A historical account of Operation Varsity of World War II, following the 17th Airborne Division as they prepare for a campaign that would rival Normandy in scale and become one of the most successful and important of the war.
The author does an excellent job in interweaving personal histories and recollections with unit histories and after-action reports to give a good sense of the heavy fighting that occurred around the drop and landing zones ... The heroic tales of the fighting by both paratroopers and glider infantry to secure their objectives show the combat was just as intense as any airborne battle of the war.
James M. Fenelon’s Four Hours of Fury purports to tell the tale of Operation Varsity and the subsequent drive into Hitler’s heartland. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver on both counts ... Readers...never learn of the harrowing experiences of British troops whose large gliders made their landings even more treacherous than those of their American counterparts ... Readers also won’t learn from Mr. Fenelon of the tragic fate of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion ... Where Four Hours of Fury does succeed is in presenting the experiences of the fighting men of the 17th Airborne Division. Mr. Fenelon’s writing becomes inspired when he draws on his own experience to convey the sensation of dropping into combat ... Mr. Fenelon’s account would have been more valuable if he had directed his work to the full range of the operation’s fighting forces and had offered, given the operation’s death toll, a rigorous assessment of whether it was necessary.
Testimony from surviving veterans provides gripping detail, but the minutiae of the operation (recommended size of base camps, the number of weapons in a regiment) are meticulously noted, nearly to a fault, which can make for slow passages and a lack of clarity about the larger context. Readers interested in granular detail of military operations and individual combat accounts will appreciate this most.