The Devilís Birthday
By G Powell
Published by Pen & Sword Military (2012)
The Devil's Birthday, one of the most celebrated accounts by a British writer to tell the full story of the Operation Market Garden, the Allied attempt in 1944 to seize three major river crossings - including the road bridge at Arnhem, the famous 'bridge too far' - and thus secure a back door into Germany. It has achieved the status of a classic; it is now republished with corrections, additions and amendments by the author, who himself fought at Arnhem.Arnhem was the heaviest Allied defeat of 1944. Casualties, especially British, were appalling ; the brave and enduring Dutch people suffered catastrophically in the aftermath; German morale was strengthened at a time of ebbing fortunes; The British 1st Airborne Division - more than 10,000 strong, of which less than one quarter got back to safety - was virtually destroyed; the war in Europe went on for another eight months.If there is such a thing as a glorious defeat, then the Battle for Arnhem must be one of the finest examples. What is especially tragic, though, is that two important victories have been largely forgotten: the triumphs of the American airborne divisions involved; and the manner in which 1st Airborne's morale was sustained, and even strengthened, during the final battles in and around the devastated perimeters.This new edition, besides being a superb history, is above all a record of quite extraordinary courage - of commanders, ordinary soldiers, pilots and aircrew; Dutch civilians; of hard-pressed German troops, fighting to save their country from invasion; and most of all, of the British, Americans and Poles who made up the Airborne Forces. The Devil's Birthday is unlikely to be superseded as the standard work on a bold, gallant, yet doomed, undertaking.
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