A Formidable Proposition

R.W. Johnson

  • D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor
    Viking, 591 pp, £25.00, May 2009, ISBN 978 0 670 88703 3

In his account of D-Day Antony Beevor comes to many surprising conclusions: that the Germans were by far the better soldiers, more experienced, disciplined and confident; that their weapons were generally better, not just the Tiger and Panther tanks and the 88mm anti-tank gun but even their MG42 light machinegun, which was far superior to its British and American equivalents; that the Allies shot many prisoners and committed all manner of atrocities; that French civilians caught in the middle often suffered more from the Allied onslaught. On the other hand, very little of this would come as a surprise to anyone teaching at Sandhurst or West Point.

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[*] Even less celebrated – not mentioned by Antony Beevor – is Lawrence Hogben, a naval instructor, who also played a part in persuading Eisenhower to postpone the invasion from the 5th to the 6th and wrote about it in an LRB Diary (26 May 1994). He has a walk-on part in Giles Foden’s novel, reviewed on the previous page.