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!
An excellent collection of memories from those who took part in this momentous invasion. The words are strict quotes from representatives of all ranks in the language of the individual, making this the most personal and emotional account of D-Day that I have read. Do not wonder why old soldiers often do not speak of such days, just wonder how most lived a normal life after the event. This is war as seen by soldiers, sailors, airmen and planners, not later analysis by historians. It is an account of bravery, death and horific wounds. It tells of men facing unbelievable odds, the loss of friends and colleagues and yet overcoming the enemy and placing a firm foot on Europe on this, the first day of the long last battle of the second world war. Read it and be thankful for the sacrifices made that day.
I highly recommend this book for several reasons. For the first thing, we all have got a warped sense of D-day and who fought that day. Like the introduction says in the book, "Hollywood revels in depicting D-day and the ensuing Battle of Normandy... as an overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, American affair". Hollywood, Stephen Ambrose and Tom Hanks/Stephen Spielberg, all being guilty as charged. And to my horror, being a historian, I discovered, that it's mostly what is taught in schools all over as well. So, this book really is an excellent tool to set history straight.
Secondly, the book is so well put together and so organized that even if you are not particularly well versed in battles and reading about them, you can make a mental picture of what was going on. No, I know very little of guns and tactics, but still could get a lot out of this book, and understand. The different chapters and sub-chapters, always explain what the plan was and what actually happened. Then you get comments from all layers. From top brass down to the privates and THIS makes the book so wonderful. One event is described by many, the bird's view and the little ant's view. Those people at the imperial war museum, really know what they are doing when they commission a book! The major chapters are: Build Up, Countdown, Airborne Assault, Seaborne Assault, Pushing Inland, Holding On, Day's End. So it covers a lot of angles and interesting aspects.
What this book shows more than anything, is that British and Commonwealth citizens were involved on all 5 beaches, in one way or the other. There were as many of them, as there were of Americans! Which both are overlooked facts. And they did not have an easy time on their "own" beaches, at all. Nor in taking their goals, even if Pegasus bridge was taken rather quickly.
The men that have written down their experiences for the IWM are all different. Some bring up all the horror. Some bring up things that make you laugh. Some bring up eccentric leaders or just crazy things that happened. Some what saved their lives. But every comment/story, feels valuable and I am very grateful that they took the time to record all this, since nothing can beat this, first hand accounts.
The Forgotten Voices series of books are, for me, some of the most moving, eye opening and valuable insights into war and its impact on individuals that are available. Forgotten Voices of D Day, carries on in the same vein as previous worthy volumes. This is eye witness, participant history of the highest order. From bomber and glider pilots to naval personnel, paratroopers to meteorologists, Royal Marines to the infantry and even the contribution of conscientious objectors - it's all here, the whole range of human emotion and achievement in the face of huge adversity. This book sets its stall out early on - one of its "missions" is to redress the balance. That is, to show the D Day landings were not solely an American venture - as the book points out, recent film and TV portrayals and indeed, some non fiction writing, has been dismissive (and in my opinion hugely disrespectful) about the contribution made to the D Day landings by British armed forces and indeed the level of challenge they faced. This is D Day, unashamedly from a British perspective. This book covers the preparation, the postponement, the raids on vital bridges and batteries, the landings and the push inland. The entries are vivid and you can only admire the strength of character of the people whose accounts are included (and of course the many thousands whose are not). There is so much to admire in this book. It is not just the bravery and utter drive and determination of the people involved it's also their sense of humour and penchant for understatement which goes towards making this a harrowing, exciting,emotional and educational read. If you are not gripped, if you are not moved, when you read this book,then you may as well give up !