"A solid, informative and interesting recounting of the defeat of the Nazi armies. While detailing the efforts of the Allies to seize the headquarters of Hitler's submarine fleet, Bradham also provides fascinating individual anecdotes of the courage exhibited by American soldiers."--Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City "Randy Bradham did a great service by writing this book. Many of our colleagues from World War II are not around anymore, and for this veteran to step back and relate what happened sixty years ago is a most unexpected gift to our nation. I know veterans will want to read this; but I hope all Americans, especially the children, will read it so they understand the sacrifices their grandparents made so that future generations can enjoy the freedoms on which our country was founded."--Senator Ernest F. Hollings, D-South Carolina "A compelling account of the people and events at Lorient and St. Nazaire that recounts the German invasion, nearly five years of occupation and Allied bombardment, and finally liberation after the German surrender. Of importance to all readers of World War II and military history, this book is a must read especially for those interested in the U-boat war."--James P. Duffy, author of "Hitler's Secret Pirate Fleet"
The story of what was perhaps the longest ongoing battle in Europe during World War II, seen through the eyes of an American soldier. The French naval bases at St. Nazaire and Lorient, occupied by the Germans in June 1940, quickly became the homes of massive U-boat fortresses - nearly indestructible submarine pens, built mostly by slave labour. From these bases, the U-boats struck merchant shipping at will from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. Thousands of vessels were lost, along with vital war materiel from the U.S. destined for Britain and the Soviet Union. The Royal Air Force began an all-out bombardment of the two ports. Despite their extensive efforts - and those of the Americans who joined them in 1942 - the fortresses would survive, surrounded by decimated French towns and countryside. The desperate battle was waged on land, air, and sea. Because the dock at St. Nazaire could house and repair Hitler's powerful warship, the Tirpitz, British commandos carried out a daring raid to destroy it in March of 1942. They succeeded, but with a great loss of life, and the Germans were able to quickly repair much of the damage.
The defences of these fortresses were so strong that General Eisenhower would ultimately decide to seek containment rather than destruction. The U.S. Army's 66th Infantry Division, on its way to take up the task, lost its troopship Leopoldville to a German torpedo, with 802 men going down with the ship. The French underground movement in the area would spawn a fighting force of 40,000 men to fight alongside the Allies, and the subsequent German reprisals would devastate many families in Brittany. Yet, the bases stood - and they continue to stand today.