The Guns of Normandy

The Guns of Normandy

A Soldier's Eye View, France 1944

Book - 1997 | Trade paperback ed.
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In the weeks after D-Day, the level of artillery action in Normandy was unprecedented. In what was a relatively small area, both sides bombarded each other relentlessly for three months, each trying to overwhelm the other by sheer fire power.

The Guns of Normandy puts the reader in the front lines of this horrific battle. In the most graphic and authentic detail, it brings to life every aspect of a soldier's existence, from the mortal terror of impending destruction, to the unending fatigue, to the giddy exhilaration at finding oneself still, inexplicably, alive.

The story of this crucial battle opens in England, as the 4th Field Regiment receives news that something big is happening in France and that after long years of training they are finally going into action. The troop ships set out from besieged London and arrive at the D-Day beaches in the appalling aftermath of the landing.

What follows is the most harrowing and realistic account of what it is like to be in action, as the very lead man in the attack: an artillery observer calling in fire on enemy positions. The story unfolds in the present tense, giving the uncomfortably real sense that "You are here."

The conditions under which the troops had to exist were horrific. There was near-constant terror of being hit by incoming shells; prolonged lack of sleep; boredom; weakness from dysentery; sudden and gruesome deaths of close friends; and severe physical privation and mental anguish. And in the face of all this, men were called upon to perform heroic acts of bravery and they did.

Blackburn provides genuine insight to the nature of military service for the average Canadian soldier in the Second World War - something that is all too often lacking in the accounts of armchair historians and television journalists. The result is a classic account of war at the sharp end.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 1997, c1995.
Edition: Trade paperback ed.
ISBN: 9780771015038
Characteristics: xxiii, 511 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Jul 22, 2016

The Guns of Normandy – George G. Blackburn: My wife’s father was in the Canadian Armoured Corps that landed in Normandy after D-Day and fought its way through France to liberate Belgium and Holland from German occupation in 1944/1945. My father was on the Home-Front in Birmingham UK during WW2, so I had little exposure to Front-Line accounts during my upbringing. Like most veterans, my father-in-law never spoke of the war to his children, and we have no record of his experiences during that conflict. Although this book is written from the perspective of an Artillery Regiment Officer supporting the front line action beyond the next rise, it also highlights the terrible toll taken by all involved, but especially by the Infantry Regiments and the under-matched allied tanks against the best of German war technology and fanatical determined troops. The Normandy Battle is reported to be one the most intense campaigns of WW2 where the allied bridgehead into Europe was in danger of being repulsed in a highly contested struggle of arms. The military casualty counts and equipment loses on both sides were far greater than the War Planners anticipated, but the thought of failure by either side steeled them all to fight it out to the very end. Many allied Infantry Regiments were nearly annihilated, and the allied Armoured Corps tanks were easily picked off by vastly superior German Tiger and Panther tanks. George Blackburn has written a book that presents the daily conditions of the conflict from a soldier’s point of view, and I felt that I was there to experience the horrors and exhaustion endured by our men during the interminable days of intense warfare. I have come away from this book with a better understanding of the post-war mentality of my father-in-law, and an appreciation of his re-integration problems into a peace-time society. This book should be compulsory reading by all high school students, to give them an idea of life in a war zone, and a better appreciation of the peacetime rewards of past heroic struggles.

Jun 05, 2016

To borrow from another review "harrowing and realistic." Great account of Canadians in Normandy, with much more intimate details than what is normally found in a history book.

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