Stopping the Panzers

The Untold Story of D-Day

Marc Milner

Brigadier General James L. Collins Jr. Book Prize

In the narrative of D-Day the Canadians figure chiefly—if at all—as an ineffective force bungling their part in the early phase of Operation Overlord. The reality is quite another story. As both the Allies and the Germans knew, only Germanys Panzers could crush Overlord in its tracks. The Canadians job was to stop the Panzers—which, as this book finally makes clear, is precisely what they did. Rescuing from obscurity one of the least understood and most important chapters in the history of D-Day, Stopping the Panzers is the first full account of how the Allies planned for and met the Panzer threat to Operation Overlord. As such, this book marks nothing less than a paradigm shift in our understanding of the Normandy campaign.

“Milner’s work is well-researched and crisply written. [He] has made a major contribution to the historiography of the Normandy campaign. Students of the campaign, ranging from the most serious to the most casual, will profit from reading this work.

—Marine Corps History

“Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn about the vital role Canadians played in the early days of the Normandy landings.

—Canadian Military History
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Beginning with the Allied planning for Operation Overlord in 1943, historian Marc Milner tracks changing and expanding assessments of the Panzer threat, and the preparations of the men and units tasked with handling that threat. Featured in this was the 3rd Canadian Division, which, treated so dismissively by history, was actually the most powerful Allied formation to land on D-Day, with a full armored brigade and nearly 300 artillery and antitank guns under command. Milner describes how, over four days of intense and often brutal battle, the Canadians fought to a literal standstill the 1st SS Panzer Corps—which included the Wehrmachts 21st Panzer Division; its vaunted elite Panzer Lehr Division; and the rabidly zealous 12th SS Hitler Youth Panzer Division, whose murder of 157 Canadian POWs accounted for nearly a quarter of Canadian fatalities during the fighting.

Stopping the Panzers sets this murderous battle within the wider context of the Overlord assault, offering a perspective that challenges the conventional wisdom about Allied and German combat efficiency, and leads to one of the freshest assessments of the D-Day landings and their pre-attack planning in more than a decade.

About the Author

Marc Milner is professor of history and Director of the Brigadier Milton F. Gregg, VC, Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick. He is best known for his books on naval history, including North Atlantic Run, The U-Boat Hunters, and Canada’s Navy: The First Century. His 2003 book Battle of the Atlantic won the C.P. Stacey Prize for the best book in military history in Canada. An article based on the material in Stopping the Panzers was awarded the 2010 Moncado Prize given by the Society of Military History for the best article in The Journal of Military History.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series