The Waffen SS in Normandy 1944
...an Images of War title from Pen & Sword
Title: The Waffen SS in Normandy 1944
Author: Ian Baxter
Publisher: Pen & Sword
A recent addition to the Images of War series from Pen & Sword along with author Ian Baxter. A 126-page soft-cover book in the usual style for this popular series. As well as the Introduction, the book is split across 4 chapters plus an Epilogue and an Appendix which holds an Order of Battle.
The first chapter sets out how the various SS divisions came to be stationed in Normandy in the pre-invasion period. A number of them had been serving on the Eastern Front where they suffered heavy casualties and were sent to the quieter areas of France to rest, reform and re-equip. Chapter 2 looks at the time of the Invasion itself, with the four SS Panzer divisions in Belgium and France at the time not in the actual invasion area at the time. The first units were on the move to Normandy once the landings had been confirmed. The opening few pages of text explain the situation and set out what the first response was. In chapter 3 it covers Bitter Fighting, including the execution of captured US paratroopers by members of the Gotz von Berlichingen division, along with the famous action by Michael Wittman at Villers Bocage This leads on the the final chapter, Final Divisions Arrive, as more SS divisions arrived in the battle area. Again it does include atrocity, the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane by the Das Reich division. The book is rounded off by an Epilogue, which covers the retreat from Normandy to the Seine, including the widespread destruction of the Falaise Pocket. As usual, each chapter has a few pages of text to start with, then a selection of archive images, and while some are well known, a large proportion have not been published before, each one with more information provided by detailed captions.
Lots of interesting images showing uniforms, equipment, artillery and AFVs used by the SS units in the campaign. I fell it was good to include the atrocities carried out by certain SS units balanced against the tough defence they put up in the confines of the close Norman countryside. Plenty to interest the historians' interest in the Normandy campaign of 1944 as well as plenty of detail for modellers and a good selection of diorama inspiration.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.