21 Days in Normandy, Maj Gen George Kitching & the 4th Canadian Armoured Division

A carefully researched review of the 21 days from landing for the 
Canadian 4th Division. The author has presented the facts and 
offered logical conclusions, righting some of the injustices done 
to the Canadians. An absorbing account and very much recommended.

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NAME: 21 Days in Normandy, Maj Gen George Kitching & the 4th Canadian 
Armoured Division
FILE: R2412
AUTHOR:  Angelo Caravaggio
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back 
PAGES:  289
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War 1I, World War Two, Second World War, Canadian 
Armoured Div, Normandy, Sword Beach, Gold Beach, liberation of Europe, 
Caen break out
ISBN: 1-47387-071-2
IMAGE: B2412.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/gwwrzcu
LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale 
DESCRIPTION: A carefully researched review of the 21 days from 
landing for the Canadian 4th Division. The author has presented the 
facts and offered logical conclusions, righting some of the 
injustices done to the Canadians. An absorbing account and very much 
recommended.

The work that went into preparing the invasion force, training, 
logistics, and misinformation fed to the Germans, was a triumph by 
any standard. Getting this huge force across to Normandy by sea and 
landing it was an enormous achievement for all of the Allied forces 
involved. Having landed, further magnificent achievement was 
demonstrated in getting the troops and their equipment off the 
landing areas and on into a breakout. Inevitably, some units faced 
very much stronger German opposition than others, some were lucky and 
for others luck ran out. It was the largest and most complex 
amphibious landing in history and may never be out done in the 
future. What will stand for all time is the uniformally great courage 
of all participants.

The nature of military and political ego means that some perceptions 
of what has happened may vary wildly. Some individuals will seek to 
cover their own weaknesses by pointing fingers at others and, with 
so many nationalities involved, there will be confusion and neglect 
that historians will miss or inaccurately present. The British and 
Canadian forces were criticised at the time, and subsequently, for 
taking longer to get off the beaches and break out. The Canadians 
suffered most of the criticism and their commander was replaced after 
only 21 days. That has been enough for many historians to accept this 
at face value when they should have researched with greater care. It 
is therefore very welcome to read a book that avoids this neglect and 
sets out the facts fairly and objectively.

When a battle or campaign succeeds, the perilous nature of the 
undertaking is often ignored. D-Day was an incredible action that 
faced great risk during the first 24 hours, and then on until the 
break out from the beaches had been completed. At any point, the 
Germans might have halted the invasion and then thrown the invaders 
back into the sea. The advantage is normally with the defenders.

When war broke out, men flocked to the colours from across the 
British Empire. Even in those parts of the Empire where political 
movements were flexing muscles for independence, the flow of support 
was strong. There were also those of former colonies and territories 
who made their way to Britain, notably from the US and the Irish 
Republic. For the British and all those giving their support, it was 
no easy task and the first years presented many more challenges than 
successes. By 1944, these people understood the risks and were 
naturally motivated to take care in every action to minimize 
casualties and increase prospects for ultimate victory. That 
contrasted somewhat with the US forces who were fresh to conflict, 
had much to learn, and often failed to see all of the risks to be 
addressed.

On the Anglo-Canadian wing of the landings, initial progress was 
good and the airborne forces had reached and held their objectives. 
What was then required was progress out from the beaches to the 
strategic locations that were being held magnificently by lightly 
armed glider and paratroop units, with assistance from French 
Resistance fighters. Against them stood several seasoned German 
armoured units, equipped with the best tanks available to the 
Germans. The 21st Panzers put up a particularly spirited defence and 
might have caused greater damage to the Anglo-Canadian armour which 
was largely equipped with the American Sherman tank. The Sherman was 
available in numbers, but it was at a disadvantage against the 
Panther and Tiger tanks, and even against the PKW IV and its assault 
gun variants.

In fact, the Germans realized that the fight against the British and 
Canadian force was taking up so much German resource that it was 
allowing the US troops to break out from their beaches and threaten 
to encircle the German troops. To address this, the 21st Panzers and 
other units were taken out of the line and sent to head off the US 
force. That relieved the pressure somewhat on the British and 
Canadians, allowing them to advance towards their next objective.

The Canadian 4th Armoured under Kitching was entering battle for the 
first time in one of the greatest battles ever. In looking critically 
at the first 21 days from landing, many historians have sadly 
neglected the triumphs and achievements of the 4th Armoured as it 
proved flexible and adaptable, going on to achieve so much in the 
drive towards Germany.

The author has re-examined the performance of the Canadians and their 
leaders. This provides fresh insight and places the first 21 days in 
its correct context. This is an excellent case study of Divisional 
command, the limitations of equipment and doctrine against the 
friction of war. The text is supported by maps and organizational 
charts in the body of the book, with further support from a nicely 
chosen photo-plate section