- The Battle for Ginkel Heath Near Ede 17 and 18 September 1944
Seeking to provide clarity and historical record to the military conflict occurring near Ede, Holland, on 17-18 September 1944, C. E. H. J. Verhoef adds a well written, easy to read book to the field of Battle of Arnhem scholarship. The focus of this work is limited in scope, the struggle for control of Ginkel Heath, that critical piece of polder land that the British 1st Airborne Division labeled as Drop Zone "Y". This was where in the initial days of Operations Market and Garden nearly 2,000 paratroopers sought to isolate Arnhem and secure the eventual route of advance of British XXX Corps.
Mr. Verhoef opens his book by briefly outlining the strategic and operational settings for the airborne invasion and corresponding ground assault. [End Page 272] The initial military plan and the internal Allied politics surrounding its development are adequately described. Further, the author proffers the widely accepted reasons for the British defeat at Arnhem and dispels common misconceptions, setting the foundation for the remainder of the work. The subsequent four chapters cover in ample detail the action of British units tasked to defend the drop zone for follow-on forces and the quick and efficient initial German responses and defensive efforts that sought to isolate and defeat the airborne assault. The author rightly explains the success of those British units such as the 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers and the 21st Independent Parachute Company, which defended Drop Zone "Y" and allowed for the aerial deployment of the 4th Para Brigade. Mr. Verhoef, however, misses the point when he attempts to explain the subsequent failure of the 4th Para Brigade by attributing it to poor drop zone locations, late arrival, and loss of the element of surprise. In current military vernacular, the 4th Para Brigade was "fixed" shortly after departing Ginkel Heath by the hastily organized, yet highly effective German forces near Oosterbeek. These German defenses inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking British forces and prevented the 4th Para Brigade from accomplishing its supporting mission, focused on the isolation of the Arnhem road bridge.
This concise book is only 124 pages long but is riddled with highly detailed diagrams, maps, and rarely published photographs of operations surrounding Arnhem and Oosterbeek. Skillfully the author merges various primary and secondary sources with the operational unit histories of both British and German forces battling for Ginkel Heath. This book is recommended for Arnhem enthusiasts or those seeking detailed examination of particular units or personalities. Although contributing little to the overall scholarship on the Battle of Arnhem due to the lack of an original thesis and research, Mr. Verhoef's contribution represents the compilation of various sources of information into a concise, single document that can be used to supplement battle staff rides or research into this isolated, yet highly important portion of the battle.