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D-Day, Arnhem and the Rhine

...A Glider Pilot's Memoir, from Pen & Sword

Title: D-Day, Arnhem and the Rhine
Author: Robert F. Ashby
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-39908-818-3

'A glider pilot's memoir', a new release from Pen & Sword. The memoir is that of Robert F. Ashby, which he wrote down during the 1990's, from his own notes and memories. Additional notes & maps have been added by editor Johnathan Walker and it is all fitted into this new 177-page hardcover book from Pen & Sword.
Starting with his enlistment into the RASC early in WW2, he was clearly not happy there, and took the chance to apply to join the RAF. Not immediately, but he was then transferred to the new Glider Pilot Regiment. He remained a soldier but he describes his training with the RAF, from Tiger Moths through to the Hotspur and then the Horsa Gliders. He goes on to describe his involvement in the D-Day operation, describing his landing at Ranville, carrying a Clarkair Bulldozer, to help clear the landing grounds for other gliders to land. He describes the effort involved in flying a glider, and their work once they had landed. His next involvement was in Market Garden, when he took a load into Arnhem. His experiences there were a bit different to many accounts of Arnhem than you might read I think. Valuable because it is very much a record of his own personal experiences. He also describes how he was one of the few troops who did manage to escape back across the river. Once he did get home he describes training to fly the large Hamilcar, though it was to be a Horsa that he flew into Germany as part of Operation Varsity. Again, an excellent description of his experiences. It does include an admission of fear about his chances of survival, a really honest admission I thought.
I found this a very interesting read. The experiences of a man who did what was asked of him, and did it well. His views on the RASC were not brilliant, and his experiences of officers, especially at Arnhem, are not very positive. Perhaps a different view of Arnhem to many other accounts I've read. Once the war was over he wasn't keen to stay, and was pleased to be able to get back to his civilian life. An Epilogue does round off a number of points he makes within his memoir. I enjoyed reading this one.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.


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