Devils with Wings is a historical military thriller by Harvey Black, based around the adventures of two young Fallschirmjager paratroopers during the early part of World War II. Devils is a fictionalised story based on the famous assault on the impregnable Belgian Fortress, Eben Emael. Tall, gangly Paul Brand is supported by his junior sergeant, Unterfeldwebel Max Grun, as he experiences his first action as a platoon commander in Poland, September 1939. The mutual respect between the two comrades grows as they experience the sights and smells of battle at close quarters Following their success in Poland, Paul, Max and the platoon are sent to a clandestine camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains to train for a secret mission. Confined to camp for six months they undergo intensive training for their next mission – the subjugation of the Eben Emael Fortress. Two German secret weapons will assist them to complete their task; the first is the glider, used for the first time to deposit troops directly onto a target, and the second secret weapon is a new Hollow Charge Weapon, capable of blasting through steel or concrete. On completion of their training, nine gliders containing seventy two Fallschirmjager land on top of the fortress, before the troops move in to the depths of the tunnels to finish the job. Over one thousand Belgian troops fail to stop them. This exciting fictionalised retelling of the assault on Eben Emael is written by an author with experience in army intelligence.
On 10 May 1940, 80 paratroopers of the German 7th Flieger, later known as the 1st Fallschirmjager Division, landed on top of the supposedly impregnable Fortress, Eben Emael. They used two German secret weapons to achieve their aim, the DFS 230 Glider and Hollow Charged weapons. Using the gliders to silently land in the early hours of the morning and using a new type of explosive to smash through the concrete bunkers and punch through the armoured turrets, they destroyed much of the fort’s defensive armament in a matter of minutes.
DFS 230 Glider
Although paratroopers were only able to penetrate a small part of the myriad of underground passageways linking the fort’s armament, the garrison was unable to dislodge them from the surface. The fortress surrendered one day later, when the German 151st Infantry Regiment reinforced the German paratroopers. At the time of the assault, of the one thousand two hundred Belgian troops available to man the fort’s defences, only between six and seven hundred were at the fort during the attack, with over two hundred soldiers some six kilometres away.
The devastating effect of a hollow charge explosive, Hohlladung, on an armoured turret.
In preparation for the attack, the German paratroopers had been secreted at an undisclosed camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains, where they trained for up to six months for the task. They were not even told of the identity of their target until days before, training using mock ups lain out on the ground.
The capture of Eben-Emael involved the first utilisation of gliders for the initial attack and the first use of hollow charge weapons, opening the gateway for the later invasion of France and the defeat of the allies.
A qualified parachutist, author Harvey Black served with British Army Intelligence for over ten years.
His experience ranges from covert surveillance in Northern Ireland to operating in Communist East Berlin during the cold war, where he feared for his life after being dragged from his car and attacked by Russian KGB soldiers.
Since then he has lived a more sedate life in the private sector as a Director for an International Company, but now enjoys the pleasures of writing. Harvey is married with four children.