13 September 2019

Steel Wall At Arnhem: The Destruction of 4 Parachute Brigade 19 September 1944

The deployment of the British 1st Airborne Division somewhere in Europe prior to the end of the War was indeed a case of coins burning holes in the pockets of SHAEF . The Allied High Command was anxious to commit to battle a Division that, while it contained some elite units, was not fully trained, had carried out only one divisional exercise and was contained several officers who were either unfit or unsuitable for Airborne command.

On Monday 18 September 1944, the aircraft and gliders carrying the men and equipment of 4 Parachute Brigade took off from airfields in the south of England. For the first time from its creation in North Africa the Brigade was going into battle as a unified formation albeit not fully trained and far from experienced.

Within 24 hours the Brigade would cease to exist, having achieved nothing more than the deaths of good men for no good reason. Despite the fine words of Winston Churchill that the operation had not been in vain and Montgomery was 90% successful, there is more logic to be found in the words of the Great War poet Wilfred Owen when he wrote in his poem Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. There were those commanders who were indeed ardent for some desperate glory .

This is a full account of the Brigade and its actions at Arnhem. Contains 221 photos & 3 maps.

Available from:
Casemate Publishers

30 August 2019

Arnhem 1944 - The Human Tragedy of the Bridge Too Far

The airborne battle for the bridges across the Rhine at Arnhem ranks amongst the Second World War’s most famous actions – inspiring innumerable books and the star-studded 1977 movie. This book, however, is unique: deeply moved, the author provides a fresh narrative and approach – concentrating on the tragic stories of individual casualties.

These men were killed at different junctures in the fighting, often requiring forensic analysis to ascertain their fates. Wider events contextualise the author’s primary focus – effectively ‘resurrecting’ casualties through describing their backgrounds, previous experience, and tragic effect on their families. In particular, the emotive and unresolved issue of the many still ‘missing’ is explored.

During the course of his research, the author made numerous trips to Arnhem and Oosterbeek, travelled miles around the UK, and spent countless hours communicating with the relatives of casualties – achieving their enthusiastic support. This detailed work, conducted sensitively and with dignity, ensures that these moving stories are now recorded for posterity.

Included are the stories of Private Albert Willingham, who sacrificed his life to save civilians; Major Frank Tate, machine-gunned against the backdrop of blazing buildings around Arnhem Bridge; family man Sergeant George Thomas, whose anti-tank gun is displayed today outside the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’, and Squadron Leader John Gilliard DFC, father of a baby son who perished flying his Stirling through a hail of shot and shell during an essential re-supply drop. Is Private Gilbert Anderson, who remains ‘missing’, actually buried as an ‘unknown’, the author asks? Representing the Poles is Lance-Corporal Czeslaw Gajewnik, who drowned whilst escaping the hell of Oosterbeek, and accounts by Dutch civilians emphasise the shared suffering – sharply focussed by the tragedy of Luuk Buist, killed protecting his family. The sensitivity still surrounding German casualties is also explained.

This raw, personal, side of war, the hopes and fears of ordinary men thrust into extraordinary circumstances, is both deeply moving and revealing: no longer are these just names carved on headstones or memorials in a distant land. Through this thorough investigative work, supported by those who remember them, the casualties live again, their silent voices heard through friends, relatives, comrades and unpublished letters.

Available from:.
Pen and Sword

12 August 2019

Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17-25 September 1944

On 21 August 1944 German Army Group B was destroyed in Normandy and Allied troops began pressing east from the beachhead they had occupied since the D-Day landings. Within days British troops had liberated Brussels and reached the Dutch border. Encouraged by seeming total German collapse, the Allies gambled their overstretched resources on a high-risk strategy aimed at opening the way into Germany itself crossing the Rhine river.

On the afternoon of Sunday 17 September British tanks advanced into Holland in concert with 1,534 transport aircraft and 491 gliders. Their objective was a series of bridges across the Rhine, possession of which would allow the Allies to advance into Germany. In the event the operation was dogged by bad weather, flawed planning, tardiness and overconfidence, and ended with the Arnhem crossing still in German hands despite an epic nine-day battle that cost the British 1st Airborne Division over two thirds of its men killed, wounded or captured.

Arnhem, the Battle of the Bridges combines analysis and new research by a leading authority on Operation MARKET GARDEN with the words of the men who were there, and provides the most comprehensive account of the battle to date.

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8 July 2019

Condemned to Live: A Panzer Artilleryman's Five-Front War

Condemned to Live is a the memoir of Franz Frisch, who served in the German Army during World War II. Frisch was 19 years old when, in 1938, he was drafted into an artillery battalion from his hometown of Vienna, Austria. Serving nine years as a Panzer artilleryman, he fought on five fronts in the European war: Poland, France, the Soviet Union, Sicily, and Italy. In March 1945, he became an American prisoner of war and spent two years in captivity.

The remarkably candid photographs display the war’s devastation and death, but most striking are the people images: camp life, friends, enemies, and refugees. Using a popular Kodak box camera, Frisch shot pictures from 1939 in Poland, until 1943, when film became unavailable. He periodically sent the film to his mother to be developed.

Frisch writes about the human interest subjects, mainly comrades and family, his personal war. He eschews Hitler’s grand strategies, field marshals, Panzer tactics, or recounting the war’s outcomes, all beyond his control. The narrative includes extensive remembrances of a private soldier’s small and volatile world, conforming to the level of authority and responsibility, viewpoint, and informality of the man who took the images.

Available from:
White Mane Publishing Co Inc.

7 June 2019

We Remember D-Day

'On leaving the plane I can only say I felt very lonely, except that the sky was full of bullets coming upwards. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before my feet hit the ground with a thud. Almost as soon as my feet touched the ground, I was to find that I had landed directly in front of the muzzle of a German Machine Gun and I received a burst of fire straight at me. I can remember being hit and spinning round with a sudden yell of shock and finishing up flat on my back... I lay there rather dazed for a while, expecting to be hit again at any moment.' John Hunter, Parachute Regiment, Northants.

Seventy years ago, on 6 June 1944, a great Allied Armada landed on the coast of Normandy. The invasion force launched on D-Day was a size never seen before and never likely to be seen again. 150,000 soldiers, more than 6,000 ships and 11,000 combat aircraft took part in the assault. The success of that attack led 11 months later to the final liberation of Europe from a ruthless dictatorship that had threatened to permanently enslave it. Such an undertaking on such a scale could not have been achieved without tremendous cooperation between Land, Sea and Air Forces.

In We Remember D-Day we hear from the men and women who were involved in the assault; those who risked their lives for a better future. Their stories tell of human bravery and endeavour, pain and heartache, and, most importantly, freedom and hope.

Available from:
Ebury Press

5 June 2019

Parachute Doctor - The Memoirs of Captain David Tibbs

Parachute Doctor is the story of Captain David Tibbs RAMC MC who as a member of 225 (Parachute) Field Ambulance and the 13th Parachute Battalion served with the 5th Parachute Brigade of the famous 6th Airborne Division.

His fascinating recollections feature jumping into Normandy on D-Day and the subsequent intense battle to defend the Airborne perimeter; assisting the Americans in repulsing the Ardennes offensive, the massive Airborne drop across the Rhine and the rapid advance to the Baltic to prevent the Russians moving into Denmark.

Following the end of the European war, the Brigade was shipped to the Far East for a proposed invasion of Singapore. However, the Japanese surrendered beforehand, and the Paras ended up being involved in a little known episode, fighting alongside the Japanese in defence of Dutch civilians against violent rebels on the island of Java.

Obituary: Captain David Tibbs, doctor awarded military cross after parachuting into occupied France on D-Day (The Scotsman)

Available from:
Sabrestorm Publishing
Casemate Publishing

4 June 2019

Operation Overlord - Cornwall & Preparation for the D-Day Landings

The story of Cornwall's involvement in the D-Day landings is both detailed and yet remains relatively unknown. In telling this story the role Cornwall played is explored, from the time Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons with his now famous 'We will fight them on the beaches...' promise, up until the launch of Operations Neptune and Overlord via the Normandy beaches, which ultimately led to the liberation of Europe.

Roderick de Normann has captured both the spirit and detail of the planning for these two operations. His careful research has led him to uncover a wealth of hitherto undiscovered information and little known photographs. Fully illustrated, the book includes images taken throughout Cornwall often using Hollywood grade film, providing the reader with a real sense of what it was like to be in the county during the preparations for D-Day.

Table of contents:
  • Introduction - In God's Good Time
  • Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
  • Planning and Preparation for the Second Front
  • The US Navy Arrives in Cornwall
  • One Last Straw
  • The Western Task Force and American Landing Forces
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
  • 'Let's Go...'
  • A Brotherhood in Arms
  • Postscript
  • Archive Sources
  • Image Sources
  • Bibliography

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