This book was written by Geoffrey Powell MC under the pseudonym of Tom Angus.It is neither a conventional military history,nor a novel and although names have been changed and units not identified, the events descibed are just as they happened. It is about the 156 Parachute Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, and the savage fighting that took place around Oosterbeek during the battle for Arnhem in September 1944.Geoffrey Powell served as a major in command of company"C" one of three rifle companies in the battalion. Later during the battle he would command a composite group including the remnants of his regiment.He would eventually escape across the Rhine with just 45 of his men and be awarded the Military Cross for his part in the action.This is a story of duty,comradeship and fortitude during one of the bitterest engagements of the Second World War. It is also a testament to the indomitable spirit and outstanding courage of the men of the Parachute Regiment, the "Red Devils".
In years to come it will be a great thing for a man to say: 'I fought at Arnhem' Field Marshal Montgomery
Men at Arnhem By Geoffrey Powell
I was looking for some good books on Arnhem and I was attracted to this as it is a personal account of someone who was there and it was described as being "This is widely considered to be one of the finest accounts of battle from the view of the soldier ever written."
I am planning a trip next April so I thought I would read a true life account along with the after the battle types of books. A good map of the airborne plan show the direction of the British 2nd Army and the two US drops at Eindoven and Nijmegan. The British drop was the furthest away at Arnhem
The idea was to shorten the war. It was an ambitious plan and even the Germans had not tried any more air drops after the Battle of Crete. The allies had dropped at Normandy but that was been part of large combined operation.
This was the first time that they were doing a completely unaided airborne drop with a hoped for follow up. Airborne troops have the benefit of surprise but not when they are dropped too far from their target as happened at Arnhem.
The book was originally written under a pseudonym in 1976 over thirty after the event.This is widely considered to be one of the finest accounts of battle from the view of the soldier ever written.The author said he walked the ground and looked at the official records to refresh his memory.
I am sure that if you took part in such an momentous occasion that you would have a pretty good recollection of what went on but no necessarily in the right order. Unlike some memoirs he was fairly forthright about what he thought of his fellow soldiers. He was happy to criticise those who failed and say when he disliked people.
When talking about his Colonel he said he worked the men hard with discipline and not all his soldiers liked him but there were few if any that did not respect him.
He mentioned that the endless track to the bridge when they had lost surprise was a crazy way to use airborne troops. They had dropped too far from the bridges . It was clearly a mistake'
Later then the Poles dropped then some of them joined his unit. His soldiers were not happy because they did not know them. Later they were justified as the Poles bar one had disappeared when they thought they had hooked up with an unlucky unit. He said he had learned yet another lesson rely on only those you knew.
He said even the Germans were making mistakes when they had allowed their infantry to be slaughtered when unsupported although their armour was close by' Then the armour would attack alone without the infantry necessary to winkle them out of the ruins of the houses. War was a succession of disasters , sometimes to one side alone, but more often to both at the same time.
He commented that if he got out live that he would write a useful chapter about street fighting that would be to hold gardens if armour was about not houses. Tanks could used to to smash down houses.
They did not get resupplied as the allied air force was dropping supplies in the wrong place having thought that they had made better progress. The troops had to fight with no food and very little ammunition.
All in all I think it justified the opinion that it is one of the finest accounts of battle from the view of the soldier ever written. You really felt as though you were there. You could feel their desperation that they were losing some many men and eventually had to withdraw.
Out of a battalion which I assume was at least six hundred men they only ended up with three officers and forty three soldiers
This book is an absolute must read for all students of Operation Market Garden.
It takes you right back to the drop zones, buildings and foxholes of Arnhem and Oosterbeek in September 1944. It is written in a personable narrative style and the characters come to life really well, by Geoffrey Powell, a serving officer under John Hackett, in 156 Parachute Battalion.
I normally list pros and cons in my reviews but this is not neccesary here - just go out and buy it and read it.
We owe so much to our grandparents/great grandparents generation. As a postcript to this book, read Lloyd Clark's introduction to his new book Arnhem where he walks amongst the woods of Oosterbeek with the (now late) Geoffrey Powell.
A classic tale of the paras and airborne forces, anybody interested in the military will find it hard not to enjoy this book. The book was first published in 1976 the author is under the pseudonym "Tom Angus". We follow "Major Tom Angus" through one of the most famous chapters in the parachute regiments history. The book gave me a great insight into the fighting outside the town of Arnhem and around Oosterbeek and I learnt a lot about a battle that interests me a great deal, I highly recommend this great book.
An excellent account from first hand experience. This is one of the very best I have read of the events at Arnhem and there have been many! It is gripping, informative and with the rare touch of perceptive humanity. It is a rare insight into the life and death struggle of infantry soldiering when nothing seems to go right. A must for anyone who wants to read of awe inspiring courage and sacrifice.
This is one of the best first person perspective books I have ever read. The paras and air landing guys did way more than could and should have been expected. Having not been supplied with sufficient transport after escaping from the pocket makes me wonder if Browning and co expected as many to get out . Thanks to people such as these I am here to write this today,makes you think does it not.