Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2005
Section 5

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(August 2005)

 

WELLINGTON’S REGIMENTS


Author: Ian Fletcher

Publisher: Spellmount Limited
The Village Centre
Staplehurst
Kent TN12 OBJ

ISBN: 1 86227 229 9

Published in July 2005

Price £29.95

Written by a leading authority on the Peninsular War, this superb book will without a doubt appeal to all military historians, battlefield guides, militaria collectors, modellers and wargamers alike.

Wellington’s Regiments is in fact a re-issue of a fascinating book detailing the twenty four actions (from the battle of Rolica early in the Peninsular War in 1808 through to the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815) in which the “Iron Duke’s” troops bravely fought and for which, they were subsequently to be awarded coveted battle honours.

An unbelievable thirty two pages of beautiful full colour plates, together with many splendid maps, diagrams, photographs and drawings bring the book “to life” and support the fascinating text that cleverly covers the service record of every single cavalry and infantry Regiment that served under this great soldier during a most interesting period in history in one brilliant volume.

An excellent source of reference and one book no serious military enthusiast will want to be without in their library.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(August 2005)

 

WAR MEMORIALS IN BRITAIN


Author: Jim Corke

Publisher: Shire Publications
Cromwell House
Church Street
Princes Risborough
Buckinghamshire HP27 9AA

www.shirebooks.co.uk

ISBN: 0 74780626 8

Published in 2005

UK Price: £5.99

I purchased my first title (English County Regiments) from Shire Books over thirty years ago. That superb little book is still as invaluable to me today, as it was then, which in itself, is testimony to the value I place on these splendid, excellent value for money, pocket sized publications.

As a result of this country’s participation in innumerable campaigns in the far flung corners of the world, one cannot visit any British City , town, or even the smallest of villages, without noticing a war memorial of some description. These of course, vary in size from a small plaque on a shady park bench, through to huge, impressive monuments in more prominent locations. Sadly, however, these memorials are often passed by un-noticed and without a second thought, however thanks to the recent upturn in interest in genealogy, many people are now paying closer attention to these commemorations to the fallen, in hope of tracing a link to an ancestor.

Shire’s latest title “War Memorials in Britain” fills a much needed gap and provides military historians, researchers and the casual reader alike, with a great deal of useful information on a wide range of war memorials all over the country. There is a host of excellent photographs in both colour and black and white, together with a useful gazetteer listing memorials on a countywide basis.

Although this splendid title cannot claim to be the definitive work on this fascinating subject, its a snip at just £5.99. I am sure it will encourage further reading and research and due to its handy size, will fit into any glove-box or rucksack making it an ideal companion on your days out in town or countryside around the British Isles.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(August 2005)

YANAGI


Author: Mark Felton

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 167 0

Published in June 2005

UK Price: £19.99

This excellent book on the fascinating, yet little known subject of the secret underwater trade between Germany and Japan in the period between 1942 and 1945, is sure to interest a wide range of readers, ranging from those interested in specialist submarine and general naval matters through to anyone, who just likes a good read.

“Yanagi” was the code name given to the trade and exchange of information and technology, as well as the transportation of raw materials between these two axis powers, at one of the most crucial periods in the Second World War. As allied forces strengthened their maritime supremacy on the surface at sea, the enemy had no alternative but to go below the waves and by using long range submarines, were able to continue their alliance and ply their trade in weapons - which surprisingly, included aircraft and missile parts, as well information integral to the development of an atomic bomb . Naturally, a relationship of this nature between two culturally different, warring nations so far apart, was not without difficulty and as a result, the relationship was often strained to say the least.

The author has carried out extensive research and has now for the first time, been able to throw an interesting light on the issues surrounding this overall subject, as well as providing impressive details of individual operations and missions, carried out by brave and skilful submarine crews from Germany, Italy and Japan. Within the 200 plus pages of text and photographs, he has also provided a very useful appendix covering rank structures and gallantry awards, which I am sure will be most useful for researchers.

A most enjoyable book which although specialist will have a strong appeal.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(September 2005)

 

IN ACTION WITH THE SAS


Author: Roy Close

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 286 3

Published in 2005

UK Price: £19.99

This very enjoyable volume tells the interesting story of Roy Close - a young man born and brought up in London, who, aged just nineteen and a member of the Royal Army Service Corps (Territorial Army) when the Second World War broke out, quickly found himself “in the thick of it”, when he was mobilised and sent to France as a member of the ill-fated British Expeditionary Force. Despite spending several days and nights on the beaches of Dunkirk, he miraculously managed to avoid death and captivity, before being rescued and evacuated back to Britain. However, he was not deterred by his unfortunate experiences and he quickly sought further challenges and was soon commissioned, before being posted to North Africa, where a chance meeting resulted in him volunteering for service with the newly formed Parachute Regiment, where having successfully completing his parachute training, it was just a short step into the infamous SAS Regiment and back to France. This time, infiltrated deep into enemy territory, Ray and his colleagues carried out various, daring undercover missions that were aimed at causing maximum disruption to the German war effort, whilst paving the way for the Allied invasion and the final push through to Berlin.

I feel sure that readers will find the details of Ray’s experiences as fascinating as I did, as they provide an excellent insight into the selection, training and operational procedures for two very famous and elite Regiments in their formative years. Coupled with this, the background information on the author’s experiences, together with his thoughts and reactions whilst working alongside members of the Marquis will be fascinating and invaluable too.

All in all, a very enjoyable read and a book worth buying.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(August 2005)

OPERATION CHARIOT


Author: Jon Cooksey
Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire S70 2AS

ISBN: 1 84415 116 6

Published in June 2005

UK Price: £12.99

This excellent publication, detailing the daring British commando raid on the French, Atlantic coastal port of St Nazaire , is the latest title in the superb Elite Forces Operations series of books from specialist military book publisher - Pen and Sword,

Mainland France had been under Nazi occupation for almost two years as the Spring of 1942 approached and as successive months passed, the enemy seized the opportunity to reinforce its foothold in the region further by building up its defences against a possible allied invasion.

St Nazaire’s excellent location and unique, vast dry dock facility at the mouth of the Loire, afforded Germany’s Kriegesmarine the opportunity to operate and maintain the largest of warships in it’s fleet (including the infamous Tirpitz), whilst at the same time, being able to monitor and subsequently attack Allied shipping, carrying crucial cargoes of personnel and supplies, as it entered the Western Approaches from the Atlantic Ocean.

Under the code-name “Operation Chariot”, the large-scale commando raid, aimed at destroying the port’s famous Normandie Dock was launched. Making use of HMS Campbletown - a converted US Navy destroyer, loaded with high-explosive as a battering ram, their target was reached successfully at the dead of night. As the ship deliberately hit the dock, our elite forces, swarmed over the surrounding port area, destroying key installations and facilities, causing the maximum damage possible. The determined efforts of this group of exceptionally brave men (five of whom were subsequently to be awarded the coveted Victoria Cross) paid off and the mission was deemed - successful, however the cost was high, resulting in many of our troops being killed, wounded or captured.

This splendid book makes interesting reading and will therefore prove invaluable to anyone intending visiting the area, studying the operation or researching the war service history of a relative involved. It includes many excellent black and white photographs and maps, plus a superb colour section featuring the weapons and equipment used at the time. The detailed eye witness accounts and citations for the five Victoria Crosses awarded are especially interesting and as a result, I am sure the reader will not be disappointed.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(September 2005)

 

THE BRITISH ARMY OF 1914
An Illustrated Directory


Author: Ray Westlake

Publisher: Spellmount Limited
The Village Centre
Staplehurst
Kent TN12 OBJ

ISBN: 1 86227 207 7

Published in 2005

Price £25.00

Those already familiar with Ray Westlake’s previously published titles will, I am sure, agree when I say what superb publications they are. This latest volume is no exception and therefore, I feel sure it will prove to be another much sought after and invaluable source of reference, that will appeal to military historians, battlefield guides, together with family history researchers, militaria collectors as well as war-gamers alike.

Containing an unbelievable 400 black and white as well as colour photographs from Ray’s personal internationally famous, military photographic archive, this splendid hardback book also includes (for the first time ever) a fully comprehensive listing of the locations of all regular, territorial and reserve British Army units at the outbreak of the Great War. Remarkably, this most useful information features details on every unit, ranging in size from individual Batteries and Companies through to full brigades, serving both at home and abroad at that time.

I guarantee, if you pick up this fascinating volume, you won’t want to put it down, as it represents excellent value for money and is worth it for the unique, high quality photographs alone!

9 November 2005

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War Memorials Trust
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