Feat of Arms - SAS, Airborne & Commandos - D-Day Sicily - The Race for Syracuse

Feat of Arms CoverLanding from the sea, 250 men of Britain’s SAS take gun battery after gun battery by storm. Beside them fight the elite airborne troops of the 1st Airborne Division, christened ‘Red Devils’ by their enemies. Out of more than a thousand men sent by glider to Sicily to capture a crucial bridge, only a handful reach their objective. They seize it and hold it for the seaborne troops of General Montgomery’s Eighth Army. The ‘Desert Rats’, supported by Commandos, advance to the rescue – but too late. The airborne defenders at the bridge, outgunned and outnumbered ten to one, fight to the last round before being overwhelmed. Have they failed?

Operation Ladbroke, the mass glider landing near Syracuse in July 1943, was the spearhead of the British half of Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, itself the first major D-Day landing on European soil in World War 2. The many lessons learned here contributed significantly to the success of D-Day in Normandy just under a year later, in particular the famous coup-de-main glider assault on what is now known as Pegasus Bridge.

For the first time, this book brings together the detailed stories of all the major combat units embroiled in the fighting for Syracuse, using many untapped and rare sources from all the nations involved, with many previously unpublished maps and photographs. It uncovers new facts and challenges myths. There are numerous quotations from both commanders and ordinary soldiers. The book is profusely illustrated with both modern and period maps, photographs, drawings and paintings, and includes many specially commissioned maps to support the narrative. Background detail is presented in fascinating box-outs so that it does not interrupt the flow of the fast-paced narrative. This is a book packed with historical facts and research, but also extremely readable and a treat for the eyes.

Stories from participating units including: 1 SAS Regiment, Special Raiding Squadron, 3 Commando, 1 Airborne Division, 1 Air Landing Brigade, 1 Border Regiment, 2 South Staffordshire Regiment, 1 Glider Pilot Regiment, 9 Field Company Royal Engineers, 2 Royal Scots Fusiliers, 2 Northamptonshire Regiment, 3 County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters), 38 Wing RAF, 295 Squadron (Halifaxes), 296 Squadron (Albemarles), 142 Squadron (Wellingtons), 51 Troop Carrier Wing. Also Italian units: 54 Napoli Division, 206 Coastal Division, 9 Legion.

 

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