Retreat Though the Rhone Valley
...from Casemate UK
Title: Retreat Through the Rhone Valley
Author: Jorg Staiger, translated by Linden Lyons
Defensive battles of the Nineteenth Army, August-September 1944. This is a newly published translation of a book written in German in the 1960s as part of a larger series of studies. A small 98-page hardcover book from Casemate.
The invasion of southern France in August/September 1944 is often overshadowed by the NW European campaign that followed the D-Day landings of June that same year. With some units already withdrawn to assist in Normandy, the German forces that faced this new invasion was simply not strong enough to resist this new Allied assault. In this case there was no order to hold their ground and the story tells the German viewpoint of the withdrawal of German forces, including the administrative organisations as well as basic military units, the strongest of which was the 11th Panzer Division. Facing a strong and well equipped enemy, supply, communication and terrain problems, this is the story of a controlled retreat while in contact with the enemy as they made their way back to the Belfort Gap.
Aside from the basic story of the retreat, part of the interest is in the context, being written at a time when the Cold War was at a point where there was fear of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe, with a huge advantage in numbers of tanks etc, so the real prospect of having to conduct a skilful retreat in the face of a stronger invader. Since it was written, more historical documents have been released that would add even more, including more on the involvement of the French Resistance movement. I enjoyed the read, and in considering how the German commanders coped with problems as they cropped up and how these lessons may still have had something to be learnt from.
Thanks to Casemate for the review copy.