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New book reveals ‘unheard’ details about D-Day invasion

Some stormed the beaches, while others tried to hold onto Normandy in the face of invasion. "D-Day: The Unheard Tapes" shows the human side of war.
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"D-Day: The Unheard Tapes" represents the voices of Allied troops, French citizens, and Germany soldiers during World War II.
Geraint Jones' "D-Day: The Unheard Tapes" takes readers into the grey area of warfare, hearing from both sides of the battlefields of WW II. (Photo courtesy of Geraint Jones. Task & Purpose composite image.)

Today, you’ll likely see endless reels of Allied troops storming the beaches of Normandy, interviews with D-Day veterans, and footage of how France is celebrating the 80th anniversary. But you probably won’t see the perspectives of German soldiers who lost the war. Geraint Jones’ latest book, “D-Day: The Unheard Tapes” shows readers both sides. 

Jones, a former British combat infantryman and author, released his book on May 23, just ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day. One might wonder why anyone would want to include the perspectives of those we fought against, but Jones knows first-hand that combat is never black and white — even in a war that was the ultimate example of good triumphing over evil. 

“You still hear stories about the SS murdering prisoners, but then you hear stories about American and British soldiers murdering prisoners. Then you hear stories about American and British soldiers putting their own lives at risk to save German soldiers,” Jones said. “It’s a human experience that they went through and that means every kind of shade along that human spectrum is represented in there.”

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“D-Day: The Unheard Tapes” was released in conjunction with the BBC2 documentary series of the same name. Jones pored over the interviews recorded and archived with the Imperial War Museums and National World War II Museum in a step away from the typical topics he writes about. 

“Every other book that I’ve written about has been about volunteers. This is the first time where I’ve written a book where the majority of the guys were conscripted,” Jones said. “That was a real difference. They weren’t there because they necessarily chose to be. They were there because they had to be.”

That was the case for most of those fighting throughout WWII on both sides, not just on D-Day. The book walks readers through the nitty gritty of warfare, from French citizens who woke up the morning of June 6 to find an armada parked a mile off the Normandy beaches to a German infantryman who tragically had to leave his friend to die.

Some perspectives detail the typical horrors of war, while others highlight stories many have never heard. 

“One of my favorite stories was this guy, William Hanna, with the Hampshire regiment, who saw German soldiers trying to surrender, and were shot — they realized that it was the SS shooting them,” Jones said. “These British soldiers were really appalled at the fact that the German SS were killing their own soldiers. The British saw the basic German soldiers as kind of like them. They’re conscripted, they’re doing their job. When it’s over, it’s over.”

Jones believes every point of view from the more than 2 million WWII veterans deserves to be told. That’s why he kept the input from the many archived interviews close to how the WWII veterans explained things at the time, only editing for clarity. 

He struggled with a touch of imposter syndrome while writing the book. He’s deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and knows what it’s like to lose a friend in combat along with many other aspects of war. But he feels his own experiences pale in comparison to what the Greatest Generation accomplished, especially on D-Day.

“As much as there is that sense of, do I deserve this opportunity? It’s like, I have this opportunity, and that means I’m going to give it everything that I’ve got, and if it doesn’t live up to what it should be, it’s not going to be for lack of trying,” Jones said. 

“D-Day: The Unheard Tapes” is not available in America in print yet, but those interested can find the audiobook on Spotify Premium and the e-book via Amazon Kindle. 

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