Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2006
Section 13

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

The History Of The Cheshire Regiment In The Great War

Author: Colonel Arthur Crookenden

Publisher: Naval and Military Press
Unit 10, Ridgewood Industrial Park
Uckfield
East Sussex
TN22 5QE

Website : www.naval-military-press.com

ISBN: 1 845741404

Published: 2005

UK Price: 22.00

Naval and Military Press, have once again provided the military historian and researcher with an invaluable service by re-publishing this long out of print volume at the most reasonable price of twenty two pounds. In common with similar works, original copies of this title would normally be difficult to find and if available, would probably cost around four or five times as much!

Although the Regiment mustered an amazing thirty eight battalions during the Great War, this particular volume which contains no less than 358 pages, chronicles the war record of the fifteen battalions of the Regiment which served on the Western Front, in Italy, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Macedonia.

At the beginning of the war, the 1st Battalion, whilst serving on the outskirts of Mons, was subjected to the brunt of an attack by two German Army Corps, however they held their positions and as a result, their heroic stand is said to have actually saved the British Expeditionary Force from disaster. That battalion fought throughout the war too and during that period, was awarded no less than thirty five of the Regiment’s seventy five battle honours! Two members of the Regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross, however over 8,400 lost their lives!

This is a very readable volume, however as far as Regimental histories go, this particular history is unusual, as each theatre of war is covered separately and not necessarily in chronological order! The large appendices will however be invaluable for researchers, as having commenced with a summary showing the totals of dead officers and other rank totals by battalions, it is followed by the nominal rolls, with officers grouped alphabetically and other ranks in their battalions. The comprehensive 56-page list of Honours and Awards, including Mentions In Despatches, is arranged alphabetically and although the ranks of the recipients are not given, the citations for the VC, DSO, MC and DCM awards are. The final appendix, entitled ‘Mobilization’, is useful too as it briefly provides the story of each battalion before it went overseas.

I can honestly say that if anyone has the slightest interest in this Regiment, they will not want to be without this title as it is a mine of information and represents excellent value for money.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

There’s A Devil In The Drum

Author: J.F. Lucy

Publisher: Naval and Military Press
Unit 10, Ridgewood Industrial Park
Uckfield
East Sussex
TN22 5QE

Website : www.naval-military-press.com

ISBN: 1 84342 110

First Published 1932 Re-Published By Naval and Military Press

UK Price: 9.95

The simple cover and unusual title do not do this splendid book any favours, for I can honestly say that this is one of the most eloquent and most interesting accounts of the Great War I have read in recent years!

This excellent volume tells the fascinating story of John Lucy, a young man from Cork, who shortly after leaving school, was, along with his brother locked out of their home by their Father one evening and told to stay out. They therefore traveled to Dublin and being full of life and spirit and seeking adventure, joined the Royal Irish Rifles in January 1912.

After training at the depot and subsequent postings to both Dover and Tidworth, they joined the 2nd Battalion as it moved to France. Sadly his brother was killed at the Aisne, however John saw action at Mons, Le Cateau, the Aisne, 3rd Ypres , Cambrai and Neuve Chapelle where his unit was reduced to just 2 officers and 46 men, when 181 men were killed in less than four days!

This brave young man eventually received a well deserved commissioned and saw further action before he received wounds that meant his return to England and the end of the war.

This is a superb book will be invaluable to military historians with an interest in the Great War and the Irish Divisions, it is one of the few volumes available that describe the early battles of 1914. In 1938, a critic wrote - ‘it is easily the best [war book] written by an Irishman’ – this in my opinion is still true and therefore many will not want to be without it.

An excellent publication that is worth every penny at just under ten pounds!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

FLAK HOUSES THEN AND NOW
The Story of American Rest Homes in England

Author: Keith Thomas

Publisher: After The Battle
The Mews,
Hobbs Cross House
Hobbs Cross
Old Harlow
Essex CM17 0NN

Website : www.afterthebattle.com

ISBN: 1 870067665

Published: November 2006

UK Price: 14.95

An unusual title for an interesting book that provides readers with details of 21 large houses around the United Kingdom that were used as rest and relaxation homes for US aircrews during the Second World War.

It was in 1942 that the authorities realized that combat crews needed to get away from the atrocities of war and therefore after 18 missions over enemy territory were eligible to spend time at one of these locations .As a result, during the war years no less than 87,000 men passed through these homes.

Drawing on American Red Cross archives and information obtained from former residents/guests of the homes and local people, the author, prompted to write this volume after a conversation with an American friend as to how he met his wife, has put together a fascinating story of these houses. In the usual After the Battle style, he has used a wide range of then and now photographs to back up his fascinating narrative and has included photographs of many of the personalities involved together with both internal and external views and maps featuring the locations of the properties.

Stories of turning dining rooms into dance halls, clay pigeon shooting, basketball and horse back riding provide the reader with an insight into the recreation activities available in these homes at the time. There is no doubt they helped achieved the aim of taking the men’s minds off the war, however war was still not far away!

Many of these grand houses have now fell in to dis-repair or were demolished, however some still stand and are used are corporate headquarters for multi-national companies. I am sure therefore that this book that will be invaluable to aviation enthusiasts and local and family history researchers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

THE WAR OF WARS
The NAPOLEONIC ERA

Author: Robert Harvey

Publisher: Constable & Robinson
3 The Lanchesters
Fulham Palace Road
London W^ 9ER

Website : www. constablerobinson.com

ISBN: 1841199583

Published: November 2006

UK Price: 25.0

This amazing 800 page volume certainly lives up to the publishers description of being - “the definitive one volume account of the Napoleonic Wars” and therefore anyone with the slightest interest in this exciting period of history, will definitely want a copy on their bookshelves!

Robert Harvey is an accomplished historical author with several excellent volumes to his credit . He has a reputation for “wielding the pen like a sabre” and in this particular volume, there is no exception, as he provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the 22 year long turn of the century conflict between Britain and France - a war that could, if it had turned out differently, have had a lasting impact on our nation up until present times.

His overview of the situation in both Britain and France between the years 1789 and 1785 are valuable in setting the scene. He has gone to great lengths in his research and this is quite obvious from his exciting narrative, as he cleverly describes and the numerous personalities and characters involved in events that spanned from the sunny Caribbean Seas to the cold wastes of Russia. These colourful figures ranged from the ordinary soldier and sailor through to spies and high ranking politicians and one must not of course forget the famous admirals and generals themselves. His radical reassessment of Napoleon might however lead to some controversy in some circles, as he describes the French Emperor as being less brilliant than traditionally portrayed!

His gripping narrative is backed up by numerous maps and copies of several excellent black and white historical plates thus adding to the overall value of the volume. There is no doubt that this publication is packed to the hilt with a wealth of information and if you are interested in buying just one title on this important conflict, this is obviously the one to go for.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

NORTH WEST AIRCRAFT WRECKS

Author: Nick Wotherspoon

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

Website : www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

ISBN: 1 84415 478 5

Published: November 2006

UK Price: 14.99

Aviation enthusiasts together with local and family history researchers with an interest in the North West of England will, I promise find this handy sized volume fascinating.

Sub titled “New Insights Into Dramatic Last Flights” this splendid 18 chapter very readable publication provides the reader with a wealth of information, much of which was previously unpublished and obtained from a wide variety of sources, including official archives and statements from families, friends and eye witnesses to the crashes.

It describes an entirely new approach to aviation archeology as it explores aircraft crash sites in an area that covers Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and the North West. However having said that there are mentions of crashes in the Peak District, Northumbria and North Yorkshire too.

In the usual Pen and Sword style, it is packed to the hilt with many superb black and white photographs of personalities involved, their aircraft and many crash sites too. The excellent appendices detailing over 2000 aircraft crashes in the area during the period between 1917 and the late 1990’s makes it an invaluable source of reference and therefore a must for many bookshelves.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

The Rhine Crossing
9th US Army & 17th US Airborne

Author: Andrew Rawson

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

Website : www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

ISBN: 1 84415 232 4

Published: 12th October 2006

UK Price: 12.99

From the title, this volume may at first appear to be of relevance to those following the actions of the American units, however as several British units including Scottish and Highland Divisions, Airborne and Air Landing Brigades plus Guards Armoured, and Commando Brigades were involved too, this title will certainly be of interest to researchers interested in these units, as well as those with an overall interest in Operation Varsity –the 21st Army Group crossing of the Rhine in the Spring of 1945.

This volume, which is packed to the hilt with information, will be especially popular to those interested in the events following the Allied invasion of Normandy in the early Summer of 1944, as although Operation Varsity rivaled Operation Overlord in size, few books have been written about it in comparison.

I am sure readers will be delighted with the numerous high quality black and white photographs and maps included as they tell a story on their own . The photos feature many of the key personalities (of both sides) involved at the time, therefore helping put faces to names and bringing a new perspective to the chain of events.

In common with other volumes in the excellent and well written Battleground series of books, there is a very useful battlefield tour itinerary included too. Supplemented with a list of where to stay and other valuable information, this handy sized book is a must if contemplating touring or passing through the area .

Last updated 25 December, 2013

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