1st Edition HB 1981
Hardback with dustjacket. First published in 1981 in the UK by "Cassell Ltd."
Printer N/K. Written by Major Victor Dover.
The rank of General usually suggests an appointment of immense responsibility at
base rather than the comradeship of danger in action - possibly the most outstanding
exception to this concept being the Sky Generals of the Second World War.
These commanders had to be exceptional, for they went into battle literally alongside
their men, sharing their apprehensions about landing in enemy-held territory,
then establishing an HQ and assuming control of the battle. Personal interviews
with all the surviving Generals were accorded to Major Dover exclusively for this book.
These, together with his conversations and correspondence with those who know or knew
the Generals best -relatives and friends, and officers from other formations - constitute
a unique record of these remarkable men. Here indeed is a roll of honour: Bols,debonair,
tough, full of fun, but 'no bloody nonsense'; 'Boy' Browning, the perfectionist,
with great influence in high places; Down, feared, hated, loved, and so good at training
paratroops that he never himself reached an airborne battle; Gale, the confident,
meticulous planner and source of high morale; Hopkinson, the 'little Caesar,' killed while
visiting forward troops; Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, who backed the Airborne
unit against RAF opposition; Sosabowski, brave, but obsessed by a passion for the liberation
of his native Poland; Urquhart, a magnificent field commander, whose task at Arnhem has
remained controversial; and Wingate, who, though never a Sky General, proved that troops
could be supplied by air, and lifted out from, deep behind enemy lines. Major Dover's superb,
completely new material forms the basis of a deeply thought-out study of the qualities
held in common by these otherwise diverse and unconventional Generals, and of a unit which,
in a handful of years, in small-scale raids and massive operations, made the 'Red Devils' of
the Parachute Regiment a legend which is still very much alive today.
Victor Dover was born in 1919, the son of an international authority on marine insurance.
He was educated at the Stationers' Company's School, where he was awarded five school 'colours'.
He did not take kindly to the world of insurance and even membership of that ancient regiment,
the Honourable Artillery Company, could not adequately compensate for his desire to be a
regular soldier. However his chance came in 1939, and he was commissioned into the Queens
Own Royal West Kent Regiment. Following Dunkirk and a short tour in West Africa, he joined
the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, in which he served in N.Africa, Sicily,
where he won a Military Cross, Italy and at Arnhem. After the war he served with the
8th Battalion in Palestine. He therefore served under all the Sky Generals. He retired from
the army in 1959 and for the next seventeen years travelled all over the world as
Secretary to Rotary International.
Major Dover was a talented artist who had several exhibitions. He was a Fellow of the
Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators
and a Freeman of the City of London. He was married with a son and daughter.
Victor Dover died in 1982.