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The Devil’s Birthday is unlikely to be superseded as the standard work on a bold, gallant, yet doomed, undertaking.
More information >> The Devil’s Birthday – The Bridges to Arnhem 1944