The British and Canadian Infantry in Normandy 1944

A series of articles by Neil W that looks at the selection, training and performance of the infantry of 21st Army Group

Montgomery talks to troops in Normandy 1944 ©IWMB 6934

This is a set of articles that examines various aspects of the performance of the rifle companies of the British and Canadian Armies in the battle for Normandy. The focus will be very much at unit and sub-unit level, with little attention given to operational matters. Topics will include the recruitment and selection of personnel before D-Day, the tactical training delivered to infantrymen prior to embarkation, the performance of foot soldiers in the attack and the defence, the issues of suppression and neutralisation, the problems of concealment and observation, the difficulties of infantry cooperating with armour, the value of patrolling and the importance of battle exhaustion and morale. At the end, I hope to come to some reasoned conclusion about how well the infantry of 21st Army Group performed, a subject which still generates historical debate.

You will find very little in these articles concerning organisation, equipment and uniforms. Nor is much attention paid to the German perspective (that might be a future set of articles). I have tried to concentrate on aspects of the campaign that are not always covered in narrative histories from the perspective of the men who were at the sharp end. I have also tried to keep the references down to a minimum - I did not see the point of lots of footnotes - but there is a bibliography which you can use if you wish.

I hope you will enjoy them. I am happy to receive comments and questions, you can contact me here.

List of Articles