Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2006
Section 1

Book Review By Michael D Booker (January 2006)

THE BATTLE FOR HONG KONG 1941-1945

Author: Oliver Lindsay
With The Memories Of John R Harris

Publisher
Spellmount Limited
The Village Centre
Staplehurst
Barnsley
Kent TN12 0BJ

ISBN: 1 86227 315 4

First Published in 2005

UK Price £20.00

Thousands of tourists and visitors alike flock to Hong Kong each year, however few if any will be aware of the unfortunate events that took place there between 1941 and 1945, when the former British Colony was invaded and occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army as it advanced through the Far East.

As Hong Kong marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation, Oliver Lindsay and John R Harris have produced a remarkable volume that provides readers with some of the most intriguing facts and detail surrounding the initial invasion and defence of the colony, conditions experienced by those incarcerated there during the occupation and finally the actual liberation itself.

The authors have carried out a great deal pain-staking and thorough research and by accessing highly detailed documents, official war diaries and previously unpublished eye witness accounts, have produced a most authoritative volume on this fascinating subject. By reading this superb publication, many readers may be encouraged to carry out further research and also ask many searching questions about the “debacle” that resulted in 12,000 British, Commonwealth and Chinese defenders surrendering to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941.

This volume is certain to appeal to a wide range of readers that will include present day military personnel and students of military history together with family history researchers whose ancestors may have been caught up in the events whilst living or serving in Hong Kong at that time.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (January 2006)

Images of War
FLANDERS -1915

Author: Jon Cooksey

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

ISBN: 1-84415-356-8

Published in 2005

UK Price £14.99

I honestly believe that this really is one book that anyone with the even the slightest interest in the Great War will appreciate, as it is includes one of the best collections of war photographs I have seen in many years.

This splendid publication tells the story, through these rare and previously unpublished pictures, of the 1/5th Battalion of the York and Lancashire Regiment (a Territorial Army unit), from the time of its mobilisation in August 1914, through to the battalion seeing action in the trenches of the Ypres Salient .

The photographer responsible for this remarkable collection was a junior officer from Sheffield, who whilst serving with the Regiment during those early war years, took his camera just about everywhere with him. Thanks to his forethought in those troubled times, his legacy now provides us with a unique record of the brave “weekend soldiers” from South Yorkshire, when they were called upon to “plug the gaps” in the Regular Army, as it was experiencing severe manpower shortages due to the high degree of casualties, following four months of hard fighting.

Although this particular volume will be of special interest to family and local history researchers from the South Yorkshire area, I am sure it will also appeal to a wider range of readers too. Battlefield guides, militaria collectors and wargamers, together with students of military and photographic history plus many more, will find it interesting and an excellent source for future reference.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (January 2006)

THE VICTORIA CROSS

Author: Peter Duckers

Publisher:
Shire Publications Ltd
Cromwell House
Princess Risborough
Buckinghamshire
HP27 9AA
ISBN:10 7478 0635 7
Published in 2005

UK Price: £5.99

Once again, here is yet another excellent value for money volume from Shire Publications, that is certain to appeal to a wide range of readers, that will include students of military history, militaria and medal collectors, family and local history researchers, together with battlefield guides and tourists alike.

The Victoria Cross of course needs little introduction to the majority of us, as it is perhaps the most famous and hard-earned of all gallantry decorations world-wide. Despite its notoriety however there is still however a fair amount of myth surrounding its origins, the nomination criteria, the number of awards made since its inception in 1856 and the manufacture of the actual award itself. This handy, pocket sized publication succeeds in providing the reader with much more than fair amount of fascinating, up to date and comprehensive information, that will I am sure, not only answer more than just the average query, but will also encourage the reader to carry out further research.

I particularly appreciated the generous number of splendid black and white and colour photographs and diagrams provided. The list of sources for further reading and reference are particularly useful too and at just £5.99, it is too good to miss and therefore a must for every bookshelf.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (January 2006)

PASSCHENDAELE

Author: Philip Warner

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

ISBN: 1-84415 305 3

First Published in 1987
Published in this format 2005

UK Price £9.99

The small Belgian village of Passchendaele will of course need little introduction to many Military Historians, Battlefield Guides, tourists to the Western Front and family history researchers worldwide, as it was here in during the period between 31st July and 6th November 1917 that over half a million soldiers from Britain, France, the Commonwealth and of course Germany, became casualties in one of the most gruelling, bloody and bizarre battles of the Great War.

Despite the appalling weather and ground conditions at the time and the fact that the enemy had already had three years to establish their position, Field Marshall Haig was determined to continue his operations in the area, as he believed that once Passchendaele Ridge was reached and held, his road through Belgium and then on into Germany would be clear. However early in the following year all the gains made in capturing the “Ridge” had been lost and therefore today and in hindsight, many may once again the same question asked many times before about the Great War – “was it all worth it?”

Philip Warner the noted historian of 20th Century warfare and author of over fifty excellent books on military history has in this superb volume, successfully brought together all the elements of this horrendous campaign therefore providing the reader with an in-depth insight into a battle fought on ground so bad that one senior officer at the time wept and asked the question “did we really send men to fight in this?”

I personally rate this particular volume and consider it an invaluable reference tool and a therefore must for the bookshelves for anyone with an interest in the Great War.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (January 2006)

CASSEL’S BATTLEFIELDS OF
BRITAIN AND IRELAND

Author: Richard Brooks

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

ISBN: 0 30436333 2

First Published in 2005

UK Price £30.00

Here is one volume that any self-respecting historian and every educational establishment in the United Kingdom and Ireland should have on their bookshelves, as it covers every battle from Caesars landing in Kent in 55 BC through to the Battle of Britain in 1940. In fact, no less than 377 battles fought on British soil are covered in a clear and very readable format, with sufficient detail to answer more than the average question, which is also sure to encourage further research or study.

Divided into eight chronological parts with exciting headings that include – Sword and Javelin (55BC-AD83), Knight and Castle (1022-1329), along with Rifle and Radar (1916-1940), the excellent narrative includes political, strategic and technological developments of each period. For each individual battle, a “battle narrative” covering the forces involved, tactics employed, the progress and the overall outcome is included along with key data featuring over 100 detailed maps and diagrams together with Ordnance Survey Grid References for easy reference when visiting the sites in modern times.

The author of this splendid volume has an impeccable “pedigree” and with several exciting and successful and best-selling books “under his belt” to date, he has avoided the pitfall of “parroting the accounts” of earlier historians, therefore allowing the reader to learn the facts for themselves and make up their own minds as to the events at the time.

At just £30.00 it will be money well spent and I am sure it will appeal to the experts and enthusiasts as well as the serious student and layman alike. I consider it will be money well spent, as it will be a publication that is sure to be referred to on many occasions in many years to come.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (January 2006)

HORROCKS
THE GENERAL WHO LED FROM THE FRONT

Author: Philip Warner

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

ISBN: 1-84415 325 8

First Published in 1984
Published in this format 2005

UK Price £19.99

“Horrocks” is Philip Warner’s excellent biography of Lieutenant General Sir Brian Horrocks. Often described as “Britain’s answer to Rommel,” Horrocks enjoyed a long, successful and distinguished regular army career, before taking up the position of Black Rod in the Houses of Parliament. Not content with a quiet retirement, he later accepted a Directorship with the construction company Bovis , before going on to present a highly successful series of television programmes and becoming a most respected journalist and writer!

Horrocks who served in both World Wars, enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most successful field commanders of World War Two, a distinction which can be attributed to his unique style of leadership, where he successfully motivated his subordinates by bringing the best out in them and by winning them over, he went on to win more than one battle and play a major part in Monty’s overall success.

In “Horrocks”, Philip Warner has produced a book that is a fitting tribute to a very talented man, it provides fascinating reading and is sure to be appreciated by any one with an interest in military history.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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