Day of the Panzer
A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in Southern France
Jeff Danby, Casemate Publishers, ISBN: 978-1-61200-997-1, Paperback, 365pp, 240 x 159 mm, RRP: £18.99. (Currently on offer at Casemate for £15.99)
In this book, author Jeff Danby delivers the sequence of events that culminated in the savage fight for the village of Allan in southern France where his Grandfather died. To achieve this has taken a vast amount of research including interviews with survivors and their families. This is then laid out to tell the story of the U.S. Army units involved from their formation, training, North Africa, Italy and finally the landings in the South of France with Operation ‘Dragoon’. Intermingled with the facts and figures are numerous personal anecdotes from the participants which bring the story to life. These soldiers each receive a thumbnail sketch to give bones to the story, and this enhances the readability of the book.
The Tank unit to which Lt. Edgar Danby was sent as a battlefield casualty replacement was Company B of the 756th Tank Battalion operating older M4A1 and the newer M4A3 Sherman. The infantry were from Company L of 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. In support were M8 Motor Howitzer Carriages mounting 75mm guns.
The German forces are also reviewed, and the hasty retreat northwards described.
The depth of detail is truly amazing, particularly about the fatal action at Allan when the Americans were ambushed by a Panther and Marder SP guns hidden in the orchards outside the town. Numerous tit-bits of information, such as the use of a German command trailer by the Tanker’s Company CP and the use of an unreliable German truck add to the value of the book for research purposes. At the end of the book are numerous lists of information sources, and a list of medal winners, those who died, and also what happened to the survivors post-war. Whilst not receiving the accolades of the most famous 3rd Infantry Division soldier, Audie Murphy, these guys truly performed as part of ‘The greatest generation’.
All the way through the book are period photos from the private collections of the veterans, official sources, and a great many maps to orientate the reader. This makes the book a must read for armchair historians, wargamers and model-makers.
Available from good bookshops and many on-line retailers.
Casemate Publishers www.casematepublishers.co.uk
Paul Middleton 10/09/2021