1st Edition HB 1945
2nd Edition HB 1953
1st PB Edition Digit Books 1956
3rd Edition HB 1977
4th Edition HB 1993 ISBN=9780850523751
1th Futura Edition PB 1974
Paperback. Published in the UK in April 2012 by "The History Press Ltd". Printer N/K. ISBN number 9780752468686
Hardback with dustjacket. First published in January 1945 in the UK by "The Pilot Press Ltd.".
Printed by "W & J Mackay & Co. Ltd.". Written by Louis Edmond Hagen. No ISBN number.
This book tells the story of a Glider Pilot at the Battle of Arnhem. When it was first published,
the author was still bound by the Official Secrets Act and so the book shows the author as "Anon".
Later editions give the authors name. The diary was actually written by the author during
the battle and later put into this book form.
Louis Hagen was born in Potsdam, Germany, on the 30th May 1916, the second son of five children.
His mother and father, a banker, moved in high circles and this brought them into close contact
with various members of the social elite, including friends of Prince Bernhard. The young Louis,
known to most as Büdi (abbr. Brüderlein - little brother), practiced boxing in the family's own
ring and was privately educated, later attending high school but had little to show for the
experience for he was, as he freely admitted, a dunce. At school Hagen befriended Claus Fuhrmann
and their relationship proved to be mutually beneficial; Claus helped Louis with his school work,
whilst Louis acted as his minder. In 1934 the effects of Nazism were felt in the Hagen household
when a joke which Louis had written on a postcard, concerning Hitler's brownshirts, the Sturm Abteilung,
was discovered and as consequence he was sent to the Schloss Lichtenburg Concentration Camp
at Torgau. Fortunately his friend Claus successfully appealed for his release to his father,
a judge and party member, and Louis was freed six weeks after his imprisonment. Following this event
the Hagen family began the process of leaving Germany. Karl, the elder brother, departed that year,
Louis himself left for England in 1936, the other children made their way out later, and in 1941
his mother and father made use of the Trans-Siberian railway and reached the USA via Japan.
In Britain, Hagen was employed in various positions before deciding to enlist in the Army, and like
so many other Jewish refugees he served in the Pioneer Corps. All soldiers of German and Austrian
origin were obliged to serve under a pseudonym so as to ensure that they would not be mistreated
in the event of their capture, and so it was that Louis Hagen became Lewis Haig (4). He was accepted
into the Glider Pilot Regiment at the end of 1943, and joined No.22 Flight, of D Squadron,
No.1 Wing, and Arnhem was to be his first battle.
Hagen's Horsa was amongst the first to take off from Keevil on Monday 18th; he was flying as second
pilot to S/Sgt R. A. "Mac" Wheldon, carrying three men from the 156th Battalion, a Jeep, and a
trailer loaded with petrol. Having made a safe landing on LZ-X, they took the Jeep to the
Glider Pilots rallying point at Wolfheze Station. Dutch civilians greeted them with open arms
at the Asylum, and in an effort to breach the language gap Hagen found himself acting as an
interpreter. In the confusion he is suddenly hailed as prince Bernhard. The misunderstanding
can probably be explained by the fact that everyone was eager for news of the prince and that
Hagen's understanding of the Dutch language was poor.
In the evening, No.22 Flight were acting as the rearguard to the 156th Battalion's advance
towards the high ground known as Lichtenbeek, but when the paratroopers encountered resistance
on the edge of the landing zone they fell back to prepare for a dawn attack. Having spent the
night dug in close to the railway line, Hagen was amongst a group of thirty glider pilots, led by
his commanding officer, Captain Iain Muir, that was attached to A Company of the 156th
Battalion. A Company were to lead the resumed attack, but as one of their platoons was still on
the 4th Para Brigade's drop zone, guarding the wounded, they needed a replacement which
came in the form of this composite glider pilot platoon. As they approached the Dreyenseweg the
leading platoon was halted by heavy fire, and in spite of a desperate bayonet charge the
defence proved to be almost impenetrable. Unfortunately the glider pilots were not able to
fully support the advance of the paratroopers as they were pinned down at an early stage
due to fire that swept across their left flank from a forward machine-gun post, sited in
a dell on the western side of the road. Hagen was nearest to this gun, and upon realizing
the threat he attempted to destroy the position single handedly, and managed to run
to within 20 metres of it before he was forced to take cover and shelter for a while.
After the battle Hagen wrote "I swore that if ever I got out of this hopeless position I would
never be such a bloody fool again... I wondered if I wanted to pray; that is what everybody is
supposed to do in a position like this; but I just did not feel like it, and to calm and steady
myself I watched a colony of ants go about their well-planned and systematic business."
The Germans manning the post knew that Hagen was there but were not inclined to
leave the safety of their position to dig him out; however they were unaware that Hagen could
understand every word of their bickering and he knew how low their morale was. When he tried to
run back towards friendly troops he was fired on by both sides, but after a while he bumped
into men from B Company of the 156th Battalion, emerging from the woods with his hands
up. He told them that there were only young and dispirited Germans from where he had
just come and that they could easily round them up, but in spite of Hagen's glider pilot clothing
and perfect English accent the paratroopers had reason to suspect that he was a
German trying to lure them into a trap, nevertheless they let him go, though their suspicions were
reinforced when they refused to help him and he ran back alone to where he said the
Germans were. Hagen, however, was finally able to report his information to an officer of the
Battalion and thereafter occupied a position at the edge of the wood.
At about 16:00 on Tuesday 19th, he was in the process of making a cup of tea when the
Polish gliders approached LZ-L. German anti-aircraft fire opened up on them as they descended:
"They were so helpless: I have never seen anything to illustrate the word 'helpless' more horribly."
As the 4th Para Brigade, with the Poles and 7th KOSB in tow, began to transfer their strength
south of the railway line whilst being constantly harassed by the Germans, Hagen reached the
Wolfheze crossing and witnessed the messy process. Deciding that this was not the way to proceed,
he took it upon himself to take 20 other men across and down to the Rhine where they would be safe
from enemy action, although he realised that this was probably not the correct thing to do.
Of his group, all but his friend Dodd decided to return to Wolfheze and Hagen never saw them again,
but as night began to fall the two men were discovered by Jeeps of A Troop of the Reconnaissance
Squadron. Separated from their unit, they returned to the Squadron's HQ, opposite the Hartenstein,
and spent the night in a trench outside.
At 06:30 on Wednesday 20th, Hagen and Dodd accompanied A Troop's No.3 Section on a patrol towards
the Oosterbeek Hoog railway station. Moving north through the woods along the eastern side of the
Stationsweg they encountered a self-propelled gun accompanied by infantry. Hagen wrote
"A tank advancing firing shells is the most frightening thing imaginable, and of all the experiences
I had later on I was never more frightened than now. I believe that this is what makes a tank
such a formidable weapon." Some of the men on the patrol were able to withdraw in a Jeep,
but Hagen and Dodd were cut off in the woods. Trying to make their own way back, they hid in a
manure pit in the garden of a house on the north-eastern corner of the Utrechtseweg-Stationsweg
junction until they made contact with another patrol coming forward. The pair were then taken
towards the Hartenstein and the Glider Pilot Regiment HQ, where Hagen rejoined D Squadron and
found 6 men from No.22 Flight.
On Thursday morning Hagen volunteered to go on a fighting patrol to clear a block of houses opposite
the Hartenstein. Following this, D Squadron, now consisting of 5 officers and 50 other ranks, were
ordered to take up positions in houses along the Stationsweg, south of those held by the
156th Battalion and the Reconnaissance Squadron, and here they stayed until the Division was
ordered to withdraw. They occupied and barricaded every one in two houses, with trenches dug
to allow unseen movement from one to the other, but they had barely stepped foot inside the
buildings before they were fired on from the other side of the road. For the moment Hagen based
himself in the corner house on the Utrechtseweg-Stationsweg.
On Friday, reinforcements of Independent Company origin arrived on the Stationsweg, which allowed
the Glider pilots to tighten their positions, and Hagen relocated himself to Stationsweg 18,
the second house from the corner of Stationsweg-Paul Krugerstraat where he stayed for most of
the time. In the morning a self-propelled gun made a cautious challenge to the British lines,
in what became a regular event each morning over the coming days, and on this occasion it was
discouraged by Lieutenant Strathern and Hagen, who took a PIAT up to the loft where they were
able to return fire through a hole in the roof without being spotted. Later in the day,
during a lull, the thoughts of the men turned to finding food, and Hagen with Sergeant Stan Graham
foraged for whatever was going along the length of the street. On this occasion they called at
the house of the Kremer family, Stationsweg 8. Mrs Kremer invited two glider pilots and men of
the Independent Company to sign her guestbook and pose for a few photographs.
Hagen wrote in the book "I do hope & believe that the mess we made of your lovely house was
worth while + good luck for a happier future.", signed Lewis Haig.
As supper was served, Captain Ogilvie, the kilted commander of D Squadron, received orders from
Brigadier Hackett first to discover where the Germans were withdrawing their men and equipment to,
and also to find out if they occupied the houses on the Paul Krugerstraat. Twice on Friday night,
Hagen and Sergeant Graham went out to find answers to these questions. They succeeded in locating
their primary objective and described it as a large open area which formed part of a country house,
containing a hill and two very large oak trees with benches around their base. Returning to
Hackett's HQ at the Hartenstein, where Hagen angered the Brigadier by placing a dirty finger on
his map, he recommended that an artillery bombardment be laid down upon the Dennenkamp woods where
the base seemed to be fed from, the position itself being too close to the British lines to fire on.
On Sunday 24th, Hagen received a wound to his hand during the routine morning attack when a
splinter severed a vein as he manned a Bren gun, but he refused to leave the front line.
Another assault came in the evening, and during the confusion Hagen threw all of his grenades
into a house neighbouring his own on the Paul Krugerstraat, not realizing until it was too late
that there were no Germans in the house, only British. Fortunately he had been too quick to
throw the grenades in and so his comrades were able to throw them out again just in time.
Hagen wrote "I was never more grateful for being a fool!".
Hagen and Captain Ogilvie, who grew very close during the battle, travelled to the Hartenstein on
Sunday night to report their position. On Monday afternoon they learned that the Division
was going to pull out. At about 22:15 the troops in their part of the perimeter began
to make their way to the riverbank in the rain, but once they arrived it became clear
that the prospects of being evacuated were fading as the embarkation point was being
fired on and no boats could be seen moving across the river. Hagen and Ogilvie decided to risk
swimming across, but once halfway Hagen got into difficulty and in panic abandoned his personal
possessions and any excess weight he was carrying. He reached the other side safely
but could not see Ogilvie anywhere; it was not until he reached England that he
discovered that Captain Ogilvie had drowned, hampered by a wounded arm and weighed down by his
kilt. After travelling to Nijmegen in an ambulance, Hagen and three other men were returned to
their barracks at Keevil airfield on the 29th September, where they found their quarters exactly
as they had left them; 18 beds were now without owners. Reflecting on his experiences,
Hagen wrote "Then I knew that I had a complete picture of myself.
The seven days had given me seven years of experience and confidence; I knew what I was like.....
Then I went to sleep." For his actions in these seven days, Hagen was awarded the Military Medal,
recommended by Captain Ogilvie. The citation reads: "Through the action at Arnhem, 19th to 25th
September 1944, Sergeant Haig showed outstanding leadership and example to the men. He volunteered
continuously for patrolling and after hard fighting each day carried ammunition through enemy fire
during the hours of darkness. In spite of being injured whilst firing a bren gun he refused to
leave his post. At all times he was a fine example by his complete disregard for his personal
safety. He instilled great confidence in the other ranks and was in large measure responsible
for keeping the enemy away from the positions held."
Towards the end of 1944 Hagen, with other Glider Pilots, was sent to India, where after six months
of waiting they trained intensively in preparation for an assault upon Japan by the Airborne
elements of the 14th British Army, but fortunately for all concerned Japan surrendered before
an invasion became necessary. Despite a fervent belief in his own lack of intelligence this
did not prevent Hagen from embarking on a journalistic career. As he had grown tired of repeating
his story time and time again, encouraged by his girlfriend, Dido Milroy, he had written a
book of his experiences at Arnhem before he left for India. It was completed in a single fortnight,
under the title of Arnhem Lift. The book is written from his perspective and is very much a tale
of the ordinary soldier's battle, but it also includes a few of his opinions on the wider objective,
including criticisms of the training regime of the Glider Pilot Regiment. Needless to say when
he passed the manuscript on to the commander of No.1 Wing, Lt-Colonel Iain Murray, he received
the strongest rebuke, "No Britisher would ever have let his comrades down by writing stuff like
this. It lets down the whole regiment!". While Hagen was in India, and without his knowledge,
his girlfriend sent the manuscript to the War Office and obtained permission to publish,
which followed in January 1945; believed to be the first book published about Arnhem.
It was said of Hagen: "He became an author almost by accident, but his unforced gift for
descriptive writing, as unusual as it is refreshing, gained him a tremendous ovation from the
Hagen worked at length for Phoenix, a forces newspaper in South-East Asia, and his travels took
him to India, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Siam, and Indo-China, where he was the first western
journalist to interview Ho Chi Minh. Utilising the many articles he had written as a journalist,
his second book, India Route March, analysing the country from the perspective of a soldier,
was published, and he was not in the least afraid to speak openly and be critical of a number
of cultural or political questions. He returned to England in February 1946 but yearned to go
back to Germany at the earliest opportunity, and so he took a job with the Sunday Express
in Berlin, also working for Country Life and John Bull. Hagen was most fascinated by life
in his native country under Nazi rule, and in Follow My Leader (1951) wrote about the era
through the eyes of nine ordinary Germans, all of whom were known to him, four Nazis,
three non-Nazis, and two anti-Nazis. Following this he published biographies of Joseph Goebbels
(1953) and of the head of the Foreign Political Information Service of the Sicherheitsdienst,
Walter Schellenberg (1956). On other topics, in 1958 he wrote an account of his journey
through South America, and in 1968 published an investigation into spying in Germany during
the Cold War. In 1950, Hagen married Anne Mie, a Norwegian artist, with whom he had two daughters,
Siri and Caroline. Dividing his time between London and Norway, Hagen also established
Primrose Film Productions, which created 25 children's films. He returned to Arnhem twice,
first in 1948 to show his fiancée where he had fought, and again in 1994 for the 50th Anniversary.
He had not planned to attend as he felt "the idea of parading with hundreds of old veterans
like myself wearing rows of medals and red berets did not appeal to me." At the age of 84,
Louis Hagen died on the 17th August 2000; he rests at Asker in Oslo, Norway.