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VOICES OF D DAY - Eye Witness Accounts of the Battle for Normandy -

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  • VOICES OF D DAY - Eye Witness Accounts of the Battle for Normandy -

    Edited by Jon. E. Lewis

    I'm pretty sure I'm late to table on this one seeing as it was first published in 1994.

    But there's nothing wrong in flagging up A GREAT BOOK and that's what I'm doing. Picked this little gem up from the library the weekend before last, amongst my usual quota.

    This particular batch includes:

    Conn Iggulden - DUNSTAN - one man will change the fate of England,

    David Cesani's FINAL SOLUTION - the fate of the Jews 1933-49,

    Damian Lewis' SAS GHOST PATROL

    Alan Moorehead's

    But the jewel in the crown was little gem. Started reading Sunday morning in bed with a coffee and stayed there until the afternoon when it was finished.

    This is no literary masterpiece. It's just a little paperback, a well catalogued volume of verbatim accounts - some long, some short, some beautifully written, some written by those with rudimentary grammar - but none of that matters.

    This book will make you gasp, laugh, cry, ponder ... it will conjure up every emotion in your armoury and the most surprising one, is it will make you laugh out loud.

    The accounts come from Americans, British, Canadians, French, Germans and others. They are just words but they give you far more of an insight than news reports, film reels, Hollywood adaptations.

    These are first hand accounts from the people who were there. Written in real time, before they knew outcomes. Just what their day-to day-experiences comprised.

    I realise I can't quote whole chunks of this book but here's a little taster. If you have an interest in WW2 and want an enjoyable, easy read that nevertheless packs a punch, then this book is the one for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

    Here's a couple of extracts:


    The Yanks were better fed than us. They had a ship offshore baking bread 24 hours a day after D-day. The smell used to drive us frantic. We just used to have biscuits that would make your gums bleed.


    .... I regarded the Nazis with absolute hatred for the things they had perpetrated .... However as a professional soldier myself, I had a high respect for their infantry. They were crackerjack troops.

    NEFIN F. PRICE USAAF, 37TH BOMB GROUP (now that's a Welsh name if ever I heard one!)

    Flying back from a bombing raid behind Omaha, it occurred to me that if we had to ditch, there were so many ships in the Channel, we could have walked back to England, bow to stern.


    All that day we bombarded the coast without a break, but it was not until the evening that the gliders came over. We watched them come along thick and fast, towed over the beaches and away out of sight. It seemed almost impossible to count them. It was a wonderful sight indeed.

    EIRLYN 'TAFFY' JONES (definitely Welsh!)

    .. our biggest enemy in Normandy wasn't the Germans. It was the mosquitoes. Those mozzies used to come down in the evening and take your blood ... I once went back to HQ and saw this chap coming towards me .... and I thought 'My God, it's the invisible man'. He had bandages all over his face and head with just little slits for his eyes, nose mouth and hands. It turned out to be Corporal (?) who thought he'd be a clever bugger and had found a bicycle pump and used it to spray his whole trench with petrol to get rid of the mozzies. So it came to stand-to and he jumped into his trench, thought he'd have a cigarette, so lit a match - and blown himself right out the trench. A proper Charlie Chaplin.


    We spent a whole afternoon trying to bury a huge, bloated carthorse. We tried to set fire to it but couldn't. We tried to get rid of it in all sorts of ways because it stank to high heaven. We fired shots at it but they bounced off. So an officer had a bright idea that if we all took a shovel and stood round, we could dig enough soil to cover it in and stop the stink. We sweated for three hours, thirty men, shovelling away to cover the dead horse with its legs in the air. We covered it up and everyone shouted 'Hooray'. Two minutes later a German artillery shell landed on it and everybody had a share of the damned horse. They spread it all over the place!
    Last edited by Tuck's Luck; 11 Feb 19, 19:28.
    - Mad Jack Churchill.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tuck's Luck View Post

    David Cesani's FINAL SOLUTION - the fate of the Jews 1933-49,

    \having read this just before Christmas , It's a hefty read (although Cesani's prose and style is good reading) but worth the effort. However having also read Christian Gerlach's The Extermination of the European Jews (published at about the same time) may I voice the opinion that this, although much less easy reading, is the better account of the whole ghastly business. Cesani's approach is traditional and takes one through what happened to the Jews agonising step by step, but he is only interested in what happened to the Jws. Gerlach trys to put it all in context with the overall horror that the Nazis inflicted upon Europe and the millions on non Jews that also perished, particularly in the East. I know that there are some historians who object to this approach but I think that it does not detract from the horror that was perpetrated on European Jewry and does serve to point out that such an evil philosophy is not just a threat to one ethnic community but to all humankind. However if you have the stomach for it (and given the weight of both tomes a strong enough reading table) I would recommend reading Gerlach just after Cesani as the simple chronological approach of the latter makes the former easier to follow.
    Last edited by MarkV; 13 Feb 19, 18:31.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)


    • #3
      I haven't started on the Cesani book yet Mark. You are right, it's a monster and I've just not had an opportunity to get into it, but hoping to start this weekend.

      Thanks for the info, I'll put in an order for the Gerlach book today.

      - Mad Jack Churchill.


      • #4
        I very much like Conn Iggulden's series of books on the Wars of The Roses.
        "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
        Samuel Johnson.


        • #5
          Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
          I very much like Conn Iggulden's series of books on the Wars of The Roses.
          I haven't got around to the Dunstan book either yet Belgrave. Been so busy with work, I had to renew them all today. That's why I enjoyed the D-Day book so much because it's an easy read and something you can dip in and out of. I read it in a morning.

          I normally go to the main (large) library 4 miles away in the town centre but it's always such a bugger to park. So on this occasion I went to my little local branch - and they have an amazing history section including a really good military history section. I was really surprised at how good the selection was.

          As soon as I've read the others I will report back.
          - Mad Jack Churchill.


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