The First Bridge Too Far
The Battle of Primosole Bridge 1943
256 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 32 photographs
- September 2023
- In Stock
For the very first time, the Battle of Primosole Bridge is brought to life in a well-researched narrative solely dedicated to one of the bloodiest and hardest fought battles for British airborne troops of World War Two.
Primosole Bridge in Sicily (13-16 July 1943) provided the stage for the first instance of opposing elite paratroopers parachuting into battle and then fighting each other in a see-saw battle raging under the blazing Mediterranean sky. It’s a story of courage and determination. A story of legendary military units and their commanders. A story that now, on the eve of its 75th Anniversary, finally needs to be told.
The British paratroopers of the famed Parachute Regiment’s 1st Parachute Brigade, known as the ‘Red Devils,' fought their equally esteemed German paratrooper opponents, known as the ‘Green Devils,' in a battle of attrition central to the entire success of the Allies’ first invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe. These two sets of elite Devils fought each other to a standstill in Hellish conditions. The paratroopers found themselves cut off behind enemy lines with dwindling ammunition and ever-growing enemy forces encircling. Their courage and determination in standing up to overwhelming odds allowed the ground forces to arrive and capture the bridge in the nick of time before it was destroyed. The hard-won experience gained by the 1st Parachute Brigade was again tested only a year later at the Battle of Arnhem, the battle christened "a bridge too far." It was in fact an almost identical battle, but on a larger scale, to the ferocious fight that the British paratroopers had faced only months previously. The Battle of Arnhem is well documented. The Battle of Primosole Bridge, which provided the foundations for the men and planning for the legendary events at Arnhem, is virtually unheard of and needs to be told at last in order to honor the sacrifice of the Britain’s unsung war heroes.
One of the surprises of The First Bridge Too Far is the revelation that the British and Germans paratroopers treated each other chivalrously. For example, Corporal Ashley Neville went from firing his Bren light machine gun at the Germans to racing headfirst into the melée in order to save two wounded Germans from being burned alive. Such was the “healthy respect that the Green and Red Devils held for each other on the battlefield.” For his actions, Corporal Neville was awarded the Military Medal. Saliger also notes that the German paratroopers refused to fire at their British peers after they deployed their parachutes. ~New York Journal of Books
an easy and engaging read featuring ample contemporary photographs ~Despatches
“…with the publication of "The First Bridge Too Far: The Battle of Primosole Bridge 1943", author and veteran Mark Saliger rescues from an undeserved obscurity the World War II story that will prove to be an enduringly appreciated acquisition for the personal reading lists of World War II military history buffs…” ~Midwest Book Review