The Battle of the Bridges by Frank van Lauteren

  • I will admit that I knew very little about Operation Market Garden that had not been shown in the film "A Bridge Too Far", I had hardly event given any thought to the other bridges or even the Allies involved . This very limited and narrow view of mine hardly gives the full history that such an operation deserves so when this book came through I was pleasantly surprised.

    Frank van Lunteren is from the Netherlands and his interest in his subject stems from visiting the Airborne Museum, Oosterbeck, as a child. This book was originally about the wartime service of Ted Bachenheimer, the top wartime scout with the 504th PIR. However it developed into the present book due to the sheer number of OP Market Garden interviewed.

    This book is their story.

    A very well written and extensively researched book giving the stories of those involved in the action, van Lunteren includes first person testimonies and expertly weaves them into the timeline of the action allowing the reader to make some sense of the confusion, horror and heroics involved in taking and holding the Nijmegen bridges.

    You feel like you get to know the person telling their story as if they are sitting next to you and actually talking to you rather than talking to someone else who then has to get your emotion and story into print. Each and every person tells what happened and you get the much bigger picture, certainly a bigger and better picture than I would imagine some of the commanders had at the time, and they had to control the battle.

    The individual accounts are gritty and as they happen, even details of Blue on Blue incidents are told as they happen in the fog of war, casualties describe what happened to them and the engineers in charge of the boats tasked with the arduous task of ferrying the troops across the river all have their story told.
    Simple things like the lack of paddles and how they are overcome.

    I would certainly recommend this book to anyone with and interest in Op Market Garden and airborne operations.

    4.5 Anchors

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