|Marching to the Sound of Gunfire - North West Europe 1944-1945|
A famous English general once wrote that '
the forward area of any theatre of war, the sharp end of battle as we used to call it, is inhabited by young men with a gleam in their eye, who actually do the fighting. They are comparatively few in number and they are nearly always the same people.'
In Marching to the sound of Gunfire, scores of British soldiers from almost every echelon of the British Army tell their amazing stories of life - and death - at the sharp end. In the eleven months of frenzied warfare that followed D-Day, these soldiers successfully drove the Nazi hordes back into their Fatherland and beat them into surrender.
There are stories from the 'poor bloody infantry' with their machine-gunners, mortar men, stretcher-bearers and pioneers; the brave assault troops who stormed the Normandy beaches and forced bridgeheads over rivers and canals in four countries; the outgunned 'tankies' in their Shermans, Cromwells and Churchills, slogging it out against the mighty German Tigers and Panthers, and the fearsome dug-in 'eighty-eights'; the dashing recce types in their thin-skinned armoured cars and carriers, sending back vital radio reports; the sappers building bridges and clearing minefields under fire; the gunners with their dedicated FOOs bringing down fast, furious and accurate barrages; the signallers, patching up communication links; the non-combatant stretcher-bearers picking up the dead and dying from the battlefield, their Red Cross armbands no guarantee of immunity from fire; the RAMC doctors and orderlies tending the wounded in their RAP under the most terrible conditions; the immediate support services of the RASC, bringing up vital food and ammunition for the morrow; and the REME repairing armoured vehicles to fight another day.
Illustrated with contemporary photographs and sketches, Marching to the Sound of Gunfire will bring back memories of fearful apprehension as the landing craft beached on the foreshores of Normandy, the sheer elation experienced at the liberation of towns and villages in France and the Low Countries, the tragedy of 'Market Garden', and the final brutal battles to pierce the Siegfried Line and reach the Baltic.
Marching to the Sound of Gunfire also looks at themes as varied as the landscape over which the battles were fought; of being wounded or taken prisoner; of the paradox of 'friendly fire'; of the daily life-or-death decisions that needed to be made by the humble private up to the divisional general; and of battles lost and won. It is also the story of how the young soldiers marched to the sound of gunfire, won a resounding victory, and led Winston Churchill to declare: 'This is your victory . We have never seen a greater day than this.'