Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2004
Section 6

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2004)

THE WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
IN THE WAR 1914-1918


Author: Everard Wyrall

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

www.naval-military-press.com

ISBN: 1843422107

UK Price: £48.00

Sadly, the arrival of this superb publication at my home, coincided with the government’s decision to make further organisational changes to the structure of the British Army, which will result in several famous infantry Regiments being amalgamated or dis-banded altogether.

One such Regiment affected by these latest “cuts” is the Prince Of Wales’s Own Regiment Of Yorkshire. Although it was formed as recently as 1958, when the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) and The East Yorkshire (Duke of York’s Own) amalgamated, it can actually trace its ancestry back to 1685, when both Regiments saw service in Scotland and Flanders.

This excellent two volume titled from specialist publishers -The Naval & Military Press, provides the reader with a superbly detailed and most fascinating insight into the history of the “West Yorks” during the Great War. Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions formed part of the original Expeditionary Force in France in 1914 and continued to serve with distinction throughout the war. The Regiment was to grow in size quickly and soon totalled an incredible thirty seven battalions. Twenty four of these units actually saw active service overseas and participated in actions at the Aisne, Neuve Chapelle, the Somme, Montagne de Bligny, the Marne, Cambrai Gallipoli, Vittorio Veneto, Loos and Ypres, whilst others carried out various military duties in all corners of the Empire. Earning no less than 66 Battle Honours, four Victoria Crosses, the Croix de Guerre and innumerable other decorations, as one would expect, the Regiment’s achievements were great, however, its losses were considerable too and total of 13,000 officers and men laid down their life for King and Country!

Being a Yorkshireman with relatives who served in the Regiment both prior to and during the Great and Second World Wars, I personally found the Government’s latest announcement sad. This fascinating book is sure however to serve as a timeless memorial to the brave men who proudly served in this remarkable Regiment during the Great War. I am sure many family history and local researchers together with military historians, battlefield guides and tourists alike will find this volume will prove to be a superb source of reference as well as a thoroughly interesting read. The casualty information and citations for the Victoria Crosses will prove invaluable and therefore this will be a very welcome addition to many bookshelves.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2004)

BATTLE HONOURS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE AND COMMONWEALTH LAND FORCES 1662-1991


Author: Alexander Roger

Publisher: The Crowood Press
Ramsbury,
Marlborough
Wiltshire SN8 2HR

www.crowoodpress.co.uk

ISBN: 1 86126 637 5

Published in 2003

UK Price: £35.00

Many may ask the question –what exactly is a battle honour? The following may therefore help-

“A Battle Honour is a public commemoration of a battle, action or engagement, of which not only past and present, but future generations of the Regiment can be proud.” (Army Council Instruction 58, 28 January 1956)

This excellent book is the product of over twenty years painstaking research by the author, who as an ex soldier himself, saw active service in many parts of the world during his extensive army career and is therefore well qualified to write, what I consider to be the definitive reference work on this most fascinating subject.

The first officially recognised battle honour ever awarded to British and Commonwealth land forces, was made to the 15th Light Dragoons on 16th July 1760, when their helmets were especially inscribed, to commemorate their victory over the French at Emsdorff. Since that historic occasion, no less than seventeen hundred battle honours have subsequently been awarded to various units of the army, recognising their participation and gallantry in campaigns covering all corners of the world and spanning a total of three hundred years.

Many of the battle honours detailed commemorate long forgotten and often unheard of battles, fought by our forefathers in countries that no longer feature on modern day maps. However, the more recent awards for the Falkland Islands in 1982 and the Gulf War in 1991 that are still fresh in many people’s minds, are included too.

This superb volume has been expertly presented in a logical and chronological order and also includes an excellent and comprehensive appendicies. It is an invaluable reference book for book for family history researchers. Military historians and battlefield guides, should not be without a copy in their collections, as I am sure it will be referred to often during the course of their research.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2004)

HMS GLOUCESTER

Author: Ken Otter

Publisher: Leo Cooper
An Imprint Of Pen & Sword Books Ltd
Pen & Sword Books Limited
47 Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

ISBN: 1 84415 122 0
Published in 2004

UK Price: £19.99

This excellent volume tells the unique and fascinating story of the ninth HMS Gloucester, a 9,600 ton ‘Southampton’ Class cruiser launched on the 19th October 1937 at Devonport. Capable of 32.3 knots, she certainly was a “force to be reckoned with!” However, despite her powerful armament, which included twelve x six inch and eight x four inch guns, sixteen anti aircraft pom-poms, two triple torpedo tubes, five machine guns and three Walrus aircraft, she was unfortunately sunk by aircraft of the Luftwaffe on the 22nd May 1941, during the Battle of Crete.

Regrettably, 808 men serving aboard the “Fighting G” (as “Gloucester” was affectionately known) were to lose their lives on that fateful Spring day sixty three years ago. Sadly, Chief Yeoman Fred Otter (father of the author), was one of those casualties. Therefore inspired by the need to learn more of the tragic incident that was to “rob” him of a Dad, the author of this superb volume spent many hours researching the history of this remarkable warship and the brave ship’s company that served in her, from her launch in 1937 through to her final demise.

Tragically, just 83 survivors from the sinking , returned home at the end of the war, however, the author has been fortunate enough to have access to many of their first hand accounts of events at the time and has therefore been able to add his own conclusions to the official reports. Sadly, it is still officially unknown as to how many men actually went down with the ship and how many died in the sea whilst clinging to rafts and wreckage in the hope of being rescued. One thing for certain is that the author has been successful in producing an excellent volume that is packed with fascinating information. Researchers and historians will therefore find the archive and personal photographs interesting, however the detailed Roll of Honour and list of survivors also included will be an invaluable source of reference and a fitting tribute to the men who served in this splendid ship.

As an aside, readers may be interested to learn that the proud name of HMS Gloucester lives on in the Royal Navy of today, in the form of a type 42 Guided Missile Destroyer. With a compliment of 253, the tenth HMS Gloucester was commissioned in 1985. Capable of a speed of 29 knots, she is fitted with the latest technology that includes a Sea Lynx helicopter and guided missiles. She is of course, a far cry from the previous ship bearing the same name!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2004)

FIGHTER PILOTS IN
WORLD WAR 2


Author: Bruce Barrymore Halfpenny

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

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

ISBN: 1 84415 065 8

First Published In 1986
Re-published In 2004

UK Price: £12.99

This excellent volume will make an ideal companion to “Bomber Aircrew in World War 2” by the same author. I feel sure it will certainly prove to be popular with aviation enthusiasts, researchers, historians and general readers alike, as it provides the reader with a first rate and most authoritative account of the activities of those who served in Fighter Command during one of the most important periods of our history.

No one can question the outstanding role played by the brave men and the remarkable machines of Fighter Command during the Second World War. Their overall skill, heroism, dogged determination and devotion to duty throughout the war years can never be underestimated, however many consider their greatest achievement of all, was the defence of our shores during the period between July and October 1940 – the “Battle of Britain”. With a force comprising of just 220 aircraft, Fighter Command faced the full onslaught of 1,800 bombers and 1,200 fighters of the German Luftwaffe and won!.

The interesting chapter on this famous battle (complete with Order of Battle as at the 8th August 1940) forms just one part of this excellent value for money book. As one would expect of a publication from Pen and Sword, many excellent photographs are also included. Several of these images, have been published for the first time and support the other very fascinating chapters covering - fighter airfields (both at home and abroad), the ground crews (who worked tirelessly to keep the aircraft in the air) and the “Doodlebug” threat. The Canadian, Mohawk and Desert Air Force fighter squadrons receive well deserved coverage and a fitting tribute to Fighter Command’s only V.C.- Flt.Lt. James Brindley Nicholson of 249 Squadron is included too.

At the very reasonable price of just £12.99, I am sure this title will prove to be a great success and a popular addition to many collections.

28 December 2004

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