Neil Barber Books

The following two publications each took five years of research and are therefore detailed accounts of the events, but related in the words of the men who were actually there. Every avenue of information has been followed, be it the interviewing of survivors, locating testimony by those who have passed away (both audio and written), walking the battlefields, plus analysis of photographic and film evidence. Consequently, the books go further into their subjects than any other published information and are unique in their ability to put the reader ‘on the ground’ with the men themselves.

The Day the Devils Dropped In

The first of these books is The Day the Devils Dropped In (Pen & Sword 2002), which deals with the 9th Parachute Battalion’s crucial D-Day assault on the Merville Gun Battery, which had to be silenced before the landings on SWORD Beach commenced. The subsequent week’s ferocious fighting by the Battalion on the Breville Ridge is also described. Their defence of this ridge at the Chateau St Come was crucial in preventing the Germans capturing the all-important bridges across the Caen Canal (Pegasus Bridge) and River Orne.

The Day The Devils Dropped In

Paperback £12.99 + P&P. All copies signed by the author. If they are required to be addressed to someone, please email the details: Contact  

Kindle £4.99 (via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  

Epub £4.99 (Via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  


The Pegasus and Orne Bridges

The capture of Pegasus Bridge is one of the Second World War’s most famous actions. Made famous in the 1962 film, The Longest Day, much has been written about the action. However, the majority of this is regurgitated from Stephen Ambrose’s 1984 book, Pegasus Bridge. Therefore, I wanted to produce something that was far more in depth, more wide ranging, in finding out what it actually took to capture and defend Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. After five years of interviewing the those who took part, walking the battlefield, and following up every avenue of information, The Pegasus and Orne Bridges was produced.

The Pegasus and Orne Bridges

Hardback £20 + P&P
Paperback £15 + P&P.
All copies signed by the author. If they are required to be addressed to someone, please email the details: Contact  

Kindle £4.99 (via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  

Epub £4.99 (Via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  

Review by Wordsmith:

The coup de main by the Major John Howard and his six platoons of the Ox and Bucks light infantry has rightly been regarded as an outstanding example of how a small, highly trained and highly motivated unit can achieve results out of all proportion to its size. ‘The Pegasus and Orne Bridges’ by Neil Barber covers not only the capture of the bridges, but the movement of the relief formations in considerable detail. I believe it was John Keegan who referred to one sort of writer as “the historian as a copy typist” – and certainly far too many recent books consist of the author rather lazily splicing together eye witness accounts from many sources into a sprawling mess of a book. This book does not fall into that trap. Although half of this book is made up of first-hand accounts of the men taking part in the operation, they have been skillfully put together with the clear intent of showing the battle through the eyes of those who were there. The starting point of the author has been to thoroughly understand the action and assemble the small part seen by each participant into a chronologically logical sequence of events. Only then – with a strong framework to build upon – has he started to weave his eyewitness accounts into the narrative. A glance at the sources at the rear of the book shows that as well as interviewing many of the participants and listening to taped accounts from the others, the author has done his homework at the National Archive with much of the original paperwork researched. The appendices also show the considerable effort he has put into resolving confusing or conflicting accounts. The book starts with the planning of the operation and the selection of the forces involved. If I have one criticism of the book it is that it skates over the strategic importance of the bridge in a few sentences – the author might have done better to spend a few more pages showing the impact on the D-Day landings had the bridge remained in German hands. The book then goes on to discuss the training. Landing six gliders within a few score yards of a vital target within a very tight time frame was an astonishing feat of flying – the book shows just how much training and thought went into making that possible. In similar vein the book shows how the assaulting troops were rehearsed for every conceivable contingency. One reason for the success of Howard and his men was they put immense effort into learning to how deal with plans going awry. The bulk of the book justifiably deals with events at the two bridges, with briefer sections on how the relief forces (first 5 Parachute Brigade and then Lovat and his Special Service Brigade) made their way to the bridge. This is where the author’s extremely detailed research pays off with the battle described almost minute by minute. Each incident – major or minor – is described though the eyes of several participants. And slowly the accounts build into a coherent account of the fight; a bird’s eye view denied to the men who fought there and who could only see their own tiny part of the battle. The events the book covers finish on the evening of D-Day, so it covers just a few short hours of fighting. This book will probably prove to be the classic account of the capture of the two bridges – the author’s minute-by-minute reconstruction of events is unlikely to be bettered. Neither is his skilful weaving together of first-hand accounts to show the battle through the eyes of the men that fought there. All in all, this is a highly recommended book.


Veteran Biographies

Three biographies of men who served in the area have been written/compiled/edited:


Fighting with the Commandos

The wartime memoirs of Stan Scott, 3 Troop, 3 Commando

Fighting With The Commandos tells what the Second World War was like for a fighting soldier. After enlisting under-age, he was 'found out', joined the Home Guard and then a Young Soldiers Unit (for those too young to serve overseas). He managed to get out to Iraq but was again sent home. He then joined 3 Commando led by Brigadier Peter Young and landed on SWORD Beach on D-Day. He graphically describes the action thereafter which included being among the first to reach Pegasus Bridge and relieve the glider borne troops under Major John Howard. Plenty of excitement and danger were to follow and readers will revel in a no-holds-barred memoir which points an illuminating picture of life for the rank-and-file in the build-up to the climax of the war.

Fighting with the Commandos

Hardback £19.99 + P&P All copies signed by the author. If they are required to be addressed to someone, please email the details: Contact  

Kindle £4.99 (via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  

Epub £4.99 (Via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  


Fighting Hitler from Dunkirk to D-Day

Fighting Hitler From Dunkirk to D-Day is the compelling story of a man belonging to a group of which there are now very few survivors. Jeff Haward MM is a pre-war Territorial Army soldier who enlisted merely for something to do in the evenings. Consequently, he fought throughout the entirety of the Second World War. Jeff is a 'Die Hard', the historic name given to men of the famous Middlesex Regiment. He joined the 1/7th Battalion, a machine-gun battalion, equipped with the British Army's iconic Vickers medium machine gun.

Following evacuation from Dunkirk, the 1/7th, while refitting and re-equipping, carried out coastal defence duties in preparation for the German invasion. So desperate was the situation that on sentry duty, the one rifle per section had to be handed to the next sentry, along with the only ammunition available – three rounds!

In 1941, they were attached to the famous 51st Highland Division. The less than enthusiastic welcome from the Jocks gradually evolved into respect following the Middlesex's performance at El Alamein and the subsequent campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy and North West Europe.

Following the Reichswald battle, in March 1945, Jeff was surprised to hear that he had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery and was subsequently awarded the ribbon by none other than Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery.

Jeff Haward's experiences, those of a normal soldier, make fascinating reading and throw new light on the use of such Vickers gun battalions during the war.

Fighting Hitler from Dunkirk to D-Day

Hardback £19.99 + P&P All copies signed by the author. If they are required to be addressed to someone, please email the details: Contact  

Kindle £11.99 (via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  

Epub £11.99 (Via Pen & Sword): Buy Here  


Parachute Doctor

The memoirs of Captain David Tibbs MC RAMC (Sabrestorm Publishing 2012)

David Tibbs was a Medical Officer in the 6th Airborne Division, initially with 225 Field (Parachute) Ambulance and then the 13th Parachute Battalion. He served on D-Day and throughout the campaign in NW Europe before going with the Division to the Far East, eventually serving in Java, where Japanese PoWs were employed to fight alongside them against the Communists on Java.

Parachute Doctor

Paperback £9.99 + P&P All copies signed by the author. If they are required to be addressed to someone, please email the details: Contact  

Sabrestorm: Buy Here