Operation Market Garden Paratroopers Vol 3...

...Transport of the 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade, 1941-1945 from MMP Books

Title:  Operation Market Garden Paratroopers, Vol 3

Author: Piotr Witkowski

Publisher:  MMP

ISBN:  978-83-65281-75-3

Volume 3 in a set of books taking a very detailed look at the Uniforms, Equipment and personal items of the 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade, especially with their involvement in Operation Market Garden.  This one, a 96 page soft cover book, deals specifically with their vehicles, colours and markings, plus their aircraft, from training jumps through the 'hole' of a Whitley, to the C47 and even the loading plans for the Horsa gliders.

While there were lots of similarities between the equipment of the British and Polish parachute units there were also some specific differences, which this set of books tackles in great detail.  Section one looks at ground transport, starting with the lightest, the airborne trollies and handcarts as well as the BSA 'Paratrooper' folding bicycle.  This is followed by an element covering the colours and markings used on Polish equipment, including national and sub-unit, air recognition and personal markings.  These are illustrated with archive photos and some useful artwork that modellers will love.  Then it moves on to the powered vehicles, starting with the distinctive Welbike, the small folding motorcycle for airborne units as well as more conventional motorcycles, including Royal Enfield, Ariel and Matchless machine, along with the special tubular crates used to paradrop them.  It moves on through light vehicles, which of course includes the Jeep and trailers, along with larger trucks for towing artillery as well as General Cargo and personnel, ambulance, the Universal Carrier and even the Field Kitchens.  Background information on each vehicle type, accompanied by archive photos along with some fine colour images of preserved examples.  It is rounded off by the air equipment, specifically the Horsa Glider, the Whitley bomber and the C47 Dakota.

Chapter 2 deals with the Troop Parachute Dropping System as instructed, from training 'holes' in a Scottish barn to the similar 'hole' in the floor of a Whitley bomber.  It even includes the coded meaning of various layouts for a series of red canvas air signalling sheets.  Everything is rounded off by some informative tables in a number of appendices, detailing the list of vehicles as allocated to the 1st IPB as of the 16 June 1944; the Complement and Strength of the 1st IPB on 19 September 1944; vehicles carried to the continent by the Naval element of the 1st IPB; and a list of the individual gliders carrying the 1st IPB into action at Arnhem, including the glider serial, crew names, equipment load each carried and where they took off from.  Super detail all round, for the historian, the re-enactor and of course, the modeller.  Couple this to the earlier two volumes and this is what I'd class as a 'must have' reference for anyone with an interest in the Market Garden operation of 1944. (volumes 1 and 2 are reviewed separately within my Book Reviews section).

Thanks to MMP books for the review copy.

Robin