Neil Barber, I salute you! This is a most engrossing, exciting and detailed account of 9th Parachute Battalion in the first few days of Operation Overlord which at times reads more like a novel, packed as it is with personal testimony and recollections. The author has done a brilliant job in tracking down surviving veterans to tell a quite awe inspiring story of courage, fortitude and endurance. These men really did something special and Neil Barber quite rightly holds them in the highest esteem. There are plenty of photos, maps, diagrams and details making for a splendid read for anyone interested in the Normandy campaign. What I love about a work like this is that you get to read what the ordinary bloke felt and did and endured, something always missing from grand overviews and strategic accounts, and particularly relevant if you wish to visit Normandy to see what these men did. I went in 2012 and saw the Merville Battery and am going again this month, and having read this will make a huge difference to how I'll see the landscape this time. The account of Chateau St Come is riveting, you'll have nothing but the highest admiration and respect for what 9 Para and other units alongside them achieved in repelling wave after wave of counter attack from the Germans. You'll also, hopefully, feel as mightily humbled as I did. So hats off to you, Neil Barber - you've done a generation proud with this book. What remarkable men they were.
I really enjoyed this book. Having been to the Merville Battery many times with my father, I looked on the 9Para's actions in Normandy with renewed interest and insight. The author has done a fantastic job stitching together all of the sources and the maps and photos are great. Overall, a great read.
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An thoroughly well researched account of extreme acts of bravery by British Airborne troops in Normandy. The fact these guys still went in and attacked their objective whilst severely under strength is a testament to their bravery and training.
I recommend anyone interested in the Normandy campaign put this high on their wish list - it's a must-read.
The lasting memory of this book will be of another action carried out in Normandy which, to the general public, looked to have lasted a short time. However, these poor guys were dug in for weeks trying to hold back hordes of enemy troops whilst under manned and under supplied. Thanks to Neil Barber for helping us realise the true facts.
Slightly biased, as my grandfather commanded the operation at Merville, but Neil's book is the ultimate book on the Merville battery assault. Using personal testimonials from the men who carried out the operation, the story is told by those who were there - Neil's expertise is in corralling the excerpts into a flowing and exciting timeline that brings the whole Saga to life, and brings home the true experience of what they went through on D-day. Thoroughly gripping and packed with information, I can't recommend this highly enough if you are interested in the subject, and it's a cracking read even if you aren't.
Humbling. Two images will stay with me a very long time. The badly wounded left behind after the assault on the Merville Battery cheering as the remnant of the battalion marched off to meet the enemy counterattacks. And Brigadier Hill, pistol in hand, leading 40 men from the Canadian Parachute Battalion in a counterattack to take pressure off the hard pressed and severely mauled survivors of 9 Para who had beaten off multiple enemy attacks. With all due respect to our American friends, makes "Band of brothers" look like a walk in the park. Very affecting and truly inspiring.
A very good buy! What an amazing book. Better than most history books which end up just giving you facts and figures and almost bogging your brain down with the information - this really brings it home what they all went through on that fateful day and the days following. An amazingly well written account - more books should be written like this.