Fighting Through to Hitler's Germany
...1 Suffolk 1944-45, from Pen & Sword
Title: Fighting Through to Hitler's Germany
Author: Mark Forsdike
Publisher: Pen & Sword
'Personal Accounts of the Men of 1 Suffolk 1944-45', the subtitle, tells exactly what to expect and what fascinating reading it makes. A 294-page hardback, it follows the progress of the 1 Suffolks from their landings on D-Day, and across NW Europe to being in Germany itself at the end of the war in 1945 and then involved as Occupation troops.
The story is essentially in chronological order, spread across 22 chapters plus 3 Appendices, and it is told through the stories of the men who were there. At the start they landed at Coleville sur Mer, since renamed as Colville Montgomery, and their assaults on the strongpoints of Morris and Hillman. If like me you have visited these site in Normandy, I am sure you will find this especially interesting. It goes on with a time around the Chateau de la Londe before moving on through France and into Holland and finally Germany. It is not just the story of events, but individuals memories of their experiences, and things like the hours in the front line and wishing for some hot food, and dealing with seeing commanders and friends being wounded and killed. Life in wet trenches, trying to shelter from enemy mortar attacks let alone from machine-gun fire, it is all here. Casualties were constant, and one battalion had to be disbanded for a time when replacements were not available. Once they were, the battalion was reformed. It highlights the manpower shortages that were a factor for the British army at this stage of the war, and how many replacements came from other disbanded regiments. Working with tanks, with artillery support and even local civilians who helped pinpoint enemy positions, it is all here.
The appendices add some more specific detail, with lists of CanLoan Officers, Honours & Awards made to members of the Suffolks, and finally a Roll of Honour. There is also a section of archive images fitted into the book as well. The memories of veterans makes for interesting reading, so sad really that so many were either unable to tell anyone as they became fatalities, and others who never felt able to record their memories. War is not pleasant, but it is important that we don't forget what our fathers/grandfathers experienced that we have the freedoms that we do today. If you are interested in the NW Europe campaign, then I'm happy to recommend this one.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.