Review: The Battle for Ginkel Heath Near Ede
- Published: 01 May 2010 01 May 2010
- Last Updated: 12 July 2013 12 July 2013
C. E. H. J. Verhoef
This small book, written by C.E.H.J. Verhoef describes the fighting around the dropzone at Ginkel heath during operation Market Garden in September 1944. This dropzone was called Dropzone Y and was defended by 7th Battalion the King’s Own Scottish Borderes (7 KOSB), 21st Independent Parachute Company, 113 Parachute Field Ambulance and later on elements of 4th Parachute Brigade. Their opponents consisted of a diverse gathering of German and Duch SS troops and regular army and navy troops. Among these were for example 20. Schiffs-Stamm-Abteilung, SS Wach-Bataillon 3 and 4. SS Panzergrenadier Ausbildungs und Ersatz Bataillon. Many of the German units lacked in training, experience and leadership. This would prove to be a decisive factor during the battle.
The book explains in detail the fighting around the heath and follows in some cases individual platoons and patrols. In detail the author discusses losses suffered by the two sides during the battle, the numerous desertions are also discussed. One of the strengths in the book is the analysis. The author discusses both the impact on the grand scale as well as the local consequences. Various failures and mistakes made during the operation are pointed out by the author. For example the author shows how German commanders made faulty judgements or how some tried to cover up the lack of progress. Likewise errors of the Allies are discussed. One of the most notably being placing the dropzone so far from the objective. The author points out that in one of the cancelled operations that preceeded operation Market Garden, the area just south of Arnhem was considered suitable for gliders but during the planning of Market Garden it no longer was. Instead of using it on the first day, when an element of surprise could be achieved, it was to be used for the Polish Brigade third day. Such errors in planning would have tragic consequences during the following battle.
In general the book is easy to read but at times the poor translation made for very poor reading. One thing I would have wished more of is personal accounts. The individual soldiers, and even the unit commanders, are very anonymous in the book which was a bit of a disappointment. The aspect of the common soldier would have been very useful when the reading about the various fighting between different companies and platoons. It was hard not to get confused when unit after unit was mentioned.
The book has some photos, many of these being aerial photos of Ginkel Heath. There are also some interesting photos of the locations, for example the Zuid Ginkel Café or the Wijde Veld work camp. A few photos of the locations are present day shots and this is something that there could have been more of. It doesn’t say when the photos were taken though and more detailed texts would have been welcomed. Some of the photos seem a bit unnecessary, like the many photos of Montgomery. These should have been replaced with photos connected to Ginkel Heath. The maps included are very helpful in following the fighting.
At times it feels like the author looses focus and includes too much about the big view. It is not a big problem though. All in all, the book is a welcome addition to the library for anyone interested in the battle for Arnhem or operation Market Garden.
(Reviewed by Daniel L)