The prolific Éditions Ouest-France have released the third opus in a series that will probably delight militaria fans. If the first two were fairly general because they were devoted to soldiers from the two world wars, this one is much more targeted, since it is devoted to the uniforms, weapons and equipment of German troops having fought in Normandy between June and August 1944.
A review at human height
The format of this abundantly illustrated 32-page booklet is reminiscent of the plethora of collection Men-at-Arms from the British Osprey editions. If the illustrations have the advantage of being photographic (and most of them from the author's extensive private collection), and mix recent shots and period images, the text is not as detailed: more seasoned or demanding militaria enthusiasts may prefer to rely on English-language publications (only a fraction of Men-at-Arms having been translated into French). Others will read this booklet with pleasure, which is nonetheless instructive, the author visibly mastering his subject and having consulted various sources.
The work is arranged both chronologically, beginning with the description of the German occupation troops in France from 1940, then those of Normandy in 1944 and their individual equipment; and thematic, each double page being devoted to a particular subject. Each troop body concerned is thus entitled to its heading, from infantrymen and artillerymen present on the coastal defenses to the paratroopers engaged in Carentan, passing by sailors, aviators, soldiers of the armored units or young volunteers of the Waffen SS launched against the heads. Allied bridge.
Alongside these great “classics”, other more “exotic” units are discussed, in particular the signal corps or the marching divisions of the Luftwaffe, formed from non-essential German air force personnel. The armament of soldiers is reviewed, and their individual equipment is discussed extensively. The whole gives the pleasant impression of approaching the daily life of these fighters "at the height of a man", all the more easily as some period photos come from the archives of veterans.
We will therefore read with pleasure this work, modest but very human and abundantly documented. We can bet that the collection will expand in 2014, whether on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the Liberation, or the centenary of the Great War.
Tanguy Le Sant, German soldiers of the Battle of Normandy, uniforms, weapons, equipment, Rennes, Éditions Ouest-France, 2013.