Home Forums WWII By tank into Normandy. Book thoughts

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    Ivan Sorensen

    Finished reading “By Tank into Normandy” by Stuart Hills (Brit tanker from the Normandy landings onwards).

    Various assorted thoughts:

    *This reinforced my thoughts that the DD Shermans were a terrifying way to enter combat.
    The fact that many of them were launched miles from the coast seems like madness.

    He notes that several were inadvertently rammed by other landing craft.

    *I didn’t keep track but almost every tank that was knocked out by another tank was from ambush.

    Even in the running battles, it ends up being a case of getting in position and waiting for the enemy to move into your sights.

    *They are quite worried about Panzerfausts, probably a lot more so than Tigers or anything else. Several tanks are damaged or knocked out by lone infantry with rockets.

    *The author spends some time in a recon company and tries to avoid any direct combat while doing so.
    Probably a lesson to wargamers who tend to view their recon elements as extra firepower.

    *The author does comment on the disparity between Sherman and Panther firepower, but it doesn’t seem to be that major of a factor. Most of the encounters take place at close range and, as discussed, from defensive positions or ambush.

    *He comments repeatedly on how bad the interior of a tank would smell after a couple of days in action.

    *The writing is natural and very personal. The author is less concerned with presenting a grand picture of the war, this is his own experience as he saw it.

    The introductory chapters of his childhood seemed a little hard to follow at times, but otherwise it’s very straight forward.

    The closing of the book makes it seem like there was more he wanted to say about the nature of war and its effects on people.

    Overall well recommended.

    Nordic Weasel Games


    It’s a good and thought provoking read. IIRC Hills’ driver had the unusual ‘hobby’ of stalking German tanks with a panzerfaust.

    With regard to the DD tanks. There were recommendations regarding the maximal sea conditions for them to be launched. They were marginal on D-Day & indeed some LCTs didn’t launch but landed theirs conventionally. One reason why the US DD’s got into such trouble at Omaha was the sea state. That and the fact that they were launched too far out, 6000 yards, when 2000 yards offshore was the recommended distance.

    They were meant to go in before the bulk of the landing craft arrived, since as you note they were very vulnerable to ramming due to their low freeboard and profile. Again due to the sea state, they were running late & this increased their vulnerability. That said, the crews of most sunken DD tanks escaped and survived.

    Norm S

    I picked this up just before Christmas from a remainder bookshop, I think it was The Works in the UK, as usual from there, it was heavily discounted, so those interested may care to pop in and have a look.

    Having browsed through it, I picked it up because it had the sort of snippets in it that Ivan refers to that I think helps gamers and rule writers get a better ‘feel’ for the subject.


    I read it a few years ago. I always find memoirs interesting, but it wasn’t one I hung onto (unlike Bellamys “Troop Leader”).

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Ivan Sorensen

    Troop Leader is on my very long list of “books to read” so looking forward to that one 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games

    Shaun Travers

    I read it quite a few years ago and remember it being very interesting.  I have read about a dozen ww2 memoirs since then and they do start to blend a little if they are of the same thing (e.g. tanker, company commander, private).

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