59th (Staffordshire) Division 1939-1944


The 59th Division, It’s War Story

[Peter Knight and others, 1954]
Written for the 10th anniversary of D-Day, this book provides the basis for this website. Often available at abebooks.co.uk. Get the original edition if you can. The reprint edition is just a photocopy in a binding, with poor reproductions of the maps and photos. Available on CD-ROM from Midlands Historical Data.

Caen: Anvil of Victory

[Alexander McKee, 1966]
Excellent overview of the battles for Caen, and a must read for an appreciation of the grim nature of this operation.

Steel Inferno: 1st SS Panzer Corps in Normandy

[Michael Reynolds, 1997]
Good information about 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitlerjugend), the main adversary of 59 Division in Normandy

Battle for Caen

[Simon Trew, 2005]
The Battle Zone Normandy series is intended for Normandy visitors seeking basic historical background and tour routes to visit the key locations.

Prunes for Breakfast

Prunes for Breakfast[John Searancke, 2015] An unusual "memoir" of a junior officer in 7 Royal Norfolks. Writing in the persona of his own father (Eddie Searancke), the author gives a convincing picture of life in the British army - including the pre-Normandy years of training, a month of intense combat in Normandy, and 10 months in Germany as prisoner of war.

The Attack

[Stephen Bagnall, 1946]
Introspective memoir of the 5th East Lancashires, from their arrival in Normandy through Operation Pomegranate. The author served with C Company headquarters as clerk (at the rank of Private). The Manchester Guardian (16 January 1946) noted:

The 5th Battalion did not experience active service until June 29, 1944, when it disembarked on the beaches west of Arromanches. Within a week it was engaged in the fight for Caen, and suffering the heaviest of casualties — in one day alone, Sunday, July 16, over 250 were killed or wounded.

The battalion formed the reserve of 197 Brigade during Operation Charnwood and did not see heavy fighting at that time. Their attack during Operation Pomegranate was a different matter:

5 East Lancashire soon met heavy opposition [after crossing the start line], their commanding officer was wounded and it was not until about 0800 hours that they reached their first objective east of Vendes and captured part of it. Here they remained, unable to complete the job, until at 1430 hours a strong enemy counter-attack, supported by tanks, overran their right company and forced the remainder of the battalion back to their start line. [59th Division, It’s War Story]

From the City, From the Plough

[Alexander Baron, 1949]
Novel about life in a British battalion — the fictional 5th Wessex — prior to and during the Normandy campaign. Based on the personal experiences of the author.

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