This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.
This was a nice overview of what was involved for those people who had to face the beaches on D-Day, June 6th 1944. It's told truthfully but not too graphically, so it tells the story, and how bad things were, without overdoing it or skipping the truth about what those men - and women - faced.
Yes, there are women featured here, including one who went onto the beach with the men. She wasn't supposed to, but Martha Gellhorn was resentful that her then husband, Ernest Hemingway, got to go, and she was passed over for a male journalist when it came to her publication's chance to send someone. Martha had an interesting history (not covered here). She was fired from a job after she reported a coworker for sexual harassment. After other adventures, She hid in a lavatory on a ship during D-Day, and then went up on the beaches disguised as a stretcher bearer. She was arrested on her return to England.
She's not the only remarkable woman covered here. We learn of others, along with many men from several nations, including Germany, who were involved in one aspect or another of the landing, either taking part in it on land, sea, or air, preparing weather forecasts for it, designing vehicles to deal with conditions they would find there, or defending the beach, and so on. One story was of a fifteen-year-old boy who was on a boat tasked with towing materials across the channel which would be used to create a temporary harbor for other ships coming later. This was another critical mission which, had it failed, would have hampered the effort.
One of my favorites is Dave Shannon, an RAF pilot who hailed from Australia. The book doesn't mention this, but he was part of the Dam Busters raid in May of 1943 that took down the Eder and the Moehne dams in Germany and dealt a severe blow to the Nazi war effort. On the night before the Normandy landings, this same squadron, used to difficult flying tasks, were assigned to fly progressively in precise order across the channel dropping what the Brits called 'window' which was material that would give a radar echo that made it look like a convoy was crossing the channel. They would fly so far, return, then fly the same route again, but advancing very slightly each time. This is where the precise flying came in. If they had not been exact, the radar signal would have jumped and given the game away, but they did not fail. The Germans were convinced that a large convoy was approaching and that this was where the landing would be, when it was in fact a hundred miles away. It was one of the greatest deceptions of the war.
All of these stories are remarkable, and all worth knowing. I commend this as a worthy read.