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Section 4

Book Review By Michael D Booker (October 2004)


Author: Brigadier E.A.James O.B.E.,T.D.

Publisher: Naval & Military Press Ltd
Unit 10
Ridgewood Industrial Park
East Sussex TN22 5QR

ISBN: 0 906304 03 2

UK Price: £17.95

It is no wonder that the Naval & Military Press, publishers of this excellent volume, boast that this is their best selling, most used and most useful Great War title, as I honestly believe, that any military historian, battlefield guide, Great War enthusiast, militaria collector or serious family history researcher, should not be without a copy in their own personal library!

This marvellous publication, a concise compilation of two volumes in one cover, is the result of many years painstaking research at the Public Records Office, the Ministry of Defence and specialist libraries and museums, by a most experienced and dedicated man. The reader will no doubt, find amongst its pages, a remarkable amount of fascinating information on every British Army formation that existed in the period between 4th August 1914 – the day war was declared, through to the 11th November 1918, when the Armistice was signed.

31 regular and 17 reserve Cavalry Regiments, 57 Yeomanry Regiments, together with their second and third line Regiments and an amazing, 1750 Infantry battalions, (making a grand total of 227 Regiments), are covered in the most accurate and concise detail. In each case, the location of every major British Army unit, its regular, territorial force, reserve, service, Officer Cadet and training battalions, at the outbreak of the war is listed. Further details relating to dates of subsequent new formations and changes in locations throughout the war are included too. Accurate summaries pertaining to Battle Honours, awards of Victoria Crosses and casualty figures, are once again covered in the same impressive detail and provide an additional wealth of information, in the very useful appendices included, making this an invaluable source of reference, that I certainly, would not wish to be without!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2004)


Author: Captain E.A.James



ISBN: 1843421968

UK Price: £9.95

This handy sized unique booklet, originally published in 1921, is an excellent companion to “British Infantry Regiments 1914-1918” (written by the same author). I am sure this publication will be of the same immense value to military historians, battlefield guides and researchers, as it details in chronological order, every British army formation of brigade level and above, that served on the Western front during the Great War. The superb index, enables the reader to trace with ease, place names and the various engagements in which each division and brigade was involved.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (October 2004)


Author: Bernard Lowry



ISBN: 1 84176 767 0

First Published in 2004

UK Price: £10.99

In the early Summer of 1940, Britain stood very much alone in Europe The English Channel, plus a comparatively small number of Royal Navy warships and R.A.F. aircraft, were all that stood between our shores and the full might of the enemy! Aircraft of the German Luftwaffe, carried out nightly bombing raids on our towns and cities, industrial and strategic sites, causing an appalling loss of life and immeasurable damage! Hitler’s overall aim was of course, to force Britain into submission, therefore paving the way for his invasion forces. It was now, very much a case of “when will Hitler invade?”. A huge defensive, construction programme was therefore put into place. Pill boxes, anti-aircraft batteries, coastal defences, radar detection stations and anti-tank ditches sprang up around the country, the Home Guard was formed and air raid precautions stepped up and everyone was on their guard!

Using a superb selection of black and white, as well as full colour archive photographs and diagrams to support the excellent narrative, this handy, reasonably priced and very readable volume, provides an excellent insight into Britain’s home defence, at a crucial period in our history. Osprey the publishers, require little introduction to the military historian, however this fascinating publication (Volume 20 in their Fortress series), will appeal to a much wider and more diverse range of readers I am sure that teachers, family history researchers, local historians, archaeologists and walkers, will also find it most informative and of immense value.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2004)


Author: Bill Reed with Mitch Peeke

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

ISBN: 1 84415 127 1

Published In 2004

UK Price: £16.99

This excellent volume tells the very personal, unique and exceptionally moving story of Bill Read, a young soldier from Warwickshire, who, whilst serving with 85 Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery during the Second World War, had the mis-fortune of becoming a Prisoner of War of the Japanese.

Bill’s captivity came about, when, on the 15th February 1942, General Percival, the Commander in Chief of the 130.000 strong British Garrison in Singapore, realised, he lacked both the air and sea support so desperately needed to fend off the advancing enemy. Knowing he had little hope of receiving any significant reinforcements, he made the difficult decision, to surrender his troops to the Imperial Japanese Army.

The men under Percival’s command, had every reason to expect “decent” treatment from their gaolers, however the Japanese code of “Brushido”, had no place for surrender and therefore resulted in Bill and his comrades being subjected to some of the most atrocious conditions ever imaginable.

By writing this superb volume, the authors have provided the reader with a rare and fascinating insight into the torture and deprivation actually suffered by many British P.O.W.s at the hands of the Japanese. The narrative is often graphical, it is however a true story and is therefore a most fitting and sincere tribute to Bill and the men, who like him, worked on the infamous Burma Railway, where it is said that one P.O.W. died for every sleeper laid!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (October 2004)


Author: Anthony Hewitt

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

ISBN: 1 84415 229 4

Published in 2004

UK Price: £19.99

This fascinating book tells the incredible, yet true story of three allied servicemen, who, having been taken Prisoner of War by the Japanese, when the British colony of Hong Kong “fell” in 1941, decided to risk life and limb, by making one of the most daring escapes in military history.

The breakout from the confines of the notorious Shamshuipo prison camp, was just the start of an epic journey, which was to take several months and cover nearly 2000 miles, through Japanese-occupied China. The trio travelled on foot and some very un-conventional transport. They witnessed the appalling poverty and devastation caused as the result of enemy bombing and suffered brutal attacks and robbery by bandits. Narrowly missing being re-captured by the Japanese, their luck changed, when having met a group of Communist guerrillas, they were offered help to reach freedom and safety, in return for basic medical assistance and military training.

This unique book, with a forward by Sir John Mills (the author’s brother in law), will provide the reader with a most entertaining read. I personally enjoyed it and can only wonder, why has it not as yet, been made into a film!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2004)


Author: Max Arthur

Publisher: EBURY PRESS

Published: 2004

ISBN: 0091897342
UK Price: £19.99

ISBN: 0091897351
UK Price: £7.99

Following the success of his earlier title - “Forgotten Voices Of The Great War”, Max Arthur has once again returned to the very impressive Sound Archive at the Imperial War Museum, to research and transcribe some of the most fascinating Second World War material available, on which to base this, his latest book.

Covering just about every major event and campaign that took place during the period between 1939-1945, this excellent volume features an extensive collection of eye-witness and often graphic accounts, recalling the personal experiences of scores of men and women, who served in the armed forces during the World War 2. Civilians, both at home and abroad, along with allies and enemies alike, recorded their experiences too, making this a truly remarkable, unique and most moving publication.

From a personal point of view, this book is a invaluable addition to my own library. I am certain, researchers, lecturers/teachers and battlefield guides will often wish refer to it and quote from it too, both in the classroom or on tour, as it will add a new dimension to their presentations. I can honestly say, this is one publication that anyone, from the military expert, through to the casual reader with just the slightest interest in the Second World War will want to read and of course keep, as it will be of significant future historical importance! Now available in paperback at £7.99 and hardback at £19.99, I hear it is also hear it will soon be on sale in both audio tape and CD formats – what more can you want!

4 June 2005

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