Book Review – Retreat & Rearguard: Dunkirk 1940

Retreat & Rearguard: Dunkirk 1940 by Jerry Murland (Pen & Sword 2016, ISBN 978 1 47382 366 2, 257pp, hardback, illustrated, £25.00) Compared to battlefield sites like Arnhem, Bastogne or Normandy, the fields of battle in Belgium and France where the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fought in May-June 1940 are rarely visited, except perhaps Dunkirk…

Maginot Line: Villy la Ferte

The Maginot Line was a huge screen wall developed in the 1930s to protect France from future German invasion. While many believe it was military technology that failed and the Germans simply went round it, few realise that in several locations the German Army attempted to breach it during the Blitzkrieg in May 1940 and…

Montfaucon Sherman Tank

The battlefields of the First and Second World War criss-cross in many places and while out visiting the Verdun area today we came across this M4 Sherman in the main square at Montfaucon d’Argonne, a village that was on the line of the American advance in 1918 and also in 1944 a generation later in…

Maisy Battery, Normandy

The Maisy Battery is a privately owned museum in Normandy located between Omaha and Utah beaches in the American D-Day sector. It was a substantial gun battery site equipped with howitzers which could fire onto both beaches and posed a serious threat in the early days of the Normandy invasion. It was bombed from the…

Le Grand Blockhaus

Le Grand Blockhaus Museum at Batz sur Mer was an Observation Post built as part of the Atlantic Wall defences in the area around St Nazaire following the raid on the dry dock by British commandos in March 1942. The bunker was the eyes of a major coastal battery and later formed part of the St…

Arracourt Sherman Tank

The Battle of Arracourt in September 1944 is something of a forgotten battle of WW2. Arracourt is a village in eastern France where the US Army had been advancing since the liberation of Paris in the summer of 1944. While Operation Market Garden was taking place in Holland, to the Allies surprise the Germans proved…

U Boat Pens, Saint Nazaire

The German U-Boat fleet which fought in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War operated out of a number of bases on the French coast which included Saint Nazaire. Immortalised in the film Das Boot, casualties among the Kriegsmarine who operated the U-Boats were high: a staggering 3 in 4 of the…

Picardy Resistance & Deportation Museum

   The Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Picardie is a Second World War museum dedicated to the history of the Picardy region of France – which covers the departments of the Aisne, Oise and Somme – under the Nazi occupation from 1940-1944. It looks at resistance to German occupation, the help and…

D-Day 71

I have just returned from Normandy with a group from Leger Battlefield Tours which included members of the York Branch Normandy Veterans Association, with whom I have travelled to Normandy many times. As ever it was a memorable weekend and great to spend time in company with the veterans. However, it once more begs the…

Mulberry Whale, Vosges

  On our recce for the Last Days of WW2 battlefield tour we came across a Mulberry Whale roadway section still being used in the village of Horbourg-Wihr in the Vosges on the border with Germany. The Vosges saw heavy fighting in 1945 and was liberated by Free French and US Forces. Indeed in nearby…

Musée de la Reddition, Reims

Today was my first day with fellow battlefield guides from Leger Holidays in a long trip following events in Western Europe in 1945. We started at Reims where one of the three surrenders in May 1945 took place. The Musée de la Reddition, or Surrender Museum, in Reims commemorates the American led signing of the…

Maginot Line: A2 Fermont 1940

The Maginot Line was a defensive structure built along the French border in the 1930s named after the Minister of War, Andre Maginot. In Eastern France there were a number of systems and the A2 Ouvrage Fermont was built from 1931. This was a major section of the Maginot Line and Fermont consisted of two entrance…