The Fighting Wessex Wyverns
By Patrick Delaforce
Published by Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Stroud, Gloucestershire.
ISBN 0-7509-0772-X (hardback)
ISBN 0-7590-0773-8 (paperback)
Commanded by the controversial Major-General Ivo Thomas, the 43rd (Wessex) Division was branded
the Fighting Yellow Devils’ out of respect by its Wehrmacht and Waffen SS opponents. The 43rd’s
distinctive divisional badge of a golden Wyvern — half-serpent half-dragon — was to be seen in
all the ferocious battles in Normandy, the Low Countries and Germany between June 1944 and May
1945. They suffered 12,500 casualties including 3,000 killed in action.
The 43rd had its roots firmly in the West of England, drawing its infantry battalions from the
county regiments of Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Worcester, with
occasional reinforcements during the Normandy campaign by ‘foreign’ regiments from Berkshire,
Essex and other counties.
This book tells the story of the division’s campaign in Northwest Europe, from Normandy to
Bremerhaven, in the words of the soldiers who actually fought with it: privates, sergeants
and young company commanders, all have their individual tales to tell.
Here are firsthand accounts of the landings on the shores of Normandy; the battles for the
River Odon, Hill 112, Maltot and Mont Pincon; the break-out to the River Seine and the forcing
of the vital bridgehead at Vernon; the only infantry division to make a single-handed attempt
to relieve Arnhem — a gallant and costly failure; the clearance of the Roer triangle
(Operation Blackcock) and the Reichswald (Operation Veritable); the crossing of the River
Rhine and the advance northwards to take the port of Bremen; and the final triumphant advance
to the Cuxhaven peninsula northwest of Hamburg.
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, The Fighting
Wessex Wyverns is the third title from Patrick Delaforce in Alan Sutton Publishing’s popular
series of divisional histories. Illustrated with over forty black and white photographs
showing the 43rd Division in action, it will appeal not only to those who still have memories
of the battles and to those who fought in the Second World War, but also to readers who have
an interest in the day-to-day actions of soldiers in the front line during the crucial last
eleven months of the war.