the bravery of one Major FG Matthews of the 2nd Battalion of North Staffordshire Regiment whom did not received an award. And for me an irony - in earlier works the French Maginot Line mentality and lethargy and subsequent fall is often borne by the description by General Brooke of "Men unshaven, horses ungroomed, clothes and saddlery that did not fit ............... ...yet in this book when a French officer who is smartly tuned-out he is shot out-of-hand as a Fifth Columnist for trying to re-direct traffic! Finally at last an author correctly attributes so called fifth columnist actins to the Brandenburg Commandos.....and how the Germans referred to the Bren Carriers as `light-tanks.
The book is a comprehensive account of: the nuts and bolts and facts and figures of the BEF, a chronological narrative from just before the outbreak of war - through the BEF actions until the arrival back in GB: it builds up the situations using Military diaries and personal accounts of both `friend and foe'; of full accounts describing the engagements, actions, casualties, situational analysis and outcomes.
My only grip is (and not wishing to be disrespectful) is the front cover.....