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A reinterpretation of the British Army's conduct in the crucial 1944-45 Northwest Europe campaign, this work examines systematically the Colossal Cracks operational technique employed by Montgomery's Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group and demonstrates the key significance that morale and casualty concerns exerted on this technique. To ensure a full understanding of the campaign, one needs to look not only at Montgomery's methods but at those of his army commanders, Dempsey and Crerar; thus, this study addresses the scant attention to date paid to these two figures. Hart suggests that Montgomery and his two senior subordinates handled this formation more effectively than some scholars have suggested. In fact, Colossal Cracks, the concentration of massive force at a point of German weakness, represented the most appropriate weapon the 1944 British Army could develop under the circumstances.

Previous studies have been characterized by an overemphasis on Montgomery's role in the campaign, rather than a systematic examination of overall British methods. They have ignored the difficulties that the 1944 British Army faced given its manpower shortage, and they have underestimated the appropriateness of Monty's methods to the campaign war aims that Britain pursued: namely, the desire that Britain's modest military forces secure a high profile within a larger Allied effort. The cautious, firepower-laden approach used by the 21st Army Group was both crude and a double-edged sword; however, despite these weaknesses, Colossal Cracks represented an appropriate technique given the nature of British war aims and the relative capabilities of the forces involved. It proved to be just enough to defeat the Germans and keep alive British hopes that her war aims might be achieved.

The Second World War is vanishing into the pages of history. The veterans were once all around us, but their numbers are fast diminishing. While still in their prime many recorded their memories with Peter Hart for the Imperial War Museum. As these old soldiers now fade away their voices from the front are still strong with a rare power to bring the horrors of war back to vivid life. The 16th Durham Light Infantry were supposed to be just an 'ordinary' battalion. But their experiences as they fought their way up through Italy show that there is no such thing as 'ordinary'. They struggled to break out from Salerno, then across the countless rivers and mountain ranges that seemed to spring up to bar their way to victory. They learnt their military skills the hard way facing determined German opposition every step of the way. These were no 'D-Day Dodgers' but heroes in their own right. But there was another battle being fought as they struggled to maintain their morale day by day, as their friends died and their seemed to be no end in sight. This is their story. Peter Hart was born in 1955. After attending Liverpool University he has worked as the Oral Historian at the Imperial War Museum since 1981, He is responsible for interviewing veterans of all conflicts from the Great War to the present day. His previous books include 1918: A Very British Victory, The Somme, 1916, Aces Falling: War Above the Trenches, 1918 and Jutland, 1916. His Voices from the Front series with Pen & Sword includes, The 16th Durham Light Infantry, The 2nd Norfolk regiment and the South Notts Hussars. He is married with two children and lives in North London
“A remarkable book. A delayed bombshell that includes very pertinent new research and discoveries Suvorov has made since 1990. He makes savvy readers of contemporary and World War II history, of a mind to reexamine the Soviet past in terms of what historians call ‘present interest.’ None of the ‘new Russian’ historians can match his masterful sweep of research and analysis.”
—ALBERT WEEKS, Professor Emeritus of International Relations, New York University, author of Stalin’s Other War: Soviet Grand Strategy, 1939-1941

In The Chief Culprit, bestselling author Victor Suvorov probes newly released Soviet documents and reevaluates existing historical material to analyze Stalin’s strategic design to conquer Europe and the reasons behind his controversial support for Nazi Germany. A former Soviet army intelligence officer, the author explains that Stalin’s strategy leading up to World War II grew from Lenin’s belief that if World War I did not ignite the worldwide Communist revolution, then a second world war would be necessary.

Suvorov debunks the theory that Stalin was duped by Hitler and that the Soviet Union was a victim of Nazi aggression. Instead, he makes the case that Stalin neither feared Hitler nor mistakenly trusted him. He maintains that after Germany occupied Poland, defeated France, and started to prepare for an invasion of Great Britain, Hitler’s intelligence services detected the Soviet Union’s preparations for a major war against Germany. This detection, Suvorov argues, led to Germany’s preemptive war plan and the launch of an invasion of the USSR. Stalin emerges from the pages of this book as a diabolical genius consumed by visions of a worldwide Communist revolution at any cost—a leader who wooed Hitler and Germany in his own effort to conquer the world. In contradicting traditional theories about Soviet planning before the German invasion and in arguing for revised view of Stalin’s real intentions, The Chief Culprit has provoked debate among historians throughout the world.
This is a rarely detailed “you are there” account of World War II combat, describing a brief but bloody tank/infantry action in August 1944. Based on six years of research—drawing from interviews, primary documents, and visits to the battlefield—”The Day of the Panzer” transports the reader into the ranks of L Company, 15th Regiment, Third Infantry Division, and its supporting M4s of the 756th Tank Battalion as they grapple head-on with the Wehrmacht.

L Company was nearly wiped out during the bloody Anzio breakout of May 1944. Under the fiery leadership of Captain James “Red” Coles, the unit was rebuilt and molded into a tough, colorful bunch in preparation for “Operation Dragoon.” On August 15, 1944, they hit the beaches in southern France, joined by the tank crews of 2nd Lt. Andrew Orient’s 3rd Platoon, all veterans of Cassino.

After overcoming pockets of resistance along the coast, the tanks and infantry swept inland, nipping at the heels of the retreating German Nineteenth Army. A sudden German artillery salvo dispatched six L Company men and left Lt. Orient dead. 1st Lt. Edgar Danby, an armor instructor (the author’s grandfather), was flown in from Italy to replace him.

Despite logistics problems, the Third Division forged north through the Rhône River valley until they found the Germans holding fast, L Company and its supporting tanks leading the regimental charge. In the haste and chaos of the day, they managed to slip the German rearguard and unwittingly attacked the German LXXXV Armeekorps headquarters in the small town of Allan. Both sides were shocked by the ferocity of the battle.

Led by a rampaging Panther tank, the Germans counterattacked, knocking out the Sherman of Lt. Danby while threatening to cut L Company’s positions in half. Surrounded and facing annihilation—but steeled by the courageous leadership of Captain Coles and others—L Company held fast despite dead and wounded on all sides and 13 men captured. The seemingly unstoppable Panther, stalking the battlefield like some black knight from a Teutonic fantasy, continued to hold off American reinforcements in the morning, until the Armeekorps headquarters executed a withdrawal.

In this book, the minute-by-minute confusion, thrill and desperation of WWII combat is placed under a microscope, as if the reader himself were a participant. In this small but singular battle, the courage of US troops in their liberation of France is given full due.
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