A Bloody Week: The Irish at Arnhem


Dan Harvey

July 2019

Military history of Irish soldiers’ involvement in the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944.


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The Battle of Arnhem was a major World War II battle at the vanguard of the Allied Operation Market Garden, the dramatic but unsuccessful campaign fought by the British Army in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944. This was the first-time airborne troops were used by the Allies on such a scale, and the objective was a series of nine bridges that might have provided an Allied invasion route into Germany. Airborne and Land Forces successfully liberated Eindhoven and Nijmegen but were thwarted by the Nazis at the Battle of Arnhem, in their efforts to secure the last bridge over the  River Rhine.

Only a small British force was able to reach the Arnhem Road Bridge but was overwhelmed by Nazi defenders and, after nine days of fighting, the shattered remains of the Division were withdrawn. The British 1st Airborne Division lost most of its strength and didn’t see combat again.

What is less well known in this famous saga, however, is the vital contribution of hundreds of Irish soldiers from a host of backgrounds, with a mixture of experience and range of ranks. Men from the north of Ireland and men from the south gave their all to this Allied campaign, and in A Bloody Week, their dramatic story is finally being told.

Table of Contents


    1. Montgomery’s Audacious Plan
    2. Bound for Holland
    3. The Operation Gets Underway (17 September 1944)
    4. Trapped in Arnhem (18 September 1944)
    5. The Enemy Regroups (19 September 1944)
    6. Inside the Perimeter (20 September 1944)
    7. Der Hexenkessel (The Witches’ Cauldron) (21 September 1944)
    8. Black Friday (22 September 1944)
    9. Under Bombardment (23 September 1944)
    10. Against All Odds (24 September 1944)
    11. Operation Berlin (25–26 September 1944)
    12. Telling the Story of Operation Market Garden


About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Harvey, now retired, is the author of A Bloody Dawn: The Irish at D-Day (2019); Soldiering Against Subversion: The Irish Defence Forces and Internal Security During the Troubles, 1969–1998 (2018); Into Action: Irish Peacekeepers Under Fire, 1960–2014 (2017); A Bloody Day: The Irish at Waterloo and A Bloody Night: The Irish at Rorke’s Drift (both reissued 2017); and Soldiers of the Short Grass: A History of the Curragh Camp (2016).

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