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STEEL INFERNO by Michael Reynolds

STEEL INFERNO

1st SS Panzer Corps in Normandy

By Michael Reynolds

Pub Date: July 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-885119-44-5

 A detailed account of the tank battles in Normandy after D-Day when British, Canadian, Polish, and French forces moved off their landing beach sectors to meet the best of Nazi Germany's elite professionals--the Waffen SS Panzer Corps. Reynolds, a retired British major general and former high- ranking NATO officer (The Devils Adjutant, 1995, etc.), focuses on the makeup of the feared SS units that stopped the Allied advances and threatened to drive the citizen soldiers back into the sea. Though fighting for one of the most brutal regimes of all time, they were considered some of the best troops in modern times. The early Waffen SS selectees were highly motivated teenagers who were trained to excel in obedience and self-sacrifice. Pride, courage, and mastery of the best weapons and tactics in tank warfare were stressed. Most of their officers rose from the ranks as highly decorated, battle-hardened veterans. In addition, the American Sherman tanks were no match for the German Tiger and Panther tanks. The SS units inflicted heavy losses on the Allies and, when his forces failed to move forward at Caen, almost caused Gen. Montgomery to be replaced. Massive Allied air power and devastating naval gunfire helped to save the day, destroying German strongholds, equipment, and supplies and ending a bloody war of attrition. Reynolds describes the failure of the Allies at Falaise to seal off the German retreat but believes that it was the fierce Panzer counterattack rather than Allied bungling that spared the Germans. Reynolds seems to give less credit to the American GIs, disregarding Patton's destruction of the German left wing, which forced the enemy to flee toward Falaise, as well as the key American seizures of crucial terrain at Cherbourg and in Brittany. A British view of the Normandy battles, and a well researched narrative drawing heavily on German as well as Allied archives. (Military Book Club selection)