The following is my review of Dick's book from amazon.
I have photographs taken in Normandy in 1984 of my young children standing in front of ruins of military vehicles still at the site. As I look into the faces of my children in the photos, I realize they were only a couple of years younger than Dick Stodghill was when he was there to fight a war. I remember looking down at the pristine Normandy beaches and thinking if I had not known what had happened there from history books, and had not seen the memorials or walked through the cemetery, I would still have known something monumental had occurred there. As others have said also, when standing there looking down at the sea, tears come from unknown places in one's being.
As I read Normandy 1944, by Dick Stodghill, I realized the writer's memory is phenomenal and his skill as a writer outstanding. He remembered the words of comrades as well as the looks on their faces. This book is filled with unusual incidents, incidents that are not in the history books. Dick writes with a matter-of-fact style that influenced this reader to believe he is speaking the absolute truth. Dick speaks of heroes and villains, which include both generals and privates, on both sides of the war. He gives the glory to his comrades who gave their lives and at times saved his.
In June 1994, we were again visiting Normandy with friends. The father of one of these friends had also fought there in 1944. We drove through towns with more American flags than I had ever seen in one day. We stayed at a hotel in Calais filled with veterans who had come over on a ferry from the same place in England they had left 50 years before. In 1994, they had come thanks to the London taxicab drivers, who also brought their taxicabs and would take the veterans to the events the next day commemorating D-Day. We spent the evening in the bar listening to stories from these men, men with stories similar to Dick's. The next morning we got up early and shook their hands as we saw them off to spend a day far different than they had fifty years before. Dick Stodghill was also on those roads in 1994. Perhaps we ate at the same restaurant or stopped at the same commemorative site.
We need to listen to all these stories because as Dick says, "An infantryman may survive the battles, but will forever be burdened with the memories." I am reminded of a Walt Whitman poem written in 1865, where he speaks of those suffering after a battle being the "musing comrade and the remaining armies."
What you will find in this book is summed up in a quote Dick includes from Field-Marshall Lord Wavell to Basil Liddell Hart, "If I had anything like your abilities to study war, I think I would concentrate almost entirely on the `actualities' of war--the effects of tiredness, hunger, fear, lack of sleep, weather...." Dick has done this in a remarkable way with words that will not soon be forgotten. This is one of the best books on World War II I have ever read. It brings history alive most effectively for this and future generations.