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...Operation Perch: The Complete Account, from After the Battle

Title: Villers-Bocage
Author: Daniel Taylor
Publisher: After the Battle
ISBN: 978-1-39904-873-6

Operation Perch: The Complete Account, a new book from author Dan Taylor, who also wrote the much earlier book 'Villers-Bocage Through the Lens', published by After the Battle several years ago. This new 168-page hardcover book is the result of a lot of further research in various archives and from many personal accounts of those who took part in the battle.
In his earlier book, Dan featured the photos from Villers Bocage from the Bundesarchiv, which told the story from the German viewpoint, their propaganda take on this famous incident. His many years of interest, including leading study groups to the scene, Dan has gathered many more sources, from other archives, regimental histories and personal accounts from veterans. The book reflects how has pieced together all these bits of the jigsaw together and created a timeline that more accurately describes what really happened. Just what did Michael Wittman accomplish? For many years, most accounts of it have pretty much repeated the version given in the original German propaganda but this now provides a more accurate timeline of what really happened, and where. Even individual vehicles are tracked down. Lots of photos, all with informative captions supporting the text. The final elements include details of individuals involved with the story of the battle, from both sides, and including both German and British photographers. British and German unit organisation charts, a suggested tour route if you want to visit the battlefield today. While the town was largely destroyed by a heavy British bombing raid and rebuilt after the war. Some of the roads however are still recognisable. Added to this there are also a great selection of maps, of the area, the town and even detailed street elements with individual vehicle positions identified.
The conclusion in the book tells us the results of the author's many years of study, including some aspects that have proved elusive to tie down for certain. Some things were not recorded in the confusion of the battle as it happened, and of course that many of those who took part are no longer available to question. All in all this makes for really interesting reading, tracking down the actual events of a battle that played a major part in creating the myth that became Michael Wittman. I can't imagine this new book will ever be bettered, so one I highly recommend, and among my top new books of this year.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.


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