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The raid on the port of St. Nazaire in March 1942 by a sea-borne task force from British Combined Operations remains one of the most daring actions of World War II. The port lies at the mouth of the River Loire and in 1942, as well as a U-Boat base, contained the massive 'Normandie' dock, the only facility on the Atlantic coast large enough to accommodate the German pocket battleship Tirpitz. This book tells the story of the raid on St. Nazaire that denied the use of the dock to the Tirpitz, the sister ship of the Bismarck, and constituted a crucial victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.
In February 1942, three of the major ships of the German surface fleet - the battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen - stormed out of the harbour at Brest on a dramatic voyage back to Germany. Passing through the straights of Dover, the ships faced everything the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy could throw at them. In a dramatic running fight, the ships managed to sail right under the nose of history's greatest maritime nation to reach the safety of Germany. The brilliantly executed operation brought great humiliation to the British - Hitler, who had developed the plan, had judged perfectly the reaction of the British command to the Channel Dash. Repositioned, these fast, heavily armed ships went on to threaten the Allied Arctic convoys that kept Russia in the war at Stalingrad. This book tells the complete story of this great race, from the planning through to the repercussions of this unique Germany victory.
'The last great heave of war,' according to Churchill, took place with the crossing of the Rhine in 1945. No invading army had crossed this great river since Napoleon's in 1805, and the task fell to Field Marshal Montgomery's 21st Army Group. Opposing them were the forces of a failing fascist regime, including battalions of old men and boys, strengthened by several formations of crack troops, including paratroopers and Panzer Grenadiers.This book details the devastating Anglo-American assault from Arnhem, starting with the battle of Arnhem, and leading on to the successful crossing of the Rhine and eventual breakout, and continuing with the advance across northern Germany. Including comprehensive details on all aspects of the operation, including the amphibious assault, airborne landings, special forces' attack and armored land battle, this book charts the history of the last great set-piece battle of the war, second in magnitude only to the Normandy invasion, that ultimately brought the defeat of Hitler's Nazi regime one step closer.From the Trade Paperback edition.
This book looks in detail at the plans and build-up to the the largest amphibious military operation called Operation Overlord in which The greatest armada the world had ever seen was assembled to transport the Allied invasion force of over 150,000 soldiers across the English Channel and open the long-awaited second front against Hitler's Third Reich. Discusses the events of D-Day in each of the key areas of the operation.
June 6th, 1944: the largest fleet in history landed Eisenhower's Allied army on the beaches of Normandy against Erwin Rommel's Nazi German defenses. Almost seventy years on from D Day, the story of the greatest armada seen in world history is still not widely known. It has been celebrated in only two major books, both titled Operation Neptune; the first was published just after the war in 1946, the second in 1974, although reprinted in a new edition in 2008. Both were full of details, but lacked visual appeal. With the forthcoming anniversary of D Day in 2014, the time is right for the story to be told again in the style of the Campaign series.Operation Neptune was the greatest naval operation ever undertaken, especially if looked at from the number of ships employed in the venture - over 7,000. This incredible enterprise is now completely overshadowed by the lan combat aspects of the invasion. When people think of D Day, they think primarily of troops storming the beaches and fighting their way inland. How these troops got to the beaches; how the seaward flanks of German defences were bombarded by accurate gunfire; how the fighting men were reinforced; how their casualties were evacuated back to England and how the later divisions were organised, transported and disembarked seems not to have been part of the public narrative of the invasion. It is now time that the work of planners, shipbuilders, logistic experts, and the men of the Royal and US Navies, and their allies, was shown to a modern audience.The planners of Operation Neptune were charged with returning Allied forces in strength to mainland Europe. Whilst the land aspects of the operation were left to the generals, the admirals had to ponder how the troops and their equipment could be transferred safely from quiet harbours in Britain on to a very hostile shore. The task required of them was immense. They had to find enough suitable mutually supporting beaches and assemble sufficient shipping to transport troops across the Channel. They also had to organise protection for the ships on passage and the bombardment of enemy defences covering the landing places. Landing craft had to prepared and crews trained to deliver the troops on time, in place and in correct order, then to introduce follow-up troops to a tight timetable and evacuate the wounded. Even more ships had to be found to re-supply those troops ashore. Then, when the assault phase was over, the US and Royal navies had to continue to support the enlargement of the lodgement with large calibre guns whilst their engineers built new artificial harbours and performed a host of other unspecified objects too numerous to mention. Operation Neptune was absolutely immense in its scope.In addition to the naval aspects of the operation other great feats of engineering were also undertaken. Artificial harbours, a 60 mile fuel pipe line under the ocean, artificial breakwaters and other engineering marvels made D-Day a supportable reality.The story of Operation Neptune was, of course, more than just a tale of planning, building and logistics. It had action a-plenty and the emotive tales of bravery, ingenuity and determination by the crews of the ships involved brought credit to the naval traditions of the Allied nations. Battleships, cruisers and destroyers bombarded enemy positions; midget submarines pointed the way to the beaches; minesweepers worked secretly by night to clear lanes; landing craft of all sizes braved enemy fire and mines to deposit their loads on the beaches and naval beach parties endured shellfire and machine guns to bring order to the beaches. Royal Navy commandos and US naval engineers dealt with beach obstacles against rising tides in the face of withering enemy fire.
The battle of El Alamein in World War II saw the shattering of Germany's hopes for victory in North Africa. From this point on the end was inevitable, as Rommel's forces began the long retreat that was to end in Tunisia in May 1943 when, hemmed in by British and American forces on all sides, over 250,000 Axis soldiers filed into prisoner of war camps, a number comparable to those captured at Stalingrad.In the six months that passed between Alamein and the final surrender there was much hard fighting, as the defeated German and Italian Panzer Army sought to hold off the encroaching Eighth Army in a series of defensive positions across the Western Desert. Rommel, his health suffering from the strains of command, fought a number of major actions during this campaign - at El Agheila, Mersa el Brega, Buerat and Medenine - before his forces settled into the pre-war French defensive position the Mareth Line. All the way he was pursued by an increasingly confident Eighth Army under the command of General Montgomery, but never was Montgomery able to outflank the retreating German and Italian forces decisively, and Rommel was even able to divert forces to inflict a sharp defeat on the newly arrived US forces at Kasserine Pass in February 1943. This was one of Rommel's last acts in the Desert War as his health problems forced his return to Germany shortly afterwards. The stage was now set for the last great battle of the Desert War as the veteran formations of the British Eighth Army took on their foes in the Afrikakorps for one last time in the major set-piece battle for the Mareth Line.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Gazala was Rommel's greatest victory. After a period of stalemate in the desert war, during which both the British Eighth Army and the Afrika Korps had rested and regrouped, he carried out a daring flanking movement around the strong Allied defensive position. The British command could not match Rommel's masterly co-ordination of armor, artillery and infantry, even when encircled in an area that became known as "the Cauldron", and his outstanding generalship and a timely break-through by his Italian troops enabled him to win a clear victory after 16 days of fierce fighting. However, although the strategically important town of Tobruk quickly fell, Gazala was actually a high-water mark and failure to break the British at Alam Halfa two months later was followed by defeat for the over-extended Afrika Korps by the greatly strengthened Eighth Army at El Alamein. In this important addition to the Campaign series' coverage of the North African desert war, regular contributor Ken Ford vividly portrays the "Desert Fox" at the height of his powers.
Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, was the greatest sea-borne military operation in history. At the heart of the invasion and key to its success were the landings of British 50th Division on Gold Beach and Canadian 3rd Division on Juno Beach. Not only did they provide the vital link between the landings of British 3rd Division on Sword Beach and the Americans to the west on Omaha, they would be crucial to the securing of the beachhead and the drive inland to Bayeux and Caen. In the fourth D-Day volume Ken Ford details the assault that began the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.
At 0016hrs on 6 June 1944 a Horsa glider ground to a halt a mere 60 yards from the Orne Canal bridge at Bénouville in Normandy. A small group of British paratroopers burst from it and stormed the bridge within minutes. The Allied liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe had begun. Within a few hours landing craft would swarm towards Ouistreham as British 3rd Division stormed ashore at Sword Beach. The battle would then begin to break through to relieve the paratroopers. In the third of the D-Day volumes Ken Ford details the assault by British 6th Airborne Division and the British landings on Sword Beach that secured the vital left flank of the invasion.From the Trade Paperback edition.
On the night of December 7, 1942, five canoes were launched off the mouth of the Gironde river, each containing a pair of British commandoes tasked with slipping into the port of Bordeaux and destroying as many of the merchant ships as possible. Only two of the canoes made it to the target, but it was enough. Five enemy ships were badly damaged in the attack. It then became a game of cat and mouse for the surviving commandoes in their attempt to get back to Britain. Some of the men made it to Gibraltar; others were caught and executed. Author Ken Ford gives a blow-by-blow account of one of the most daring raids of World War II, which badly upset the flow of material into Germany, and which gave the British public a much needed victory.
One of the key objectives of British forces on D-Day during World War II (1939-1945)was the capture of the strategically vital city of Caen. General Montgomery saw Caen as the key to Normandy and the springboard for the Allied breakout, but so did the Germans and the city did not fall. It took three major offensives and more than 30 bloody days of struggle to finally take Caen. In the process the city was controversially devastated and its civilian population decimated. The Allies paid a high price for Caen but the horrific German casualties bled their forces in Normandy white and helped open the way for the American breakout in Operation Cobra.
In the darkest days of World War II, the British planned a daring airborne operation to capture the secret of the new German radar. Lead by Major John Frost, a company of paratroopers dropped into Bruneval on the French coast, and quickly neutralized a small German garrison. Then began a desperate fight for time as the British tried to dismantle the German radar and evacuate back to England, as ever more German units converged on their position. Using artwork, photographs, and detailed maps, this action-packed narrative puts the reader in the planning room and on the battlefield of one of the greatest raids of World War II.