Throughout the history of warfare, there have been many "what if" battles, the August 1944 Falaise pocket being a good example. Though tremendous amounts of German military hardware were destroyed, the failure to close the pocket enabled thousands of Army and Waffen-SS troops to escape...to fight another day. The compelling story of the German response to the Normandy invasion and the subsequent "battle of the pocket" is engagingly told in FALAISE, THE FLAWED VICTORY by Anthony Tucker-Jones.
Few military forces have gone into battle as handicapped as the German panzer divisions in France in June 1944. Most units were poorly positioned to swiftly react to an invasion. Hitler dithered and held back needed forces for far too long. Once they received the "go" order, Army and Waffen-SS units found themselves under constant Allied Jabo attack as they advanced towards Normandy. When they finally reached their designated areas, too often the panzers were committed in penny-packets rather than a concentrated blow. Though they delivered many setbacks to Allied units, German panzers were unable to stop the Allied advance and narrowly escaped destruction themselves when Allied units failed to close the Falaise pocket.
After summarizing German deployments in France prior to 6 June, which mirrored the conflicting views held by Rundstedt, Rommel, etc. on where the invasion would take place, Tucker-Jones details up the "Road to Falaise" operations - Goodwood, Cobra, etc. - which led to the "flawed victory." He then describes, unit by unit, the combat activities and ultimate fate of each panzer division. Yet whether it was the 21st Panzer Division, Das Reich, Panzer Lehr, Frundsberg, Hitlerjugend or the Tiger-equipped Heavy Panzer Battalions, the result was the same: Sharp blows/local setbacks meted out to various Allied unit offset by heavy losses to the panzer divisions involved. Ultimately the Germans lost 1,500+ tanks and assault guns and 450,000 men yet some 98,000 men escaped. And they, thanks to the flawed victory at Falaise, would help rebuild the panzer force that smashed Operation Market Garden, spearheaded the Battle of the Bulge and so on.
FALAISE, THE FLAWED VICTORY is an excellent examination of the German panzers' combat exploits in Normandy. He nicely details each division's activities and includes a number of first-person reminiscenes that bring the German panzer experience to life. It's quite a story...and well-told by Tucker-Jones. Recommended.