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"The Guns of Normandy", A Riveting Account by A Canadian Artilleryman

Charlie Flick

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Charlie Flick

I just finished reading "The Guns of Normandy" by George Blackburn.  It is not about all of the guns in Normandy as it is a very specific account of the 25 pounder guns used by the Canadian Army in Normandy, and the 4th Field Royal Canadian Artillery in particular.  The author served in the 4th as a FOO (Forward Observation Officer) in support of the Canadian 3rd Division.  The FOOs worked up front with the Infantry and therefore suffered terrible attrition.   Blackburn had several close calls that almost ended his life and he recounts with sadness the deaths of many friends who were not as lucky. 


Blackburn covers much ground in this book but his retelling of the struggle for Verrieres Ridge near Caen in July 1944 is alone worth the price of admission.  He details the day to day struggles of the artilleryman and the even harder lives of the Infantry they supported with gripping details on the effectiveness of the German artillery, Nebelwerfers and mortars which caused tremendous casualties.  He cites many rather sobering statistics such as the 22,134 shells expended by the 4th RCA in a single day, July 20.  He ruminates on subjects like the importance of a good roof over his trench to address shrapnel and the nearly universal struggle with dysentery, a problem for which Canadian Army doctors seemed to have no ready answer.  He writes in a lucid manner and manages to find humor in some of the most appalling circumstances imaginable.


As an American I have naturally tended to focus my reading on American accounts of the Normandy Campaign.  However, this tome has served as a valuable reminder that the Canadians experienced a vicious and costly campaign in Normandy.  I highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially Americans, wanting a more balanced view of the Normandy Campaign.  Indeed, it was an eye-opener for me.


First published in Canada in 1995 it is readily available on Amazon and Ebay.







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