The Polar Bears.

By Patrick Delaforce

Printed: 2001

Publisher: Chancellor Press. London

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 2 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 2

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In the original dustsheet. Binding the same as the cover.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

  •                       An excellent collectable edition

With its roots in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the 49th Infantry Division was originally a territorial unit formed in 1907 which fought with distinction throughout World War I earning three VCs. During 1940-42 it fought in the ill-fated campaign in Normandy, garrisoned Iceland for two years and earned itself the title of the Polar Bears. In the north west Europe campaign of 1944-45 it acted as Monty’s left flank and suffered 11,000 casualties in 11 months. After the battle for Normandy, the Polar Bears took a major role in the capture of Le Havre, campaigned vigorously in Belgium, helped to take Arnhem and then liberated Utrech and Hilversum. In the last weeks of the war, the Polar Bears brought food supplies into starving Holland. This is an illustrated account of their exploits, based on first hand accounts of the men who actually fought with the Polar Bears.

Review: The book is full of interesting detail with quotes from officers of the time and other ranks together with many sketches portraying battlefield situations. I first became aware of The Polar Bears when I was on a tour of the D-Day landings and the battle for Normandy and felt I needed to know more about this unusually named British Division and this book certainly does a good job of informing the reader. Well worth a read for any one interested in military history and D-Day etc

A summary: Originally a Territorial unit with its roots in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the 49th Infantry Division saw action in the ill-fated Norwegian campaign in 1940, before it was appointed to garrison Iceland where it stayed for two years. In August 1944, under the command of the Canadian Army, the Polar Bears acted as Monty’s left flank after the invasion of France. Following the battle for Normandy, the Polar Bears played a key role in the capture of Le Havre, campaigned vigorously in Belgium and garrisoned the ‘island’ between Arnhem and Nijmegen during the winter of 1944. They helped to take Arnhem and then liberated Utrecht and Hilversum; and the Recce regiment were the first to arrive with their armored cars in Amsterdam. In the final weeks of the war the Polar Bears played a humanitarian role by bringing desperately needed food supplies to the starving population of Holland. During the campaign in North West Europe, the Polar Bears were a completely British division with units drawn from Yorkshire, Durham, Royal Scots Fusiliers, Tyneside Scottish, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Kent Yeomanry and Suffolk Hussars. In August 1944 they were joined by the South Wales Borderers, the Gloucesters and the Essex regiments. The Polar Bears suffered 11,000 casualties and earned a Victoria Cross. Following the successful formula adopted for his other divisional histories, Patrick Delaforce draws on contributions from the soldiers who fought with the Polar Bears – privates, NCOs and officers alike. In their own words they tell just what it was like as they fought through from Normandy to the relief of Holland.


       Division badge, third pattern, replaced the second pattern during the Second World War in 1943.


The 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army. The division fought in the First World War in the trenches of the Western Front, in the fields of France and Flanders. During the Second World War, the division fought in the Norwegian Campaign and in North-western Europe. After the Second World War, it was disbanded in 1946, then reformed in 1947. It remained with Northern Command until finally disbanded in 1967.

Patrick Delaforce is the author of 47 non-fiction books: biographies, travel, wine, and more recently, military history. They have been published in 9 countries; his books on Churchill and Hitler in Russia. A World War 2 veteran,he was a Port wine shipper in Portugal, lived in France where he wrote travel books, headed an advertising company in the USA and now lives in Brighton.

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