Commanded by the controversial Major-General Ivo Thomas, the 43rd (Wessex) Division was branded the Fighting Yellow Devils’ out of respect by its Wehrmacht and Waffen SS opponents. The 43rd’s distinctive divisional badge of a golden Wyvern — half-serpent half-dragon — was to be seen in all the ferocious battles in Normandy, the Low Countries and Germany between June 1944 and May 1945. They suffered 12,500 casualties including 3,000 killed in action.
The 43rd had its roots firmly in the West of England, drawing its infantry battalions from the county regiments of Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcester, with occasional reinforcements during the Normandy campaign by ‘foreign’ regiments from Berkshire, Essex and other counties.
This book tells the story of the division’s campaign in Northwest Europe, from Normandy to Bremerhaven, in the words of the soldiers who actually fought with it: privates, sergeants and young company commanders, all have their individual tales to tell.
Here are first-hand accounts of the landings on the shores of Normandy; the battles for the River Odon, Hill 112, Maltot and Mont Pincon; the break-out to the River Seine and the forcing of the vital bridgehead at Vernon; the only infantry division to make a single-handed attempt to relieve Arnhem — a gallant and costly failure; the clearance of the Roer triangle (Operation Blackcock) and the Reichswald (Operation Veritable); the crossing of the River Rhine and the advance northwards to take the port of Bremen; and the final triumphant advance to the Cuxhaven peninsula northwest of Hamburg.
Patrick Delaforce was educated at Winchester College. During the Second World War, aged 17, he was in Churchill's Home Guard and witnessed the London Blitz of 1940 and 1941. Later he served as a troop leader in Normandy with the Royal Horse Artillery of the 11th Armoured Division.
Hitler's Wehrmacht blew him up with their mines in Holland, and he was again wounded by a rifle grenade on the banks of the River Elbe. He was with the first battle group into Bergen- Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, was twice mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the Bronze Cross of Orange-Nassau.
In autumn 1945 he served on a War Crimes Tribunal in Hamburg and tried many concentration camp guards. Finally, he was an official British Army of the Rhine witness when Mr Albert Pierrepoint, the British hangman, executed 13 convicted war criminals in Hameln on 13 December 1945.
After leaving the army, he worked as a port wine shipper and ran an advertising agency in New York, before becoming a professional writer, mainly on historical and military subjects.
40 books by him have been published with 100 editions (including in Russia).
Fonthill Media are publishing 6 of his titles.