Over the years there have been a number of books, booklets and publications produced about the 156 Battalion The Parachute Regiment. Most focus on the actions on of the battalion in the woods and streets of Oosterbeek, Holland in 1944 but some describe the founding of the battalion in India (as the 151 Parachute Battalion) to deployment in the Middle-East and subsequent name change to the 156, Italy and home to the UK.

Some of these books are written by 151/156 veterans, some by family members of 151/156 veterans and often deal with more personal accounts of life during the Second World War.  Some are by famous authors and researchers and give an overview of the battalions place in the bigger theatre of war.

There are other publications about the 156 Parachute Battalion or relating to the 156 Parachute Battalion but the list here gives the best reading for understanding the actions and the men of the 151/156 Battalion The Parachute Regiment during the Second World War. They are in no particular order and this list in the future may be added to.

From Delhi To Arnhem

John O’Reilly

Written by Association member John O’Reilly. This book is a “living history” based on extensive discussions with men who served in the 156 Parachute Battalion, their families and members of the Dutch Resistance. The Battalion’s story, in particular the events at Arnhem, is clarified and brought to life by these previously unpublished accounts. The fortunes of twelve young soldiers from the Battalion are traced throughout, giving a vivid and human focus.

The narrative follows the formation of the Battalion in India in 1941, when parachuting to war was a new and relatively untried concept. The Battalion was later transferred to Egypt, Palestine, then Tunisia for further training and in 1943 saw action against the Germans for the first time as part of the Allied invasion of Italy.

The defining moment in the 156 Battalion’s war was on 18th September 1944, when they flew to Arnhem as part of the 1st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden. The details of the Battalion’s role and the actions of its members are followed closely throughout the ferocious eight day battle. Of the nine British airborne battalions that fought at Arnhem the 156 Parachute Battalion suffered the highest percentage loss of life. Split into two and surrounded, their action at Arnhem is covered by individual accounts of the fighting, culminating in escape for a few across the Rhine.

For those of the Battalion left behind daring escape attempts follow aided by the Dutch Resistance. These include the larger Operations Pegasus I and II and further efforts to reach Allied lines by negotiating the complicated Biesboch waterway system.

The book contains over 400 pages including more than 350 photographs, many previously unpublished, as well as 40 stunning full colour maps and illustrations.

This book is still in print and available.

Arnhem. Walking in Their Footsteps

John O’Reilly

John O’Reilly’s second book includes new information and photographs, with foreward from Major Jeffrey Noble, Officer Commanding the MMG Platoon at Arnhem.

This book of 128 pages contains maps, photographs and the stories of individual soldiers.  It concentrates on Brigadier Shan Hackett’s 4th Parachute Brigade’s HQ and the 156 Parachute Battalion during the first three days of fierce fighting at Arnhem.  The book culminates in new information regarding the escape and subsequent death of two evaders and changes the previously accepted conclusion of Operation Pegasus as a result of research done by historian John Howes.

This book is still in print and available.

Salute to The Steadfast

Harry Bankhead

The original history of the 151/156 Parachute Battalion. The idea was conceived by Col John Waddy but due to other commitments he managed to persuade the author Harry Bankhead to take on the task.

Cpl Harry Bankhead was a founder member of the 151 in India. He served in its ranks throughout until its destruction in the Oosterbeek woods. It is a tale of his own experiences, into which has been interwoven an authentic outline of the principal events of the unit’s short by dramatic life.

180 pages, with a couple of maps and numerous photographs. Foreword by Col John Waddy. This book may be difficult to find.

Men at Arnhem

Tom Angus (Geoffrey Powell)

First published in the early seventies under the pseudonym Tom Angus. However the ruse was hopeless and in the second edition the author revealed himself as Geoffrey Powell the Officer Commanding, C Company the 156 Battalion The Parachute Regiment.

It is a personal account taken from the viewpoint of the most senior surviving officer of the 156 at Arnhem who ended up commanding the remnents of the battalion from the 21st-26th September. It is also one of the first books published on the actions of the 156 during the battle of Arnhem.

Various editions still available second-hand online.

A Tour of The Arnhem Battlefields

John Waddy

Written by our own Col John Waddy who was Officer Commanding B Company 156 Parachute Battalion. This book is the definative Arnhem battlefield guide and written by someone who was actually there. With over 200 pages, it is full of photographs, illustrations and maps showing all the main locations where the fighting took place.

The book also includes many accounts by other veterans to give more of an understanding of what went on where. If you are going on your own tour of the Arnhem battlefield this is probably the one book you need to take with you.

Arnhem. From Wishaw to Wolfheze

Alastair Hill

Arnhem, From Wishaw to Wolfheze was written by Association member Alastair Hill and tells the tale of his journey to discover who the man was in the photo that sat on his Grandmothers sideboard. That man was his uncle, Jimmy Sneddon, a soldier who was killed in the woods oustside Oosterbeek. Jimmy Sneddon was a member of B Company 156 Parachute Battalion who paid the ultimate sacrifice covering his mates so they could escape from the encroaching Germans.

Eight decades pass till Alastair finally descovers the truth about who the man in the photo was.

Alastair is a regular at Arnhem and 151/156 Parachute Battalion Association events. The book is available from the Facebook page here

The Soldier

Major Tony Thomas

Although by his own admission a reluctant parachutist, Major Tony Thomas MBE spent most of his time in the British Army in the Parachute Regiment. From his boyhood days in the North-East during the depression, to his early days as a recruit and ultimately sergeant in the Durham Light Infantry. The Soldier goes on to describe his life as a para, including his recollections of the exhilaration, optimism, frustration, confusion and ultimately failure that was Arnhem. 

After the War he served in Denmark, India, Malaya, Singapore, Java, Egypt,  Transjordan, Cyprus, Germany, Malta and UK. Commissioned in 1957, Tony Thomas continued his service in the Parachute Regiment until he retired in 1975 to become the Administrator for Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

This is a frank account of the life and times of a modest, diminutive man, one-time boxer, strict disciplinarian, whose varied, fulfilling Army career spanned nearly  forty years.

156 Battalion. Battlefield Tour.

67th Commemoration. Arhnem 1944-2011

The Arnhem 1944 Fellowship

The Arnhem 1944 Fellowship booklet for the 67th commemorations, 2011. This was the produced for the second annual battlefield walk organised by the Fellowship and it is full of stories about the 156 Battalions actions in and around Oosterbeek and including Pegasus I & II.

Articles by John O’Reilly, Peter Silk, John Waddy, Niall Cherry & Gerard Gijbertsen.

A Walk Round Western and Central Oosterbeek

73rd Commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem

The Arnhem 1944 Fellowship

The sixth short battlefield tour by the Arnhem 1944 Fellowship followed on the the 151/156 association tour the day pervious starting at the hollow on Valkenberglaan through the 1st Border and Glider pilot positions to the last stand of the 156 on the Mariaweg in Oosterbeek.

Articles by Niall Cherry, Martjin Cornelissen, Geert Jonker, Luuk Buist and Graham Francis.

Steel Wall at Arnhem

The Destruction of 4 Parachute Brigade, 19 September 1944

David Truesdale

David Truesdale has written numerous book on the Battle of Arnhem. This time he focusses on the actions or as the title states, the destruction of the 4th Parachute Brigade on the 19th September 1944. Although the book makes a feature of the 19th it does cover all the days of the battle.

It features a number of accounts of the 156 Parachute Battalion. Over 340 pages with numerous maps and photographs.

75th Anniversary Arnhem 1944

156 Parachute Battalion Commemorative Walk 2019

Ian & Roy Henderson

This booklet as told in the title was produced to accompany the 156 Parachute Battalion Association Commemorative walk on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem.

Full of stories and accounts from veterans and their families it covers the battalions actions on the 18th-19th September 1944 in and around the woods of Johannaheove including the ill-fated attack on the German blocking line. Photographs of the walk can be seen here

Arnhem 1944

The Airborne Battle

Martin Middlebrook

Most peoples goto book to understand what happened with the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem. It blends research from original documents with the experiences of over 500 participants and is an excellent read.

Forget ‘A Bridge too Far’ this book features all the actions of the 156 Parachute Battalion in detail and is essential in understanding where the battalion fits into the battle of Arnhem as a whole.