12th Jugend Panzer Division in Normandy written by Tim Saunders & Richard Hone and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 320

Raised in 1943 with seventeen-year-olds from the Hitler Youth movement, and following the twin disasters of Stalingrad and ‘Tunisgrad’, the Hitlerjugend Panzer Division emerged as the most effective German division fighting in the West. The core of the division was a cadre of offices and NCOs provided by Hitler’s bodyguard division, the elite Leibstandarte, with the aim of producing a division of ‘equal value’ to fight alongside them in I SS Panzer Corps.

During the fighting in Normandy, the Hitlerjugend proved to be implacable foes to both the British and the Canadians, repeatedly blunting Montgomery’s offensives, fighting with skill and a degree of determination well beyond the norm. This they did from D+1 through to the final battle to escape from the Falaise Pocket, despite huge disadvantages, namely constant Allied air attack, highly destructive naval gunfire and a chronic lack of combat supplies and replacements of men and equipment.

Written with the advantage of new materials from archives in the former Eastern Bloc, this book is no whitewash of a Waffen SS division and it does not shy away from confronting unpalatable facts or controversies.

This was in effect a stunning read about the 12th HitlerJugend Panzer Division holding up the allied forces in some ways very successfully in northwestern France. I have learned such a lot reading this book and really enjoyed it. The book is very comprehensive in writing and detail, certainly supported by great photographs and map details. I loved the style in which the book is written as each chapter was divided into sections and dealt with and then moved on to the next incident or engagement. The end and notes in the book were good, and they are always good in a Pen & Sword Book, because there is so much more to learn often in the notes sections. A thoroughly good book, certainly one of the best I have read this year so far.