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phil andrade

Same old error

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phil andrade

A review of James Holland’s book  Normandy ‘ 44 : D-Day and the Battle for France in The Times Saturday review carries this recommendation :

 

A powerful account of the invasion whose daily casualty rate exceeded those at Verdun and the Somme .

 

I really thought that we had put that one to bed.

 

It was a bit of spin that was used to dispel the Donkey Myth, and relied on distorted figures comparing the Somme 1916 with Normandy 1944.

 

Some very reputable historians still cite it.

 

Normandy was intense and costly : but to suggest that it exceeded the Somme in terms of casualty rates is total testes.

 

Phil

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Steven Broomfield

To be fair to James Holland, the 'review' you cite is not a review but rather a very (VERY) brief synopsis in the 'Summer Reads' piece, and the comment is by a hack (blessedly nameless) and appears not to be a quote from the book. I have just started reading the volume in question and, given Mr Holland's previous work, I would be surprised if he makes such a claim. 

 

I suspect you're referring to shoddy journalism rather than to a proper historian repeating canards which have well and truly had the orange sauce pored over them.

 

If the comment appears in the book I will come back and tell you.

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Steven Broomfield

Hmmmm ... I might owe the hack an apology. I have just had a look in the offending volume (really annoying - the necessary piece was in the Postscript so now I know the ending!!!!) and Holland writes:

 

'Excluding German POWs, that amounts to a daily casualty rate of 6,870, worse than the Somme, Passchendaele and verdun ...'

 

Now, he refers in that piece to 209,000 Allied casualties, of whom 37,000 dead, plus 16,714 air forces dead, plus 15 - 20,000 French dead.

 

I confess, Mr A, that your expertise with sorting out the numbers of dead people is greater than mine, but I suspect he's adding apples to pears in order to make a point (and sell a book).

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phil andrade

Thanks, Steven.

 

You’ve got the measure of this.....it’s still a trope that’s wheeled out by some historians that I respect : Peter Caddick -Adams pitches those figures.... he’s another historian I rate highly , and the deservedly esteemed  James Holland is using his summary to make the point.

 

 

 

A little bit of spin might be forgiven, providing it’s backed up by sound arithmetic .

 

Most historians would agree that, in  the 141 days of  the battle of the Somme in 1916, more than one million men were killed or wounded, which amounts to a daily average in excess of seven thousand a day.

 

It’s incumbent upon me to stop worrying about it.

 

Phil

 

 

 

 

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