Spearheading D-Day

American Special Units in Normandy

Jonathan Gawne

Date Published :
September 2011
Publisher :
Histoire and Collections
Illustration :
heavily illustrated
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9782352502012
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 12.25 X 9 inches
Stock Status : Out of stock. Available in 6-8 weeks


The invasion of Normandy is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated military events of the 20th century. However, many of the smaller units that played important roles have been forgotten or ignored, with the result that many unconfirmed or erroneous myths about the American landings have been repeated in popular books. In "Spearheading D-Day," military historian Jonathan Gawne examines the US landings at Omaha and Utah with an eye to what other writers have ignored. Utilizing the original military records and extensive veteran interviews, this book covers such diverse topics as how the invasion tactics were developed, the organization of the units involved, as well as the uniforms and equipment of the assault troops.

For the first time, both Navy officers directly involved with the first waves at Utah Beach speak out on what actually caused the misdirection of the Utah landings. The harrowing experiences of the advance demolition teams on Omaha are described, as well as the daunting tasks of US engineers, frogrmen, pathfinders and Rangers. Heavily illustrated, the emphasis of "Spearheading D-Day" has been placed on little-known photos, including a selection of rarely seen color stills taken from Coast Guard movies of the Normandy invasion.

About The Author

Jon Gawne is considered one of the leading experts on the history of American Army uniforms and equipment in both world wars. His numerous articles for Militaria Magazine have covered everything from the shortage of winter clothing during the Battle of the Bulge to the history of dog tags. His writings have been translated into many languages, including French, Italian and Czech, and are equally popular in both Europe and the US. He has been a technical consultant for films and museums. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and a small spoiled dog, in a house overrun with books, documents and military memorabilia.


"…focuses on the small units usually forgotten…tells for the first time the full story of these units…well supported by uniform reconstructions and well produced color and black and white photographs (including color stills rarely seen from US Coast Guard movies of the D Day Landing).

- Military Modelcraft International, November 2011

For even the most self-assured D-Day savant, it is impossible to read this book and not learn something new, such as the composition of the engineering teams who dealt with obstacles and mines on the beaches. Gawne's research is deep and air-tight, and his grasp of military organizations, uniforms, equipment and weapons borders on the unbelievable. "It is easy to list items carried and uniforms worn, but no writing can capture the shaking voice a man has when he talks of the sea running red with the blood of his friends," Gawne writes poignantly.

- John McManus, Wall Street Journal, May 2014

The text is informative and put together with such passion I am in no position to make any negative criticism. … this book is an absolute essential. Must have. Go get.

- War History , December 2015

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