This massive nuts-and-bolts account corrects many of the inaccuracies surrounding the vaunted Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
British historian Caddick-Adams (Military History/Defence Academy of the U.K.; Snow and Steel: The Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45, 2014, etc.), a major in the British Territorial Army, offers an impressive summary of the sheer materiel and human effort required in securing the Normandy beachhead, from years of preparation to excruciating execution. Examining Gen. Erwin Rommel’s reinforcement of the so-called Atlantikwall, which was supposedly impenetrable, the author underscores some faulty suppositions—e.g., that German soldiers were “supermen” when in fact they were aged, exhausted, and relying heavily on horses for mobility. The American presence in Britain dazzled the local population, while the black American troops were treated with markedly more respect and warmth by the British locals than they were used to back home, prompting one veteran to recall, “our biggest enemy was our own troops.” Caddick-Adams, an expert in this terrain, devotes considerable space to the months of training that the invasion required and the many lives that were lost in run-up accidents; the prickly personalities of the various leading generals; the reliance on the sketchy weather reports; the nerve-wracking decision to delay the invasion 24 hours due to unpromising sea conditions; and how the Germans, who of course knew an invasion was coming at some point, had essentially “applied different criteria for a successful invasion” than the Allies. Following the armada toward Normandy, the author explains the roles of airpower, minesweepers, and assault flotillas and chronicles how, beach by beach, the Allies made their valiant, perilous forward thrust. In an intriguing postscript, he examines the crucial role of the spy network in “inducing Hitler to order a series of mistaken moves based on false intelligence.” There is also a glossary, rank table, and a list of the orders of battles.
A thorough, exciting, and altogether excellent choice for World War II—and especially D-Day—aficionados.