Book Review: Gators of Neptune: Naval Amphibious Planning for the Normandy Invasion


by Christopher D. Yung

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2006. Pp. xx, 292. Illus., maps,. Tables, gloss., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN:1-59114-997-5

Gators of Neptuneprovides a look at the background, conception, planning, organization, and execution of the D-Day landings.

It actually treats the subject on several levels. To begin with, there is a comprehensive examination of the technical and logistical aspects of the operation, which remains the most complex landing ever undertaken. So we learn a great deal about the supply of landing craft, arrangements for naval escorts and gunfire support, the intricate planning necessary to mesh operations by naval, air, and ground forces, and more, including lots of training (with a good concise discussion of Slapton Sands).

But Yung, a seasoned naval analyst, didn’t stop there. He frames the tale by examining the evolution of both British and American amphibious doctrine, which differed in important ways, requiring complex negotiation among the commanders and their staffs to hammer out a common doctrine. In dealing with this aspect of the planning, we are treated to some critical portraits of many of the leading figures on both sides. This is in many ways the most valuable part of the book, for by looking at the planning for D-Day through the experiences, personalities, ambitions, and inter-relationships of the principal commanders – Bertram Ramsay, Andrew Cunningham, Harold Stark, Philip Vian, Alan Kirk, and others – Yung turns what could easily have been a very dry, even boring technical account of operational planning and logistical management into a very readable work.

Gators of Neptune is likely to be of particular interest to students of World War II in Europe, amphibious operations, and naval history in general.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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