With the ever-growing interest in Hitler's Atlantic Wall, it comes as a surprise that so little has been written about it in the English language - until now, that is. In this, the first substantial work in English, author Tony Saunders takes a critical look at the history of the wall, how it was built, what was built and the role it played in the Second World War, together with a guide to what remains to see of it today in France. Hitler conceived the Atlantic Wall during the Second World War as a line of impregnable fortifications along the western coast of Europe to protect his newly conquered empire from seaborne invasion. From 1942 until the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, millions of tons of steel-reinforced concrete were poured into the construction of gun emplacements, bunkers, flak batteries, radar stations, command and observation posts, as well as ammunition dumps and U-boat pens. This huge project stretched from the Franco-Spanish border in the south, following the French Atlantic coast north for 1,500 miles passing through Brittany, around the Cherbourg peninsula, along the coast of Normandy and extending right to the North Sea coasts of Belgium and Holland.
More than 12,000 concrete structures were built, many of them so massive that they survive today despite being shelled by battleships, and resisting most post-war attempts by Allied army engineers to demolish them. They are now tourist attractions as well as the focus for a growing number of 'fortress' enthusiasts. Richly illustrated, the authoritative text is supported by a selection of contemporary photographs and plans - many rare or previously unpublished - and present-day photographs showing the amazing endurance of these monolithic fortifications.
Anthony Saunders is the author of Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918 (1999) and Dominating the Enemy 1914-1918 (2000). He is a graduate of Brunel University and worked in the Principal Directorate of Patents, MOD, for six years. He is now a freelance writer and editor with a specialist interest in the two world wars.