Brotherhood of the cauldron: Irishmen with the 1st Airborne Division from North Africa to Arnhem
David Truesdale

This book, written by David Truesdale, deals with the circa three hundred Irish men who served with the British 1st Airborne Division during the war. The emphasis is on the battle of Arnhem but there are also interesting chapters on the operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy. A considerable number of pages also deal with the formation of the division. After the German surrender parts of the division was deployed in Norway of which there is also a good amount of information.

The author has taken much effort to put together this history. It is filled with detailed description of events as well as personal accounts by veterans. Much of the book is from the soldier’s point of view. One can tell that the author has gone through a lot of work putting together the book.

During operation Market Garden a Victoria Cross was awarded to an Irishman, David Lord. Lord was flying a Dakota delivering supplies to men on the ground. Although hit twice, burning and under fire he made a second run to deliver the last two supply canisters. After ordering his crew to bail out he died in the crash.

There are many photographs in the book, many of the various locations at Arnhem and Oosterbeek as they look today. There are also photos of the Irishmen, although some of them are not of the best quality as a reader one is delighted that they were included anyway. Included are also some aerial photos, maps and so on. Some of the wartime photographs are published for the first time in Truesdale’s book.

Truesdale has also written about what happened after Arnhem. Here one can read about the deployment in Palestine or Norway but also about the movie “Theirs is the Glory” in which four of the ten main characters were Irishmen. The movie was a 1945 re-enactment of the battle of Arnhem starring the soldiers of the division as the actors.

At the end of the book are three appendixes. One of them is a roll of the Irishmen who served with the 1st Airborne Division. It includes some information about them and sometimes a photograph. A very valuable addition.

David Trousdale has done a good work with this book and it will be essential to anyone interested in Irishmen in the Second World War or to anyone interested in the battle of Arnhem.

(Reviewed by Daniel L)

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