Saving the Breakout: The 30th Division's Heroic Stand at Mortain, August 7-12, 1944

Alwyn Featherston, Author Presidio Press $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-89141-490-2
This dramatic military history recounts the little-known WW II defense of the French town of Mortain by the 30th Division, a National Guard outfit whose troops hailed mostly from Tennessee and the Carolinas. By stopping the German counteroffensive at Mortain, the ``Old Hickory'' Division saved the D-Day invasion forces from being pushed back to the Normandy beaches and gave the Allied high command enough time to bring pressure against both flanks of the German thrust. Featherston, a journalist with the Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun , reviews the controversy over Gen. Omar Bradley's failure to close the gap, a measure that would have encircled large German formations in France and shortened the war. Two German armies escaped through the so-called Falaise Gap but, as the author points out, the Allies took 50,000 prisoners and counted 10,000 enemy dead. It was a great Allied victory--made possible by the heroic stand of the 30th Division at Mortain. Featherston's superb narrative illuminates the overall strategic situation while concentrating on that division's lonely struggle. His account explains why S.L.A. Marshall, the Army's official historian, picked the 30th as the finest division in the European theater. Illustrations. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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