An Extraordinary Italian Imprisonment, The Brutal Truth of Campo 21 1942-1943

B2125

Very little has been written about Italian PoW camps, against a mountain of books about camps in Germany and German Occupied Europe. As British and Italian forces had clashed in North Africa and Ethiopia, there were many British and Commonwealth servicemen who had been taken prisoner by the Italians and sent to camps in Italy. The Italian Armistice in September 1943 brought to an end the captivity of Allied PoWs in Italian camps, save for those who were in German-held Italy and who were then moved to PoW camps in Germany or German Occupied territory. This lack of coverage is unfortunate because not only were Allied PoWs in Italy involved in escapes and resistance, they were often subjected to a brutal regime that was harsher than even the most ruthless German camps. The author has provided an immaculately researched study of a camp in which his father had been imprisoned. The unique insights into the subject and the rare photographs in illustration provide a valuable expose of Italian treatment of PoWs. This is a book that should be widely read by all who have an interest in the subject of WWII and the realities of Fascism.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: An Extraordinary Italian Imprisonment, The Brutal Truth of Campo 21 1942-1943
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2125
AUTHOR: Brian Lett
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 251
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Italy, Mediterranean, PoW, Campo 21, imprisonment, Chieti, Italian Armistice
ISBN: 1-47382-269-6
IMAGE: B2125.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/msjnksq
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Very little has been written about Italian PoW camps, against a mountain of books about camps in Germany and German Occupied Europe. As British and Italian forces had clashed in North Africa and Ethiopia, there were many British and Commonwealth servicemen who had been taken prisoner by the Italians and sent to camps in Italy. The Italian Armistice in September 1943 brought to an end the captivity of Allied PoWs in Italian camps, save for those who were in German-held Italy and who were then moved to PoW camps in Germany or German Occupied territory. This lack of coverage is unfortunate because not only were Allied PoWs in Italy involved in escapes and resistance, they were often subjected to a brutal regime that was harsher than even the most ruthless German camps. The author has provided an immaculately researched study of a camp in which his father had been imprisoned. The unique insights into the subject and the rare photographs in illustration provide a valuable expose of Italian treatment of PoWs. This is a book that should be widely read by all who have an interest in the subject of WWII and the realities of Fascism.

Campo 21 was run by committed Italian Fascists and the regime was brutal. Where PoWs in German camps were generally treated with respect in accordance with International Treaty standards, Italian camps were often run on very different lines and the prisoners treated as common criminals or worse. That difference in the running of camps made little difference to the behaviour of prisoners. There were escape committees, with numerous and ingenious attempts at escape.

When the Italians surrendered and joined the Allies against Germany, Campo 21 was one of the camps taken over by the Germans, who then relocated PoWs. The author has recognized the bravery of ordinary Italians who risked much to help Allied PoWs escape.
This book provides unique insight into the Allied PoWs held in Italian camps and specifically in Campo 21. Although the regime at Campo 21 was particularly brutal and the Senior British Officer ordered inmates not to leave when the Armistice came into force, morale remained high, even when they were transported to Germany. After the war, several Italian Camp staff were arrested for war crimes. Without reading this book, it is not possible to claim full knowledge of PoW camps in Europe during WWII. The similarities and differences between German camps and Italian camps provides a new understanding.

Hitler’s Paratrooper, The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig

B2124

This book is a gripping biography, providing a tough, gritty and compelling study of a German soldier. It is all the stronger because it spans the war in Europe and North Africa, and unusual because it also covers the rebirth of the German army. It will of course appeal to all those who have interest in airborne forces, but it will satisfy a far wider readership because of the way it portrays the growth of Nazi Germany the early victories and then the long hard defence resulting in defeat, war crimes trials and then the rebirth of the German military machine.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Hitler's Paratrooper, The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2124
AUTHOR: Gilberto Villahermoza
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 266
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, paratroops, assault gliders, vertical insertion, Special Forces
ISBN: 1-47382-302-1
IMAGE: B2124.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/n3r5av3
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: With a conflict stretching over five years and involving virtually every part of the world, including those nations who attempted neutrality, it is to be expected that there is much still to be adequately covered. Even seventy years on, memoirs are still coming to light for the first time. Some very worthwhile memoirs have been rejected many times by publishers. There is also a mass of archive material that has not seen the light because of its volume. As a result, there are still many stories to emerge and many fresh insights into what established wisdom considered history that was dusted and done. The author has produced a fine study of one of Germany's earliest paratroops who played a critical role during the German invasion of neutral Belgium and went on to serve in many battles as a paratrooper, or as a light infantry officer. There is a photo plate section that includes rare and previously unpublished images, but there are also many monochrome images spread through body of the book. With the quality of reproduction in the body of the book, the photo plate section could have been avoided, with its images treated as the other images. Of course, the image quality of the originals may have required a photo plate treatment. This is a very interesting story that has been told well and supported effectively by the many images. It is also a complete story because it follows Witzig after 1945 and into his service in the new West German Army, to his retirement. The author has researched thoroughly and benefited through full support from Witzig and his family.

The parachute traces its history back at least into Medieval history, but it really only emerged as a standard piece of military equipment in WWI. Initially, it was issued to captive balloon gunnery observers to allow them to escape attack from enemy aircraft. Setting a balloon on fire was remarkably difficult, but the crew were extremely vulnerable to machine gun fire as they hung under the balloon in a flimsy basket. As it took time to winch a balloon down, the parachute provided the only means of rapid escape. Fighter pilots requested the issue of parachutes but the senior officers on both sides were reluctant to give their pilots the opportunity to evacuate their aircraft at a time to suit them. There was a widespread belief that pilots would jump when they should have continued fighting. However, the Germans began to issue parachutes to their pilots towards the end of WWI.

After 1918, several countries experimented with parachutists as a mean of inserting troops directly into enemy territory. The largest scale trials were carried out by the Soviets, and they also trained troops to jump without parachutes, relying on banks of snow to safely break their fall. There has been some debate about the German motivations of building a force of paratroopers. Some maintain that they observed Soviet paratroopers in training during the period when Germany clandestinely operated training camps in Russia for pilots and soldiers that was prohibited by Treaty. However, Germany soon advanced the concept of vertical insertion beyond anything the Soviets were planning.

Witzig began his military career in the newly formed Germany Army that was rapidly expanded under the Nazis. Paratroops were seen as important shock troops who could seize critical objectives, such as bridges, and hold them until relieved by the main invasion force. What the Germans rapidly realized was that paratroops were very vulnerable during their descent and any attempt to drop large numbers of paratroops in one drop was unlikely to avoid detection, attracting heavy fire from the ground. There was also a difficulty in adequately equipping paratroopers. They could drop with their personal weapons, initial rations and various items of equipment that might be carried by ground troops. The heaviest equipment likely to be included in the drop would be small mortars and rifle calibre machine guns. There was the option to drop supplies in containers during or after the drop of personnel, but paratroopers were still essentially light infantry. This encouraged the use of assault gliders to bring in men and heavier equipment, with the largest gliders being able to carry PAK guns and vehicles. As the war progressed, the Germans began to fit engines to their gliders to enable them to be recovered after they had disgorged their cargoes, and the largest powered gliders were pressed into service to maintain supplies from Italy to the Afrika Korps.

Witzig was to lead paratroopers in the attacks to take and disable the Belgian forts that blocked roads, canals and rivers. These forts could have prevented the rapid invasion of Belgium and France. Therefore, Witzig and his small group of paratroopers and glider troops could be seen as making victory in Blitz Krieg possible.

After that initial success, paratroopers were not used in any numbers until the Battle of Creek and the very heavy casualties suffered by the German airborne forces brought the German use of airborne troops to a halt. As highly trained infantry, the paratroopers were in much demand as light infantry, but after Crete, the use of airborne forces was to become an Allied activity, with very large numbers of paratroops and glider troops being used during the Normandy invasion and then in an attempt to take all the bridges through Belgium and the Netherlands to enable a rapid push into the German homeland.

Witzig was to shuttled around the fronts as the war began to go against Hitler. Many of his compatriots who had performed well were used to shore up German retreats and he was lucky to survive when his comrades were seriously wounded, killed, or taken into Soviet captivity from which they either failed to return or tricked back from 1950.

When the West German Government was encouraged to form a new army to defend against Soviet aggression, outstanding soldiers like Witzig were taken back into service by a grateful nation.

This book is a gripping biography, providing a tough, gritty and compelling study of a German soldier. It is all the stronger because it spans the war in Europe and North Africa, and unusual because it also covers the rebirth of the German army. It will of course appeal to all those who have interest in airborne forces, but it will satisfy a far wider readership because of the way it portrays the growth of Nazi Germany the early victories and then the long hard defence resulting in defeat, war crimes trials and then the rebirth of the German military machine.

Spirit of Resistance, The Life of SOE Agent Harry Peuleve DSO MC

B2123

The full story of the SOE may never be told. There was a destruction of documents in the final days of war and some SOE agents were transferred to other intelligence organizations, whilst others were simply thrown out to make their own way in post-war Britain. This new book is based heavily on the unpublished memoirs of the subject and two years of painstaking research across Europe by the author. The result is a story that reads well and draws the reader into the world of SOE and survival in Occupied Europe. The story is remarkable, gripping, emotional, sad, inspiring with a tale that a fictional writer might kill for. This is so much more than a wartime history. It is the story of the triumph of the spirit with the depths and highs of a group of very brave individuals. There is a photo section of very rare photographs and an excellent set of Appendices to support the main text. Not a story to miss.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Spirit of Resistance, The Life of SOE Agent Harry Peuleve DSO MC
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2123
AUTHOR: Nigel Perrin
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 225
PRICE: £12.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, covert operations, HUMINT, human intelligence, Occupied Europe, espionage, sabotage, counter intelligence
ISBN: 1-47382-302-1
IMAGE: B2123.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/nw2adsq
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The full story of the SOE may never be told. There was a destruction of documents in the final days of war and some SOE agents were transferred to other intelligence organizations, whilst others were simply thrown out to make their own way in post-war Britain. This new book is based heavily on the unpublished memoirs of the subject and two years of painstaking research across Europe by the author. The result is a story that reads well and draws the reader into the world of SOE and survival in Occupied Europe. The story is remarkable, gripping, emotional, sad, inspiring with a tale that a fictional writer might kill for. This is so much more than a wartime history. It is the story of the triumph of the spirit with the depths and highs of a group of very brave individuals. There is a photo section of very rare photographs and an excellent set of Appendices to support the main text. Not a story to miss.

The subject of this study joined the BEF in France in 1940 and was much affected by the fall of France. He volunteered for F Section of the Special Operations Executive. After training, he was inserted into France to set up a cell or circuit under the code name of SCIENTIST, Breaking a leg on landing, he escaped several close calls and made his way on crutches to Spain where he was imprisoned by Franco's regime. He escaped and made his way back to Britain in May 1943.

He was returned to France, formed a close relationship with Violette Szabo, Established and trained a Maquis group in Central France, was betrayed to the Germans, tortured and then sent to Buchenwald concentration camp where he escaped death, escaped and reached American lines in April 1945.

SOE had a chequered reputation during WWII. Other long established intelligence organizations resented the competition for missions and funding. The SOE agents were amateurs who were recruited from all walks of life. A fundamental requirement was fluency in French and other languages, with many agents being of mixed race parentage. Those in Section F mostly had at least one French parent. They received a comprehensive range of training in self-defence, weapons, sabotage and espionage. Those who passed their training and were inserted into France by parachute or by sea were very brave individuals who were mentally, physically, and skilled for the task ahead. They should all have received full recognition but in 1945 there was little appetite to expose the bravery that was often betrayed by 'allies' as political groups in France prepared for the battle after liberation and were happy to use the Germans to remove potential post-war opponents.

SOE itself faced a range of criticism, much of it unfair and often motivated by jealousy. Betrayal was not always from 'allies' in France but by other organizations that were supposed to be on the same side. Of those SOE agents who survived the war, many were physically and/or mentally crippled by their experiences.

This book goes some way to correcting the gross neglect. The history of the memoirs, on which the story is built, does not show the publishing industry in a good light. That Pen & Sword have taken the story forward is commendable and a further example of this publisher's commitment to expanding our knowledge of military history

Orde Wingate, Unconventional Warrior, from the 1920s to the Twenty-First Century

B2122

Orde Wingate came from a family with strong military and diplomatic traditions, Wingate Pasha was one example of a soldier/diplomat who worked hard for the Sudan and then Egypt from the viewpoint of the locals rather than as a ruler. It may not therefore be surprising that Orde Wingate was to be a controversial soldier. He was to have a great impact on the Burma Campaigns and many claim him as the father of the modern Special Forces units. The author has researched official and private papers to give new insights into his subject and to debunk the many myths and inaccuracies that have surrounded Wingate. Inevitably some will object to his presentation, but it is well presented and convincing. Wingate shares much with the controversies surrounding Lawrence of Arabia during WWI. Both men achieved successes at a time when they were needed, they also experienced some failures and they were fighting in conditions that were unfamiliar to many senior officers. A great story, well-told.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Orde Wingate, Unconventional Warrior, from the 1920s to the Twenty-First Century
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2122
AUTHOR: Simon Anglim
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 252
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Japanese, Burma, jungle warfare, irregular warfare, deep penetration, vertical supply, medivac
ISBN: 1-78346-218-3
IMAGE: B2122.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ocs7jft
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Orde Wingate came from a family with strong military and diplomatic traditions, Wingate Pasha was one example of a soldier/diplomat who worked hard for the Sudan and then Egypt from the viewpoint of the locals rather than as a ruler. It may not therefore be surprising that Orde Wingate was to be a controversial soldier. He was to have a great impact on the Burma Campaigns and many claim him as the father of the modern Special Forces units. The author has researched official and private papers to give new insights into his subject and to debunk the many myths and inaccuracies that have surrounded Wingate. Inevitably some will object to his presentation, but it is well presented and convincing. Wingate shares much with the controversies surrounding Lawrence of Arabia during WWI. Both men achieved successes at a time when they were needed, they also experienced some failures and they were fighting in conditions that were unfamiliar to many senior officers. A great story, well-told.

The author tells the full story, but the part of Wingate's career that has been best covered before is his formation of the Chindits and his irregular warfare deep behind Japanese lines in Burma. In some respects, his methods of fighting were not new and had been used to some extent in North Africa by the private armies that roamed the desert and struck at the Italians and Germans from unexpected directions. What was new was the size of the Chindit formations and their allies, the US Marauder irregulars who came into Burma from China.

Where the LRDG and other groups in North Africa had sent small squadrons of vehicles into the desert with fuel and supplies to complete the mission and return, Wingate marched off into the Burmese jungle with limited supplies and little prospect of being able to live off the land. They suffered badly from the conditions and illness was at least as much an enemy as the Japanese. What made Wingate's operation possible was air power. Supplies were parachuted to the Chindits and, where jungle airstrips were available, aircraft flew supplies in and casualties out. In that respect, Wingate was operating with vertical insertion as his lifeline. This enabled him to move around and still be found and resupplied from the air. Modern Special Forces are heavily dependent on vertical insertion, supply and extraction. They are also moved around the battlefield by helicopter and now begin to receive their supplies from unmanned helicopters that can operate in very hostile airspace. It was in WWII Burma that the first medivac, by helicopter, of a wounded soldier took place.

Wingate did receive some vital support from tactical strike aircraft. Today, Special Forces operate in a 3D environment where they can communicate in audio/visual radio coverage where a senior officer across the world can view the fight and talk with even the most junior soldier, communications being relayed via aircraft and/or satellites.

Although many modern Special Operations forces work in small teams, there are also large scale operations and Wingate can be credited with the development of procedures and tactics to command sizeable forces behind enemy lines.

This is a very interesting book that offers many new insights, argues against some previously established belief, and gives what is probably the most honest and accurate review of a very controversial soldier of WWII.

War on the Eastern Front, The German Soldier in Russia, 1941-1945

B2121

The author fought in the British infantry during WWII. After the war he developed a strong reputation as a historian with an outstanding knowledge of German military conduct, assisted by the close contacts he developed with German ex-servicemen. This book is an important contribution to the available knowledge of the viscous war fought on the Eastern Front. There is a very good photo section that includes rare images of life and war on the Eastern Front. Highly recommended.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: War on the Eastern Front, The German Soldier in Russia, 1941-1945
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2121
AUTHOR: James Lucas
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 214
PRICE: £12.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Battle of France, Blitz Krieg, German invasion, Red Army, Russian Winter, Operation Barbarossa, Stalingrad, Panzers, T-34
ISBN: 978-1-84832-787-0
IMAGE: B2121.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/qz2d5oe
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author fought in the British infantry during WWII. After the war he developed a strong reputation as a historian with an outstanding knowledge of German military conduct, assisted by the close contacts he developed with German ex-servicemen. This book is an important contribution to the available knowledge of the viscous war fought on the Eastern Front. There is a very good photo section that includes rare images of life and war on the Eastern Front. Highly recommended.

When German forces rolled into Russia at dawn on 22 June 1941, it was to prove one of Hitler's biggest miscalculations, starting a ferocious and bitter war between the national socialist forces of Germany with the national socialist forces of Russia. After the initial rapid advances, the Germans were halted by a winter that their commanders had done nothing to prepare for. As the Russians recovered from the initial shock, their factories beyond German bomber range began to turn out large numbers of capable, if crudely built, weapons. Some of these weapons were huge advances over the equipment with which the Red Army started the defence of the Motherland. What has been overlooked by most historians is the considerable support given to Russia by Allied seaman in fighting the Germans and the atrocious weather to carry large quantities of munitions, and other vital supplies on the Arctic convoys to Soviet ports.

The author has examined the impression the Eastern Front made on German soldiers and the relentless war of attrition to ultimately defeat Hitler. It is a gripping story that flows with the developing conflict and holds the reader's attention. An excellent piece of research carried forward by an engaging style of writing.

The reader may find some surprises and is unlikely to have read such a comprehensive work on the conduct of WWII. The common perception for those starting into the subject of the German battles with the Soviets is of a streamlined armoured force, brushing all before it. The impression of advanced technology.

The reality was very different. The Germans depended heavily on horse drawn transport and not just for supply wagons, but to haul artillery. Much of the armour was still lightly armed and thin armoured reconnaissance tanks and armoured cars of the Pzkw Mks I & II. The Mk 111 and the newest Mk IV tanks were in very short supply and the most capable tank in the early stages was still the Czech Skoda T-38. The motorcycle was still a common vehicle in the advance, with or without a sidecar and machine gun. Of great significance was the unsuitability of much of the German equipment. Some of the best German equipment was simply too well-made with close tolerances. It did not perform well in the snow and ice of winter and was equally vulnerable to the mud that was major feature of much of the time between winters. The cruder Soviet equipment performed much better with its looser tolerances.

Many soldiers advanced on foot because there was still a serious shortage of mechanized transport. The bicycle was often the only means of wheeled transport and trench warfare was a major feature of many battles on the Eastern Front. Germany never really managed to address the many equipment issues. When the Panther and Tiger tanks were rushed into service to counter the Soviet T-34, they still suffered from their close tolerance manufacture and from poor battery life on vehicles that required battery-power. The author has provided an honest view of German strengths and weaknesses and conveyed the nightmare nature of the Eastern Front for the German soldier.

Belgium in the Second World War

B2120

The author is a retired Belgian professional diplomat who has made a first rate attempt to correct the neglect by historians of Belgium during WWII. He has written with clarity, passion, pride and authority, to paint a comprehensive picture of the part Belgium played during WWII. It is to be hoped that this work will be widely read because Belgium deserves to be accurately and comprehensively recognized. The text is well-supported by a very interesting photo plate section, containing some rare images. An enjoyable and informing study.

In this much overdue correction of the neglect of the Belgian story, the author has provided an honest account of Belgium's very varied experiences through five years of conflict, occupation, and oppression to liberation. A well-told story. Highly Recommended

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Belgium in the Second World War
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2120
AUTHOR: Jean-Michael Veranneman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 196
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Battle of France, Blitz Krieg, German invasion, neutral Belgium, Cockpit of Europe, Low Countries, resistance
ISBN: 1-78337-607-4
IMAGE: B2120.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/qz5ynch
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author is a retired Belgian professional diplomat who has made a first rate attempt to correct the neglect by historians of Belgium during WWII. He has written with clarity, passion, pride and authority, to paint a comprehensive picture of the part Belgium played during WWII. It is to be hoped that this work will be widely read because Belgium deserves to be accurately and comprehensively recognized. The text is well-supported by a very interesting photo plate section, containing some rare images. An enjoyable and informing study.

Through its long history, Belgium and the Spanish Netherlands have been territory that others have fought over. Even after following other countries into the rush for Empire, Belgium has never sought to invade others and has attempted for most of its career to preserve a neutrality that others have ignored.

British European military history has featured a long succession of battles fought on Belgian soil and often fought many times down the centuries on exactly the same Belgian fields. The Germans looked at Belgium as the logical place to send its army to attack France. As long as Belgium attempted to remain neutral, it was an ideal point of French vulnerability. In 1914, the Germans swept into neutral Belgium and might have reached Paris had the British Expeditionary Force not fought a brilliant retreat, taking the Germans by surprise with the strength of their resistance. Of course it did little to help the Belgians because what was not occupied with towering insensitivity by the Germans was turned into a lunar landscape of shattered forests, fields turned from agriculture into killing grounds, and habitation from the most modest hamlet to the largest towns turned into piles of rubble.

After 1918, the French decided that the next war with Germany could be countered by building a line of bunkers, gun emplacements and protected accommodation that became know as the Maginot Line. To be effective, this line of fixed fortifications needed to run from France's border with Switzerland, all the way to the Channel coast as an unbroken line of defence that also extended South for some distance along the Channel coast, and was backed by strong mobile reserves that could be rushed to any point that faced significant attack. The problem was that France and Belgium hoped for good relations and any extension to the sea would condemn Belgium to German occupation and a re-run of the devastating shelling of Belgium border towns. In discussion, the Belgians pointed out that they would again be neutral but would build their own fixed fortifications to defend their neutrality from German attack.

Unfortunately, both countries had failed to consider adequately the new weapons of fast armoured forces, aircraft acting as flying artillery, and airborne forces able to insert themselves vertically. The situation was further weakened because the British Government still hoped for a long delay in the start of a hot war, the possibility that Germany might seek peace and concentrate on absorbing Poland, together with the knowledge that British re-armament still had some way to go. There was also an understandable reluctance to do anything that might encourage a return to the attrition of WWI. The result was that Britain sent a new BEF, to stand with France on the Belgian border, that was numerically inadequate and also poorly equipped in modern armour and air power. It was hardly surprising that Germany would again pour troops in through Belgium and seek to get behind the French forces and beat them into submission. Once again, Belgium was sacrificed to the Germans, but at least the British were able to make a fighting withdrawal to Dunkirk and then lift hundreds of thousands of British and French troops off the beaches to safety in Britain, where they could be re-equipped and trained in preparation for landings to liberate occupied Europe and force a German surrender.

With Europe now under German occupation, Belgium effectively ceased to exist and has received very little recognition of its part in the continuing conflict. However the war was not over for the people of Belgium. They were quick to form resistance groups to fight the German occupiers and to obtain intelligence for the Allies across the Channel. They were also quick to form groups to help Allied airmen and soldiers cut off but not surrendered. These evader networks managed to smuggle Allied combatants down a chain of very brave Belgians and French to Spain and to Britain from Portugal. The courage and determination of these fighters has received far less recognition than it has deserved. Certainly, there have been those helped by the evader networks who have returned to thank their saviours and continued to return as numbers of evaders and Belgian patriots has dwindled through age, but there has not been the widespread recognition that was owed these people.

Belgium also suffered horribly, with Belgian Jews being sent to the death camps in Germany and Poland. There are also the moving stories of Belgians who helped to hide Jews from the Nazi snatch squads. Not only Belgian Jews were at risk. The Germans took many Belgians into slave labour where conditions were little better than in the death camps, with casual brutality causing many deaths.

The Belgian situation was not immediately helped by D-Day. The invasion forces would have to take the logical route through Belgian to invade Germany and the Germans could be expected to fight as long as possible in the Low Countries, once they had been forced out of France. This ensured continuing Belgian casualties and the Resistance was very active in attacking German communications to relieve the advancing Allied troops. In addition to providing a route into Germany for the Allies, Antwerp was an essential port to keep the Allies supplied as they advanced on Germany. That vital port was to force Hitler into one final gamble in the Battle of the Bulge where German armour was again forced through the narrow roads of the Ardennes.

In this much overdue correction of the neglect of the Belgian story, the author has provided an honest account of Belgium's very varied experiences through five years of conflict, occupation, and oppression to liberation. A well-told story. Highly Recommended

Soviet Conquest, Berlin 1945

B2119

This is the first publication of memoirs long banned in the Soviet Union, providing a varied and graphic view of the viscous fighting for the German capital. It provides a fresh insight into the workings of the Soviet high command, the tensions between generals and the political influences exerted by Stalin and his embedded Commissars. This book provides surprises and fills in one of the great gaps in English-language histories of WWII. Essential reading for all those who seek to expand their knowledge of WWII and its impact beyond the end of war in 1945.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Soviet Conquest, Berlin 1945
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2119
AUTHOR: Tony Le Tissier
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 196
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Eastern Front, Battle for Berlin, Red Army, German Army, street fighting,command, strategy, tactics, Red Army Commanders
ISBN: 1-47382-110-X
IMAGE: B2119.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/lgwsu7w
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This is the first publication of memoirs long banned in the Soviet Union, providing a varied and graphic view of the viscous fighting for the German capital. It provides a fresh insight into the workings of the Soviet high command, the tensions between generals and the political influences exerted by Stalin and his embedded Commissars. This book provides surprises and fills in one of the great gaps in English-language histories of WWII. Essential reading for all those who seek to expand their knowledge of WWII and its impact beyond the end of war in 1945.

Remarkably little information has travelled West from Russia throughout its history. Since its creation, it is a country that has been ruled ruthlessly by a succession of strong individuals. Each has employed a considerable secret police service and relied on brutality and oppression. When the Revolution ejected the Czar and killed him with his family, very little really changed and in the far flung regions, the Russian peasant could be forgiven for not realizing that the Czar had been replaced. Lenin became in all but name the new Czar, his life shortened by the effects of an assassination attempt. He was rapidly succeeded by Stalin who behaved much as the worse Czars in Russian history, inflicting more pain and death on the Russian peoples than Ivan the Terrible ever managed in the 16th Century. Through Russian history, the Empire has expanded and contracted, with the goals being little different from one ruler to the next.

When Stalin and Hitler signed a peace treaty that cleared the way for a mutual invasion of Poland, the form of WWII had been set. Hitler beat Stalin to the punch and invaded Russia before the Soviets could consider invading Germany. Hitler's greatest ally was Stalin who had indulged his paranoia by regularly purging the Red Army. Stalin clearly distrusted his soldiers and was determined to remove the officers before they could conspire against him. He also continued the practice of embedding political officers in all Red Army units, to argue with the commanders and report any suspicions back to Moscow. That meant that the Red Army was ill-equipped to defend Russia's border with Germany against a Nazi attack. The result was that German troops advanced rapidly as they had in all the early battles of WWII. Their vulnerability was that their ultimate commander, Hitler, was a poor battle commander-in-chief who had suffered over confidence and failed to plan equipment for a campaign extending into and beyond a Russian Winter.

As the Germans rapidly advanced, the Nazis acted on their beliefs that Russians were sub-human and could be exterminated in the most brutal manner. Even after the early success and the gradual rise of the Red Army to force the invader westward, the massacres and excesses of the Nazis continued. The level of hatred from both sides was terrible and the Soviets began to return the brutality as they advanced west.

By the time the Red Army had crossed into Germany, Soviet atrocities continued to increase and the final battle or Berlin was set to be a bloodbath. Stalin encouraged this blood-lust and his generals were expected to deliver a rapid victory.

The author has assembled facts, opinions and memoirs of the Soviet generals and the officers below them, to paint a graphic picture of this devastating climax to the war on the Eastern Front. There may be other books to come on this period and some may match the comprehensive research and cogent presentation of this book, but they will have a very hard act to follow. Highly recommended.

The Disastrous Fall and Triumphant Rise Of The Fleet Air Arm From 1912 To 1945

B2118

“Sea Eagles Led By Penguins” may be unkind to penguins and also unfair to all those senior naval officers who fought hard to develop British naval aviation in the teeth of venial politicians and the envy of other services. By any measure, British sailors achieved amazing progress in the development of naval aviation and in influencing the wider aviation industry. Many of the first and the key technology developments were the product of serving officers. This book should be widely read because it lays out the inspiring story of how the British naval aviators have bounced back each time they have been let down by the politicians and how they have rallied in the face of significant odds in time of war, performing far beyond any reasonable expectations. Enjoy this well written story and learn from the lessons it sets out. The author is a born story teller and his engaging text is reinforced by two excellent photo plate sections.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: The Disastrous Fall and Triumphant Rise Of The Fleet Air Arm From 1912 To 1945
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2118
AUTHOR: Henry 'Hank' Adlam
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 224
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: 1912, WWI, First World War, Great War, World War One, between wars,WWII, World War Two, Second World War, naval aviation, RNAS, FAA, RN, RAF
ISBN: 1-47382-113-4
IMAGE: B2118.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/kb3fqbg
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: “Sea Eagles Led By Penguins” may be unkind to penguins and also unfair to all those senior naval officers who fought hard to develop British naval aviation in the teeth of venial politicians and the envy of other services. By any measure, British sailors achieved amazing progress in the development of naval aviation and in influencing the wider aviation industry. Many of the first and the key technology developments were the product of serving officers. This book should be widely read because it lays out the inspiring story of how the British naval aviators have bounced back each time they have been let down by the politicians and how they have rallied in the face of significant odds in time of war, performing far beyond any reasonable expectations. Enjoy this well written story and learn from the lessons it sets out. The author is a born story teller and his engaging text is reinforced by two excellent photo plate sections.

The origins of British naval are surprisingly vague and little known. British warships carried scientists to the far corners of the Earth in search of new flora and fauna, to map the islands and the continents and trek to the Poles. During these voyages of discovery birds were recorded in sketches and paintings and these visual records influenced the eventual design of aircraft and the developing understanding of the laws of aerodynamics. That age of discoveries began as early as the 16th Century as British sailors set out to establish trading opportunity.

One of the RN's premier frigate captains upset the French so much that he came to the attention of Napoleon, who dubbed him 'The Sea Wolf'. Cochrane was a colourful character who was also a businessman and Parliamentarian who fled English creditors to become Commander of the navies of Chile, Peru and Brazil as they rose up against rule from Spain. He also commanded the Greek Navy and returned to the RN to achieve his flag. One of the lesser know concepts developed by this extraordinary sailor was of aerial bombardment and the use of chemical weapons. He could therefore be considered the father of British naval aviation in the early years of the 19th Century.

During the American Civil War, foreign military observers were invited to see the battles between the Union and the Confederacy. Amongst those observers were RN officers and Royal Marines who were able to experience the use of captive balloons as gunnery observation and direction posts. In South Africa, during the Boer Wars, the RN landed guns to be mounted on carriages and used by sailors to support the British Army. These sailors used Army balloons to direct their guns. At sea, captive balloons presented many challenges and in 1903 the RN began a series of extensive trials using man-carrying kites built by the showman and aviation pioneer Cody who had come to Britain as a Wild West Show performer, fallen in love with the country and become a British citizen, setting up shop at the Army's balloon centre at Farnborough, building kites and developing a powered kite that became the first aeroplane built in Britain to achieve controlled flight in 1908. The RN kite experimenters formed a close relationship with Cody and a keen interest in his powered kite.

In 1909, Admiralty Estimates included the funding of the first RN airship. Mayfly was to prove a considerable failure. However, the RN was to learn much and develop some outstanding lighter-than-air ships that performed well during WWI, and also built the first airship aircraft carrier, able to launch Camel bi-plane fighters.

The author has chosen 1912 to start his story and 1945 to conclude it. There is a logic in selecting these dates, although there will be those who would prefer a different period.

By 1912, the politicians were keen to give all aviation capabilities to the Army and although the Flying Corps and Naval Air Service were expected to represent land and sea-based aviation, the operation was run by the War Office. Fortunately, the RN ignored the situation and continued to train naval officers as pilots. These pioneers were set the task of writing the manuals and setting tactical and strategic objectives for naval aviation. When the RN was given back its aircraft a month before the outbreak of WWI, it was already well prepared to swing into action, successfully dropping the first torpedo from an aircraft to celebrate the return of its aviation.

The Royal Naval Air Service entered the war with integrated aerial weapons systems and began bombing German targets and bringing down Zeppelin rigid airships. It also sank Turkish vessels with torpedoes, one by an aircraft that was still taxiing in the sea. Commercial companies built aircraft for the RNAS where the Army was initially forced to use the less than inspiring products of the Government Aircraft Factory. The RNAS also procured a fleet of rigid, semi-rigid and non-rigid airships that proved highly successful and inspired copies by other nations. Before the RN was again robbed of its aviation, by politicians who wanted to create the RAF in 1918, it had already built the first aircraft carrier to be specifically designed to serve as such and prepared a plan for a mass attack on the German Fleet in port. The plan was not implemented by the new RAF and then the Germans surrendered. The plan was however dusted down in 1940 and used against the Italian Fleet in port, to be later copied by the Japanese in their attack on Pearl Harbour.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the RN fell rapidly behind the US and Japan because the RAF failed to put any effort into naval aviation and the RN could only continue developing its carriers with Ark Royal (III) as a triumph of design and innovation before the outbreak of WWII. The RN also had a class of armoured carriers starting production and won back its aviation in 1937 in time to start correcting the result of the wasted years from 1918.

During WWII, the newly created Fleet Air Arm was to start converting from an all-biplane service to monoplanes and acquiring some excellent naval aircraft from the US. Carriers were built and new classes designed. The escort carrier replaced the CAM and MAC ships to provide an effective low cost carrier to provide convoy escorts and to work in hunter/killer groups with anti-submarine warships. During WWII, the FAA expanded dramatically and took the fight to the enemy. The performance was outstanding and the FAA with its carriers was a major naval force.

The author has ended his review of the Fleet Air Arm in 1945, but the battles and successes have continued since 1945. British naval aviators and the British aircraft industry has continued to innovate and lead in naval aviation with many firsts and the incredible Sea Harrier VSTOL fighter that was critical to liberating the Falkland Islands from the Argentine bandit invaders.

A Woman Living In The Shadow Of The Second World War, Helena Hall’s Journal From The Home Front

B2117

A vivid account of war on the Home Front and the life of an English village from 1940 to 1943. This is story that has been dwarfed by tales of courage and determination in battle. It is a story shared by millions for whom the war was a step removed from their lives, and yet as dominating as it was for those in uniform who fought at home or in a distant field. These previously unpublished diaries of an English woman surviving the war at home provides a fascinating insight into society and life. An absorbing story that has been lightly edited to retain all of the colour of Helena Hall's diaries and supported by a lively photo plate section that includes cartoons and images from the time.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: A Woman Living In The Shadow Of The Second World War, Helena Hall's Journal From The Home Front
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2117
AUTHOR: Helena Hall
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 268
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Home Front, cities, towns, civilians, society, ARP, local events, diary, personal, English village
ISBN: 1-47382-325-0
IMAGE: B2117.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ksc3rjp
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: A vivid account of war on the Home Front and the life of an English village from 1940 to 1943. This is story that has been dwarfed by tales of courage and determination in battle. It is a story shared by millions for whom the war was a step removed from their lives, and yet as dominating as it was for those in uniform who fought at home or in a distant field. These previously unpublished diaries of an English woman surviving the war at home provides a fascinating insight into society and life. An absorbing story that has been lightly edited to retain all of the colour of Helena Hall's diaries and supported by a lively photo plate section that includes cartoons and images from the time.

Somewhere, in a dusty attic or a book shelf in perhaps thousands of homes, there are diaries and notes still to be discovered from the traumatic period of WWII. This fine collection of diary entries from one English woman are now open to public gaze. So many people found time to jot down their thoughts and experiences of war at home, as did many a soldier in the field. In the latter case, the keeping of a diary was forbidden but frequently ignored. For civilians a diary was at least as much a solace, allowing thoughts and experiences to be examined in the quiet moments of the day, often with no intention of keeping this information for future generations.

This book presents the facets of war so often buried because the writer was a civilian, talking of life at home. It shows how the war intruded into every corner of life, even in an English village. There were so few men remaining at home, so many tasks that had to be performed by women and children as the local population worked to survive and to maintain some semblance of normality. There were all the new tasks of raising money and items for inclusion in parcels to those in uniform at war and as PoWs. The making of flags and posters, jam and cakes, helping at WRVS canteens. There were the impressions of war through listening to speeches, letters from loved ones in uniform, the bombing of cities and many changes to life. There were the shortages and the bombings, civil defence, ARP wardens, auxiliary firefighters, rationing, the reverses and successes reported from the battlefields.

This book provides a wonderful collection of impressions, views and insights from the view point of a civilian in the greatest war to be fought, where even at home, civilians were on the front line.

Deep Sea Attack, Battlefield Bombers

B2116

Another fine book from a prolific author who has established a reputation for good writing and thorough research. After years of relative neglect, the Coastal Command story is becoming popular and this is an outstanding example of the relative neglect being convincingly corrected. There are two excellent photo plate sections with some rare photographs and this is a book that provides a narrative of the Coastal Command story of long range maritime operations.

The author has covered the full story of the deep sea attack capabilities and operations of Coastal Command and made a very good job of it. This is an enjoyable and very informative book for all those interested in maritime warfare and aviation. Highly Recommended.

reviews.firetrench.com

adn.firetrench.com

bgn.firetrench.com

nthn.firetrench.com

ftd.firetrench.com

NAME: Deep Sea Attack, Battlefield Bombers
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2116
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 206
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, maritime warfare, naval aviation, coastal patrol, maritime patrol, maritime attack, convoys, U-boats, German surface warships, Battle of the Atlantic, search and rescue
ISBN: 1-78383-197-9
IMAGE: B2116.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/lchtyg6
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Another fine book from a prolific author who has established a reputation for good writing and thorough research. After years of relative neglect, the Coastal Command story is becoming popular and this is an outstanding example of the relative neglect being convincingly corrected. There are two excellent photo plate sections with some rare photographs and this is a book that provides a narrative of the Coastal Command story of long range maritime operations.

Coastal Command was a victim of the vicious political campaign conducted by the RAF to retain control of all British military aircraft. It is perhaps understandable that a military organization should strive to gather the maximum power and the biggest military empire because politicians are always looking to cut military budgets. What is less excusable is that the RAF sought total control but was only interested in making strategic bombardment its highest priority, with home defence interceptors as its secondary priority. In its other responsibilities, for naval aviation and army co-operation, received scandalously little attention. Happily, the Royal Navy was able to take back control of ship-based naval aviation in 1937, giving time to correct the neglect it had suffered since the creation of the RAF in 1918. The Army was less fortunate and entered WWII with a woefully poor support from the RAF, being confined mainly to Lysander short field observation aircraft, that were almost totally unarmed, and Fairy Battle light bombers that were sitting ducks for the Germans and promptly despatched by German fighters as the Blitz Krieg was launched on France and the Low Countries.

The unfortunate political omission was in leaving seaplanes and land-based patrol/attack aircraft in the hands of the RAF. This was to cause many lives to be lost on the North Atlantic convoy routes because the Coastal Command aircraft were unable to provide reconnaissance, attack and fighter defence the whole way across the Atlantic. A very large coverage gap enabled the Germans to support their U-boats with long range patrol aircraft that reported the position and track of every convoy, were able to directly attack some merchant ships, and allowed the U-boats to spend much of their time on the surface where their speed was very much higher, batteries could be kept fully changed, and the submarines could be vectored onto the convoys in maximum numbers. None of this was the fault of Coastal Command because it was as much a victim of RAF priorities as the warships and merchantmen they should have fully supported. It is also difficult to be too hard on the RAF. Some senior officers were too political. Having hung on to maritime patrol, the RAF clearly did not have the funds to cover all their responsibilities and the Royal Navy might have faced similar problems had it acquired all naval aviation duties. However, the RN fully understood the urgent need for maritime patrol and attack aircraft and would have fought hard for extra funding, not least because they were also fully aware of the naval need and the other naval assets that would have to work with naval aviation.

The aircrews performed magnificently. They made the most of the inadequate equipment available to them and demonstrated the highest courage in pressing attacks against fierce opposition. That elan was to continue through WWII with growing successes as Coastal Command began to receive the equipment it so desperately needed. That allowed the Atlantic Air Gap to be closed and made it very difficult for U-boats attempting to leave their French bases, or to return. When on patrol, they were constantly threatened by Coastal Command aircraft and were forced to remain submerged for prolonged periods, making them significantly less able to conduct war on the convoys.

The ability to operate long range operations was extremely limited in 1939. The Avro Anson trainer and the army co-operation Lysander were both pressed into service to provide at least some equipment for coastal patrol and in 1940, after the evacuation from Dunkirk, this was increasingly required for anti-invasion patrols. The Lysander was modified to have a twin plate tailplane to enable the fitting of a four gun power operated turret from straffing German troops as they came ashore. That is some indication of the level of desperation. The biplane flying boats that were on strength did have longer range but were far from satisfactory, most being biplane aircraft of a past age.

The Sunderland flying boat was a happy exception having been developed from the Empire C passenger flying boat. It therefore offered a dependable four engine monoplane with good range and defensive guns in power operated turrets. The Germans referred to it as the 'Flying Porcupine' and its reputation was such that an unarmed Sunderland on a ferry flight was able to drive off a heavily armed German fighter by a crew member firing a 'Tommy Gun' from one of the empty turrets. Flying close to the water, the Sunderland was very difficult to shoot down and very able to defend itself. What it lacked was the fire power in the nose to keep U-boat flack gunners' heads down during an attack run. This was addressed by adding fixed machine guns in the hull, firing forward under the control of the pilot. One challenge in a flying boat was to add a bomb bay. The Sunderland addressed this by carrying bombs on trolleys that ran on tracks in the underside of both wings. These were winched out through opening hatches in the hull, prior to an attack.

The American PBY-5 Catalina was a popular Coastal Command aircraft, acquired both in the flying boat and amphibious forms. A twin engined aircraft in widespread US use, the Catalina was able to operate for up to twenty hours on its internal fuel. It did carry offensive weapons on underwing racks, but it had only light defensive armament and excelled as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft, one relocating the Bismark as she tried to evade the British warships hunting her.

Radar and search lights were added to the more modern aircraft and this gave them a considerable advantage in hunting enemy ships and submarines. However, what was to give Coastal Command a credible long range patrol and attack capability was the introduction of four engine heavy bombers and the twin engine Mosquito and Beaufighter. Unlike flying boats, these aircraft were able to carry bombs in an internal bomb bay and a variety of offensive weapons under their wings and fuselage. The Mosquito and Beaufighter proved highly effective against surfaced U-boats and surface warships, having a heavy forward firing gun armament. The twin engine Hudson and the four engine heavy bombers were also suitable for modification to carry a large lifeboat that could be dropped to survivors in the sea, keeping them secure until flying boats or ships could reach them.

The author has covered the full story of the deep sea attack capabilities and operations of Coastal Command and made a very good job of it. This is an enjoyable and very informative book for all those interested in maritime warfare and aviation. Highly Recommended.