Posted by: sommecourt | 27/08/2013

Book Review: Holts Battlefield Guide to Operation Market Garden


Major & Mrs Holt’s Battlefield Guide to Operation Market Garden (Third edition, Pen & Sword Books 2013, ISBN 978 1 78159 378 3, illustrated throughout with colour fold-out map, 278pp, £16.99)

Major & Mrs Holt are well known for kick-starting the revival in battlefield tours in the late 1970s when they ran their very successful Holts Battlefields company. While they have not been associated with that company for some time, they have put their many years of experience into producing very popular full-colour battlefield guidebooks to both WW1 and WW2 battlefields, often along with an accompanying full colour map.

This new 2013 edition of their Operation Market Garden guide comes with such a map and while the main body of the text is largely unchanged since the original 2001 version, there is a whole section of updated information at the start of the book, again with colour images of many of these new sites or memorials. GPS locations are given in this section, but not in the original text, which is a bit of a shame. Personally I would have preferred this information in the main book, but of course that would have meant a complete re-write.

The main body of the book starts with a good, concise historical introduction to Operation Market Garden and then moves on to five battlefield itineraries which can be used to follow a specific route with the aid of the map, or are easily dipped into if you are doing your own tour. The tours cover the whole of Market Garden’s area of operation from the Belgian-Dutch border through the advance of XXX Corps and on to the area around Arnhem. Each tour area is then broken down into stops with information on each location, interspersed often with personal accounts and sometimes photographs or sketch maps. The information is clear and readable, and presented in a very accessible way. There are also separate sections on Allied and German wargraves and a section on Tourist Information.

In the past I have found some Holts guides more useful than others, but my feeling when this book originally came out was that this was one of their finest volumes, and that feeling has not changed on reading this new edition. It remains the only complete guide to the battlefields of Operation Market Garden and the map arguably the best for any battlefield they have ever examined. I cannot recommend this book too highly for anyone thinking of making a journey following the ground troops from Joes Bridge to Nijmegen or the Airborne forces at Arnhem, remembering one of the greatest – and fascinating – British gambles of the Second World War.

Copies can be ordered from the publishers website: Pen & Sword Books.

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