Fields of War: Battle of Normandy published

I am pleased to announce that our new battlefield guide book, Fields of War: Battle of Normandy, will be available on April 1, 2014.

On 6 June 1944, 156,000 American, British, and Canadian servicemen fought ashore on beaches along the Normandy coast or landed from the air to begin wresting back Nazi occupied Europe. The D-Day invasion was the largest amphibious landing in history. Although successful, it was only precursor to months of the deadly fighting necessary to dislodge stubborn German defenders from the Norman countryside and eventually liberate France.

As a visitor’s guide, Fields of War: Battle of Normandy presents the actual locations of key events in the struggle to free France from German occupation. Each battlefield visit begins with a succinct history of events followed by a description of the intense military action that determined success or failure. The narrative revolves around the stories of the privates, NCOs, and junior officers whose sacrifices made success possible. Extensive detailed maps illustrate the flow of the battle across the landscape and the units that participated. Detailed driving instructions and GPS co-ordinates direct visitors to each battlefield site. Descriptions of museums, memorials, cemeteries, and surviving artifacts are given along with their hours of operation. Mailing, email, and web addresses are also provided.

The first nine chapters are each dedicated to the actions of one invading division on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The engagements of the British 3rd and 50th Infantry Divisions, British 6th Airborne Division, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, the US 1st, 4th, and 29th Infantry Divisions, and 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions  are related through the actions of the men and units who made the invasion ultimately successful. The next five chapters relate the key engagements for the Norman cities of Caen, Cherbourg, and St-Lo, Operation Cobra, and the ultimate annihilation of the German Seventh Army in the Battle of Falaise Gap. A final chapter describes the Liberation of Paris by French partisans and elements of the 2nd French Armored Division.

Available from Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble or directly from French Battlefields at http://www.frenchbattlefields.com

SOFT COVER, PERFECT BOUND
ISBN: 978-0-9823677-3-5
471 PAGES INCLUDING
32 PAGES OF B&W PHOTOGRAPHS AND 94 MAPS
6″ X 9″ (15.2cm X 22.8cm)
$29.95

Polygon Wood: October 1914

16c Polygon Wood: October 1914
Province: West Flanders
Country: Belgium

A ‘Virtual Battlefield Tour’ from Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium

Summary: The first fight in Polygon Wood was in October 1914, when the Germans held the northern half and the British held the southern. Attacks by British Guards regiments were beaten back with heavy casualties. The wood was completely occupied by the Germans during their advances of 1915. It received its name from British soldiers due to the shape of the wooded area’s boundary.

Before the war, a long, narrow butte on the northern end of the wood was the site of a Belgian army rifle range. From its summit, German riflemen and artillery observers held commanding views of the countryside in all directions. As part of the German defenses, the butte was interlaced with tunnels and dugouts.

Advancing behind a creeping barrage, the 5th Australian Division captured Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917, during the segment of the Third Battle of Ypres known as the Battle of Menin Road. The bombardment reduced the wood to shattered stumps.


View Polygon Wood: October 1914 ‘- A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields (www.frenchbattlefields.com)’ in a larger map

Battle of Geluveld: 29 to 31 October 1914

Although the German Fourth and Sixth Armies had thus far failed to penetrate the allied line, the German Supreme Command believed that a fresh push would bring victory. Gathering together units released from other fronts, Falkenhayn created Army Group Fabeck, commanded by veteran of the Franco-Prussian War General Max von Fabeck and comprised of six infantry divisions, whose mission was to attack along the British line from Ploegsteert Wood to Geluveld. Continued pressure along the front from the two German armies would prohibit allied transfer of reserve troops. The attack came as a surprise to the British. Before a preliminary attack against Geluveld commenced on 29 October, Sir John French reported to Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener that the Germans were incapable of launching any further attacks despite the interception of Group Fabeck’s plans. British aerial reconnaissance on 28 October, however, reported a large movement of German troops astride theMenin Road.

Battle of Geluveld: 29 to 31 October 1914
Province: West Flanders
Country: Belgium

A ‘Virtual Battlefield Tour’ from Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium

Summary: A preliminary move on 29 October, the 54th Reserve Division, strengthened by a brigade of Bavarian reservists, struck west of Becelaere. The thin lines of the Coldstream Guards and the Black Watch were nearly overrun because the enemy suddenly appeared out of the dense fog. Both sides committed reserves as the fighting spread south of the Menin Road and against the British 20th Brigade. The intense struggle continued all day, with high losses on both sides until darkness and a heavy rain chilled the engagement.

The next day Fabeck unleashed his battalions with deadly consequences as German divisions south of the Menin Road attacked reinforced positions with deadly accurate fire that covered the landscape with grey-clad bodies. Fabeck’s men were even more successful farther south, where they drove Allenby’s 2nd and 3rd Cavalry Divisions back three kilometers.


View Battle of Geluveld: 29 to 31 Octover 1914 ‘- A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields (www.frenchbattlefields.com)’ in a larger map
Continue reading

Battle of Langemark: 21 to 24 October 1914

The battle of Langemark resulted from Falkenhayn’s directive to the Fourth German Army to break through the Belgian/French forces along the Yser and proceed to capture the Channel ports ofCalais,Boulogne, and Dunkerque. By 20 October, on a curved line from Armentières to the Yser, seven British infantry divisions augmented by five French and British cavalry divisions faced the onslaught of eleven German infantry divisions and eight German Cavalry divisions.

16b Battle of Langemark: 21 to 24 October 1914
Province: West Flanders
Country: Belgium

A ‘Virtual Battlefield Tour’ from Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium

Summary: On 22 October, an attempted assault by the French 87th Territorial Division of général d’Urbal’s Army Detachment of Belgium between Langemark and Steenstraat was easily dismissed in the early afternoon. The German XXIII Reserve Corps aimed its artillery at Langemark, targeting at first the church and its tall steeple, then any shelter in the village. The German batteries maintained a murderous rate of fire; trenches at this time were not the elaborate constructions that they became later in the war and thus offered little in the way of protection, especially from howitzer shells. British artillery was unable to respond adequately, shells of all calibers being in short supply. By the end of the day little remained except rubble, and the few remaining inhabitants were evacuated during the night. At dusk the German 51st Reserve Division charged southwest of Poelkapelle against the line of the 5th Brigade, British 2nd Division. They were cut down by intense rifle fire; the surge stopped only 50 meters in front of the British line. Near Kortekeer some territory was gained by the Germans, only to be reclaimed the next morning by reinforcements from the 2nd Infantry Brigade.


View Battle of Langemark: 21 to 24 October 1914 ‘- A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields (www.frenchbattlefields.com)’ in a larger map

Continue reading

Battle of Nonnebosschen: 11 November 1914

 

16e Battle of Nonnebosschen: 11 November 1914
Province: West Flanders
Country: Belgium

A ‘Virtual Battlefield Tour’ from Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium

[This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]

Summary:In November 1914, the Black Watch held a gap between Polygon Wood and Glencourse Wood. The Prussian Guards began their attack from Geluveld on 11 November 1914 with a heavy artillery barrage. The bombardment dislodged the 1st Scots Guards, 1st Cameron Highlanders, and much of the Black Watch. A group of 40 Black Watch held the remaining trench line and, supported by British artillery, force the Prussians into nearby Nonnenbosschen. The remaining reserve unit of 2nd Ox & Bucks counterattacked driving the Prussian troops back. The action was the last engagement of the First Battle of Ypres.


View Battle of Nonnebosschen: 11 November 1914 – A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields (www.frenchbattlefields.com) in a larger map