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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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on 17 January 2017
Review of Hill 112

This is a review of the book “Hill 112 Battles of the Odon-1944” by Tim saunders. It is part of the Battleground Europe series published by Pen and Sword in 2000.

Hill 112 is a low hill almost imperceptibly standing above the open arable land around the city of Caen. Far less well known than the D-day landings or the more, perhaps, glamorous airbourne operations, the ferocious and bloody battles around Caen were hugely important in terms of the overall allied invasion strategy. They also arguably represent the last time the SS fought in such strength (the Germans being completely and exhausted by the time of the Ardennes offensive). The June and July battles around Tilly Sur Seulles, Carpiquet, Hill 112, Rots, etc are rapidly falling from both living and cultural memory and it is scant testimony to the appalling losses that so few books are written on this aspect of the liberation of Europe. That you are reading this review suggests that unless you have a family connection to the battle, you have more than just a general interest in the battle of Normandy. However Tim Saunders is good enough of a writer that the book will be a vivid and compelling read even for the general reader.

Tim Saunders sets the battles in their strategic and tactical context well, and places them in the general time frame of the Normandy campaign. He also does a fine job of demonstrating the effect of the battle on both the German and British ability to fight and the strategic outcomes of the battles.

The book is arranged chronographically with sections on travel to the France and directions for a battlefield tour bookmarking the description of the battle. The book is clearly and concisely written and does a fine job presenting personal accounts while not getting overwhelmed by military details. The battles themselves were absolutely ferocious... people getting set on fire, battalions being destroyed....entire companies being cut off and wiped out....heading up into tiger tanks and getting destroyed.... officers with walking sticks..... limbless men being evacuated in wheelbarrows ….ceaseless SS counter attacks.... an officer nearly decapitated with an MG42. In the midst of this carnage was a hugely impressive level of professionalism and tactical excellence by both the British and German forces. Neither side missed a beat and with the full range of modern weaponry at their disposal losses were of course dreadful. One is humbled by the understated bravery of the British tanker going forward to face the deadly and German Tiger and Panther tanks, or the German SS Mann facing down such overwhelming material superiority. The book features an impressive collection of photos and period maps. The photos are also mostly relevant to the action which is a rarity in WW2 books.

My copy is about an A5 size, while this works fine for the text it makes maps quite hard to use, and though the author has used period maps I would have welcomed the addition or a modern map or two to orient myself on the ground. I would also have liked more detail on the included maps. That said the use of aerial photographs, period and contemporary pictures will be of huge benefit to the modern reader/visitor. I would also have appreciated pauses in the narrative to reorientate myself, I would have also liked graphic depictions of troop positions, losses and so on at the end of significant periods, 5th Dorset's retreat from Maltot for example. A bibliography or “further reading” section would also be useful.

This is a fine well balanced piece of military history which neatly strikes a balance between drama and detail. I highly recommend the book to those interested in WW2 and the Normandy Battles. I have visited the site in Normandy and it is a large and poorly signed area especially compared to the D and J day sites, this book would have greatly enriched the experience and in fact I would say it is invaluable to getting the most out of one's stay.
I will certainly look to buy more books in this series.
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on 17 May 2017
I am always angered by the 'donkies' in the army who resisted Hobart's efforts to develop the tank. That and the pitiful news coverage reflected by Youtube which made Montgomery look weak and indecisive when this book clearly demonstrates the fierce fighting that took place which prevented a German breakthrough. It also demonstrates that like the first world war firepower is not always the crucial be-all end-all solution to warfare with a determined professional enemy.
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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 30 November 2016
This book justifies to all the doubters that British soldiers were cowards and let the Americans do the work. If it wasn't for these brave countless selfless people holding back a multitude of divisions I think Normandy would be told differently. The only problem with the book was the pointless tour guide information at the beginning and the end .
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on 22 January 2017
This is a very fair and detailed account of the battles between British and German troops in the region of Hill112 in Normandy in July 1944. It was carnage and the hill was finally taken by the British when the focus of the fighting moved West.
Worth reading by any student of WW2.
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on 14 June 2017
The battle to take Caen after the Normandy landings. Why did it take so long ? Failure on the part of Montgomery ? Not if you believe this book , who maintain it was a delaying tactic on his part to keep the German forces bottled up whilst the Americans organised a break out in the West. Quite believable as it achieved just this. A good read.
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on 11 January 2014
I am a bit of WWII nut. This book addresses a small part of the Normandy Campaign that is not easy to write or read about. This was the mincing machine of the Western War at its worst. This battle made Monty realise his resources were not infinite. It also redresses the balance between the the Eastern and Western fronts. The SS units that fought here admitted it was tougher than where they had left, Russia. Monty planned a war of attrition as part of his master plan for the break out. Read about what he got. The 43rd Wyvern Division's finest hour, possibly.
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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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on 4 July 2016
Very interesting book about a battle that isn't much talked about which is a shame as it was a major action in the battle to get across France . Some books sometimes get a big bogged down in confusing detail but this kept my interest all the way through.
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