Books - Rhine Crossing

 

13 - Lucky for Some: The History of the 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion by Andrew Woolhouse

In 1943, 250 men belonging to the South Lancashire Regiment volunteered to become paratroopers and assault Europe. Jumping on D-Day they fought across France, suffered the cold of the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge and marched across Germany. This is the story of the veterans themselves. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Airborne Armour by Keith Flint

Airborne Armour is a history of the use of tanks within 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. Beginning with a thorough examination of the development of the Tetrarch light tank and the gliders which flew them into action, the book discusses the origins of the Regiment as "C" Special Service Squadron, which, in 1942, played a part in the little known amphibious assault on Madagascar. The book details the conversion of the Squadron to the Airborne role, and then describes the actions of this pioneering formation with the 6th Airborne Division throughout the 1944-45 campaigns in Normandy, the Ardennes, Operation Varsity and the Advance into Germany. The author, Keith Flint, has researched the subject matter well and provides a very complete assessment of the role of Airborne Armour during the Second World War. Highly recommended. Price: 21.95. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.helion.co.uk/

 

Air War Varsity by Martin W. Bowman

Pegasus Archive review: Operation Varsity  in March 1945 saw the landing of the 6th British and 17th US Airborne Divisions as part of the Rhine Crossing, and it remains the largest single airlift in the history of the Airborne Forces. As an aviation specialist, Martin Bowman focuses almost entirely on the flight to the drop zones and the immediate aftermath of the landings. This was certainly the critical phase in this successful but very costly operation as the areas they captured were by and large relatively peaceful within a few hours, after an exceptionally violent and confusing beginning as the troops, landing almost directly on top of heavily defended objectives which were overlooked by a considerable number of anti-aircraft weapons, struggled to form up under very heavy fire. Drawing on a broad range of sources and personal accounts, this book is an extremely detailed analysis of the landing, and superbly captures the confusion if not utter chaos of those first hours. Price: 25.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Air-War-Varsity-Hardback/p/14021

 

Dear Mona: Letters From a Conscientious Objector by Jonah Jones

Synopsis: Jonah Jones served in the 224th Parachute Field Ambulance. In Dear Mona artist Jonah Jones records in his own words not just the story of his early life and his relationship with Mona Lovell, but also that of the Second World War, of being on the Home Front, on the European battlefield and in the nascent Israel. These letters are a remarkable first-hand account of how Jones' character evolved. Like a number of conscientious objectors he eventually took a more active role in the fight against fascism by becoming a non-arms bearing medic. In this role he was parachuted into northern Europe and took part in the Ardennes and German campaigns, and in the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp. After the war he was posted to Palestine, where he observed the issues surrounding the establishment of Israel, but was also able to hone his artistic skills for the benefit of his regiment. It was in Haifa that, much to Mona Lovell's dismay, he met and married another woman - Judith Grossman - with whom he returned to Britain to set up as an artist, now known as Jonah Jones. Dear Mona gives detailed insight into the evolution of Jones' character, as he changed from gauche Len Jones to artist Jonah Jones. It also tells in intimate detail the story of the Home Front, of conscientious objection, of the European campaign following D Day and of the tensions in Palestine, which resonate still today. It is a remarkable, immediate account: personal, intimate and yet also history, played out before his eyes. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/dear-mona-letters-conscientious-objector

 

The Devil's Own Luck: Pegasus Bridge to the Baltic 1944-45 by Denis Edwards

Synopsis: With the fine disregard for orders from the highest level that soldiers were strictly forbidden to keep diaries, Denis Edwards managed to record his experiences throughout nearly all his time in Europe in 1944-45. Since he was one of the first both to land on D-day and was among the first to join up with the Russians bear the Baltic in the Spring of 1945, his record covers the entire period of the fighting after the landings in Normandy. And a very remarkable record it is too. After a brief account of his upbringing and early training under the command of the indomitable Major John Howard, he goes on to describe the airborne landings at Pegasus Bridge and the events of each day thereafter. His account of the nearly disastrous Rhine Crossing is particularly important. The Devil's Own Luck brilliantly conveys what it was like to be facing death day after day, night after night, month after month, with never a bed to sleep in nor a hot meal to go home to. This is warfare in the raw - brutal yet humorous, immensely tragic but, sadly, all true. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Fighting Brigadier: The Life of Brigadier James Hill DSO MC by Peter Harclerode

Pegasus Archive review: A much overdue account of the wartime career of James Hill, who had a profound influence on the airborne movement and led paratroopers with considerable skill throughout the war. Hill's own words feature strongly in the first part of the narrative, dealing with his experiences in France with the British Expeditionary Force and the 1st Parachute Battalion at the beginning of the Tunisian Campaign. The second part is more so an account of the actions of the 3rd Parachute Brigade in Normandy, the Ardennes and Germany, again interspersed with Hill's lively recollections. Price: 19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2595

 

Go To It by Peter Harclerode

The history of the 6th Airborne Division, in Normandy, the Ardennes, the Rhine Crossing, Far East, and Palestine. The book contains more than 200 pictures and is signed by the author Peter Harclerode. It costs 25 and is available from DRA Books, 8 Creykes Court, The Millfields, Plymouth, PL1 3JB. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.

 

Go To It - The story of the 3rd Parachute Squadron RE by Major J. S. R. Shave MC

Written in 1947 it follows the history of the squadron centred on one troop from its formation in 1942 to the end of the war in Europe. Covers the Normandy invasion, The Ardennes, The Rhine Crossing and the final advance into northern Germany. The author Commanded no 2 troop for almost the entire period and wrote it whilst the events were fresh in his mind. This is the only first person, 'grass roots', account of a wartime airborne engineer squadron and its daily work in existence today. Foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales. Pages - 144, Illustrations - 8 maps, Photographs - 19 B&W. Price: 10 softback, 15 hardback + 0.50 p&p. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or by sending a cheque made payable to N. Gibson to Mr N Gibson, 48 Phoenix Road, Lords Wood, Chatham, Kent, ME5 8TA. Tel Home - +44 (01634) 862389, email n.d.gibson@blueyonder.co.uk.

 

History of the Glider Pilot Regiment by Claude Smith

Pegasus Archive review: An excellent account of this most unique of Regiments by one of its former members. Despite a seemingly small number of pages, the book contains a great wealth of detail which follows the evolution of the glider element of the British Airborne Forces from its early experimental days to its peak in 1944/45, and then the post-war years where the increasingly obsolete concept was ultimately disbanded. Smith remains focused solely upon the Regiment's activities and does not wander off, as others have done, into the familiar and well-worn story of the wider events of the time, and though he does not dwell too much on the individual recollections of glider pilots, what he presents is a thorough account of the operations in which they were involved, including some which are not widely known even amongst experts in the field. Price 12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/History-of-the-Glider-Pilot-Regiment/p/1540/

 

Nothing is Impossible: A Glider Pilot's Story of Sicily, Arnhem and the Rhine Crossing by Victor Miller

Pegasus Archive review: Victor Miller was a member of "G" Squadron, The Glider Pilot Regiment, and he describes his experiences with this unique force from the early days of its formation and his training as a pilot, through to the invasion of Sicily, the Battle of Arnhem and the Rhine Crossing. It is a pity that Miller did not participate in the Normandy landings, as his book would then have been a complete study of all the major Airborne operations in Western Europe. There have been many memoirs, including a few classics, which had been written about the Airborne Forces, but what sets this extremely readable account apart is the sheer depth of Miller's narrative and his considerable skill as a writer. Arnhem, spanning almost half of the book, is clearly the centre piece, and he provides a most vivid account of the desperate fighting which took place as the exhausted and depleted remnants of the 1st Airborne Division struggled to hold a bridgehead across the Rhine. Highly recommended. Price 20.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Nothing-is-Impossible-Hardback/p/10835

 

Operation Plunder by Tim Saunders

Pegasus Archive review: Lavished with photographs, maps and veterans accounts, this is a concise, thorough and eminently readable description of Field Marshal Montgomery's assault crossing of the Rhine on the 23rd March 1945, with two British and two American divisions carrying out what would be the last set-piece battle of the Second World War. Tim Saunders first describes the difficult advance on the Rhine, the preparations undertaken by both sides, and the various phases of the British crossings; beginning with the bloody diversionary attack by the 51st Highland Division around Rees, the capture of Wesel by the 1st Commando Brigade, and the main crossing by the 15th Scottish Division who were to relieve the Airborne troops further inland. The battle to secure the Diersfordterwald and the bridges over the River Issel by the 6th British and 17th US Airborne Divisions is also included, though in less detail as this is a separate subject in its own right, one indeed which is covered by Tim Saunders in another book in the series; Operation Varsity. Price 10.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Operation-Plunder/p/1338/

 

The Rhine Crossing by Andrew Rawson

Pegasus Archive review: One of three books in the Battleground series about the Rhine Crossing of March 1945, focusing on the landing of the 17th Airborne Division and the crossing of the 9th US Army, in what was the last great set piece operation carried out by the western Allies during the Second World War. The 9th Army quickly secured a foothold on the eastern bank against relatively little opposition and made steady progress towards the airborne troops, who, landing on heavily defended drop zones overlooked by anti-aircraft weapons, had a much more eventful experience, but despite very heavy casualties were able to secure all of their objectives within a few hours. As with all books in the Battleground series, the concise narrative succeeds in cramming an impressive amount of detailed information, first hand accounts, as well as a great many photographs and maps, into a remarkably small space. As such while it can be used solely as a battlefield guide, it also makes for an easy to read and surprisingly comprehensive introduction to the subject. Price 12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Rhine-Crossing-Paperback/p/1305

 

Stirlings in Action with the Airborne Forces by Dennis Williams

Pegasus Archive review: This book traces the wartime history of 190 and 620 Squadrons, who shared the same airfield and, as part of No.38 Group, had been formed to transport the British Airborne Forces into battle, participating in the Normandy landings, the Rhine Crossing, and also Arnhem; where the successive resupply missions suffered heavy losses and saw what some have described as the most courageous flying of the war. Yet these operations occupied only a fraction of their time. They also flew innumerable and often dangerous sorties in support of the Special Operations Executive and the SAS, with small formations of aircraft dropping men, agents and equipment deep behind enemy lines, both before and after D-Day. This is a superbly researched account of the many activities of these squadrons, generously supported with many photographs and veterans accounts. Price: 25.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Stirlings-in-Action-with-the-Airborne-Forces-Hardback/p/1551