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Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges, Carl Shilleto

Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges, Carl Shilleto



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Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges, Carl Shilleto

Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges, Carl Shilleto

Battleground Europe; British 6th Airborne Division Landings in Normandy D-Day 6th June 1944

This is one of a two part guide to the battlefields fought over by the British airborne forces on D-Day, combining a history of the fighting with a series of tours of the area. This volume looks at the attack on the Merville gun battery and operations nearby, while the second focuses on Pegasus Bridge.

The book is divided into six tours, with a general introduction that looks at the invasion planning and the German defenses. Each tour chapter begins with an account of the fighting in the area covered, followed by the detailed tour.

I don't know the area being described, so I can't comment on the accuracy of the guide sections, but they appear to be well researched, and are very detailed. Each tour is illustrated by a clear black and white road marked with chapter numbers to guide the reader to the right part of the text. The guides are very well illustrated, with maps and modern and wartime photographs.

Chapters
1 - Planning the Invasion
2 - The German Defences in Normandy
3 - Battlefield Tour 1: Merville Battery Defences and Drop
4 - Battlefield Tour 2: Merville Battery
5 - Memorial Tour 1: Sallenelles to the Merville Battery
6 - Memorial Tour 2: The High Ground
7 - Memorial Tour 3: Bridges over the Dives and Divette
8 - Memorial Tour 4: Additional Places of Interest

Author: Carl Shilleto
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 256
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011



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Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges, Carl Shilleto - History

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This battlefield guide is the companion work to Pegasus Bridge & Horsa Bridge. Together, these two books form the fully revised and updated edition of the previous best selling Battleground Europe Series book Pegasus Bridge & Merville Battery.

This book examines, in great detail, the attack by 9 Para Bn of the British 6th Airborne Division on the German gun emplacement known as the Merville Battery on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The actions of 8 Para, 12 Para, Canadian 1 Para, attached engineer and support units, and commando raids in this area of Normandy are also told. In particular, the importance of destroying the five bridges, and a drainage culvert, in the Dives valley are explained along with the importance of taking and holding the high ground to the north-east of Caen. These combined actions resulted in the protection and securing of the left flank of the greatest combined military operation in history Operation OVERLORD.

In addition to explaining how these objectives were achieved, this battlefield guide relates the battles to the area as it is today. The book contains details of the museums, memorials, cemeteries and associated organizations. All of which will unravel the history of the area to the visitor and armchair traveler alike.

To further aid the battlefield tourist, GPS data is also provided for either satellite navigation by vehicle or for viewing on Google Earth.

“Packed with historical information, the book also offers travel advice on visiting the 6th Airborne Divisions area of operations in Normandy, including details of museums, memorials, cemeteries, tours and relevant organisations. It also provides GPS data for sat navs or for viewing on Google Earth. A superb guide for battlefield and ancestral tourists or armchair enthusiasts alike.”

Family Tree Magazine, Nov 2011

This is one of a two part guide to the battlefields fought over by the British airborne forces on D-Day, combining a history of the fighting with a series of tours of the area. This volume looks at the attack on the Merville gun battery and operations nearby, while the second focuses on Pegasus Bridge.

The book is divided into six tours, with a general introduction that looks at the invasion planning and the German defenses. Each tour chapter begins with an account of the fighting in the area covered, followed by the detailed tour.

I don't know the area being described, so I can't comment on the accuracy of the guide sections, but they appear to be well researched, and are very detailed. Each tour is illustrated by a clear black and white road marked with chapter numbers to guide the reader to the right part of the text. The guides are very well illustrated, with maps and modern and wartime photographs.

History of War

A very significantly updated second edition to Carl Shilleto's "Pegasus Bridge / Merville Battery" battlefield guide. This first book has now been expanded into two volumes, each comparable in size to the original and so containing a great wealth of additional information. Whilst it possesses all that one would desire from a battlefield guide, it seems unfair to regard this as its only purpose as its historical narrative is not content with a vague overview of events, but quotes from reports, veterans accounts and gives specific details of actions which range from the major to the relatively obscure. It is, therefore, quite a comprehensive historical study in its own right, indeed I must say that the original volume was of very considerable use to me when I was carrying out my own research many years ago.

Pegasus Archive - Mark Hickman

Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges Paperback – Illustrated, 30 April 2011

Having never previously heard of Carl Shilleto, I found myself with two books from this author arriving on my desk at the same time. The first of these was "Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge" (see my review) and is mentioned here because that book is Part One and this work is Part Two of the same story. With both books published in the same style and at the same time by Pen & Sword Books Ltd, some of my comments are repeated in my reviews for both works because they both combine to give the most complete account of an important part of D-Day.

I make no apology for this repetition - simply because I like these two books, the style of writing and the way in which they are presented.

This work is an intricate study of the attack by 9 Para (under command of 6 Airborne Division), on that infamous German gun emplacement called Merville Battery on 6 June 1944 (D-Day). In addition, the importance of the destruction of 5 bridges and a culvert along the Dives Valley and the taking and holding of the high ground to the northeast of Caen are also explained in an easy-to-read and exciting style of writing.

These were all part of the overall actions which attracted the Battle Honours of the day and the work of Canadian 1 Para, 8 Para, 12 Para and their support and engineer units in addition to the Commando Raids in this area of Normandy are all fully described. In short, they are all, part of explaining how the overall plan came together.

The work itself is profusely illustrated with photographs or illustrations on almost every page and it is quite clear how considerable effort and thought went into this aspect of the book. Having formerly served with all three battalions of the Parachute Regiment and 22 SAS (post WW2!), I have read a number of accounts of the wartime actions of these regiments and was most pleased to see so many photographs published here which I had not seen before - especially the light tank leaving the Hamilcar Glider! Most importantly, each illustration is carefully selected so that the right picture is on the right page in order to reinforce the text you are reading at the time without breaking your natural flow of reading - which always happens when you have to pause to look elsewhere.

Altogether, these two books are quite excellent and, therefore, works I am able to thoroughly recommend.


Additional Information

Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN, an Alsatian shepherd dog, were serving with 9 Parachute Battalion, 6 Airborne Division, tasked with destroying the guns at the German gun emplacement known as the Merville Battery. Like many of the paratroopers who landed in Normandy in the early hours of 6th June 1944, they had been scattered far and wide of their designated drop zone, Drop Zone V.

By 0600hrs, Private CORTEIL and GLEN had reached their drop zone and joined a group led by Brigadier James Hill, commanding officer of 3 Parachute Brigade. The group began making their way from the drop zone, near Varaville, towards the Merville Battery and the area where 9 Parachute Battalion should be after their attack on the German battery.

As they neared the village of Gonneville-en-Auge the group came under fire.

I had with me my brigade defence platoon commander, two parachute sailors who were part of the link with the bombardment ship [His Majesty's Ship Arethusa] and one of our parachute dogs, together with some thirty-five good chaps.

We were making good progress and were encouraged by the tremendous din of the preliminary bombardment which the beach defences were undergoing. We were walking down a lane when I suddenly heard a horrible staccato sound approaching from the seaward side of the hedge. I shouted to everyone to fling themselves down and then we were caught in the middle of a pattern of anti-personnel bombs dropped by a large group of aircraft which appeared to be our own Spitfires. The lane had no ditches to speak of and I flung myself on top of a young officer who had been one of my sergeants when I commanded the 1st Parachute Battalion in North Africa. Something seemed to hit me very hard on the backside and, when the dust and foul stench of cordite had almost disappeared and the shattering din had died down, I looked around and saw a leg lying beside me.

I then saw the boot was a brown one and therefore it could not be mine. After stumbling to my feet, I found one other man who was able to stand, namely my defence platoon commander, and the lane was littered for many yards with bodies of groaning and badly injured men.

The two officers set about injecting the wounded with morphia to ease their suffering. They also removed the morphia phials from the dead and gave them to the wounded to be used later. The two survivors then set off to find 9 Parachute Battalion.

Two hours later, they found Captain Harold P. Watts, Royal Army Medical Corps, the medical officer of 9 Parachute Battalion, who promptly gave the brigadier some temporary first aid treatment and told him about their success at the Merville Battery.

It was later discovered that the aircraft that strafed them were Royal Air Force Typhoons on sorties to disrupt the enemy behind lines. Unfortunately, the pilot had mistaken the group of British paratroopers for a German patrol, resulting in the 'blue on blue' incident or what is more commonly known today as 'friendly-fire'.

Three months later Brigadier James Hill ordered Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Crookenden, who had by that time taken over command of 9 Parachute Battalion after Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway had been wounded, to send a party out to the lane where he had been wounded in an attempt to locate and bury the bodies of the dead.

Major Allen Parry, commanding officer of A Company, went out with the party which included Captain The Reverend John Gwinnett. The soldiers were soon found having been roughly buried in a bomb crater. Among them were Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN. 3

Having identified nearly all the bodies, they were reinterred and their location passed on to the graves registration and grave concentration units. Eventually their bodies were moved to their final resting place at Ranville War Cemetery. At the request of Major Allen Parry, Private EMILE SERVAIS CORTEIL and his paradog GLEN were buried together. It was Private CORTEIL's mother who wrote the epitaph for his headstone. 4


Merville Battery & The Dives Bridges Paperback – Illustrated, 30 April 2011

Having never previously heard of Carl Shilleto, I found myself with two books from this author arriving on my desk at the same time. The first of these was "Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge" (see my review) and is mentioned here because that book is Part One and this work is Part Two of the same story. With both books published in the same style and at the same time by Pen & Sword Books Ltd, some of my comments are repeated in my reviews for both works because they both combine to give the most complete account of an important part of D-Day.

I make no apology for this repetition - simply because I like these two books, the style of writing and the way in which they are presented.

This work is an intricate study of the attack by 9 Para (under command of 6 Airborne Division), on that infamous German gun emplacement called Merville Battery on 6 June 1944 (D-Day). In addition, the importance of the destruction of 5 bridges and a culvert along the Dives Valley and the taking and holding of the high ground to the northeast of Caen are also explained in an easy-to-read and exciting style of writing.

These were all part of the overall actions which attracted the Battle Honours of the day and the work of Canadian 1 Para, 8 Para, 12 Para and their support and engineer units in addition to the Commando Raids in this area of Normandy are all fully described. In short, they are all, part of explaining how the overall plan came together.

The work itself is profusely illustrated with photographs or illustrations on almost every page and it is quite clear how considerable effort and thought went into this aspect of the book. Having formerly served with all three battalions of the Parachute Regiment and 22 SAS (post WW2!), I have read a number of accounts of the wartime actions of these regiments and was most pleased to see so many photographs published here which I had not seen before - especially the light tank leaving the Hamilcar Glider! Most importantly, each illustration is carefully selected so that the right picture is on the right page in order to reinforce the text you are reading at the time without breaking your natural flow of reading - which always happens when you have to pause to look elsewhere.

Altogether, these two books are quite excellent and, therefore, works I am able to thoroughly recommend.


Merville Battery and the Dives Bridges and Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge by Carl Shilleto

Having received these guides that both relate to the Airborne Brigdgehead in Normandy, and are both by Carl Shilleto, I thought it would make sense to review them together. I have used the Battleground series of Battlefield Guides myself when visiting Arnhem in the past. To my eternal regret, I haven’t actually managed to get to any other battlefields apart from Arnhem, so until the time that somebody gives me a break in becoming a battlefield guide I will have to make do with reading battlefield guide books from the comfort of my own home!

Mind you, in this case it’s not really a case of making do – these are very good books indeed. Exceptionally well illustrated with archive and contemporary photographs, and with a wealth of appendices covering recommended reading, order of battle, glossaries and a handy reference list of grid reference co-ordinates for Satnav use. The maps in particular are a great resource – in particular the colour maps on the back are very useful. Perhaps the only thing that is missing with this series is a larger scale, detailed Holts-style map, but I guess if you want something like that you can go out and buy one yourself, or one of the French Michelin maps. There isn’t a huge amount on tourist information – some basic information such as climate, health, getting there, the perils of battlefield relics are well covered. With the internet, and ever disappearing international borders, it shouldn’t take too much trouble to google up some ferries and hotels.

I’ve done a fair bit of studying of individual soldiers who fought in the airborne bridgehead – namely Portsmouth’s own Sergeant Sid Cornell DCM and the 16 year old Boy Para Private Bobby Johns. Reading this book has helped me understand what happened to both of them in much more context. And I guess that’s what a good battlefield guidebook should do – make you feel like you have been there, without actually being there. I wouldn’t mind betting that out of everyone who buys a battlefield guide, something like 75% might not actually got to the area. And is that such a bad thing?


Merville Battery & the Dives Bridges EPUB

This battlefield guide is the companion work to Pegasus Bridge & Horsa Bridge.

Together, these two books form the fully revised and updated edition of the previous best selling Battleground Europe Series book Pegasus Bridge & Merville Battery.This book examines, in great detail, the attack by 9 Para Bn of the British 6th Airborne Division on the German gun emplacement known as the Merville Battery on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

The actions of 8 Para, 12 Para, Canadian 1 Para, attached engineer and support units, and commando raids in this area of Normandy are also told.

In particular, the importance of destroying the five bridges, and a drainage culvert, in the Dives valley are explained along with the importance of taking and holding the high ground to the north-east of Caen.

These combined actions resulted in the protection and securing of the left flank of the greatest combined military operation in history Operation OVERLORD.In addition to explaining how these objectives were achieved, this battlefield guide relates the battles to the area as it is today.

The book contains details of the museums, memorials, cemeteries and associated organizations.


Watch the video: 2. Weltkrieg - Die Schlacht von Merville - Franzosen spielen D-Day nach (August 2022).