I think most military modelers are pretty familiar with the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944 – the single largest endeavor yet by the human race in history. What a lot of people are not familiar with, however, are the strategic needs that came up immediately in the aftermath – mainly, the daunting task of equipping and supplying the massive Allied forces now on the European mainland. For that, they needed more ports of supply, and those were for the most part still in German hands. This book details the grueling job facing the Allies of wrestling these away from the Axis as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Axis, on the other hand, were just as determined to either hold these positions or destroy their usefulness to the Allies before succumbing.
Steve Zaloga is a name long familiar to modelers everywhere, and here he crafts a detailed, precise and thorough analysis of the intense process of capturing these ports and the various consequences of those actions. He covers the major players on both sides, the strategic decisions that lead to the military actions following D-Day, and the tactical actions which actually achieved (or didn’t, in some cases) that immense job.
To explain this, there are numerous color maps in the book as well as numerous before-unseen pictures showing the people and places and movements. Steve does a superb job of laying out the “big picture” in a way that is clear and understandable, and his various illustrations are not only fresh but relevant. I certainly learned an enormous amount going through this publication, enhancing my understanding of this vital campaign no end. He even offers an afterward showing some of the battlefields as they appear today.
If there’s a down side to this book, it’s that it seems geared far more toward history buffs than to the average modeler. Steve offers very little in the way of personal accounts or “boots on the ground” stories, although what he does provide is certainly striking, like the use of Churchill Crocodiles on strongpoint positions, which certainly begs a diorama or two right there. However, some readers may find the reading a bit on the dry side.
Despite this, for sheer strategic and tactical detail, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more useful book on the subject, and on that point alone this book earns high marks from me. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in this important campaign. My heartfelt thanks, as always, to IPMS/USA and to Osprey Publishing for a chance to read this fascinating account.