A brilliant review of Christopher Jary's new book - D-Day Spearhead Brigade by Peter Lush. If you haven't yet got your copy, this review might just persuade you....
D-Day Spearhead Brigade: The Hampshires, Dorsets and Devons on 6th June 1944 by Christopher Jary
Christopher Jary, that indefatigable chronicler of the actions of the county regiment, has done it again. ‘D-Day Spearhead Brigade’ is a sequel to ‘Yells, Bells & Smells’ which recounted the story of the experience of the Hampshires, Dorsets and Devons during the Siege of Malta, and Christopher has reassembled his team of aides and researchers – Nick Speakman, James Porter, Andrew Edwards and Laurence Thornton-Grimes – to produce a minute by minute account of the three Battalions on D-day when they seized and secured a bridgehead above Bayeux.
Divided into chapters, each covering a few hours of the day’s action, the book is based on the testimony of eighty-three survivors and an immediacy is given to the narrative by the simple device of seamlessly stitching their memories into Christopher’s own text. The effect is to place the reader at the heart of the action and for those of us who have visited the scene and know the terrain (and I am sure there are many) you can almost smell the cordite. By the same token we find the names of the officers and men becoming so familiar that they appear, if not yet as friends, at least as acquaintances.
The term ‘Spearhead Brigade’ was hard earned and was a compliment accorded by Montgomery himself who, having visited them in Malta and been impressed with their state of readiness, chose them for the invasion of Sicily and then the toe of Italy. He again insisted that the Brigade should spearhead the Normandy landings. Compliment it may have been, but fraught with danger for the recipients. They were not to let him down.
Christopher Jary’s style and command of the English language shines throughout this book so that, although it is heavy on detail, it is light on presentation, making it an easy read and difficult to put down as the action proceeds at pace from one scene of combat to another. There is a wealth of easy-to-read maps and diagrams and the sacrifice and bravery of that single day is rounded off with a chapter on the ‘unfinished business’ of D+1 – D+4 and put into context with a Postscript of ‘What lay ahead: D+4 to VE-Day and beyond’. Also included are many Appendices listing Orders of Battle, Rolls of Honour and Gallantry Awards.
D-Day was a triumph that has since shaped all our lives and whilst this book is a must-read for all lovers of Dorset that rejoice in the achievements of the county regiment, it should be read by a much wider audience who owe, in no small part, their present freedom to a day that turned the course of the Second World War.
Whetted your appetite? Now buy the book here.
: 9th Jul 2019