The Battle East of Elsenborn and the Twin Villages
by William C C Cavanagh
Published by Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk)
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The Battle East of Elsenborn and the Twin Villages is a battle that has received little attention in the chronicles of the Second World War. It is usually overlooked and overshadowed by events that took place relatively locally. The Elsenborn battle formed a constituent and important part of the famous Battle of the Bulge.
In the years since the landing of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Normandy during 1944 many books, articles and histories have been written concerning the very famous large scale land operations such as D-Day itself and those in Western Europe post D-Day. Most of the literature concentrates on D-Day, Arnhem or the Battle of the Bulge etc. but this exceptional volume considers a critical five day battle for the north sector of the Bulge at Rocherath-Krinkelt.
The author has spent years researching this battle and his work is outstanding. Not only does he refer to the high level direction of the battle but he brings the fighting home and makes you feel as if you were personally there. He mentions squads and the NCOs commanding such squads as often as the senior Generals. The book focuses not only at Corps and Divisional level but it also brings the reality of the front line to life. There are lucid descriptions of the numerous actions for which the Congressional Medal of Honor was bestowed six times in five days!
It was this expertly described five day battle in which the US First Army really won the Battle of the Bulge. Even the commanding German generals indicated that the events which are noted in the book were effectively the reason for the failure of their advance.
The US 99th Infantry Division were the target of the German advance and they fought a hard battle which defeated Hitler’s plan to seize the vital port of Antwerp. This book illustrates how this last daring and desperate counter-attack by the Germans failed. All the credit must go to the US personnel who fought valiantly and brought the German advance to a halt.
This interesting and exciting book details the events on a daily and unit basis. It is also very consuming and the author’s style makes you never want to stop reading it until you reach the end. One can only say that his research is exceptional and for all those interested in this campaign / Battle of the Bulge then this book is a must have as well as essential reading.