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"Spearheading D-Day
American Special Units in Normandy"

by Jonathon Gawne

Publisher Histoire & Collections
5 avenue de la Republique, F-75541 Paris Cedex 11, France.
Review Type: Book Review
ISBN: 2-908-182-793
Rating: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Ian Sadler

S u m m a r y

288 pages, A4 format, 321 black and white photos and 32 wartime colour photos
Advantages: Good coverage; lots of photos; detailed research
Recommendation: highly recommended to any one who is remotely interested in the Build up to D-Day


F i r s t   L o o k

This is Hardbound book is larger than A4 in size and is printed on high quality gloss paper. It has 288 pages crammed with over 321 black and white photographs they are museum quality prints and the selection is breathtaking and it has 32 original wartime colour photographs.

It is split into the following chapters:

  1. The assault training areas
  2. Lower the Landing craft
  3. The Assault troops
  4. Fire in the hole
  5. Regimental Combat teams
  6. Rangers and Marines on D-Day
  7. The Fighting sons of Beaches
  8. Put them Across
  9. Making it stick

Each chapter is self-explanatory and covers the subject in a photomontage to illustrate the chapter. The photographs are drawn from American public record offices or Regimental photo archives. The vast majority has never been published before and those that have; are now correctly identified. The narrative is very easy to read and is not at all stiff or boring .It corrects a lot of previous material drawing on new research available for the first time.

It has many full size colour reconstructions of what the soldier or sailor would have been wearing on that historic day and in his part of the battle. It also has colour photographs of original surviving articles and helmets markings etc.

With over 321 original wartime black and white photographs used in this book it is hard to pick out one, which is more interesting than an other. They all illustrate the relevant section so well I cannot fault the selection.

It has colour plans of the landing beaches now amended with new information and organisational charts to clarify any points in the narrative.

There is a colour section of drawings on all the types of landing craft used in the battle and some of the photographs reveal far more than can be seen at first glance. This section is well worth the price of the book.

If there is one section, which stand out more than any other. It is the one dealing with the American Battle Jerkin. I have an abstract personnel interest in this. Since I researched and wrote the original articles on the British Battle Jerkin.

At the same time I started research on the American one and hoped to publish that. Now it has been done I know I could not have done a better job and having struggled for 4 years to research my own subject. I congratulate the author on a job well done.



A book on this subject has been needed for a long time. The author set himself a very hard task to cover such a wide field and the result has set a standard for others to follow. It has filled a very much-neglected part to the battle of D-Day.

It will interest the model maker, figure sculptor and decal producers as well as re enactors and historian. All will benefit greatly from this book and draw inspiration in one way or an other. It will hopefully lead on to other missing parts of the story of D-Day to be researched and written up before it is too late.

I have said this before about some books I have reviewed that they will become Standard Museum Reference books on the subject. This is one such book; it will stand the test of time and will give many hours of fruitful research to historians and model makers of all persuasions.

I highly recommend this to any one who is remotely interested in the Build up to D-Day go out and buy one now.

The author is to be congratulated on a job well done.


Ian Sadler - IPMS (UK) Armour TAS Leader

Review Copyright 1999 by Ian Sadler
Page Created 05 May, 1999
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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