Deep Sea Hunters, RAF Coastal Command and the War Against the U-boats and the German Navy 1939-1945

B2115

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 from its shaky start, its rapid development, and its growing success to the end of WWII in Europe.

The author has cover the full story 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.

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NAME: Deep Sea Hunters, RAF Coastal Command and the War Against the U-boats and the German Navy 1939-1945
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2115
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 210
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: 1-78383-196-0
IMAGE: B2115.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/kqbbt5w
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 from its shaky start, its rapid development, and its growing success to the end of WWII in Europe.

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 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.

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.

Before the supply caught up with Coastal Command demand, the RN was forced to desperate methods, starting with mounting worn-out RAF Hurricanes on catapults fixed to the fore part of merchant ships. This was close to suicide missions because, once launched, the pilot had nowhere to land and the convoys could not stop to pick up pilots. The best hope was that a rescue tug following a convoy would reach a downed pilot before he died in the freezing ocean – a faint hope. However, the Catapult Aircraft Merchant ship system did dissuade some Luftwaffe maritime patrol aircraft from remaining in the area and denied reports to the U-boats. The MAC ships then offered pilots the possibility of somewhere to return to after launch. Fitting a fight deck to a merchant ship allowed a handful of Swordfish torpedo bombers and a handful of Wildcat fighters to be carried, but there was little protection for the embarked aircraft because there was no hanger deck below, the merchant ship retaining its cargo holds to carry vital supplies to Britain. The escort carrier was to give FAA crews the facilities needed for arduous Atlantic convoys and eventually, as numbers increased, hunter killer groups of escort carriers and anti-submarine warships could roam free of the convoys and accounted for many U-boat kills. This did not diminish the need for adequate Command Command support.

As the war continued, Coastal Command began to receive the very capable twin engine Beaufighter with heavy gun armament and the ability to carry bombs, depth bombs, torpedoes or unguided rockets. This was a dependable and rugged attack aircraft. The Mosquito also became available and a small number carried the 57 mm Mollins gun and 20 mm canon, but most were equipped with bombs or rockets. This equipment was light years on from the the handful of obsolete bombers and training aircraft that Coastal Command started the war with. In fairness there were some early exceptions because the Sunderland flying boat proved very successful, the modified US Electra passenger aircraft, the Hudson in RAF service, was a surprising success, and the British Whitley medium bomber may have been obsolescent as a strategic bomber in 1939 but it proved a good platform for maritime purposes and was an early radar-equipped attack aircraft that was also manned by FAA crews.

Coastal Command was to benefit from the supply of American aircraft, flying the B-24, B-17 and PBY5 with great success. These aircraft had long range and could carry useful bomb loads. As the Bomber Command needs were met, British heavy bombers were transferred to Coastal Command, including the superlative Lancaster.

The author has cover the full story 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.

Despatches From The Front, Far East Air Operations 1942-1945

B2114

Another addition to the excellent range of primary source information drawn from a careful selection of despatches. The text is very well supported by an interesting photo plate section and the authors/editors are to be commended for producing a work that provides a direct insight into the thoughts, fears, beliefs and actions of senior commanders in what was a very important theatre of operations. Once again this author/editor teaming has delivered an excellent and very well researched work.

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NAME: Despatches From The Front, Far East Air Operations 1942-1945
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2114
AUTHOR: John Grehan, Martin Mace
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 248
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Far East Theatre, air operations, fight back, defeating Japan, PoW relief, Battle of Imphal, Battle for Rangoon, air power, primary sources
ISBN: 1-78346-212-4
IMAGE: B2114.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/pguq5gg
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Another addition to the excellent range of primary source information drawn from a careful selection of despatches. The text is very well supported by an interesting photo plate section and the authors/editors are to be commended for producing a work that provides a direct insight into the thoughts, fears, beliefs and actions of senior commanders in what was a very important theatre of operations. Once again this author/editor teaming has delivered an excellent and very well researched work.

For the European nations with colonies and dependencies in the Far East, the Japanese threat was difficult to address. France and the Netherlands were occupied by the Germans and the British Empire was standing alone until the Japanese obligingly attacked the US at Pearl Harbour.

Britain was ill-equipped in terms of both troops and equipment, priority being given to the defence of the British Isles, and then the defence of the Suez Canal. That meant that the British Empire had sent personnel to the British Isles and to North Africa, further reducing the assets available to challenge the Japanese expansion. Where the North African campaign was receiving older equipment, some of which was still capable and not yet obsolescent, the Far East was receiving virtually nothing and having to maintain very old aircraft, some being ex-naval biplanes that were little faster then WWI aircraft.

When the US came into the war, it saw the Pacific as its own sphere of influence and was initially little better prepared than the British Empire. This allowed the Japanese to expand very rapidly, even threatening India and Australia. The start of 1942 saw little difference, with the Allies continuing to fall back. However, as 1942 moved on, newer and more capable equipment began to reach the beleaguered Allied Forces. Much more capable aircraft were transferred and the air operations were able to develop with aircraft that were on equal terms with Japanese aircraft. The tide slowly began to turn and the pace picked up as the victory in North Africa freed troops and aircraft for deployment to the Far East. Into 1945 and the Victory in Europe allowed Britain to begin transferring warships and aircraft to the Far East, and to send out heavier equipment and troops to the land war.

One considerable advance was provided by the Task Force of RN warships sent East, including battle-tested carriers that were far more resistant to suicide attack than the US carriers, and equipped with the latest carrier aircraft. This Fleet was incorporated into the US Pacific Fleet as a Task Force and began operations by halting the production and transport of fuel from the Indo-China oil fields. Air power was also critical to the operation of very large Special Forces units operating deep behind Japanese lines.

This book provides a unique set of views from the commanders involved in the Air War in the Far East. Essential reading for military history enthusiasts, but also a fascinatingly different set of insights for those wishing to develop their knowledge and appreciation of WWII.

Despatches From The Front, The War in Italy 1943-1944

B2113

Another addition to the excellent range of primary source information drawn from a careful selection of despatches. The text is very well supported by an interesting photo plate section and the authors/editors are to be commended for producing a work that provides a direct insight into the thoughts, fears, beliefs and actions of senior commanders in what was a very important theatre of operations.

This book provides a unique set of views from the commanders involved in the Italian Campaign. Essential reading for military history enthusiasts, but also a fascinatingly different set of insights for those wishing to develop their knowledge and appreciation of WWII.

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NAME: Despatches From The Front, The War in Italy 1943-1944
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2113
AUTHOR: John Grehan, Martin Mace
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 292
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, European Theatre, Italy, soft underbelly, 2nd Front, slow slog, primary sources
ISBN: 1-78346-213-2
IMAGE: B2113.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ocqoqmx
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Another addition to the excellent range of primary source information drawn from a careful selection of despatches. The text is very well supported by an interesting photo plate section and the authors/editors are to be commended for producing a work that provides a direct insight into the thoughts, fears, beliefs and actions of senior commanders in what was a very important theatre of operations.

At the time, the Italian campaign was much derided, with a popular song describing the troops as D-Day Dodgers on holiday in sunny Italy. That was also Stalin's opinion. Churchill has been over-quoted as talking of Italy as the soft underbelly which is not exactly what he believed. The result is that the Italian campaign has received much less coverage that it deserved and the courage of Allied Forces there has been under-valued.

After the complete victory in North Africa, the Allies already had considerable military assets a short distance from Scilly and Italy. The Germans and Italians had been in retreat to Italy and rifts were already opening between the two Axis powers. Landing an invasion force on Scilly and then on the Italian mainland was a very logical step, keeping the pressure on Germany after its North African defeat. It also achieved the overturning of the Fascists in Italy and for the Italians to come over to the Allied side. That was a major propaganda coup and assisted both in the occupation of Southern Italy by the Allies and the relentless advance North. Italy was the real second front that Stalin had been calling for and it was practical at a time when much still had to be done to prepare for a successful landing in Normandy.

The Italian campaign tied down important numbers of German troops and Panzer forces that would otherwise have been available to the Germans in defending the Channel coast. It also consumed large quantities of ammunition, fuel and supplies, which Germany could ill-afford.

The weather conditions in Italy were often harsh and unforgiving, unlike the claims in the popular song. The fighting was also fierce and the Germans expended great effort in slowing down the Allied advance. When D-Day arrived, the presence of Allied forces in Italy assisted in making landings in Southern France to further pressure the Germans. Without the forces in Italy, the Germans would have been able to both strengthen defences in southern France, and threaten any Allied forces, that landed in southern France, with a flank attack.

This book provides a unique set of views from the commanders involved in the Italian Campaign. Essential reading for military history enthusiasts, but also a fascinatingly different set of insights for those wishing to develop their knowledge and appreciation of WWII.

Get Stranded at the Maritime Museum

Joanna Atherton - Flotsam Weaver

The saying goes that one person’s trash is another’s treasure and that is certainly the case with a new exhibition opening on February 2 at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth.

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Stranded features the work of artist Joanna Atherton, who creates colourful tapestries from fishing line, netting, rope and other unexpected items left washed up on our beaches by the great ocean currents.

Joanna’s weavings command a closer look. The orphaned objects, a miniscule fraction of the millions of tonnes of marine litter that enter our seas every year, are rescued and gathered together to tell new stories.

 

Joanna says: “I don’t know whether an obsessive personality is a prerequisite of the diligent beachcomber, or if I am stirring up something much older; a primeval instinct from our hunter gatherer days. Either way, I am leaving the beach a little bit cleaner as a result of my flotsam weaving.”

 

Tehmina Goskar, Exhibitions Registrar at the Maritime Museum says: “The Maritime Museum has been wanting to highlight the serious and growing problem of marine litter in our seas for some time. Jo's highly original and thoughtful flotsam tapestries presented us with a great opportunity to explore the detritus that washes up on our beaches in a playful and unexpected way. I hope Stranded will make our visitors think differently when they are next taking a stroll on the coast.

 

I am also delighted to be able to feature clips from the film, The Wrecking Season, made in 2005 by Jane Darke, and featuring Cornish playwright and beachcomber Nick Darke. Fossicking, the Cornish word for beachcombing, is an important part of our maritime heritage and Jane and Nick Darke have portrayed this beautifully in their heart-warming film.”

 

As well as the opportunity to view Joanna’s tapestries, visitors to the exhibition can also contribute to their own flotsam creation. Visitors are invited to choose from a selection of found objects including bubble wands, fishing lures and flowers or bring along their own pieces of flotsam to add to a lobster pot art installation.

 

Joanna says: “For as long as I can recall, walks on the beach would result in me proudly gathering an assortment of treasures and well-travelled trinkets. I am awestruck by the disparate collection of flotsam I find on the high water mark of British beaches and am continually fascinated by their origins.

 

After one particularly cold walk on the beach gathering a collection of coloured fishing lines, tattered fabrics, worn driftwood and distressed rope, it occurred to me that these would make an exciting tapestry. By weaving these items together into one composition, I could consider their stories – where did they come from? Who did they belong to? How long have they been at sea?”

 

The Stranded exhibition opens on 2 February and runs until 5 July at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth.

The Mighty Eighth At War, USAAF 8th Air Force Versus the Luftwaffe 1943-1945

B2112

The Allied bomber crews and the German U-boat crews suffered appalling casualties, both groups tasked with fighting a broadly similar battle in that their task was to deny the enemy the equipment of war and blockade against raw materials. The commanders considered that they could win the war without troops, but both were to be disappointed, final victory only being confirmed by the Allies placing their boots on German soil. However, it can be argued that the U-boats came close to cutting supplies to Britain and the Allied strategic bombing campaign significantly reduced the enemy's ability to wage war. The author has produced a fine account of the operations of the Mighty 8th, two fine photo plate sections, crisp and well researched text and a comprehensive review of the subject makes this a highly desirable book on the air war in Europe. It will also be appreciated by those Americans who come to Europe to visit the old airfields and other remains of the battle members of their family fought in.

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NAME: The Mighty Eighth At War, USAAF 8th Air Force Versus the Luftwaffe 1943-1945
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2112
AUTHOR: Martin W Bowman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 282
PRICE: £16.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, European Theatre, Eastern England, Germany, heavy bomber, fighter escorts, tactical aircraft, D-day
ISBN: 1-47382-277-7
IMAGE: B2112.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/nw25dcf
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The Allied bomber crews and the German U-boat crews suffered appalling casualties, both groups tasked with fighting a broadly similar battle in that their task was to deny the enemy the equipment of war and blockade against raw materials. The commanders considered that they could win the war without troops, but both were to be disappointed, final victory only being confirmed by the Allies placing their boots on German soil. However, it can be argued that the U-boats came close to cutting supplies to Britain and the Allied strategic bombing campaign significantly reduced the enemy's ability to wage war. The author has produced a fine account of the operations of the Mighty 8th, two fine photo plate sections, crisp and well researched text and a comprehensive review of the subject makes this a highly desirable book on the air war in Europe. It will also be appreciated by those Americans who come to Europe to visit the old airfields and other remains of the battle members of their family fought in.

This is a stirring story of Anglo-American co-operation at its best. The Mighty 8th was formed when the US entered the Second World War at its half way point. Aircraft and crews were poured into Britain and particularly into Eastern England. USAAF and RAF airfields were built at seven mile intervals, turning Britain into a concrete aircraft carrier moored off the German coast. With the RAF operating mainly at night without fighter escort, and the USAAF operating in daylight with long range fighter escort, the Allies could bomb round the clock and this was to develop into massive raids that created fire storms of immense destructive power.

The WWII bombing campaign by the Allies was the first air campaign to attempt to defeat an enemy by air power. The 8th Air Force arrived in Britain and began operations at the time when the RAF had been re-equipped with a new generation of bombers and were able to mount massive night time raids over Germany. The RAF decided to bomb at night because the bombers lacked long range fighter escorts and were unable to adequately defend against day fighters. The weakness of RAF bomb sights was being addressed, with radar to be added shortly to Lancasters, but special Pathfinder Squadrons were established to carry out target marking with flares for the main force following and bombing on the flares. The Lancaster was able to carry a substantial bomb load and even the twin engine high speed two seat Mosquito was able to carry a bomb load equal to the first USAAF heavy bombers.

The USAAF had two advantages that made daylight bombing acceptable. The Norden bomb sight made daylight precision bombing possible and therefore potentially reduced wasted bomb payloads by placing most bombs directly on the intended target and with a lower level of collateral damage. The other advantage was that much of the sortie would be accompanied by escort fighters to reduce the risks from enemy fighters. However, the early bombing raids were not escorted all the way to the target and the Germans learned to engage the escorts early, forcing them to drop their external fuel tanks to engage in combat and thereby shortening the escort range significantly. It was not until the arrival of the P-51D Mustang that a full escort was achieved even to the most distant German targets. It also took many raids before the USAAF bombers were adequately armed with defensive firepower. The B-17 Flying Fortress was initially equipped with mainly hand-held .50 cal heavy machine guns. By the G model, this armament had been increased and typically included a tail turret, ventral twin gun ball turret, twin gun dorsal turret, twin gun chin turret and a number of hand-held mounts in the waist and at other locations, the latter often field modifications. There was also an attempt to add gunships to bomber formations by adapting some B-17s to carry extra guns and large amounts of extra ammunition, together with additional crew members to man the guns, in place of carrying bombs. This proved ineffective because the gunships were unable to maintain the same speed as the bombers.

The very high casualty rate suffered by all Allied bomber crews was a major problem but morale held and crews pressed home their attacks in the face of fierce opposition. The author has explained, including first hand accounts, how the American bomber force helped the fight to victory by integrating operations with the RAF, where the strengths of both forces were used to complement each other, decimating German industry, transport systems and breaking the Nazi war spirit. There have been those who have claimed the bombing campaign was far less effective, with German production output increasing, civilians facing up to the terrors of bombing, and huge losses suffered by Allied crews to little real effect. The author has debunked those claims through solid research and presentation of the realities. It is fair to say that air power alone would not have achieved victory, but the bombing campaign slowed the development of new German weapons, disrupted production of war supplies significantly, destroyed communications and interrupted the movement of troops and armour, destroyed U-boats as they were being assembled, and weakened the Germans sufficiently to permit the Normandy landings, which were inevitably a high risk operation, and support the advance into Germany. This book is a fitting tribute to the young Americans who fought high in the skies over Europe.

Images of War, Battleships of the United States Navy, rare photographs from wartime archives

B2111

This is another title in the fine range of Images of War series. The series stands on the careful selection of rare archive images, but each title is more than a photo essay. There is crisp text to support the image selection in telling the story. In this issue, there are some excellent colour images with the mainly monochrome selection. Enthusiasts and model makers are very well served by the image selection, but this is a very affordable book that is very useful to the younger reader, or anyone wishing to develop knowledge in this area of warfare and technology.

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NAME: Images of War, Battleships of the United States Navy, rare photographs from wartime archives
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2111
AUTHOR: Michael Green
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 189
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: American Civil War, USS Monitor, Main Class, WWII, World War Two, Second World War, battleships, capital ships, armoured ships, naval artillery, Pearl Harbour, new-build, 16 in gun, missiles, anti-aircraft guns
ISBN: 1-78303-035-6
IMAGE: B2111.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/omua9y6
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This is another title in the fine range of Images of War series. The series stands on the careful selection of rare archive images, but each title is more than a photo essay. There is crisp text to support the image selection in telling the story. In this issue, there are some excellent colour images with the mainly monochrome selection. Enthusiasts and model makers are very well served by the image selection, but this is a very affordable book that is very useful to the younger reader, or anyone wishing to develop knowledge in this area of warfare and technology.

The book covers USN battleships from early battleships, through Dreadnoughts and Super Dreadnoughts, to the final Fast Battleships. For a Navy that was first to build steam-powered armoured battleships with turret guns, the USN failed to build the finest examples of capital ships. The Civil War Monitor was a very low freeboard armoured vessel with a single turret, mounting 10 in muzzle-loading guns. It did fight the first battle between steam armoured battleships, when it engaged the CSN Virginia. It was an indecisive engagement in coastal waters and neither vessel was well-suited to operation in deeper water, leaving the duty of line of battle to wooden sailing ships little advanced from the first vessels commissioned by the new United States of America. The first ships were large frigates, designed to attack pirates, rather than true line-of-battle-ships in the class of European warship employed in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. Even the Maine of 1886 was really a second class battleship or armoured cruiser. Like most other navies, the USN operated armoured ships with a selection of guns in various calibres, until the launch of the revolutionary British HMS Dreadnought. For its day, Dreadnought was a very fast ship with a main armament in a number of identical two-gun turrets, with consistent armour. Overnight, Dreadnought rendered every other battleship obsolete and started an arms race.

The USN then began to commission “Dreadnoughts” and followed the general design trend, but USN battleships were not the most powerful, or even good blue water vessels. Perhaps the challenge was in identifying how the ships would be used, or against which other navies.

US battleships rarely offered sleek lines or good sea-keeping, relative to the British, French and German equivalents. There were several 'American' features, such as the unusual circular cross section lattice masts that looked as though they were topped with a garden shed. Part of the challenge was that the USN did not have experience of fighting this class of vessel and even WWI did not change this because the Germans remained in port after the Battle of Jutland and the US entered the war close to its end.

Not much changed in the years between the World Wars. USN battleships were at best competent and none could really be considered inspiring designs, although guns, turrets and gun aiming steadily improved.

When the Japanese destroyed a large percentage of US battleships in the Pearl Harbour attack, the US had the opportunity to build replacements that were significant advances. The final USN vessels of the Iowa Class were attractive ships with 16 in guns, spotter aircraft, fleet speed and radar. They were still smaller gunned by the Japanese super battleships with their 18 in guns, but the time of the naval big gun was already passing. As with the British Royal Navy, the USN strength was already in aircraft carriers and carrier planes.

After WWII, several navies continued to keep battle ships in service, but primarily as a display of naval power, ceremonial ships that were not expected to face other battleships. The Iowa Class was to continue on in service, operate in Vietnam War and in the 1990/91 Gulf War. By this stage, the main guns still offered effective shore bombardment weapons, augmented by cruise missile batteries and retaining a reduced complement of anti-aircraft guns.

The author has provided an interesting history of USN battleships and the rare photographs illustrate the development of the type during the first half of the 20th Century. Even in the final class, the USN had not matched British design. The KGV Class outperformed the Iowa Class as ships and the war emergency HMS Vanguard, built quickly, cheaply and armed with old guns landed from battleships converted to aircraft carriers, was a far better sea-keeper, able to operate in conditions that the Iowas could not. Considering how well the USN did in the specification and operation of its destroyers, cruisers and carriers, perhaps the conclusion is that it never took the battleship to its heart.

Images of War, Coastal Command’s Air War Against the German U-boat, rare photographs from wartime archives

B2110

The story of how the RAF fought to deny the Royal Navy control of naval aviation is more damging because the RAF had little interest in providing adequate aircraft. Fortunately, the RN was able to regain control of shipboard aircraft before the start of WWII and had always retained control of development and deployment of aircraft carriers. However, the RAF managed to convince the politicians to let them keep flying boats and land aircraft for maritime patrol and attack. They then gave this duty the lowest priority for re-equipment. That shameful neglect was to a degree compensated by the extreme courage of RAF aircrew who were charged initially with a task for which they lacked adequate equipment. This book tells the positive story in concise text and outstanding photographs. Whatever politicians and senior RAF officers may have thought in 1939, the RAF story is incomplete without the inspiring story of the crews of Coastal Command.

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NAME: Images of War, Coastal Command's Air War Against the German U-boat, rare photographs from wartime archives
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2110
AUTHOR: Norman Franks
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 356
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, U-boats, anti-submarine warfare, convoy defence, reconnaissance, maritime surveillance, bombs, depth bombs, radar, search light, Leigh Light
ISBN: 1-78383-183-9
IMAGE: B2110.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/p58gpmy
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The story of how the RAF fought to deny the Royal Navy control of naval aviation is more damaging because the RAF had little interest in providing adequate aircraft. Fortunately, the RN was able to regain control of shipboard aircraft before the start of WWII and had always retained control of development and deployment of aircraft carriers. However, the RAF managed to convince the politicians to let them keep flying boats and land aircraft for maritime patrol and attack. They then gave this duty the lowest priority for re-equipment. That shameful neglect was to a degree compensated by the extreme courage of RAF aircrew who were charged initially with a task for which they lacked adequate equipment. This book tells the positive story in concise text and outstanding photographs. Whatever politicians and senior RAF officers may have thought in 1939, the RAF story is incomplete without the inspiring story of the crews of Coastal Command.

Coastal Command started the war with an odd job collection of biplanes and aircraft built as trainers and passenger aircraft. The most serious deficiency was the total lack of long range aircraft that could provide cover to convoys for the full width of the Atlantic. Initially, the air gap was considerable and helped only by the occupation of Iceland which allowed an extension of cover from the British Isles. In spite of this situation, Coastal Command crews began to make a mark. One Hudson, a conversion of the Lockheed Electra twin engine passenger plane, even managed to capture a U-boat, forcing it to surface and holding it until surface vessels could reach it and bring it in to an Allied harbour.

As the war progressed, the RN started to fill the Gap using escort carriers and MAC ships to shadow and attack U-boats, and to fight off German maritime patrol aircraft. The RAF then began to receive more heavy bombers from American and British factories than it could use in the strategic bombing of German. These modern surplus aircraft were handed down to Coastal Command and closed the Gap. The B-24 Liberator proved a very successful maritime patrol aircraft and was later joined by B-17 Flying Fortresses sent to the RAF, but not required as bombers, and the outstanding Avro Lancaster.

There were some notable successes and surprise performers. The Sunderland flying boat, derived from the Empire Class passenger aircraft, proved highly successful. The Whitley bomber was obsolescent at the start of WWII as a strategic bomber, but proved a very suitable maritime patrol and attack aircraft. As mentioned above, the tubby Hudson was also a great success.

This book contains some rare photographs of Coastal Command aircraft and crew and their quarry, the U-boats and their crews. This is a great book. It tells an under-told story well, and it is not only applicable to enthusiasts, but a very useful introduction for the new reader of air war books.

Glider Pilots at Arnhem

B2109

The research is impeccable, the writing very readable, the illustrations first class. This book is a must for anyone with an interest in airborne forces and vertical insertion of troops, essential to anyone wishing to understand the fight from Normandy to German soil. It is an inspiring story and an absorbing tale. There really isn't much else a reader could expect of a book, except a great price, which it is.

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NAME: Glider Pilots at Arnhem
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2109
AUTHOR: Mike Peters, Luuk Buist
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 356
PRICE: £16.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, PoW, Airborne Forces, paratroops, gliders, glider pilots, assault glider, Market Garden, Arnheim, light infantry
ISBN: 1-47382-279-3
IMAGE: B2109.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ownamc2
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DESCRIPTION: The research is impeccable, the writing very readable, the illustrations first class. This book is a must for anyone with an interest in airborne forces and vertical insertion of troops, essential to anyone wishing to understand the fight from Normandy to German soil. It is an inspiring story and an absorbing tale. There really isn't much else a reader could expect of a book, except a great price, which it is.

A great deal of film and print has been devoted to the airborne troops who landed in France at the start of D-Day. Even more space has been devoted to both the land and airborne elements of Market Garden, a courageous and innovative plan to seize the bridges and highway through Holland and into Germany. Many have suggested that the final bridge at Arnheim was a disaster and that the operation failed. Certainly, the final objective was not achieved, but military operations with far less achievement have been hailed a success.

The strange thing about the coverage of airborne operations, that has received little coverage, is the story of the gliders and their pilots. The aircrew of the DC-3 and C-47 transports left the relative comfort of their bases in England, flew to the drop zones and discharged their cargoes of paratroopers and supplies. Then they flew home to a well-earned meal and a rest in the relative tranquillity of their home bases. Perhaps not quite that idyllic in reality. The threat of fighters and anti-aircraft guns was present for much of the sortie and aircraft were lost, their crews becoming PoWs or casualties of war. Those that returned to base got to do it all over again and, on subsequent sorties, the enemy knew they would be coming and the German defences became even more of a threat. However, for most transport aircraft, the crews survived and never came closer to German troops than at the drop zone altitude.

For the glider pilots it was very different. They faced the same opposition on the way to the landing zone that their comrades in the transports faced, but it was a one way trip. Once the glider had come to rest, the pilots became light infantry and joined the fight on the ground. Today in an age of vertical insertion and extraction by helicopter, or tilt rotor aircraft, and the ability to move airborne forces around the battlefield by helicopter, the paratrooper is becoming a rare beast to be used on specialist high-value targets, and the glider has passed into history. As a result, many will wonder why gliders were used. The answer is a little more complex. One factor behind the development of the assault glider was cost and strategic materials. A wood and canvas glider could be produced at a fraction of the cost of a Dakota transport without consuming much by way of scarce strategic materials. It could be built by any organization that was able to work with wood. Some would build complete gliders and others would build components that were collected and distributed to those who could complete a glider. The glider required a tug, but there were many obsolete and obsolescent bombers that were no longer required for bombing, but had the engine power to haul a fully loaded glider off the deck. However, that was a long way short of the full story.

A glider could be towed in a bomber stream and achieve a high degree of surprise, Once cast off from its tug, it was near silent in its final approach. The only disadvantage was that operational reasons often required gliders to be landed in areas that were far from suitable, and at night. That meant that quite a few pilots and gliders became casualties in landing and sometimes also destroyed their troops and equipment. However, the major weakness of the glider was that it was a fragile structure that was unable to take off and return to base. The Germans had used gliders very successfully in the early stages of the war but were motivated to both arm their assault gliders and fit rockets and engines to give them some prospect of return to base. The Allies concentrated on unpowered and unarmed gliders, ensuring that the pilots must join the troops in fighting on the ground. There were also efforts to build larger gliders to carry vehicles and to built armoured vehicles that could be carried into battle in the largest gliders. The only exception was where the US experimented with recovery systems that enabled a powered transport to snatch a glider back into the air and this technique was used with some success after WWII during the Berlin airlift, but the helicopter was already showing the promise to make the glider obsolete.

Arnheim created a significant challenge to planners, because even by using gliders, there were insufficient aircraft to deliver all of the British airborne forces in a single wave. The gliders in the first wave performed their duty and were then stranded in the battle zone, while the powered transports returned to base to collect more paratroopers and equipment and for tugs to haul a new wave of gliders. To find the most suitable landing zones, the paratroopers jumped into drop zones near to the gliders, and the gliders were forced to land on barely suitable ground, some distance from the bridge. As the number of jeeps being delivered by glider were few in number, the troops mostly had to advance on foot and, as they moved forward, the Germans faced little opposition as they tried to take the landing zones and deny them to any further wave of paratroops and gliders. The airborne forces adapted quickly to the difficult and confused conditions, reached their target and were able to hold out longer than they had be asked to do. As the land advance to relieve them slowed in the face of strong opposition, the airborne troops ended up holding out for an amazing period without heavy weapons and some of the force was eventually able to escape.

The authors have done a very good job of telling the story of how the glider pilots performed their first duty in landing their cargoes in the LZ, and then fought on in a determined attempt to achieve and hold all objectives. In this remarkable fight, the Glider Pilots Regiment suffered the highest casualty rates, from which it was not to recover. That their story has not previously been told in detail is a disgrace, but this book fully corrects this historical deficiency. It is one of the most important battle stories of WWII.

Tyneside Scottish, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd (service) Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers

B2104

This is a very interesting story, with many fine images through the text, all in monochrome.

One of the most curious aspects of the British Army is the nature of its units and their relationship. The basic regiments have been recruited from relatively small geographic areas, most frequently English Counties. In Scotland similar units were raised on much the same basis, although there was a clan element in several Scottish regiments. The result was that regiments often gave way to the particular fashions of the time and the likings of the Colonel. For some reason, several English regiments adopted kilts and include few if any Scots in their ranks. That may not in itself been so strange because the kilt and tartans was largely a romantic invention of the Victorians. The authors have traced the origins and formation of one of those kilted English regiments and its conduct in the Great War.

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NAME: Tyneside Scottish, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd (service) Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers
DATE: 021214
FILE: R2104
AUTHOR: Graham Stewart, John Sheen
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 402
PRICE: £30.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, First World War, Great War, Western Front, trench warfare, artillery, kilts, infantry, Northumberland
ISBN: 1-47382-301-3
IMAGE: B2104.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ltojng2
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DESCRIPTION: One of the most curious aspects of the British Army is the nature of its units and their relationship. The basic regiments have been recruited from relatively small geographic areas, most frequently English Counties. In Scotland similar units were raised on much the same basis, although there was a clan element in several Scottish regiments. The result was that regiments often gave way to the particular fashions of the time and the likings of the Colonel. For some reason, several English regiments adopted kilts and include few if any Scots in their ranks. That may not in itself been so strange because the kilt and tartans was largely a romantic invention of the Victorians. The authors have traced the origins and formation of one of those kilted English regiments and its conduct in the Great War.

This is a very interesting story, with many fine images through the text, all in monochrome.

Very few of those serving in the Tyneside Scottish were even of Scottish descent. Most were drawn from the villages and pits across Northumberland. They fought with determination and courage in a terrible war of attrition.

The story is not just of battles and a regiment, but of the people who served and some of whom were detached to other units. There is a nominal Roll of Officers and entries for those who received Gallantry Awards, including a photograph and details of the award. This is a fine piece of research that will be enjoyed particularly by enthusiasts and those with family in or from Northumberland.

A German General on the Eastern Front, The Letters and Diaries of Gotthard Heinrici 1941-1942

B2108

General Heinrici is not a well-know German commander of WWII, at least in terms of others such as Rommel, but he was a very able officer. He was a professional soldier who commanded a Corps during the first two years of the War on the Eastern Front. He therefore provides a very valuable insight into the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the initial lightning successes, the first shock of a Russian winter and the blunting of the German thrusts in a vast territory. The author/editor has made a selection of the General's papers and diary records that provide a very candid insight into the war on that front, together with Hurter's perceptive introduction. A fascinating view and rewarding for the reader.

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NAME: A German General on the Eastern Front, The Letters and Diaries of Gotthard Heinrici 1941-1942
DATE: 081214
FILE: R2108
AUTHOR: Johannes Hurter
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 163
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, PoW, Poland, Operation Barbarossa, Eastern Europe, Russia, Red Army, Eastern Front
ISBN: 1-78159-396-5
IMAGE: B2108.jpg
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DESCRIPTION: General Heinrici is not a well-know German commander of WWII, at least in terms of others such as Rommel, but he was a very able officer. He was a professional soldier who commanded a Corps during the first two years of the War on the Eastern Front. He therefore provides a very valuable insight into the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the initial lightning successes, the first shock of a Russian winter and the blunting of the German thrusts in a vast territory. The author/editor has made a selection of the General's papers and diary records that provide a very candid insight into the war on that front, together with Hurter's perceptive introduction. A fascinating view and rewarding for the reader.

Heinrici was the archetypal career soldier of the Prussian tradition. Almost a caricature in appearance and career, but he was more than that and his story provides an unvarnished view of the early German operations in Russia.

He was a highly decorated WWI veteran who was keen to resume his military career in the new Wehrmacht. With most of Germany, he was happy to see the rebirth of a strong and aggressive Germany after the humiliation of the Peace Treaty that followed the Armistice of 1918. He turned a blind eye to excesses of the Nazis and the dubious nature of Hitler because Hitler was restoring German power. As with most fellow Germans, he had to be aware of the price that was being paid for this restoration, but the easy early victories of expansion into the Rhineland, the annexation of Austria and the land grab in Czechoslovakia made the invasion of Poland seem to be a natural and low risk next step. France and Britain appeared irrelevant.

Once the British and French declared war as a consequence of the invasion of Poland, most German officers began to feel uneasy but, even in hot war, no one seemed able to stop Hitler. The Phony War in the West turned into another blindingly successful Blitz Krieg and Germans seemed poised on the cusp of victory over Britain. Then the first threat of defeat could be seen by the most perceptive as the British destroyed the Luftwaffe attempt to gain air superiority over British air space as the essential prelude to invasion by the Wehrmacht. Some became concerned because Hitler shrugged off the reverse and began preparing for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The forces in France and the Low Countries were stripped of assets that were moved East, ready to roll into Russia. However, even the most perceptive officers were won over by the early advances into the Soviet Union and the massive stream of prisoners being brought back to German captivity.

As a Corps commander, Heinrici had a local view and also a broader view from his knowledge of his own troops performance and what he saw, and was briefed on, of those Corps to either side and of the strategic objectives. What is not so obvious is exactly how much a General may have been initially deceived and ignorant of the Nazi excesses. Some may see in his diaries and letters a convenient self-deception. More than seventy years on the perceptions are different and coloured by evidence from war crimes trials. Hindsight is still common amongst historians.

However, there is every appearance of a remarkable candour in Heinrici's writings. He describes graphically the conditions in which he and his troops fought and he shows a growing doubt about Hitler's strategy. He also shows mounting concern that the Wehrmacht was being drawn in to the war crimes of the Nazis and the first actions of the Holocaust. Again, it is difficult to take his observations entirely at face value but that comes from the evidence that emerged after the war.

As a professional soldier, Heinrici was viewing life as a patriot tasked with delivering on Hitler's objectives and that may show criticism of the Commander in Chief as much from the perspective of the affect of orders on the officer and his troops. Some officers did believe the battle would continue into the Russian Winter and some of them had direct experience from training in Russia before the rise of the Nazis. They could see with concern a lack of planning to provide the clothes and equipment necessary and the preparation to fight in the appalling conditions.

The eye witness accounts from Heinrici tell of what he saw and showed his level of perception. This is a uniquely honest set of views from a senior German soldier of war on the Eastern Front. The powerful text is supported by a very interesting photo plate section that includes some images that very graphically portray the harsh winter and the equally hostile thaw. A good account of what became a defining tuning point in the war.