24 May 2016

Prelude to D-Day: Devon's Role in the Storming of Hitler's Europe

Over twenty years of original research lie behind the author's remarkable retelling of the last months of the Second World War in Devon. Following the Allied agreement on a strategy to reclaim Europe from Nazi occupation, Devon's beautiful coast became the crucible from which was forged the mighty forces that were to be unleashed on the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944.

From official British and American records, and through the inclusion of over 250 photographs, maps and other illustrations, Gerald Wasley reveals the detailed military planning and months of training undertaken by thousands of troops that brought success on D-Day. And yet at what cost to those who were forced to move from their homes to make way for the US Army?

In November 1943 the authorities announced that an area of over 30 000 acres in South Devon was to be evacuated to allow realistic battle training, throwing over 3000 residents out of their homes just five days before Christmas that year. In Prelude to D-Day the author portrays life in Devon before the war and changes brought about during the early war years up to the arrival of the US Forces leading to the evacuation of the South Hams.

He examines the reasoning behind the choice of training areas, the logistics involved in their operation, elements of training, live firing, and experimental weapons. New light is thrown on the circumstances surrounding Operation Tiger, a training exercise in which over 700 troops lost their lives. The D-Day landings themselves are covered, as are the lessons learned, with rare photographs and maps making this a significant and important book.

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