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Falaise: The Flawed Victory - The Destruction of Panzergruppe West, August 1944 Hardcover – Sep 22 2008
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
The author surprised me again by not ending his story around August 20th but extends his coverage to near the end of the war. The author wanted to show the Falaise Pocket was not as devastating to the German Army as the Allies thought and he proves his premise convincingly. Mr Tucker-Jones provides statistics of the Germans crossing the Seine River, and shows the Germans could rebuild quickly and still be a lethal opponent to give the Allies trouble with Market-Garden, Ardennes, Roer River-Hurtgen campaign and more. The author extends his coverage to show the demise of the above panzer units, either by surrender or by destruction. A brief history of each division and its commanders is given as well.
The narrative is driven not by Allied actions but by German offensive and defensive actions. The main theme is not your typical Allied perspective but the events discussed will be the command decisions and the offensive and defensive outlook from the German side. If an allied action had no material impact on the German divisions mentioned above it will not be included. When Allied action is mentioned it will be subordinate to the German response. In the last chapter, the author comments about the eastern front. Stalin had repeatedly mention that his Operation Bagration was a big help to the Allies during Normandy but the author refutes this position. The operation started weeks after D-Day, Hitler didn't transfer heavily from west to east and there were close to three times the number of panzers in the west as the east in June 1944. The author contends that Allied action in Normandy was a bigger help to the Russians than Bagration was to the Allies.
There are 8 maps and 36 photos to help follow the story. There is an extremely helpful Appendix that includes an Order of Battle, Allied Codenames and much more. You can tell the author has done his homework just by reading this highly informative book but its confirmed when you look over the extensive Bibliography of impressive sources used in his research.
This book is an overview of the action on the western front; it does not have the tactical level of detail as a Glantz book but its still very informative and an interesting read. If you're looking to read about the western front in 1944-45 from a German perspective, this book is highly recommended.