IntroductionCherbourg 1944 The First Allied victory in Normandy
is the 278 title in Osprey Publishing Ltd’s
series CAMPAIGN. Authored by Steven Zaloga, the 96-page book chronicles the fight to secure a port for supplies just after the D-Day invasion. The text is supported with many photographs from the war plus current photos by Mr. Zaloga, accompanied by full color battle scenes, illustrations by Steve Noon, 3-dimensional ‘bird’s-eye-views’ and maps.
Osprey’s short code is CAM 278
with the book available as a paperback, PDF, or ePUB, with the ISBN: 9781472806635.
Modelers often find inspiration for their projects based on photographs of a vehicle, person, or scene. Sometimes those subjects are specific, sometimes conceptual. This book should evoke creativity for modelers, whether for a single figure or for an epic diorama.
campaign to capture Cherbourg had something of interest for almost every modeler: armor; airborne; naval bombardments and coastal batteries; artillery; pillboxes and bunkers; infantry assaults; air attacks; street fighting.
Mr. Zaloga presents the story of the capture of Cherbourg through 96 pages and 10 chapters and sections;
The strategic situation
3. Opposing commanders
• German commanders
• American commanders
4. Opposing forces
• German forces
• American forces
5. Opposing plans
• German plans
• America plans
6. The campaign
• Expanding the beachhead
• The battle for the gun batteries
• Cutting off the Cotentin
• Plan Heinrich
• North to Cherbourg
• Cherbourg Landfront
• Breaching the Cherbourg Landfront
• Festung Cherbourg
• The battle for Fort du Roule
• Demolition of the port
• Naval gun duels off Cherbourg
• The fall of Festung Cherbourg
• Clearing the eastern strongholds
• Clearing the Jobourg Peninsula
• Opening the port of Cherbourg
8. The battlefields today
9. Further reading
While the text is detailed to fit into a 96 page format, and well organized and explained by Mr. Zaloga, the modeler’s value of this book is the inspiration to model soldiers, vehicles and ordnance, or dioramas from the text and scenes within.
The text examines the units, organization, and equipment that both sides used against each other. I appreciate that the author took time to write the technical term for types of bunkers and casements, i.e., R622 Double group (20 man) personnel bunker; R630 Machine-gun bunker with armored embrasure. The narrative is mainly battalion-level or above, covering critical stages of the campaign. If you seek stories of firefights and grenade duels, you will not find them here, although there are some brief stories of individual actions, such as the Medal of Honor performances by Corporal John Kelly and Lt Carlos Ogden, who separately reduced Nazi bunkers during the assault against Fort du Roule. Otherwise there is very little in terms of individual accounts.
photographs, graphics, illustrations
Graphics begin with a glossary of military jargon and a key to military symbols inside the title page. Plenty of photographs help the reader visualize the actions described in the text. One in particular is gun 919177, a railroad gun mounted on a turntable and used in a coastal battery. Most are black-and-white and of high quality. Some were taken by amateurs or quick “grab shots”, or perhaps gleaned from motion picture frames yet all reveal a great deal of detail: uniforms; weapons; emplacements; structures; scenery, all support the text and provide useful information to modelers. Included are several color photographs shot of particular artifacts by Mr. Zaloga. Although the subjects are decades removed from 1944 they present modelers with colors of concrete, foliage, etc..
High quality artwork enhances this book. One of my favorite artists for Osprey is Steve Noon and one two-page “centerfold” is from his brush:
Panzers reinforce the Montebourg Front, June 9-10, 1944: Panzer-Ersatz-und-Ausbildung-Abteilungen and their captured French armor rolling through a village enroute to the front.
No credit is given for the other two centerfolds:
Air strike on Cherbourg defenses, June 22, 1944: B-26s braving flak unloading their bombs.
Gun duel off Cherbourg, June 25, 1944: battleships USS Texas and Arkansas dueling with MKB (Marine-Küsten-Batterie: Naval coast battery) Hamburg near Fermanville.
Color maps include;
1. German dispositions on the Cotentin Peninsula: D-Day, June 6, 1944
2. Cutting off the Cotentin: June 10-18, 1944
3. 3-D ‘Birds-eye’: The Battle for Montebourg, June 8-14, 1944: keyed with 18 specific events and dozens of US and German units.
4. North to Cherbourg: June 19-21, 1944
5. Festung Cherbourg
6. 3-D ‘Birds-eye’: The Battle for Fort du Roule, June 25-26, 1944: keyed with 13 specific events and dozens of US and German units.
7. The attack on Cherbourg: June 22-26, 1944
8. 3-D ‘Birds-eye’: Clearing Cap de La Hague, June 29-July 1, 1944: keyed with 16 specific events and dozens of US and German units.
Informational tables include;
i. German units, Cotentin Peninsula, June 1944
ii. US Army, Cotentin Peninsula, June 1944
iii. US VII Corps casualties, D-Day to July 1, 1944
I knew that Cherbourg was critical to the Allies’ continuing success in France but I knew little about the campaign to take it. This easily read and well organized book presents a concise overview of the critical stages of the campaign, mainly battalion-level or above. It is not a small unit action account – that is not a criticism of the book, just a clarification. It is interesting as it encompasses many different components of warfare: infantry; artillery; coastal batteries; naval gunfire; aerial attack; airborne; bunkers; fortifications. AFVs and SPGs were present although there were few armored clashes.
Excellent photographic and graphic art support fortifies the text. Modelers, artists, reenactors, and historians should be well pleased by the selection of images within the pages, especially the present day color shots of the battle field by Mr. Zaloga.
I have no meaningful complaints about the book, a minor typo on page 60 mis-converting 117 meters as 38 feet. I recommend Cherbourg
to students of D-Day, the ETO, and subjects associated with military history of the above mentioned branches of service.
We thank Osprey Publishing for providing this book for review. Please tell them and retailers that you saw it here - on