Men at Arnhem by Geoffrey Powell
This book was first published in 1976 with names changed. Recognised for what it was, a fine narrative of the actions of a single Parachute battalion (156 Para), this rewrite recognises the heroes of the story by wherever possible using real names. We all know the big picture of Arnhem so let's just move swiftly on.
Powell was OC C Coy. He watched the aerial armada fly over on the first day and knew that surely the following day he and his battalion would follow suit.
The book describes in fine detail just what happened to Powell and his company. 156 Para's original task, along with the rest of 4 Para Bde, 1 Airborne Div, was to occupy and hold high ground to the north of Arnhem, but this had already flown out of the window by the time they landed. They set off for the bridge, but never got there, ending up sucked into their Division's maelstrom of destruction at Oosterbeek, the witch's cauldron or "Hexenkessel".
When the CO is killed, Powell takes over command of the battalion. A week after landing, the order comes through to cross the Rhine, the operation having failed. Powell brought a mere handful of men of 156 Para back with him, along with some stragglers from other units. In total, three officers and forty-three soldiers of 156 Para made the escape.
The story is at once heroic, tragic and an easy read, bereft as it is of an excess of the "big picture". It does not set out to be such a huge tome that there is no room for detail. It sets out to tell the story of 156 Para's first, and ultimately its last, action of the war and it does so in Spades.
An excellent read, not to be missed.
AlienFTM Men at Arnhem
by Geoffrey Powell published by Pen & Sword Click here to buy from Amazon