For my book review i chose the audio book “D-Day The Invasion Of Normandy, 1944” by Rick Atkinson, read by Jason Culp. In this Review i will be summarising the book in the order of the events that happen in happen in the book. The book has a total of 3 Chapters but the chapters consist of many subchapters. I will try to summarise the most important events as this story goes into many witnesses accounts and is very detailed on the events of operation Overlord. I will then give my opinions on the book in my last paragraph to dictate whether or not this book is a good read or just tiresome and drags out.
In the first chapter it tells of men escorted into an old school building that was being used as the British 21st army group headquarters. In these headquarters resided the plans for “Operation Overlord”. Winston Churchill, Dwight D Eisenhower and King George the 6th meeted in this room to discuss about the World War. The book then tells of everything before this moment telling about Germany’s Army and Russia’s Doings. The goal of Operation D-Day was to Invade Fortress Europe. Then Montgomery and generals dictate how the battle should take place and all the measures that should be taken to fight the battle.
Many plans were changed and criticized but Dwight D Eisenhower said it should be so as he wants the best possible results. Churchill criticized saying that there were too many vehicles on the beach. Overlords plan called for allied reinforcements at the rate of 1 and ⅓ each day. This would mean 7500 men each. Montgomery envisioned a battle beyond the beaches where forces would fight on the land easily. Eisenhower favored a assault towards the Tsar valley.
If Overlord succeeded it would just be a small battle but if it failed it would likely collapse the allied armies. Churchill stated “Let us not expect all to go according to plan, flexibility of mind will be one of the decisive factors, risks must be taken”. After leaving the planning room it starts going into Eisenhower’s view and start listing off possible statistics of deaths and possible things going wrong. The troops then ran through practices with many failures leaving entire forces unprotected all due to misunderstandings of the plan set out before them.
At 2 AM 9 German U-boats that were not part of the exercise aludded a british escort and torpedoed 3 US navy LST’s. 2 ships sank in this conflict but it didn’t waver the spirit as survivors on rafts sang “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning”. Drowned men rose to shore for weeks as the final death toll reached 700. During the past two years in the war over 2 million men joined the cause to fight, thats 11 thousand everyday. It then starts listing all the drafting requirements and how they have been loosened to draft more men into the war.
Many rumors came out about the german armed forces such as that they possessed a “Death Beam” capable of incinerating many acres and a vast refrigerating machine capable of creating icebergs in the english channel. The U.S. military newspaper tried to calm nervous soldiers by saying “shock kept the wounded from feeling much pain”. To deceive the german army, fake broadcasts were made saying they would invade other places such as france.
In the 2 chapter it starts with the day before D-Day and preparation for the battle ahead. 255 ships began clearing area Z from german mine and making sure they were clear to go. Soldiers primed grenades, sharpened their knives, and field stripped their weapons in preparation. Sailors changed their flags to show their battle flags and cleared tables to turn into operating tables. Troops blacked their faces with soot and shaved their heads. It then gets to the day of the battle, June 6th 1944. 800 airplanes ferried 800,000 troops into battle. Paratroopers jumped from planes as gunfire was let out.
Operation Albany was the U.S. 101 airborne mission was supposed to take control of 4 elevated roadways leading to Utah beach. 6 thousand jumpers from the 101 airborne barely 1 thousand landed near or on the H hour objectives. Most of the ones who didn’t make it to the objective would be killed or captured. Paratroopers and germans exchanged gunfire in the belfreight or around the confessional. 5 hours after jumping into normandy paratroopers lined the beach ridge waiting for 12 convoys carrying the 32 thousand troops in force U to come. By dawn 816 planes and 100 gliders had dropped over 13 thousand GI’s onto the land.only 21 planes had been shot down which is much less than chapter one had predicted.
With this spot landing came difficulty as only 1 out of 6 regiments landed where they intended to. 2 brigades were to take over Overlords left flank by building bridges over the river Orne and its canal. Major Howard learned that half of his command captured the Orne river Bridge. During a raid on the easternmost beach a battalion commander said “I went in with 150 and came out with only 65 on their feet”. Less than half of the 4800 british troops in france were able to actually fight.
The Allies used 3 dozen balloons with radar reflectors to simulate approaching ships to deceive the Germans. They also dumped metal confetti to mimic the electronic signature of bombers. Minesweepers came close shore to clear an opening for 140 warships to dock and open fire. At 5:36 AM an order was sent to commence battery bombardment. 800 naval guns opened fire at this order. A french admiral states “it is a terrible thing to have to fire on our homeland, but i want you to do it this day”. Roosevelt went with the 12th infantry to see what the other forces looked like for himself and upon arrival he says to the men “how do you boys like the beach?”.
Artillery men found it hard to load and fire their guns as the sea was rising too high. On the right side of the invasion zone german gunners killed almost everything that was on “Beach Dog Green”; They were leaderless and unable to fight back. During this part of the book it tells of the soldiers losing their will and some crying in the sand. Some of the soldiers began sticking sand to their insignias to confuse German snipers of whether or not they were german. By 8:30 AM the Omaha event was stalled as they were losing men too fast. The book then goes into the events at Juno and Gold and afterwards tells of a few points of view. The Allies eventually did overtake the German forces and successfully won the battle of the D-Day invasion
The Epilogue is the events of everything after operation Overlord. After the D-Day invasion we seized over 100 thousand square miles of Germany and Austria. In a school house in france a German general signed a document of unconditional surrender. VE day (Victory in Europe) is tuesday May 8. The Germans surrendered in a school house in russia. Countries around the world celebrated the complete surrender of germany. Japan signed surrender documents after Germany on september 2 1945. WWII had lasted more than six years but was concluded with the signing of these documents of surrender.
Now onto the review of D-Day by Rick Atkinson. This book had me interested the entire time i was reading. I would most certainly recommend this to anyone who has a interest in history as it really goes in depth into the tactics used and the views of some of the generals and survivors. But with that i also think there are certain things that seem somewhat off topic like when in the book right before the invasion itself it would tell about what ships would eat before they departed. It sometimes gets very detailed on what happened to the soldiers themselves, with some very gruesome writing, but the invasion itself was a very gruesome thing itself so it fits the narrative. All in all this book is my most favored history book i’ve ever read.