Top critical review
on 24 April 2014
I found this book to be a quite concise history - too much of the impersonality and precision of a reference book – I prefer the excitement and colour of the personal angle. In the earlier part especially, more detail would have been appreciated. It may be that there was either too much or not enough information available. However I found it dry and dispassionate – and it left me wanting more information!
The soldiers of the Parachute Regiment are among the toughest in the world, comparing themselves favourably to the Guards Regiments, the American Marines and the Russian Red Guards - men who go about their work, efficiently, effectively and enthusiastically and are exactly who you want at your side when the fighting gets thickest!
I would have preferred for example, to learn more about Arhem - probably their finest hour. Perhaps too much information had to be compressed into too little space. I wanted to know more about the hopelessness of the situation, the personal accounts, the absolute cock-up at the higher levels both in planning and logistics and the insistence of the ‘brass’ of sticking to the original plan (was there a plan 'B'?) despite it being obvious to all that it had been compromised? Why on earth were these men dropped into a known rest area for Panzer troops? As the situation developed - not to the Allies advantage - what efforts were made to rectify the situation? Dropping the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade into a zone overrun with German troops did not exactly fit the bill.
On the other hand, later in that part of the book covering the Regiment's participation in the Falklands conflict I did find more of the detail I was looking for.
The account of the action at Goose Green and in particular the passing on of Lieutenant-Colonel 'H' Jones (2 Para) was more of what I was looking for. This account is typical of the Regiment’s leadership, morale and reaction in adversity. The battle had stalled and appeared to be going nowhere when 'H' led a charge in an attempt to rally his troops and fell to a bullet from an unexpected direction. As soon as the word was out that 'Sunray' was down, the full range of emotions the men felt at the loss of their hero leaps out of the pages as they stormed the Argentinian positions, charging head on towards prepared positions - and taking them.
But as I said earlier, this book would only find a place in my reference library.