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Gunners from the Sky (ePub)

1st Air Landing Light Regiment in Italy and at Arnhem, 1942–44 


By David Chrystal, Paul Chrystal
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 5.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399088091
Published: 15th August 2023


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'It's difficult to imagine what it was like because, almost immediately, you’re under fire. The Battle of Arnhem was the only time troops were flown into enemy territory by glider, probably because it was such a terrible defeat for the British Army. The sheer scale of the German resistance wasn’t properly communicated to the British on the ground and they were overwhelmed and surrounded quickly.' - The Sunday Post, November 2023

This is the story of 1st Air Landing Light Regiment RA and its role in the Italian campaign and at the Battle of Arnhem. It is also the story of one of its soldiers: 14283058 Gunner Eric Wright Chrystal, father of the authors. Eric joined the army in September 1942 and, after training, joined the newly formed glider-borne regiment the following year. He first saw action in Italy in 1943, where he was seriously wounded. On 17 September 1944, two years to the day since he enlisted, he and the regiment were landed by glider near to Arnhem in the Netherlands.

The authors recount set their father’s experiences in context by describing the formation of the unit and the many months of training in England. Their involvement in the Italian campaign, where Eric served with E Troop, 3 Battery, is then recounted, detailing their actions at Rionero, Foggia and Campobasso, where Eric was wounded. It then moves on to describe 1st Air Landing Light Regiment’s preparation for and involvement in Operation Market (the Airborne half of Market Garden). This very detailed account of the fighting highlights the regiment’s pivotal (but often neglected) role near Arnhem bridge. Here, after nine days of intense combat, Eric was among the many captured and held until the end of the war. The inclusion of Eric’s own eyewitness testimony lends a very personal touch to this excellent account of the regiment’s experience of combat and life in the PoW camps.

4 out of 5

This will be of the greatest interest to those fans of airborne forces or, in the Gunner experience during and after the Second World War.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

As featured in 'A good read this Christmas'

Edinburgh Life Magazine

Article: The heroes who flew into battle with Nazis in balsa wood gliders

The Sunday Post

Article: Recounting war heroics

Hartlepool Mail

About David Chrystal

David Chrystal followed his father into the army and served for over 30 years in the Royal Corps of Signals, rising from signaller to Major during which time he was awarded the British Empire Medal and was mentioned in despatches (1980). He had postings in BAOR, Cyprus (RSM 9 Signal Regiment), southern Italy/Bosnia (attached to 2 Squadron RAF as Ground Liaison Officer) and Northern Ireland.

 Paul Chrystal

About Paul Chrystal

Paul Chrystal has been history advisor to York visitor attractions, writing features for national newspapers, and broadcasting on BBC local radio, on Radio 4’s PM programme and on the BBC World Service.
He is contributor to a number of history and archaeology magazines and writes features for national newspapers. He is author of the best-selling A History of Britain in 100 Objects (2022). His books have been translated into Chinese and Japanese.
He is author of Factory Girls: The Working Lives of Women and Children published by Pen & Sword in 2022.

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