by Ben Kite
Solihull, Eng.: Helion / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2016 . Pp. xvi, 452.
Illus., maps, diagr., appends., notes, biblio., index. $49.95 paper. ISBN: 1911096184
How Commonwealth Troops Fought
Former career British Army officer Kite takes an intimate look at British and Canadian forces during the Normandy Campaign, which is a subject generally neglected in American treatments of these war in Europe.
Kite takes an interesting approach to the subject. Not satisfied with just telling us what took place, he also explains how it took place. So he not only gives the reader troop movements and desperate fights, but also a technical look at the ways and means by which those events unfolded place.
Following a short introduction which gives a concise overview of the Normandy Campaign, for much of which British and Canadian forces comprised the bulk of the troops engaged, Kite follows with chapters on the operations and inner workings of the various branches of the services, infantry, naval, artillery, air, armor, intelligence, medical, and so on. So while we learn about the fighting that went on, we also get an education in the procedures and tactics of the several arms. Kite gives us lessons in how the air forces built forward bases, and we see how gunners found targets for and operated their 25-pounders. We get a look at how the medical services handled the flow of casualties, see how information flowed through the army, from the front to the intelligence analysts to the commanders, and then back down to the front again. Kite quite often illustrates the processes by which the British and Canadians made war by drawing on the personal accounts of the troops who did the work.
Stout Hearts is excellent stuff, offering insights into the ways in which the war was fought, and well worth a read for anyone interested in World War II, or in how an army functions.
Note: Stout Hearts is also available in some e-editions.