When Men at Arnhem was first published in 1976 the author modestly concealed his identity behind a pseudonym and changed the names of his comrades in arms. But the book was at once recognised as one of the finest evocations of an infantryman’s war ever written and those in the know were quick to identify the author. His cover has long since been blown, in this edition Geoffrey Powell adds an introduction in which he identifies the men who fought with him in those eight terrible days at Arnhem in September, 1944.
The book cannot be said to be a military history in the strictest sense, even the units involved being unidentified, but the events described are, as the author points out in his introduction, as nearly accurate as memory allowed after a lapse of over thirty years. It is unlikely every to be surpassed as the most vivid first-hand account of one of those epic disasters which we British, in our paradoxical way, seem to cherish above and beyond the most glorious victories.
Major Geoffrey Powell led "C" Company of the 156th Parachute Battalion at Arnhem, later commanding the remnants of that Battalion in the fighting around Oosterbeek before bringing them across the Rhine in grand style when the 1st Airborne Division was ordered to withdraw. Originally written under the pseudonym of Tom Angus, Men at Arnhem is a semi-fictional account of the role that Powell played; the names used are an invention and a little of the chronology has been altered in the interests of a smoother narrative, but all of the events portrayed are quite real and give a most vivid account of Powell's experiences. Yet this book is much more than one man's story, as it brilliantly describes life in a typical parachute rifle company during this most difficult and bloody of battles, and it is for these insights into the lot of the ordinary infantryman that it has rightly been acclaimed a classic.pegasus Archive - Mark Hickman