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Caen 1944: Montgomery's break-out attempt (Campaign) Paperback – August 20, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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From the Publisher

Highly visual guides to history's greatest conflicts, detailing the command strategies, tactics, and experiences of the opposing forces throughout each campaign, and concluding with a guide to the battlefields today.

About the Author

Ken Ford was born in Hampshire in 1943. He trained as an engineer and spent almost thirty years in the telecommunications industry. He now spends his time as an author and a bookseller specialising in military history books. He has written a number of books on various World War 2 subjects.

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Product Details

  • Series: Campaign (Book 143)
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing; 1St Edition edition (August 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841766259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841766256
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on November 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With Osprey's Campaign #143,Caen 1944, Ken Ford follows-up his two earlier volumes in the series on the British D-Day beachheads. As usual, Ford's narrative is solid and well supported by graphics and data. Ford covers the five frustrating British offensives in June-July 1944 that ultimately captured the vital city of Caen but failed to achieve the desired breakout from the beachheads. However, readers should keep in mind that another recent series - Pen & Sword's Battleground Europe series - has titles that cover the same ground, usually in greater detail. While it is unfair to make a direct comparison between the 96-page Osprey format and the 192-page Pen & Sword Format, readers should be aware that Ford did not incorporate some of the material that makes the P&S volumes on Epsom, Hill 112 and Goodwood more original in content. On the other hand, Ford summarizes five battles (Epsom, Windsor, Charnwood, Jupiter and Goodwood) in 96 pages that P&S did in almost 600 pages, so readers seeking an overview of the campaign would be better advised to stick to the Osprey version.

The introductory sections in Caen 1944 are a bit too superficial, with little effort to provide insightful analysis on the strength and weaknesses of both sides. For example, Ford makes little comment on the limited extent of combined arms training in the British armor units prior to D-Day, but this clearly had an impact upon their early performance in Normandy. On the other hand, the desperate German shortage of decent infantry forced them to commit virtually all their armor to defensive missions, thereby robbing them of the initiative.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Ford has written a number of Osprey books on Normandy and North Africa but this is my favorite and probably his best. The summary is good but could be better if the author had a few more pages to use. (Osprey's arbitrary limit of 96 pages or less is silly. There are numerous books in the series that if it had 4 or 5 more pages would have been much better. This is one of them)
With that in mind the first five sections in the book, except the Chronology which was good covering June 6th to July 20th, in the traditional Osprey format are pretty good but could have been better with greater detail, a few more pages. The sections in question are Origins, Opposing Commanders, Opposing Armies and Opposing Plans. I also feel Mr Ford was not critical enough on Montgomery or his commanders in the first few days of the invasion. Their plans and execution of those plans in capturing Caen, knowing how important it was, was dismal. I know it wasn't an easy assignment but thoughts of Anzio in the recent past should have spurred them on with greater intent and resources. I also wish Mr Ford had discussed more fully the interaction of Montgomery and Eisenhower and Montgomery's reasoning (or excuse) for staying in place in the Caen sector to anchor the Germans from moving west toward Bradley.
I thought the author did a good job in describing the initial attack on D-Day toward Caen and the Canal and the subsequent attacks towards or near Caen. (Operations: Epsom, Charnwood, Jupiter and Goodwood.) Mr ford devotes 59 pages to the battle action.
The author includes four 2-D maps and three 3-D maps; I thought all of them were very good except the one 3-D map of the assault on Hill 112. Most of the action is right in the crease and makes following the action more difficult.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the better written Osprey titles. The language is clear and employs more of a narrative than most authors from this publisher tend to use. In fact, many are such stark and sterile resuscitations of dates, facts and figures that you become overly thankful for the photos and graphics. Ken Ford provides more analysis and humanizes the subject matter more than others. Military historians who really do this well are Beevor, Ryan, and Atkinson and I for one get much more out of a history delivered in this manner.

In terms of content, it appears that Montgomery was at the very least overly optimistic in thinking his forces could take Caen on D-Day. That optimism or high faith in his abilities may have been shaken when thirty-six days later the city were finally in Allies hands. What happened in between were five largely unimaginative battles. The opponents were, for the most part, evenly matched in numbers and materiel, however, the Allies enjoyed air superiority and ever increasing resources. Monty's later face-saving claim that he drew off large numbers of German forces to give the Americans a chance to breakthrough is accurate in hindsight but not the original strategy.

This delay and others across the front in the summer of 1944 forced the Allies to be cautious and resulted in a strategy based on overwhelming force to be delivered on a broad front. As we all know, this was the right way to go but it lacked imagination and certainly contributed to the impatient Market Garden operation and a lengthening of the war given the Battle of the Bulge.
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