Three Monkeys Online

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Looking back at D-Day. A review of The D-Day Companion.

A chapter deals with naval operations, the naval plan and in particular the decision to construct a floating harbour, the &ldquoMulberry”. The 'hero' of this chapter is Admiral Bertram Ramsey and the vital contribution he made to the success of naval operations to land men, vehicles and supplies on the five Normandy beaches, OMAHA, UTAH, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD. Another chapter deals with the landings on the beaches and with the actual insertions of the five divisions, beach-by-beach. The chapter on airborne operations deals with the airborne element of OVERLORD; parachute, glider, and troop-transport aircraft operations. In particular how many large-scale airborne operations led to many casualties for limited tactical gains.

Consideration is given to the consolidation of operations and the push inland and with the infantry battles through the bocage country to secure the Port of Cherbourg and the Cotentin Peninsula. Then the breakout from the bridgehead to secure room for manoeuvre throughout Normandy.

The German Perspective is given its full significance and with the German disbelief that the Allies would land in Normandy. So sanguine were the Germans that Rommel, the commander of the Atlantic defences, was on in leave in Germany on D-Day celebrating his wife's birthday. Hitler had reserved to himself the authority to commit the Panzer Divisions needed to repulse the invasion, and when Von Rundstedt sought his permission to commit the reserves when Allied intentions became clear, Hitler was asleep and no member of his staff was prepared to wake him to ask for it. This farcical gaffe allowed the Allies the vital hours they need to consolidate their position ashore. The Luftwaffe and German Navy were totally outnumbered and unable to offer more than a token resistance. The result was that by the time the German reserves were mobilized, the Allies were not to be dislodged.

The chapter on the 'Strategic Overview' deals with the planning and the impact of the successful Allied investment of the European mainland and how that sealed Germany's fate. Key to the German defeat was the Allied air supremacy. This had led Rommel to plead with Hitler to negotiate with the Allies. Hitler refused and also launched ill-conceived counter attacks in Normandy that led to the destruction of German armour and the loss of their artillery and vehicles. Through ULTRA (the intelligence gained through breaking the Germans radio codes) the Allies knew that Hitler would not allow his soldiers to abandon ground in any circumstances, and so were being forced to fight battles which, lacking air support, they knew they would loose. The failed assassination plot against Hitler ensured that the Germans would continue to fight futile battles that gradually led to their destruction as the Allies drove the Germans across the Seine and then out of France altogether.

The final chapter deals with the 'Historic Overview' from the vantage point of D-Day as the largest and most dangerous amphibious military operation in history, and one that had the largest element of international cooperation. Soldiers, sailors and airmen from America, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Holland, and Poland created an unprecedented international military venture.


This is not a propagandist or a triumphalist work and the significance to D-Day of personality conflicts, fear, incompetence, and bad-judgement amongst the Allies is not ignored. It is a carefully considered and well-balanced account, and not withstanding its publication to coincide with the 60th. Anniversary of D-Day, reading this book will repay both the general reader, and the reader of military history, at any time.

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