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Author Topic: Normandy Campaign  (Read 663 times)

Offline vtsaogames

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Normandy Campaign
« on: October 06, 2019, 06:55:46 PM »
I was in Normandy recently, staying in Bayeux. This town miraculously survived without being bombed, unlike many nearby towns. British patrols approached on the evening of June 6. The advance next morning found the Germans had fallen back to a line south of the town and it was liberated without a shot. As the French owner of the beach tour I booked said, not a single bomb hit the town, not even by mistake. I have read quite a bit about D Day itself but now wonder what would be the best choice for a history of the entire campaign. For instance, what was going on that Bayeux was abandoned without a fight. A good thing too, I might add for it is one charming place, with Bishop Odo's cathedral still standing. And the tapestry is magnificent.  Please suggest a good history of the entire campaign.

Also, my mother-in-law's cousin was killed somewhere outside St. Lo at the start of the Mortain counter-offensive. I am interested in finding a history of the 28th Division. Yes, I know the 30th took the brunt of the attack. It seems the 28th took enough to end my wife's relative. Pointers to a history of the 28th would be appreciated.
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Offline Truscott Trotter

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2019, 01:27:24 AM »
errrr might be to do with a bit of cloth er tapestry?  lol

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2019, 02:12:12 AM »
I was in Normandy recently, staying in Bayeux. This town miraculously survived without being bombed, unlike many nearby towns. British patrols approached on the evening of June 6. The advance next morning found the Germans had fallen back to a line south of the town and it was liberated without a shot. As the French owner of the beach tour I booked said, not a single bomb hit the town, not even by mistake. I have read quite a bit about D Day itself but now wonder what would be the best choice for a history of the entire campaign. For instance, what was going on that Bayeux was abandoned without a fight. A good thing too, I might add for it is one charming place, with Bishop Odo's cathedral still standing. And the tapestry is magnificent.  Please suggest a good history of the entire campaign.

Also, my mother-in-law's cousin was killed somewhere outside St. Lo at the start of the Mortain counter-offensive. I am interested in finding a history of the 28th Division. Yes, I know the 30th took the brunt of the attack. It seems the 28th took enough to end my wife's relative. Pointers to a history of the 28th would be appreciated.

Assuming you want the American side of things, why not start with the free official histories from the US Army?

https://history.army.mil/html/reference/Normandy/histories.html
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Offline vtsaogames

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2019, 02:27:11 PM »
Thank you Carlos. I'm also interested in the Commonwealth effort and what the Germans were up to.

Offline Jemima Fawr

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2019, 11:20:19 AM »
There was some fighting going on around Bayeux, but I think it basically boiled down to a lack of German reserves to hold the ground once the crust had been broken.  Bayeux was on the junction between 716. Infanterie-Division and 326. Infanterie-Division and the area was very thinly defended beyond the beach defences.  326. ID's line of retreat was towards Isigny, while 716. ID's line of retreat was toward Caen, so that left Bayeux essentially undefended.

However, Kampfgruppe 'Meyer' from 326. Infanterie-Division, consisting of an infantry battalion and a StuG company, was sent to Bayeux late on D-Day, after fruitless searching for paratroops near St Lo. 

Split into two groups, one half of KG Meyer went east of the city and established its HQ at the Chateau de Martragny, before probing north towards Creully, where its StuGs bumped into the leading squadron of 4th/7th Dragoon Guards (8th Armoured Brigade) at the factory on the southern edge of the town.  Having bloodied the 4/7 DGs for no loss, they withdrew to the high ground at St Leger (today marked by a water-tower next to the motorway) and withdrew rapidly south on 7th June, hotly pursued by 50 Recce Regt.

The other half of KG Meyer was sent north through Bayeux late on D-Day and set up a blocking position at the Chateau de Sully, on the northern outskirts of the city.  It then fought a sharp rearguard action against 5 RTR (7th Armoured Division) early on 7th June, before withdrawing rapidly back through the city to rejoin 326. ID.

By the time the leading elements of I SS Panzer-Korps arrived in the area on 7th June, the British were already through Bayeux and established well south of it: 50 Recce Regt encountered the lead elements of the 12th SS near Audrieu and 7th Armoured Division encountered Pz Lehr near Juaye-Mondaye.
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Offline fred

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2019, 12:29:19 PM »
There are probably more books on D-Day and Normandy than any other battle - which dosen’t help with finding somewhere to start! I’m not up to speed on the most recent ones published but a couple that could be worth a look

Colossal Cracks - looks at Monty’s approach to the battle
The Germans in Normandy - kind of does what it says

Both are high level strategic books.

At a different level (and age) is The Longest Day - captures lots of individual stories, probably more journalism than history. But was one of the first and rather sets the expectations of the subsequent audience - and was made into a the film of the same name. 

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2019, 12:54:36 PM »
Personally speaking, I’m just waiting for someone to write on of those middle-brow pop paperback histories that litter airports and shopping centres with the title ‘Normandy The Forgotten Battle’.  :)

Apparently, according to one notable student of history, the battle was remarkable for the absence of any Kurdish troops.

Offline FlyXwire

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2019, 01:08:58 PM »
Yes, and especially since they had an glider-borne brigade just sitting around waiting to be hitched up and released - into the anals of history.....

Offline fred

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2019, 05:20:27 PM »
Personally speaking, I’m just waiting for someone to write on of those middle-brow pop paperback histories that litter airports and shopping centres with the title ‘Normandy The Forgotten Battle’.  :)

Apparently, according to one notable student of history, the battle was remarkable for the absence of any Kurdish troops.

:)

Considering the amount of pressed Ost Truppen I’d be quite surprised if there weren’t a couple of Kurds there.

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2019, 06:21:26 PM »
If you haven't already read it, Anthony Beevor's 'D-Day' is a very readable and thorough overview of the whole campaign, right through to the liberation of Paris, taking in the landings, the breakout, the fight for the Cotentin Peninsula, the Falaise Pocket, and all the other major movements and actions. Lots of eyewitness testimony coupled to a strong, pacy narrative.

I had a wander round the town of Carentan a few weeks ago - stopped for lunch on my way west to the far end of Brittany. It's a pretty quiet town these days with little evidence of the legacy of the war except for a big memorial. Given that large parts of it were destroyed in the fighting, it's interesting that there still seem to be plenty of old buildings from earlier centuries - but you can also see a fair amount of more modern buildings that must have been restored or rebuilt in the aftermath of the war. Nothing much in the way of scarring / battle damage though (last week I was in Berlin, and there you can see evidence of the war everywhere you look on older buildings)

Interesting to see the place for real having seen it portrayed so often on various wargames tables... There was a fair bit of the characteristic Norman stone in evidence, but overall not a huge degree of resemblance ::)

Offline Jemima Fawr

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Re: Normandy Campaign
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2019, 07:07:30 PM »
If you haven't already read it, Anthony Beevor's 'D-Day' is a very readable and thorough overview of the whole campaign, right through to the liberation of Paris, taking in the landings, the breakout, the fight for the Cotentin Peninsula, the Falaise Pocket, and all the other major movements and actions. Lots of eyewitness testimony coupled to a strong, pacy narrative.

I had a wander round the town of Carentan a few weeks ago - stopped for lunch on my way west to the far end of Brittany. It's a pretty quiet town these days with little evidence of the legacy of the war except for a big memorial. Given that large parts of it were destroyed in the fighting, it's interesting that there still seem to be plenty of old buildings from earlier centuries - but you can also see a fair amount of more modern buildings that must have been restored or rebuilt in the aftermath of the war. Nothing much in the way of scarring / battle damage though (last week I was in Berlin, and there you can see evidence of the war everywhere you look on older buildings)

Interesting to see the place for real having seen it portrayed so often on various wargames tables... There was a fair bit of the characteristic Norman stone in evidence, but overall not a huge degree of resemblance ::)
If you go to 'flattened' towns such as Falaise, Villers-Bocage, Aunay-sur-Odon and Tilly-sur-Seulles you can see the typical style of post-war centralised rebuilding.  It's pleasant enough (a lot better than post-war building in the UK), but very 'samey' and instantly recognisable as 'new-build'.  Towns such as Bayeux and Creully give a better idea of what towns looked like in 1944.