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The Sailors' Story: A Naval History of D-Day and the Battle for France

Nick Hewitt

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Yale University
08 July 2024
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The first account of the Allied navies' vital contribution to the success of the D-Day landings and the Normandy campaign

The Allied liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe is one of the most widely recognised events of modern history. The assault phase, Operation Neptune, began with the D-Day landings in Normandy—one of the most complex amphibious operations in history, involving 7,000 ships and nearly 200,000 men. But despite this immense effort, the wider naval campaign has been broadly forgotten.

Nick Hewitt draws on fascinating new material to describe the violent sea battle which mirrored the fighting on land, and the complex campaign at sea which enabled the Allied assault. Aboard ships ranging from frail plywood landing craft to sleek destroyers, sailors were active combatants in the operation of June 1944, and had worked tirelessly to secure the Seine Bay in the months preceding it. They fought battles against German submarines, aircraft, and warships, and maintained careful watch to keep control of the English Channel.

Hewitt recounts these sailors' stories for the first time—and shows how, without their efforts, D-Day would have failed.
Imprint:   Yale University
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780300256734
ISBN 10:   0300256736
Pages:   464
Publication Date:  
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Nick Hewitt is a naval historian working for Orkney Islands Council. Formerly head of collections and research at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, he is the author of Firing on Fortress Europe, Coastal Convoys, and The Kaiser’s Pirates.

Reviews for Normandy: The Sailors' Story: A Naval History of D-Day and the Battle for France

"“The book is highly absorbing, well-illustrated, and sometimes quite funny and surprising. Without question it achieves its aim of highlighting a forgotten aspect of the Normandy campaign.”—Calum Henderson, Military History Matters “Never fails to place the reader in the centre of the action. . . . Brings a refreshing immediacy to the Herculean efforts of the Royal Navy in that fateful year.”—MW, History of War “Nick Hewitt has produced a worthy and comprehensive addition to the many and varied books on D-Day, and from a different perspective.”—Andy Field, Naval Review “Packed with action and riddled—in a good way—with first-hand accounts of the sailors who were there at every stage.”—John Ash, Britain at War ""Nick Hewitt has achieved the impossible. He has re-told the story of D-day in a way that transforms our understanding of that Day of Days. He has skillfully placed the navy exactly where it should be, right at the heart of the account of what was the greatest amphibious operation of all time.""—Dan Snow, author of On This Day in History  “Crisp, elegantly written, extensively researched—Nick Hewitt puts the sailors’ story back into D-Day with the precision and verve they deserve. Hewitt’s timely prose brings to life the sailors and their campaign at sea so long overlooked in the D-Day narrative.”—Tessa Dunlop, author of The Bletchley Girls “This is the account of the campaign that those who waged it deserve…Hewitt brings together archival sources and personal, eye-witness accounts in a masterly way, producing an account which sets out the context and significance of what happened while also being vivid and highly readable. Indispensable for anyone who wishes to understand these vital but often neglected naval operations.”—Tim Benbow, editor of Operation Neptune “An outstanding and definitive narrative of a crucial and too-long overlooked element of the D-Day and wider Normandy story. Nick Hewitt brilliantly covers the events, as well as the impact on those serving, creating a very personal account and offering new insights for naval history, delivering a truly page-turning read.”—Kate Jamieson, naval and maritime historian “The huge maritime effort to support the invasion of Europe in 1944 has, indeed, been largely forgotten, seen as an allied pushover. Hewitt demonstrates decisively that it was not so. . . . The book is strong on harsh realities: mines, torpedoes and sudden death. But the rich analysis of the long, country-wide planning and training effort beforehand, is a superb illustration of what was truly a total war.”—Roger Knight, author of Convoys"

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