In early May 1940, the fortress of Eben Emael was a potent sentinel over the Belgian-Dutch borderlands. A ferro-concrete monster built in the 1930s on the Albert Canal, the fortress covered 75 hectares on the surface, had 5km of tunnels underground and was studded with bunkers, gun turrets and casemates. Add a garrison of 1,200 men and the natural protection of 60m-high canal walls, and Eben Emael gave the impression of near-impregnability.
Yet on 10 May, in the very first hours of Hitler's campaign in Western Europe, just 78 elite airborne soldiers managed to defeat this fortress in an operation of unprecedented tactical skill. Deployed by glider onto the very top of the fortifications, they utilized elite training, fast movement and specialist explosives to destroy many of the gun positions and trap much of the garrison within the fortress. Simultaneously, three other assault detachments conducted high-risk glider operations to capture critical bridges over the Albert Canal. By the end of 11 May, following the arrival of German infantry reinforcements, Eben Emael was in German hands.
This Eben Emael RAID title tells the complete, fascinating story of this unique action. It sets the raid fully in context, explaining the development, training, skills and weaponry of Hitler's new Fallschirmjäger arm. It also describes in detail the physical structure and tactical challenges of the Eben Emael fortress, and gives a blow-by-blow account of how the operation unfolded from the first moment the German gliders lifted into the air until the last Belgian defender surrendered.
The text, including first-hand accounts of the battle, is brought to life by colour artworks, which provide clear graphic illustration of the battle site and dramatic depictions of key moments in the battle. Some 50 photographs include both powerful archive images and photographs from around the site today. All elements combined, this title forms an authoritative guide to this landmark airborne raid.
"Blow-by-blow discussions of tactics and the operation's movements make this a solid addition to any military strategy holding."
- The Midwest Book Review (May 2013)
"Chris McNab is an impressive author, who demonstrates a clear mastery of the subject. In addition, the book is very well-written, maintaining its cohesion despite the shifting scenes of action. It is a rousing story of "fortune favors the bold," and is highly recommended."
- Coast Defense Journal (Vol 27, Issue 2)
"The book is a super story of [the fall of Eben Emael], including what lead up to it and the results of the experience. It gave the German paratroop corps a feeling of near invincibility, a feeling that faded after the near debacle at Crete, but not completely as these men, while never doing a large scale drop again, were quite successful in other smaller actions during the war. It makes for a riveting story of an event for which we all know the outcome, but is told here in the sort of detail we have not often had. A great read and one that I can most highly recommend."
- Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness (March 2013)