On 21 May 1940 during the ill-fated Dunkirk Campaign the British launched an operation spearheaded by two tank regiments to help secure the city of Arras. This was the only significant armoured operation mounted by the British during the campaign.
Poorly coordinated and starting badly the Matilda tanks ran into the flanks of Rommel's over extended 7th Panzer Division. With the German anti-tank guns, unable to penetrate the armour of the British tanks, Rommel's infantry fell into chaos as the Matildas plunged deep into their flank. The Germans were machinegunned and started to surrendered in large numbers but with the British infantry lagging well behind, fighting their own battles in the villages, there was no one to round them up.
Into this scene of chaos entered Rommel whose personal leadership and example started to steady his troops and organise an effective response, despite being spattered with the brains of his aide de camp. This was classic Rommel but in the aftermath, he claimed to have been attacked by five divisions.
The Arras counter-attack contributed to Hitler issuing the famous 'halt order' to his panzers that arguably did much to allow the British Army to withdraw to Dunkirk and escape total destruction.
Volume 1 of this two-part work puts the reader firmly into the footsteps of the 2nd and 5th Rangers as they arrive in England in 1943. It follows them during their intensive training with the Commandos and the Royal Navy as they head towards D-Day – including cliff climbing, assault landings and the Slapton Sands 'dress rehearsal'.
The orders given to the Rangers, along with dozens of aerial reconnaissance photographs of Omaha Beach, Pointe et Raz de la Percée, Pointe du Hoc and Maisy – as well as French Resistance reports – detail the information given to the Rangers' commander Lt. Col. Rudder. Shown in chronological order and in their original format, many of the documents are still marked TOP SECRET and were only recently released after nearly 70 years.
The author fills in the gaps that many have only guessed at concerning the Rangers' real missions on D-Day, and in Volume 2 he explains why a battalion commander was removed whilst onboard ship prior to the landings, why the individual Rangers were not briefed on all of their D-Day objectives – as well as the extraordinary role that Lt. Col. Rudder played at Pointe du Hoc.
Described by US historians as 'one of the most detailed works about the D-Day Rangers ever written', this work is the culmination of four years of detailed research within the US Archives and backed up by evidence uncovered in Normandy. It is a real historical game-changer that pulls no punches as it challenges conventional studies of one of the most iconic battles of WWII.
Gary Sterne, a keen collector of militaria and co-founder of The Armourer and Skirmish Magazines, has always been fascinated by the D-Day landings. In particular he was intrigued by the lack of precise information relating to the mystery of the 'missing guns' of Pointe du Hoc.
His research led to the finding of a map which indicated the position of an 'unknown' German gun position buried in the village of Maisy. The re-discovery of the Maisy Batteries made headline news around the world and his best-selling book Cover Up at Omaha Beach subsequently changed the history of the Omaha sector and made many start to question the Rangers' Pointe du Hoc mission. The Maisy site is now one of the major Normandy D-Day attractions.
For the first time ever this follow-up book now offers complete Rangers history for the seven months prior to D-Day and does so using period documents, many of which have only recently been released from TOP SECRET status in US Archives. The author fills in the gaps that many have only guessed at concerning the Rangers' real missions on D-Day, he explains why a battalion commander was removed hours before the landings, why the Rangers were not briefed on their actual D-Day missions and the extraordinary role that Lt. Col. Rudder played at Pointe du Hoc. This book is a historical game-changer that pulls no punches.
The year was 1942 and the country was united in the fight against Germany and Japan. On the home front, all industry was mobilized for war, and the draft boards were collecting young men to join the armed forces. Emmett Lang, a naive 20-year-old, wanted to be a soldier. But even after scoring a nearly perfect score in the Army General Classification Test, he was sent to infantry basic training. Despite this inauspicious beginning, Lang decided he would do his duty and take every opportunity to make his service career as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.
This is the story of Lang's Army career, an honest account that includes letters home, divisional and regimental histories, and after-action reports - with a generous dose of humorous anecdotes. Always a Soldier But Never G.I. contains stories of the action on the front lines in Europe and Battle of the Bulge, and gives an insider's personal view of the life of a World War II soldier-the hardships, adventures, and sometimes the horrors - yet Lang's story is told with wit, humor, and a love of life that cannot be suppressed.
It is a firsthand account of the action during World War II; one that I thoroughly recommend to all those interested in this conflict.
By late 1944 the Allies were poised to smash the Siegfried Line and break into Germany. Supply lines were shorter thanks to the port of Antwerp. Arnhem aside, there had been a long run of victories and there was no intelligence even from ULTRA to suggest a German counter-offensive.
So the major December attack through the mountainous Ardennes by massed Panzers and infantry took the Allies totally by surprise. Fog and low cloud negated the Allies' air supremacy, English-speaking German commandos in captured jeeps created panic and withdrawal of US forces became a near rout with morale all but broken. For ten days the situation worsened and Antwerp was seriously threatened and 21st Army Group in danger of being cut off. Clear skies for the Thunderbolts and coherent counter-attacks by rapidly deployed reinforcements turned the tide in the nick of time, so preventing a catastrophic defeat for the Allies.
All this and more is graphically narrated in this fine study of a pivotal battle, that so nearly changed the course of war.
The tank is such a characteristic feature of modern warfare that its difficult to imagine a time when its presence wasn't felt on the battlefield in some form or another. Rolling Thunder, from eminent historian and author Philip Kaplan, traces the history of the vehicle from its developmental early days on the battlefields of the Great War, to modern-day uses and innovations in response to the growing demands of twenty-first century warfare.
Featured in this volume are images of some of the most highly regarded and imposing types, such as the Chrysler-built Grant, the Skoda-built Hungarian Turan and the M-26 Pershing tank, employed so extensively during the Korean War. Tanks employed during the battles of Barbarossa, El Alamein, Kursk and Ardennes all feature, their histories depicted in words and images.
From the battlefields of the Great War to modern-day theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the history of this impressive war machine is tracked in detail.
Despatches in this volume include that on the Conquest of Sicily from 10 July 1942 to 17 August 1943 by Field-Marshall Viscount Alexander of Tunis; the despatch on the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew B. Cunningham, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean; despatch on naval operations in connection with the landings in the Gulf of Salerno in September 1943, by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew B. Cunningham; and the despatch on operations of the Allied Armies between September 1943 and December 1944, by Field Marshal the Viscount Alexander of Tunis.
This unique collection of original documents will prove to be an invaluable resource for historians, students and all those interested in what was one of the most significant periods in British military history.
This highly informative book begins with an examination of the background to Germany's primary military objectives in relation to the western end of their self-styled 'Fortress Europe' including the early foundation of shore defences in northern France.
In 1941, there was a switch in emphasis of the Atlantic Wall's role from attack to defence. Beach defences became more elaborate and the Nazi-controlled Todt Organisation began a massive building programme constructing new bunkers and reinforcing existing sites, using forced labour.
Hitler appointed Rommel to formulate Germany's anti-invasion plans in early 1944. At the same time the Allies were making extensive studies of the fortifications and preparing for the challenge of overcoming this most formidable of obstacles.
Using, in many cases, previously unpublished accounts of the soldiers on the ground this book follows Britain's 79th Armoured Division, Sir Percy Hobart's 'Funnies', as they utilised their unique weaponry in support of Allied efforts to ensure the success of the invasion. The author draws on British, American, Canadian and German sources.
Last updated: 22nd February 2019