Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2005
Section 6

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(September 2005)

 

THE BATTLE FOR
THE RHINE 1944


Author: Robin Neillands

Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson
The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House
5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA

ISBN: 0297 84617 5

Published in 2005

UK Price: £20.00

With over forty books “under his belt”, Robin Neillands has successfully built up an excellent reputation as being “one of Britain’s most readable military historians” - an accolade that can be attributed to his unique ability to write about complex campaigns and issues in a clear and lively style.

This particular volume, results from extensive and careful research, is no exception to the rule and once again, in a manner that one would expect from a former Royal Marine Commando, he has sought out the truth (from many original sources) and tells it as it is, therefore dispelling many myths that have been nurtured over the years.

Taking over from where his previous volume (The Battle for Normandy 1944) left off, this superb publication covers the post Normandy battles along the channel coast and afterwards, as the allies advanced from the Seine through to the Rhine.

The reader will read many new and revealing facts surrounding crucial decisions taken at the time and as a result, will now be able to reflect on new, ground breaking information to review their own possibly pre-conceived ideas and decide for themselves, who they believe was really responsible for the failures of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge!

The complex relationships and resulting conflicts between Montgomery and other allied commanders in this theatre of operations at the time, are examined too and one is asked to consider what would have happened if Eisenhower had taken “Monty’s” advice – could the war in Europe have been won in 1944?

Despite it being rather specialist, all in all, it is an excellent work that is sure to appeal to serious students of military history and battlefield guides alike. It will also lead the reader on to where the authors next book “The Conquest of the Reich” begins, therefore forming a trilogy from the Normandy landings to the fall of Berlin.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(November 2005)

 

CHAPMAN–ANDREWS AND THE EMPEROR


Author: Peter Leslie

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

ISBN: 1 84415 257 X

Published in 2005

UK Price: £19.99

This excellent volume tells the interesting story of the relationship between British diplomat Sir Edwin Chapman Andrews and Haile Selassie - the Emperor of Eithiopia. A unique relationship that was to last an incredible forty five years, spanning from the Emperor’s Coronation in 1930 through to his assassination in 1975.

Providing fascinating reading, this book will be invaluable to those with a special interest in Middle East and African affairs and covert operations, as it deals with a wide range of issues in respect of this intriguing country at that time and still exist today. Details surrounding the daring operation set up by the newly formed S.O.E., make interesting reading, as they recall the amazing expedition led by the daring and legendary Orde Windgate, who with his men travelled by foot and donkey through occupied Ethiopia, with the task of re-instating the Emperor after his deposition by the Italians.

As we now know, Wingate went on to form the famous Chindits. Chapman-Andrews later became British Ambassador to the newly formed Sudan, however others involved in this remarkable tale, such as Wavell, Evelyn Waugh, Churchill and Wilfred Thesiger all achieved notoriety too, adding extra to the value of this publication for the historian.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(September 2005)

BRITISH MILITARY RIFLES


Author: Peter Duckers

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

www.shirebooks.co.uk

ISBN: 0 747806330

Published in August 2005

UK Price: 4.99

Priced at just £4.99, this splendid little book represents excellent value for money and will prove invaluable to military historians, students of military history, battlefield guides together with arms and militaria collectors alike, as it covers ‘guns” from as early as the 1300s through to the present day.

Peter Duckers is an expert with over 40 years experience in this fascinating subject and he has therefore written a book that will appeal not only to fellow enthusiasts and experts alike, but also to the layman who maybe is new to this area of collecting or is researching weapons as part of a wider area of interest in other matters military or historical.

The book contains many useful diagrams and splendid close up photographs of weapons and ammunition alike, however what really makes this title interest me, is the excellent collection of photographs depicting British troops from all periods of history, photographed in all corners of the world actually using the weapons described in the text.

I make no secret of the fact that I actually purchased my first title from Shire Books over thirty years ago. That superb little book is still as invaluable to me today as it was then and I feel sure that I will refer to this book many times in the future too and that prove to be as valuable too and therefore an excellent investment priced just under a fiver!

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(November 2005)

 

BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF BRITISH GENERALS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR


Author: Nicholas Smart

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

ISBN: 1 84415 0496

Published in 2005

UK Price: £25.00

Here is a book that is certainly a must for every military historian, student of military and battlefield guide alike. Having read it, I certainly would not want to be without it now, as I am sure I will find it invaluable for research in the years to come.

The Second World War “produced” a number of household names – such as Montgomery, Slim and Wavell that are perhaps as famous now as they were then, however few, including the most knowledgeable, may actually realise that in the six years of this global conflict, the British Army had an incredible 340 generals serving amongst its ranks!

However a the years have passed, the majority of these men have passed away too and today, some of the most famous of military leaders at that time, are often unheard of by today’s generation and therefore perhaps only remembered by the later generations of their families and the Regiments and corps in which they served, or more sadly, when their medals are sadly sold off at auction to collectors.

The author has carried out extensive research and each and every one of these men is included in one form or another. To write a detailed biography of each would of course require a large number of volumes, however he has cleverly allocated space in this superb volume, based on their importance, either at that time or in later years.

It’s a must – put it on you Christmas list.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(October 2005)

SHARPSHOOTER IN THE CRIMEA


Author: Michael Springman

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

ISBN: 1 84415 237 5

Published in 2005

UK Price: £19.99

This recently published book is based on a series of fascinating letters written by Gerald Littlehales Goodlake - a serving officer in the Coldstream Guards at the time of the Crimean War. He was just 22 years of age, when he was awarded the nation’s highest decoration for gallantry – the Victoria Cross, whilst commanding a party of Sharpshooters at Windmill Ravine during the Battle of Inkerman.

Goodlake was in fact one of the earliest recipients of this covetted award, he served at Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman, and Sebastapol and later achieved the rank of Lieutenant General. He was un-conventional in his approach to soldiering and as his letters prove, he was often critical of his superiors due to their incompetence and conditions in which he and his men and the long suffering army in general, were forced to endure during two years of bloody war in the period between 1854-1856.

This splendid book will no doubt appeal to those with a particular interest in the Crimean War, the Victoria Cross and the Coldstream Guards. It will however interest a wider audience of military historians, battlefield guides and family history researchers who’s ancestors fought in this campaign.

Several pages of excellent photographs, sketches and drawings support the detailed editorial notes that back up these powerful and unique letters, therefore making this volume a popular choice for the historians library.

Book Review by Michael D Booker
(November 2005)

 

BRITAIN’S LAST TOMMIES


Author: Richard Van Emden

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

ISBN: 1 84415 3150

Published in October 2005

UK Price: £19.99

This is without a doubt, a book that will almost certainly find its way onto many Christmas wish lists this year, as not only is it a must for researchers, military historians, but the casual reader will find it fascinating too. Television addicts will need no introduction to this publication, as it is the superb and well advertised book published to co-incide with the splendid and recently screened, two-part BBC documentary recording the remarkable lives of Great War veterans.

The author has already written several highly successful books on various aspects of the Great War and this particular work is the culmination of an amazing 20 years of research and interviews, recording the memories of over 270 veterans and survivors of this global conflict, that was to leave scars on the landscape of France and Belgium and effect generations of Europeans up until the present day.

Out of the six million men and boys who served on the Western Front in the period 1914-1918, there were only 12 veterans still alive as of February this year, therefore emphasising the fact that very soon the tragic events of that time, will go from being classed as living history, into past history and relegated to reference books and archives.

The evocative cover of this book speaks volumes for the contents. It is without a doubt an extraordinary collection of stories, actually told by the veterans themselves. And as one can imagine, many are quite remarkable, a large number are exceptionally sad, however many are also funny too, reminding us that at the end of the day, these brave men were quite remarkable and possessed amazing strength of character and fortitude in the eye of adversity.

There is a splendid collection of black and white and colour photographs taken of the veterans as they were then, as soldiers during the war, together with more recent images of almost all of the same men, taken at home, back on the Western Front and at the final veterans' reunion, and at various investitures some 80 years later!

Finally, this publication includes a unique list of veterans, all of whom, individually hold the poignant title of being the last Gallipoli veteran, the last Royal Flying Corps veteran, the last Distinguished Conduct Medal holder, the last cavalryman and the last Prisoner of War.

All in all, excellent value for money, a thoroughly good read, a splendid source of reference and a fitting tribute to men who in one way or another have carried their memories with them for an amazing number of years, so we can learn from them today.

20 November 2005

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