Following the successful landing by the Allied armies in Normandy in June 1944, Hitler's forces battled for two months to contain the bridgehead. However, when his last-ditch attempt to recover the initiative with Operation Luttich - the counter-attack from Mortain on August 7 - failed, it was an implied admission that his armies in the West had been defeated. From that starting point, Jean Paul Pallud takes up the story, following in the footsteps of the Germans as they retreat across France. The next days and weeks were ones of confusion for the German command with staffs and technical services dispersed; command and communication virtually non-existent; roads congested and strafed, and directives to build new stop-lines almost immediately rendered obsolete by the flow of events...all within a matter of a few days. Although the Germans lost nearly 300,000 men during the retreat - either killed, wounded, missing, or taken prisoner - nevertheless it was not necessarily an Allied victory as by the beginning of September German forces had turned round and were once more standing firm, this time along the 650 kilometres between Switzerland and the North Sea. This, then, is that story...told through hundreds of 'then and now' comparison photographs by the author, and which includes some quite amazing discoveries that he made along the way.
INTRODUCTION; PART I; The Last Counter-Attack; Break-out at Avranches; The German Dilemma; The Mortain Counter-attack: Operation 'Luttich'; Operation 'Totalize'; The Decision to Withdraw; PART II; Withdrawal and the Falaise Pocket; Envelopment from the South; Taking Falaise; 'Five Minutes to Midnight'; Closing the Pocket; Break-out; They Failed to Escape; PART III; Crossing the Seine; Retreat to the Seine; Envelopment. The Mantes Bridgehead; Crossing the Seine Barrier; Analysis by the RAF Bombing Unit; No Seine Line Position; The ones that failed to cross; PART IV; > From the Seine to the Westwall; The Second Front in the West; The German Defensive Position in the West; No Respite from the Allies; The First Army and the Mons Pocket; Reprieve of the 15. Armee; Saving Armeegruppe G; The Capture of Gruppe Elster; The End of the Line; A Summer of Disasters; PHOTOGRAPHIC CREDITS; INDEX.