Stopping the Panzers: The Untold Story of D-Day (Modern War Studies)

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9780700620036: Stopping the Panzers: The Untold Story of D-Day (Modern War Studies)

In the narrative of D-Day the Canadians figure chiefly—if at all—as an ineffective force bungling their part in the early phase of Operation Overlord. The reality is quite another story. As both the Allies and the Germans knew, only Germany’s Panzers could crush Overlord in its tracks. The Canadians’ job was to stop the Panzers—which, as this book finally makes clear, is precisely what they did. Rescuing from obscurity one of the least understood and most important chapters in the history of D-Day, Stopping the Panzers is the first full account of how the Allies planned for and met the Panzer threat to Operation Overlord. As such, this book marks nothing less than a paradigm shift in our understanding of the Normandy campaign.

Beginning with the Allied planning for Operation Overlord in 1943, historian Marc Milner tracks changing and expanding assessments of the Panzer threat, and the preparations of the men and units tasked with handling that threat. Featured in this was the 3rd Canadian Division, which, treated so dismissively by history, was actually the most powerful Allied formation to land on D-Day, with a full armored brigade and nearly 300 artillery and antitank guns under command. Milner describes how, over four days of intense and often brutal battle, the Canadians fought to a literal standstill the 1st SS Panzer Corps—which included the Wehrmacht’s 21st Panzer Division; its vaunted elite Panzer Lehr Division; and the rabidly zealous 12th SS Hitler Youth Panzer Division, whose murder of 157 Canadian POWs accounted for nearly a quarter of Canadian fatalities during the fighting.

Stopping the Panzers sets this murderous battle within the wider context of the Overlord assault, offering a perspective that challenges the conventional wisdom about Allied and German combat efficiency, and leads to one of the freshest assessments of the D-Day landings and their pre-attack planning in more than a decade.

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About the Author:

Marc Milner is professor of history and Director of the Brigadier Milton F. Gregg, VC, Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick. He is best known for his books on naval history, including North Atlantic Run, The U-Boat Hunters, and Canada’s Navy: The First Century. His 2003 book Battle of the Atlantic won the C. P. Stacey Prize for the best book in military history in Canada. An article based on the material in Stopping the Panzers was awarded the 2010 Moncado Prize given by the Society of Military History for the best article in The Journal of Military History.

Review:

"A fitting contribution to a growing body of literature on the history of the Canadian army in Normandy."―Journal of Military History

"One of the most decisive battles of the Second World War II need no longer be forgotten."―American Historical Review

"Presents a gripping, superbly researched narrative of the fighting in Normandy, with a salutary stress on the vital role of the Canadian Third Division."―Michigan War Studies Review

"A very readable and valuable contribution to the literature on the Normandy operation."―New York Military Affairs Symposium

Stopping the Panzers is a paradigm shift in Canadian history on Operation Overlord. It is a well-written book that is, despite the vast amount of new facts, easy to read. Because it is based on rigorous research from allied and a German archives and because of the author’s familiarity with the terrain Stopping the Panzers is not just another book about Operation Overlord, but a truly unique view on the Canadian mission and role in the operation. Because it is so groundbreaking and well-written it is a “must-have” for every individual interested in the Second World War.―Parameters

“One of the best books about Normandy to appear in recent years.”―Stone & Stone: Second World War Books

"An excellent book. A fresh and exciting new take on the opening days of Operation Overlord by a leading Canadian scholar. Milner not only rescues the Canadian army from the obscurity that has enveloped it in most histories of the campaign, he places the Canadians right at the heart of the Overlord narrative, where Allied planners intended them to be: in the center of the line; astride the most vulnerable terrain; and armed, trained, and equipped to shoot up the inevitable German counterattack. As Milner shows in this deeply researched and gripping narrative, that was precisely what they did."―Robert M. Citino, author of The Wehrmacht Retreats: Fighting a Lost War, 1943

“An extraordinarily detailed account of the vital Canadian contributions to the Allied landings in Normandy, Milner’s work completely revises our understanding of the role of Canadian forces in taking and holding a crucial segment of the landing area against repeated counterattacks by German panzer divisions. . . . A masterpiece of historical scholarship from one of the most authoritative voices in Canadian military history.”―Peter Mansoor, author of The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941–1945

"An impressive book that tells a compelling story. Among its many strengths are the broad, deep documentation of both sides of the fight; the gift for combat narrative; and the author’s intimate familiarity with the ground on which the battle was fought. It adds greatly to our understanding of the Allies’Normandy campaign."―Harold R. Winton, author of Corps Commanders of the Bulge: Six American Generals and Victory in the Ardennes

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