Friday 1 October 2010

Forgotten Voices of D-Day

This is a relatively new book only hitting the shelves in May of this year. It is based on the sound archives of the Imperial War Museum and consists almost entirely of interviews with British veterans. In their own words they describe the confusion, fear, excitement, anticipation and even the humor of that historic day.

This book concentrates on the voices of the British soldier primarily because the major source for the interviews was the IWM. However the Author/Editor of the book also emphasised the often American centric nature of many books about D-Day and Overlord and his desire to redress the balance. The author remains respectful of the bravery and sacrifice of US soldiers (particularly on OMAHA beach) but is none-the-less uncompromisingly British in perspective.

I benefited from having read several other books on operation Overlord in that I had a reasonable working understanding of the strategic situation across the Normandy region. This book does not try to explain the strategy and tactics used (although each chapter has a foreword giving an overview of events). Rather it focuses on the actual experiences of individual men at various times throughout the day. All branches of military service are represented in the interviews. The accounts of bomber crew and glider pilots rub shoulders with the memories of naval personnel, paratroopers, sappers, submariners, meteorologists, royal marines, regular soldiers and generals. Even the contribution of conscientious objectors - who played a vital role as medics and stretcher bearers - is included.

Bailey has taken these interviews and edited them together masterfully to create a strong narrative while maintaining the vivid details that only first hand memories can convey. When reading history books its sometimes hard to understand how soldiers could fight and risk their lives as they did. Reading this first hand account helps answer that question, at least in part. Most men hung on to the belief that they would make it through. Few allowed themselves to believe they would die. They fought for their friends, they fought for themselves but most of all they fought for survival.

The book is published by Ebury Press and has 416 pages with black and white pictures and maps scattered throughout. It is currently on sale with Amazon for £5.49 for the paperback version and £13.99 for the hardcover version.

1 comment:

  1. Should be great as an "audio book" on DVD. Thanks for sharing.



Thank you for leaving a comment. I always try to reply as soon as I can, so why not pop back later and continue the conversation. In the meantime, check out my YouTube channel Miniature Adventures TV