The First Bridge Too Far

The Battle of Primosole Bridge 1943

Mark Saliger

The first full narrative account of the Battle of Primosole Bridge, a key strategic objective for the Allies in the invasion of Sicily in 1943, and a precursor for Arnhem.
Date Published :
August 2018
Publisher :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612006895
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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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.

About The Author

Mark Saliger served in the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment for over six years including tours of duty in global theatres of operations such as Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan where he experienced combat situations on a regular basis. He has experienced first-hand both the planning of operations and then being part of those same operations behind enemy lines and is uniquely qualified to paint a soldier's eye view of the battle.


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

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