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London, United Kingdom
A mythical beast - a female wargamer! I got back into wargaming in the summer of 2011 after a very, very long break. My current interests are Ancients, ACW, 30YW and SciFi gaming.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Arnhem 75th, Day Eight: Bash On Recce! Part 5

The second part of today's post will include a list of "Further Reading"

Sunday 24th September 1944

HQ and Support Troop

0630 "The ground shakes like jelly" from the morning "hate". Bombs and shells are incomign from all direction. There is a lull from 0930-1015, after which it is the most intense yet. German voices clearly heard nearby.

1415 - RAF typhoons overhead (for the first time) attacking targets on the ground, causing the mortar barrage to cease for a while.

1530 - barrage resumes "...and we settle down for another caress."

1545 - another lull in the barrage as a SP gun supported by infantry appears in the nearby woods. Engaged and driven away, but not before it fires some shells very close to positions.

1630 - the squadron's control wireless, which Lt Ladds has been nursing for the past few days, is hit by MG fire. Lt Ladds tries, but fails, to repair it while being fired at by the MG; all radio comms are cut.

1700 - very heavy MG fire from woods and some mortar fire from right flank. MG is engaged, but cannot locate mortar. Mg ceases at 1830 and the main barrage resumes.

1930 - no radio contact with Troops or Divisional HQ. Still heavy rain.

A Troop

0100 - Lt Galbratih site weapon pits in gardens and sections dig in.

0630 - morning barrage opens up. Germans infiltrating area all morning; cannot move in positions. Strong enemy attack in the afternoon is repulsed with heavy casualties inflicted for one casualty in own ranks.

D Troop

0700 - water gathering patrol driven back by MG fire. Germans infiltrating positions leading to many small skirmishes.

1000 - more German patrols of varying strength engaged an driven back.

1130 - heavy attack supported by "terrific mortar fire". Captain Park, Lt Pascal and Trooper Walker in same slit trench fail to duck in time as a mortar bomb comes in. All three are decapitated by the blast and shrapnel.

1300 - very strong attack closes in on positions. Sgts Pyper and Bentall plus 4 men have run out of ammunition and are forced to withdraw to another house, where they go into hiding. All positions surrounded and it is impossible to move out.

Sgt Pyper's party actually hid in a cellar underneath a pile of potatoes.

Further Reading

1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron

Fairley, John - "Remember Arnhem"
This is an older book and (currently) out of print, so finding a copy can be rather difficult (and expensive - I was lucky to get a signed second-hand copy for about £40). It is a very good book, covering the squadron's history before and after Market Garden. For wargamers, it does lack some useful information though such as TOEs.
Highly recommended.

Hilton, Robert - "Freddie Gough's Specials At Arnhem"
This is a more recent publication, but is difficult to get hold other other than from specialist book stores. It's also quite expensive (about £40).
Like Fairley's book, this covers the full history of the squadron in a lot of detail. It also has plenty of useful information for wargamers in the appendices.
Highly recommended.

Evans, Des (edited by Mike Gallagher) - "With Recce At Arnhem"
This is a personal account by the author rather than an authorative history of the squadron. It also suffers from exaggeration of his exploits, taking other peoples' stories as his own and making claims which are contradicted by the evidence. For instance:
1. He claims that he was a last minute addition to the Arnhem force, replacing someone from C Troop who was injured. In fact, he was always due to go as a member of HQ Troop.
2. By claiming to have been in C Troop, he is able to claim he was involved in the skirmishing after 8 Section's jeeps were ambushed on the first afternoon. As he was actually with HQ Troop, he wasn't present. He also wasn't with the detachment which recovered the dead the next day.
3. He claims to have helped Lt Bowles reach the Hospital for the Blind in Wolfheze followign the Tuesday ambush of C Troop. This is steadfastly denied by Bowles.
There are many instances where the editor (not a professional editor, just a friend who seems to be a bit of a "Paraboo") adds footnotes to try to explain why verifiable documentary evidence contradicting Evans' account is wrong.
Not recommended, unless you are after a rip-roaring, Boys' Own adventure and damn the facts to Hell!

Apart from these three books, there isn't anything else published other than on the web where you can find the War Establishments (WEs = TOEs) for the squadron (very useful for wargamers), the War Diaries and some personal accounts.

Market Garden 

There are many general books covering the whole of Market Garden. I'm going to recommend the two most recent works (that I know of and have read):

Beevor, Antony - "Arnhem: The Battle For The Bridges"
Buckingham, William - "Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17-25 September 1944"

Beevor's book is much the easier read, but Buckingham's goes into much greater detail; but, Gawd!, some of Buckingham's prose is turgid.

From the German perspective, Robert Kershaw's "It Never Snows In September" is highly recommended; I haven't read it yet, so can't comment.

There are far too many books on individual units, or by various senior officers to list them all - searching for "Arnhem" or "Market Garden" should provide you a long list to choose from.

Useful Websites:

The Pegasus Archive       http://www.pegasusarchive.org/
This site is a very useful resource for all operations in which British airborne troops took part. Included for most operations are unit histories, war diaries, overviews, rolls of honour, biographies etc.
For joint operations it has very little detail for the US forces involved, mostly due to lack of ready access to the records.

ParaData       https://www.paradata.org.uk/
This site, run by the Imperial War Museum's "Air Assault" team at IWM Duxford, specifically focuses on British airborne forces up to the modern day. It has less detailed information than Pegasus archive, but does have more biographical information. The "search" function is a bit awful though.

Market Garden - the Digital Monument      https://www.marketgarden.com/2010/UK/page1.html
An interesting site, but doesn't have detailed information about the operation. It does have a collection of veterans' memories from all sides.

War Establshments      http://www.warestablishments.net/
More for the wargamers, this site has an extensive (but not complete) collection of official TOEs for various types of unit.

Tomorrow's installment in this series will cover the events of Monday 25th september 1944, including Operation Berlin.


  1. On Dutch tv there is a news broadcast now every day when the normal news broadcast is over. They look back 75 years on each day. Also a interesting way to see what kind of hell it was back then. Like yours as well! Interesting subject.

  2. Thanks for the reading recommendations! As it happens I‘m currently listening to Beevors book as audiobook (obviously) as I was quite taken by his book on the SCW as well as his The Second World War. But somehow I find it a little less enjoyable than the other too. Can‘t quite put my finger on the why though. Will have a look for the others, especially It Never Snows In September as I too have heard many a good thing about it.

  3. @ Remco - cheers! That's good about the coverage on Dutch TV - there's only been an odd mention in the scheduled news here; none of the TV channels has scheduled "A Bridge Too far" even :)

    @ Nick - you're welcome! The books I've been enjoying the most have been the ones about specific units and one which is a collection of peoples' experiences "Arnhem - The battle For Survival" by Nichol and Rennell :)