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Section 2

Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2004)

(The Polish Air Force In World War ll)

Author: Adam Zamoyski

Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pen & Sword Books Limited
47 Church Street
South Yorkshire
S70 2AS

ISBN 1 84415 0909

First Published in 1995 &
Re-Published 2004

UK Price: £19.99

Although it is a fairly well know fact, that Polish forces were involved in the allied war effort during the Second World War, few people however, will be aware of the significant contribution the brave men and women of that war torn country actually made at the time and of course, the price they paid!

This gripping story starts prior to 1939, as it tells of the dare devil, cavalier exploits of the Polish pilots in the pre war period, before continuing to detail some of the daring escapes of men and their aircraft, following the Nazi invasion of their beloved country. The main part of this excellent book however, chronicals the fascinating story of some of the 17,000 men and women of the Polish Air Force, who during the period between 1939 and 1945 served and fought alongside the R.A.F. in operations against the enemy. Flying in excess of 102,500 sorties totalling over 290,000 operational flying hours, the 14 Polish squadrons based throughout the British Isles, "downed" a confirmed total of 745 enemy aircraft, earning their crews, an unbelievable 342 British gallantry awards at a cost of 1973 lives lost and a further 1388 air crew wounded!

With victory on the horizon, the tale did not however end happily for many Poles, with the Nazi invader gone, many returned home to find Soviet Forces had now taken control of their homeland and many family members and dear friends had often been killed, or were now missing and the homes they had dreamt of returning to, had been lost forever!

The author has written this book "from the heart" and being of Polish ancestry, he is well qualified to tell the story that will both astound and also shock many. It was an excellent read and I am sure, it will be a welcome addition to any aviation enthusiasts bookshelf!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2004)


Author: John Frayn Turner

Pen And Sword Military
Pen & Sword Books Limited
47 Church Street
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 067 4

Published in 2004

UK Price: £25.00

Although the Victoria Cross is often acknowledged worldwide, to be the highest and most prestigious of all awards for gallantry, very few people can however, actually name more than a handful of it’s 1354 recipients, let alone give even the minimal of detail of the actions, that were to earn this coveted award, since its institution by Royal Warrant in 1856.

During the entire six years of the Second World War, the comparatively small number of just 182 VC’s were granted! 23 of these, were for gallantry during action at sea, 127 for courage in the face of the enemy on land and a further 32 awards were made to exceptionally brave British and Commonwealth airmen.

This most exciting book really is a first, as it details the story of every award of the Victoria Cross made during the Second World War. It is packed from cover to cover with some of the most heroic deeds one can ever imagine and to be quite honest, if one really did not know better, the reader could easily think these were merely tales, told purely for entertainment purposes! They are of course, reality - factual accounts, detailing the remarkable courage and heroism, shown by men, who whilst serving King and country between 1939 and 1945, gave little thought for their own safety, to save the lives of others, and of course reach their overall and defined objectives.

A very well written and valuable reference tool for the researcher or military historian and a thoroughly good read for anyone who enjoys action-packed non fiction. This handsome book represents superb value for money and will, I am sure be appreciated and referred to for many years to come!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2004)

The British Soldier On The Western Front 1914-1918

Author: Richard Holmes

Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher
75-85 Fulham Palace Road
W6 8JB

ISBN: 0-00 713751-6

Published: 2004

UK Price: £20.00

Thomas Atkins or Tommy for short, the affectionate nickname often used throughout the world for the British Soldier, first came about in 1815, when the name was used as an example, showing soldiers of the day how to fill out the name section in their Soldiers Pocket Book!

This superb book, written by Britain's top military historian - Professor Richard Holmes, tells the fascinating story of the ordinary British Soldier during the Great War. Covering just about every angle of the ordinary soldier's daily life ("warts and all") from the day he enlisted through to the day he was either de-mobbed or was killed in action, this brilliant book makes compelling reading for the family, military or social history researcher, the battlefield tourist as well as those who just like a "good read",

The author is a most brilliant story teller, he has the reader hanging on his every word and the detailed and fascinating narrative in this volume, is backed up by many superb black and white photographs, making this publication an excellent source of reference and exceptionally good value for money and a must for any bookshelf at just £20.00.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2004)


Author: Stewart Dalton

Publisher: Wharncliffe Books
An imprint of
Pen & Sword Select
Pen & Sword Books Limited
47 Church Street
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1-903425-13-1

First Published in 2004

UK Price: £9.99

This interesting volume is sure to be of interest to the family history researcher, military and social historians, along with anyone with a general interest in South Yorkshire, as it gives a fascinating insight into the industrial areas of Sheffield and Rotherham, during the period 1914 through to1945- the "dark years", where these towns and their citizens played an integral part towards the war effort, by supplying everything from rivets for aircraft built to defend the homeland, through to arms and ammunition, for ships on the high seas as well as the advancing British and allied forces in the far flung corners of the empire! Those grim days, are thankfully a far cry away, as the modern city of Sheffield and bustling town of Rotherham have gone through a complete metamorphosis! Following a gradual post war decline and up until just a few years ago, they were considered to be in the middle of an industrial depression- with high levels of unemployment and loss of traditional industry, the future looked bleak! Today, they are famous for a first class university, high tech and modern service industries and some of the best transport links in the country. Leaving no stone unturned, the author has carried out painstaking research, and has provided a great deal of fascinating and valuable information for the reader. The black and white archive photographs of local people in groups, as well as going about their everyday life, together with buildings that have long since gone and complex vintage machinery, taken over a period spanning 3 decades, superbly supplement this excellent book, which is well worth buying for the pictures alone!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2004)

Canadian 3rd Infantry & 79th Armoured Divisions

Author : Tim Saunders

From The Battle Ground Europe Series

Published: Leo Cooper, Pen & Sword Books Ltd
47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN 1 84415 028 3

First Published 2004

Price: £9.99

Juno Beach, was the allied code name given to the 8km stretch of sand situated between Sword and Gold Beaches, close to the French towns of Coursealles-Sur-Mer, Berniers and St Aubin. The aim of the allied forces on D-Day, was to land, establish a beach head, "take" the Caen -Bayeux Road, before going on to capture the Caen -Carpiquet Airport to the West of Caen and then advance further in land.

Although this was a joint allied invasion, no one should ever underestimate the high degree of Canadian involvement in the overall success of the D-Day landings in June 1944 and the subsequent battles that formed the Normandy Campaign. It is estimated that one in ten soldiers who landed that day was a Canadian! It is an interesting fact, that all three arms of the Canadian services played a crucial part at this critical time. On land and sea and in the air, around 14,000 Canadian personnel and their equipment, were to be found, fighting along side their allies and under the CANLOAN scheme, many had actually been integrated into British units too Their success was celebrated, however at the end of the invasion, over 350 Canadians had been killed, a further 570 wounded and 50 taken Prisoner of War!

Today, Juno Beach is a popular sea-side resort, however many wartime bunkers remain and there are several memorials to the units who fought there sixty years ago.
For those planning to tour Juno Beach and surrounding areas or researching the units involved, I would certainly recommend purchasing this most interesting handy sized and reasonably priced volume. The author's excellent narrative, backed up by eye witness accounts together with excerpts from war diaries and superb black and white photographs and fully detailed maps, certainly bring the events of those June days, sixty years ago to "life" and the forefront of ones mind.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (September 2004)


Edited By : Brian Best

Pen & Sword Military
An Imprint Of
Pen & Sword Books Limited
47 Church Street
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 118 2

First Published in 2004

UK Price: £19.99

To have been one of the many troops involved in the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940, must have been traumatic in itself, however to then also have the misfortune to be captured when Singapore fell and then spending the next four years as a Prisoner Of War of the Japanese, is beyond comprehension!

This is the remarkable story of Charles Steel, an ordinary soldier, who during his time in captivity wrote nearly 200 letters to his wife at home in Britain. Due to both censorship and logistical reasons, he was more often than not, unable to actually send these touching and very graphical accounts of life as a P.O.W. home! At the risk of a severe beating or even death, he miraculously managed to hide them from his ferocious and often inhuman captors and today, they form the basis of this excellent book edited by Brian Best.

With food deprivation, extreme weather conditions, poor sanitation and often non existent medical treatment, coupled with the many atrocities carried out by the camp officers and guards, it is a wonder he survived the war. However, survive he did , unlike a great many of his fellow prisoners of war, who were never to see the shores of their homeland or their loved ones again!

This superb book will appeal to a wide audience, which will of course include military historians/researchers as well as many casual readers. A word of warning, it may also shock too, however by reading it, I am sure it will enable the purchaser to appreciate the remarkable price paid by many of our brave servicemen, whilst serving their King and Country in the Far East during World War 2.

16 September 2004

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