4 February 2015

Stout Hearts - The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944

Stout Hearts is a book which offers an entirely new perspective on the British Army in Normandy. This fresh study explores the anatomy of war through the Army's operations in the summer of 1944, informing and entertaining the general non-fiction reader as well as students of military history.

There have been so many books written on Normandy that the publication of another one might appear superfluous. However most books have focused on narrating the conduct of the battle, describing the factors that influenced its outcome, or debating the relative merits of the armies and their generals. What was missing from the existing body of work on Normandy specifically and the Second World War generally is a book that explains how an army actually operates in war and what it was like for those involved, Stout Hearts fills this gap.

Stout Hearts is essential reading for those who wish to understand the ‘mechanics’ of battle. How does an Army care for its wounded? How do combat engineers cross obstacles? How do tanks fight? How do Air and Naval Forces support the Army? But to understand what makes an Army ‘tick’ you must also understand its people. Therefore explanations of tactics and techniques are not only well illustrated with excellent photographs and high quality maps but also effectively combined with relevant accounts from the combatants themselves. These dramatic stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things are the strength of the book, bringing the campaign to life and entertaining the reader.

Ben Kite provides the reader with an excellent insight into the details of how each separate part of the British and Canadian Armies in Normandy worked. I have read many books on this campaign, and this really does offer something new to the reader - an excellent combination of first hand accounts and operational details.

The table of contents shows the breadth of coverage:

Introduction and Campaign Overview
'Closing With The Enemy' - The Infantry
'Neptune's Trident' - Naval Support
'First In, Last Out' - Engineers
'Queen of the Battlefield' - Artillery
'By Air to Battle' - Air Power and Air Support
'Knowledge Gives Strength to Arms' - Intelligence and Reconnaissance
'Penetrating the Fog' - Command and Control
'Faithful in Adversity' - Medical Services
'Grim Summer' - Life in Normandy 1944
'From Mud, Through Blood To The Green Fields Beyond' - Armour
'Our Greatest Generation'

A Order of Battle for 21st Army Group
B Allied Naval Forces in Operation Neptune
C Allied Air Forces
D Divisional Organisation
E Tanks - Armour, Speed and Weight
F Tanks and Anti-Tank Guns - Performance Against Armour
G Mortar and Artillery Capabilities
H VIII Corps Fire Plan for Operation Bluecoat
I 51st Highland Division Intelligence Summary No. 200
J 5th Camerons Operation Order No. 3 for Operation Totalize

Bibliography (12 pages!)

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