Another treat for me arrived in the post from my friends at Pen And Sword Books, a history of the D-Day landings written by David Howarth. First published in 1959, this gives first hand accounts of all aspects of the Normandy invasion from start to finish. Beginning with the training in England, we read many different tales from all ranks of men, all with different stories of bravery and sacrifice. Rather than a very dry, factual account of events from the most important day of World War Two, every man’s and woman’s story is a personal one. Mr Howarth goes into great detail and effort to give each individual a history and a personality, from the British, Canadian and American soldiers, to the German defenders and the French civilians caught in the middle of it all. This makes it a very personal account of the landings, and one anyone with an interest in this huge moment in history should read. We read about paratroopers landing into flooded swamps in the wrong place, British specialized tanks sinking into mud and becoming accidental bridges, and all sorts of other amazing stories of bravery. The first hand accounts cover all the lead up to the invasion, all the different units that had special jobs particular to such a beach landing, and every parachute drop behind enemy lines. There is a at least one account for every beach landing at Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold and Juno. If you have seen The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan, no doubt the two greatest movies depicting the D-Day landings, you will soon make connections between the stories in this book and how events were illustrated in those two awesome films.
For any wargamers out there this book will also provide much inspiration for planning any scenarios based on any aspect of the D-Day landings. Definitely worth a read on many levels!!