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Battle for Mortain: The 30th Infantry Division Saves the Breakout, August 7-12, 1944 Paperback – April 27, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (April 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891416625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891416623
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,047,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This dramatic military history recounts the little-known WW II defense of the French town of Mortain by the 30th Division, a National Guard outfit whose troops hailed mostly from Tennessee and the Carolinas. By stopping the German counteroffensive at Mortain, the "Old Hickory" Division saved the D-Day invasion forces from being pushed back to the Normandy beaches and gave the Allied high command enough time to bring pressure against both flanks of the German thrust. Featherston, a journalist with the Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun , reviews the controversy over Gen. Omar Bradley's failure to close the gap, a measure that would have encircled large German formations in France and shortened the war. Two German armies escaped through the so-called Falaise Gap but, as the author points out, the Allies took 50,000 prisoners and counted 10,000 enemy dead. It was a great Allied victory--made possible by the heroic stand of the 30th Division at Mortain. Featherston's superb narrative illuminates the overall strategic situation while concentrating on that division's lonely struggle. His account explains why S.L.A. Marshall, the Army's official historian, picked the 30th as the finest division in the European theater. Illustrations.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

American National Guard units have often been disparaged for their combat performance during World War II. This book, by a veteran journalist for the Durham, North Carolina, Herald Sun , sets the record straight in dramatic fashion for at least one such outfit, the 30th "Old Hickory" Infantry Division. For several days, one of its regiments heroically fought off a major German counterattack designed to roll back the Normandy invasion. Like all unit histories, this one is stuffed with names, personalities, and hometowns, but the action is fast-moving and will captivate the general reader. Featherston takes the 30th from its founding through its final battles and ends up with a useful study of a typical wartime citizen-soldier outfit. For most libraries.
- Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
A man of few words, he shared that accounts of the aspects of the battle of which he had first-hand knowledge were very accurate.
Dr.Tim
The author believes this was an important engagement that has been forgotten and his book is a tribute to the brave men who fought there.
Dave Schranck
His focus is the 30th Infantry Division's lone stand at Mortain, as it bore the brunt of the German last great Panzer assault in France.
Grant Waara

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr.Tim on December 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
My father landed on Utah Beach in the second wave on June 7, 1944 (D-Day +1). His unit was attached temporarily to the 28th Division, as reinforcements. Later they rejoined their real unit, the 1st Platoon, 2d Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division.

After having defended Hill 314 for four days, out of ammunition and food, my father and three comrades were captured by German SS forces at Mortain on August 11, 1944. He spent the next 11 months in a German POW camp.

Yes, I'm proud of his service. However, I recounted all of this to establish his authority to comment on this book.

A man of few words, he shared that accounts of the aspects of the battle of which he had first-hand knowledge were very accurate. This book enabled my father to finally understand the full scope and nature of the battle, and reinforced for him (and his wife and five children) how amazing it is that he survived the experience.

We continue to pass this book from one family member to the next. We have all found the book to be an excellent read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a current member of the 30th Mechanized Brigade I found this book to be an extremely interesting look into the roots and history of a forgotten Division. The author provided a great deal of insight into this critical battle through the personal experiences and recollections of the actual soldiers who fought against some of the best German troops at that time. This book was very informative and details a battle that very few people had heard of, which is a shame considering what these everyday soldiers accomplished under such exteme conditions. I would highly recommend.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mitch Reed on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Great book. I personally liked to read divisional histories, and this is in my top five. The writer takes you throught he divisions pre war history, European deployemnt, and combat history. The reader gets two stoies here, one is a history of a Army National Guard unit going to war, and the other is the Battle of Moritain, a pivital conflict in the conquest of France. I read it in a weekend, you will find it hard to put down as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dimitrios on July 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mr Featherston has done an excellent job recreating the terrific battle of Mortain which ensured the Allied victory in France and the destruction of 19 German division in the Falaise Pocket. The book starts with a short history of the "Old Hickory" 30th US Infantry Division until it reached the Mortain area on August 5, 1944. The battle is analysed in detail and the author overturns many myths surrounding that episode. The Panzer divisions were indeed stopped before the Allied airpower intervened in the noon of August 7 and the Typhoon attacks were not so succesful as the British sources said at that time. Above all, it was the bravery and the stamina of the individual American soldiers that turned the tide of the battle, causing massive damage to the attacking German divisions and holding crucial ground. The same trends would be repeated in the Ardennes in December 1944 on a grander scale. There is also a synopsis of the 30th ID's history after Mortain and the explanation why the Germans regarded it as "Roosevelt's SS troops" and why the US leaders considered it to be the best division in the European Theater of Operations. There are many black & white maps and some good photos, and the only drawback of the book is the persistent misspelling of certain German names, like "Liebstandarte" etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schranck on September 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The German offensive at and near Mortain was another of Hitler's gambles. He wanted to restore the line in the west that was lost when the US 1st Army broke out during Operation Cobra in late July. It was critical to the German defense to restore Avranches as its western anchor as well as isolating 3rd Army to the south. To me the offensive was suicidal. Even if Eberbach was able to reach Avranches, the Germans didn't have the strength to exploit the position. In fact the 1st and 3rd Armies would have probably encircled the Germans causing either surrender or their destruction. None of the German generals believed the offensive had a real chance to succeed.
Mr Featherston begins his story by telling us about the history of 30th Division which dates back to the civil war. He continues in Normandy when the 30th ID fought its way south after the fall of Cherbourg through the hedgerows and then played a key roll in the capture of St Lo and in Operation Cobra. The summary ends with Bradley repositions his troops to block a possible counterattack to retake Avranches while at the same time preparing his troops for the next offensive eastward. Bradley thought the Germans could be pocketed west of the Seine. The 30th ID would be defending Mortain and the high ground to the east of the small town of 1600 residents when Operation Luttich began.
The Allied Air Force is also mentioned. The author speaks of the air force's tendency to shoot first before discovering who they're shooting at. The author also mentions the great job of the US Air Force did in stopping the large Luftwaffe squadron from reaching the assault area and wrecking havoc on the American line, especially on Hill 314 on the first day of the campaign.
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