The Devil's Birthday (ePub)
The Bridges to Arnhem 1944
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 The Devil's Birthday is unlikely to be superseded as the standard work on a bold, gallant, yet doomed, undertaking.
This is an excellent account of the Market Garden battle, with a much better balance than many books on the same topic. Powell has some interesting thoughts on the reasons for the eventual failure of the campaign but is also fair to the senior commanders involved, understanding more clearly than many authors the pressure they were under.History of War website
This is a most welcome reprint...This is account is afforded major credibility as the author himself was a decorated survivor of the battle. First class work 10/10The Great War
…this is a very good book. And especially so for a participant in the battle, and a military man. It is well referenced and has a good bibliography, particularly when it comes to official documentary sources.Daly History Blog
It is a very able and useful study of the battle of Arnhem. What makes it more interesting is that Powell served as a company commander with the 156th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment at Arnhem and was one of the very few officers to return across the Rhine after the battle.
Geoffrey Powell's account of Operation Market Garden is widely considered to be amongst the very best, not least because his impeccable research has produced an account which considers the campaign in its entirety, not just the part played by the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem, but also those of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and the 2nd British Army. The narrative contains no personal recollections, nor does it dwell on the actions of individuals, instead it catalogues the events as they unfolded and presents a meticulous study of the command decisions made, as well as the numerous elements, some of which are often overlooked, which conspired to bring about the collapse of an operation which had promised so much. As a volume which clearly and accurately describes these aspects and sets the entire Market Garden campaign into context, there is, in my opinion, no finer book on the subject.Pegasus Archive
9th September 2015
Phil's 18th Birthday, init.