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  1. From The Riviera to The Rhine August 1944 to February 1945 Casemate Publications Written by Simon Forty and published by Casemate themselves, in their WW2 Historic Battlefields series, this book looks at the battles of the US 6th Army Group and French 1st Army from the landings in the South of France all the way to the French/German border along the Rhine. Two months after D-Day, just as the battle of Normandy was reaching its climax, with all eyes on the Falaise Pocket, the Allies unleashed the second invasion of France not in the Pas de Calais but the French Riviera. Immaculately planned, effectively undertaken, the Allies quickly broke out of their bridgehead, drove 400 miles into France in three weeks, and liberated 10,000 square miles of French territory while inflicting 143,250 German casualties. On September 10 they linked up with Patton's Third Army and advanced into the Vosges Mountains, taking Strasbourg and holding the area against the Germans' final big attack in the west: Operation Nordwind in January 1945. US Seventh Army and 6th Army Group undertook a successful campaign placing a third Allied army group with its own independent supply lines, in north-eastern France at a time when the two northern Allied army groups were stretched to the limit. Without this force the Allies would have struggled to hold the frontage to Switzerland and Third Army would have been exposed to attack in its southern flank—something that could have had disastrous repercussions particularly during the Ardennes offensive of December 1944.The images of palm trees and azure seas obscure our view of this campaign. It was no cakewalk. The Germans knew the Allies were coming and had strong defences in the area. A shortage of landing craft, vehicles, and matériel meant that the US Seventh and French First armies were restricted in the assault. The heavy fog and anti-glider defences made for a difficult airborne assault, but it was carried out effectively, the amphibious assault was text-book in execution and the invasion of southern France ended up as a significant victory. But the story of 6th Army Group wasn't finished. Taking up a position on the east flank of Third Army it fought its way through the Vosges and withstood the Germans' last throw: Operation Nordwind—the vain attempt to relieve pressure on the Ardennes assault by attacking in the Vosges. Heavy fighting pressed hard towards Strasbourg but the Allies were ultimately victorious, inflicting severe losses on the Germans. One of the more thought provoking elements in the book are the then and now photographs with the images side by side of men fighting in the streets of a French town, and today, with people walking peacefully along the same street. Conclusion Casemate should be praised for publishing this series of books, as although they may not be of an immediate interest to the modeller, when you take a closer look at the photographs there are a host of ideas that could be used in some interesting dioramas or vignettes. There are also the modifications and markings that could make for some unusual and different builds. For those interested in military itself it has been a real eye opener, as I knew of Operation Dragoon but not of the leading role of the French army, nor of the battles from South to North. Review sample courtesy of
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