Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2006
Section 14

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

The Crimean War

Author: R V L ffrench Blake

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 449 1

Published: September 2006

UK Price: 16.99

If you are considering purchasing just one volume on the Crimean War, I am sure this very reasonably priced re-print of the highly successful classic masterpiece will more than meet your requirements. Although there have been several much larger and more detailed volumes published to date, this one is without a doubt one of the easiest to read, whilst being sufficiently authoritative enough at the same time.

The lessons learnt during the Crimean War – one of the most important periods in our military history, resulted in “seeds being sown” that would eventually change the British Army for ever. The author – a distinguished and decorated WW2 cavalry officer himself, has cleverly brought together the events leading up to the war with all major aspects of the campaign. He has also covered plus a lot more too.

I am sure the researcher will be delighted with excellent black and white period maps and engravings included. The highly detailed appendices is an added bonus , as it features a chronological table of events and an excellent bibliography together with the Order of Battle for both the British Expeditionary Force of 1854 and the Russian and French Order of Battle for Alma. The section covering the titles of British Cavalry Regiments as they changed in the period between 1854 and 1900 and then again 1971 is most useful.

This publication will be invaluable for those lucky enough to be able to visit the battlefield, however for the rest of us “armchair or deskbound historians” it will be very useful and an enjoyable read too.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

Blood - Red Desert Sand
The British Invasions Of Egypt & The Sudan 1882-1898

Author: Michael Barthorp

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

Website : www.naval-military-press.com

ISBN: 0 304 36223 9

UK offer price: 5.95

This volume is worth every penny for the remarkable black and white photographs alone! The splendid pictures featuring many British military units are the work of pioneer war photographers and remarkably date back to as early as 1882, making this volume a must for military historians and family history researchers, together with model makers and militaria collectors alike.

The narrative is engrossing, encouraging the reader to turn the pages and learn more about this fascinating period in British history – a time when many of our Regiments were awarded battle honours that remain on Regimental colours and form part of their cap badges and uniforms today .

The author initially covers the period when British forces fought the French at Aboukir Bay, he then continues to recall events in 1882 when they again landed in Egypt to secure the strategic Suez Canal. The campaign in the Sudan is featured in excellent detail too and is supported by a number of maps and engravings of early paintings and drawings.

A bargain and valuable addition to any enthusiasts library .

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

CROMWELL’S MASTERSTROKE
Dunbar 1650

Author: Peter Reese

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 179 4

Published: October 2006

UK Price: 19.99

The author of this excellent volume having already written several successful books on Scottish battles, together with an acclaimed biography of William Wallace, has carved himself the enviable reputation for providing the reader with gripping and authoritative accounts of important events in Scottish military history.

This volume is no exception and therefore I feel sure that the reader will be delighted with the end result and possess a volume that will be invaluable if conducting further research into this particular battle - one of the decisive events in the Civil War, which resulted in Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army defeating the Scots on their home ground.

This is one of the first full-length histories on Dunbar to be published. It provides the reader with a useful insight of the lead up to the battle as well as a graphic account of the battle itself, the complex political background, key personalities and characters involved together with the structure of opposing armies. The readable narrative is backed up with several maps and a series of black and white photographs and period engravings. The excellent guide to the battlefield as it is today will be invaluable for the tourist and researcher, as will the very useful appendix which includes a list of the Scottish prisoners taken at Dunbar.

In summary, value for money and a must on your bookshelf if this period of history interests you.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

The History Of The Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918

Author: Major General C R Simpson

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

Website : www.naval-military-press.com

ISBN: ?

UK offer price: 5.95

This volume is worth every penny for the remarkable black and white photographs alone! The splendid pictures featuring many British military units are the work of pioneer war photographers and remarkably date back to as early as 1882, making this volume a must for military historians and family history researchers, together with model makers and militaria collectors alike.

The narrative is engrossing, encouraging the reader to turn the pages and learn more about this fascinating period in British history – a time when many of our Regiments were awarded battle honours that remain on Regimental colours and form part of their cap badges and uniforms today .

The author initially covers the period when British forces fought the French at Aboukir Bay, he then continues to recall events in 1882 when they again landed in Egypt to secure the strategic Suez Canal. The campaign in the Sudan is featured in excellent detail too and is supported by a number of maps and engravings of early paintings and drawings.

A bargain and valuable addition to any enthusiasts library .

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

The Adventures & Inventions of Stewart Blacker

Author: Barnaby Blacker

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 431 9

Published: October 2006

UK Price: 19.99

The majority of people may at this stage wonder who on earth Stewart Blacker was! I for one hadn’t heard of him, however I am sure that many will have all heard of at least one of his inventions- the famous PIAT anti-tank weapon – a weapon which had a dramatic effect on the enemy during Second World War and was instrumental in the actions, that led to several men being awarded the Victoria Cross.

This excellent volume written by Blacker’s Grandson, is based on previously un-published memoirs and letters from the family archives. It tells the fascinating story of a most remarkable man, who during his amazing and adventurous life, served King and country in both the Army and Air Force before joining MI5 and not being content with that, was also the first man to fly over Everest!

Blacker - a classics scholar, fluent in several tribal languages of the North West Frontier area of India, was an aviation pioneer, who having taken to the air shortly after the famous Wright brothers found himself in charge of the fledgling British air force at the out break of the Great War. Despite being shot down several times and breaking his neck on one occasion, he felt guilty, as he considered he had taken the easy option by waging war on the enemy from the air and therefore chose to return to his Regiment. He subsequently fought in the trenches, before being wounded at Neuve Chapelle in 1917. During the Great War, it was Blacker who also led the team which designed the mechanism allowing a machine gun to fire through a rotating propeller! He was therefore without a doubt a “boffin”, especially as he also pioneered high altitude aviation photography and was responsible for the development of several allied weapons in both wars too.

Having read the book, readers may consider this brave and clever man to have been eccentric, especially when they hear that during one period in his life, he was invited to take command of a Bolshevik division in Central Asia! However all in all, it is a fascinating volume, supplemented with some superb (and unusual) black and photographs. I am therefore sure it will provide many hours of enjoyable reading for a wide range of readers, especially those with an interest in the Great War, early aviation and weapons.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (December 2006)

RED PARTISAN

Author: Nikolai I Obryn’ba

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 428 9

Published: October 2006

UK Price: 19.99

The author of this excellent book was a very ordinary individual who was just setting out on his career when the Germans invaded Russia in 1941. As a result, he immediately volunteered for service in the Red Army, however when the enemy advanced, it was not long before he was taken prisoner.

In this volume , he tells of the brutality of the invader and recalls horrors and atrocious conditions in their prison camps and his subsequent struggle for survival as he escaped and later fought with the partisans behind the German lines in Belorussia.

Of course, many volumes have already been written about the campaign on the Eastern Front and both the German and Russian armies, however this is an uncompromising account of the human side of the conflict and life in the Red Army and as the readable text is supported with some excellent black and white photographs, it is therefore a valuable contribution to any library.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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