Jack Chambers and Erik Hendrix. D-Day: Storming Fortress Europe. Osprey Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781472838780. 328 pages. $26.00 USD.
by Jonathan Shepherd
D-Day is one of the most well-known and well-covered engagements of the Second World War. With the release of D-Day: Storming Fortress Europe, this graphic novel offers a dramatic account, and the “Longest Day” is put in perspective for young people and students.
It explains, in chronological order, the events of the battle that changed the course of World War II. By the summer of 1944, Allied planners had developed what would be a massive invasion intended to smash the Atlantic Wall and liberate Europe. The plan was code-named Operation Overlord. The idea was to drop paratroopers to capture key villages and bridges and hold them until the troops destined to make an amphibious landing had established a beachhead.
The invasion began on the night of June 5, 1944 and continued into the next day. The Americans were tasked with taking two beaches code-named Omaha and Utah. British soldiers were ordered to take beaches code-named Gold and Sword. Canadian troops had the job of taking Juno Beach. These beaches would be essential to supply the troops pushing inland.
The story of D-Day is told through a series of exciting tales centered around individual soldiers who played a part in the invasion. It begins in a British Horsa Glider loaded with airborne troops and bound for a bridge over the Caen Canal. The glider troops, under Major John Howard, captured the bridge during a savage gun fight and then held the strong point until relieved. American paratroopers attempting to take Sainte-Mere-Eglise met with stiff resistance from German defenders, but succeeded in taking the town. The paratroopers’ efforts were crucial to distracting German troops from the main landings on the beaches. Despite violent German counterattacks, the paratroopers tenaciously held their objectives until they were able to link up with American soldiers advancing from the beaches
The book then goes into greater detail about events at the beaches, including Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Rangers scaled a rocky cliff face under constant gunfire. The attack on the beaches was an epic clash that was the first step to liberating Europe. Both sides took heavy casualties but the Allies succeeded in establishing a beachhead. As the Allies forced their way inland, they met tough resistance, including a German counterattack by the 21st Panzer Division. D-Day: Storming Fortress Europe makes the fighting of June 6, 1944 come alive through powerful illustrations that depict the fierce combat that took place in Normandy. In addition to graphic depictions of combat, the book also covers the behind-the-scenes events that shaped history. Depicted are British politician Winston Churchill, who spoke to the House of Commons; the German high command that struggled to come up with an effective counterattack, and King George VI, who gave an inspiring radio address to encourage the British people.
This book is riveting. From the paratroopers that took Sainte-Mere-Eglise to the soldiers on the beachheads, this book covers the historic events of June 6, 1944 with highly detailed illustrations that make the “Longest Day” exciting for readers. One unfortunate drawback is that language inappropriate for young people can be found throughout the book. It is highly recommended for students interested in World War II.
Jonathan Shepherd is a student and history enthusiast with a special interest in World War II.