Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2006
Section 6

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2006)

AWARDS OF THE GEORGE CROSS
1940-2005

Author: John Frayn Turner

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

ISBN: 1844153517

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

First Published in 2006

UK Price: £19.99

Although many medals and decorations for gallantry and meritorious service already existed, King George Vl felt there was a need to formally recognise individual acts of outstanding bravery by the civilian population during the Blitz and therefore in September of 1940 he decided to create an honour bearing his name, that would be awarded to both the men and women of the Commonwealth and would rank next to the Victoria Cross.

This simple yet designed beautifully decoration is only awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger" and since its inception, has been awarded directly to no less than 154 people (of which 84 were posthumous awards), together with the Island of Malta, during the Second World War and more recently the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1999. Over 100 recipients received the award during the Second World War alone, however there have been 245 exchanges, when winners of the Empire Gallantry Medal, Albert Medal or Edward Medal were invited to exchange their decorations for the new award.

This splendid publication which follows in the path of the author’s recently published and successful volume on the Victoria Cross, provides the reader with a wealth of information that will be invaluable to both researchers and medal collectors alike. The brave exploits of both men and women from all walks of life including - miners, members of the armed forces, civilian emergency services, teachers, transport and postal workers are all commemorated within the covers of this excellent book, which is set out in the chronological order in which the awards were made. There are several photographs of recipients of the medal, together with a very useful appendix which lists the names of those exchanged their previous awards too.

This volume is up to date and includes full details of the most recent awards, including that made to 18 year old Christopher Finney – the Household Cavalry Trooper, for his heroic actions whilst on active-service in Iraq. It makes most interesting reading and therefore will without a doubt be an invaluable reference tool for both today and in the future.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2006)

BEFORE ENDEAVOURS FADE
A Guide To The Battlefields Of The First World War

Author: Rose E.B. Coombs M.B.E.

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

www.afterthebattle.com

ISBN: 1870067630

Published in May 2006

UK Price: £24.95

If there is one reference book that any serious military historian, battlefield guide or family history researcher with an interest in the battlefields of the Great War should buy, then this is it! I bought my first copy of this excellent volume over ten years ago and it has been a constant “companion” on my battlefield tours and at my side during many hours of research too.

The original volume was the result of years of unique research, a lifetimes knowledge and over a hundred visits, travelling thousands of miles around the battlefields of France and Belgium, by the late Rose Coombs – then the Special Collections Officer at the Imperial War Museum.

This splendid volume includes over thirty different battlefield tour/routes based on the popular Michelin Maps. Every significant British, American and French battlefield, memorial and war cemetery is covered in detail and the whole volume is packed to the hilt with an amazing amount of photographs (including aerial views) which add a whole new perspective to touring.

Anyone who has ever heard of this famous title, needs little proof of its success from the time it was first published in 1976 and the invaluable contribution it has made to battlefield tourism and research over the years. No less than 11 previous editions have been published to date and now as the 12th edition is published, it has been updated and enlarged by an incredible one third to cover sites and memorials not previously included.

Trust me on this one, this book will provide hours of interesting reading and browsing through the photographs. If you are touring the battlefields it will prove to be invaluable, if you are at home researching your family history, it will save you pounds, however beware, it may well make you want to join the growing group of people who are now dedicated battlefield tourists!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2006)

SOMME
The Battle Ninety Years On

Editor : Jon Wilkinson

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

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

ISBN: 1844154726

Published in May 2006

UK Price: £6.99

As one would expect, the closer we get to the 1st July this year - the 90th anniversary of the 1st day of the Battle of the Somme, the more media coverage will be given, as a steady flow of commemorative souvenirs and publications are produced and appear in shops.

Military Historians, Battlefield Guides and researchers interested in the Great War, will need little introduction to this event, which is recognised as one of the bloodiest days in our history, when no less than 19,240 of our soldiers were killed, 35,156 were wounded, 2,152 were reported missing and a further 585 were taken prisoner. Yes, these are horrific statistics for one day alone, however this battle was to continue for a further three and a half months, resulting in a far greater number of casualties that left few families in Britain without a loss in one way or another.

The more experienced military historians and researchers amongst us will be will of course be familiar with the facts, figures and tactics, however many thousands will not be so well read and may only seek an overview or suggestions for further reading, therefore this superb magazine style publication will be invaluable to that audience, as it provides the reader with a wealth fascinating and very readable information summarising what actually happened at the time.

It is packed from cover to cover with superb and expertly re-coloured and black and white photographs, numerous maps and diagrams covering the progress of the battle, personalities involved and equipment used. There is a very useful battlefield tour itinerary too, together with further articles on the war in the air, training, personal experiences and of course the “last tummies”.

At just £6.99, it’s a snip and therefore a must for anyone travelling on tour, or researching a family member who may have fought in the battle itself. I am sure it will provide a fascinating insight the this historic occasion and whilst serving as a souvenir of the 90th anniversary, may result in further research and reading not only this particular event, but the Great War in general.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2006)

TWENTY TWO HUNDRED DAYS TO PULO

Author: Author: Jack Edwards

Publisher: Melrose Books
St Thomas Place
Ely
Cambridgeshire,CB7 4GG

www.melrosebooks.com

ISBN: 190522639X

UK Price: £20.99

Anyone who has an interest in the Royal Navy, HMS Nigeria and the Russian and Malta Convoys in particular will therefore find this particular volume especially helpful, as it recalls the wartime service of a young man who joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman before hostilities broke out and served through to the very end of the war, when he left as a man with a combination of happy, sad , funny and some most unusual experiences behind him.

From a researchers point of view, the recruiting and training procedures in the navy at the time are both interesting and informative, however the recollections of the life he led, when he finally went to sea on HMS Nigeria give the reader a true insight into life aboard a Royal Navy cruiser at that time. Accurate descriptions of these fighting ships together with the horrific conditions suffered at sea and in the frozen Artic Circle, together with battle conditions when they were attacked by enemy aircraft, bigger ships with larger guns and submarines with torpedoes and sadly the death of his comrades are all included. There is an excellent amount of very well produced technical drawings of equipment used aboard ship and some good colour and black and white photographs too.

Of course, many biographies have already been written by famous high ranking naval officers, however this is the biography of a very ordinary person, doing an extraordinary job. This book kept me engrossed for hours and is also a very useful volume for naval historians, researchers and enthusiasts alike.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2006)

BRITISH CAMPAIGN MEDALS 1914- 2005

Author: Peter Duckers

Publisher
Shire Publications Ltd
Cromwel House
Church Street
Princes Risborough
Buckinghamshire HP27 9AA

ISBN: 07478 0649 7

Published in 2006

UK Price £4.99

£4.99 wont buy a lot these days, however if you are a collector or researcher with even the slightest interest in British medals, this is one book you should certainly buy.

It is a splendid and invaluable source of reference covering the war and campaign medals awarded to British service personnel between 1914 and the present day. It is smack up to date, it is very readable, handy in size and provides more than enough information to cover general queries and also points you in the right direction for further research, medal specialists and auction houses.

Besides detailing the basic history behind the award, readers will find the excellent quality full colour photographs exceptionally useful for both reference and recognition purposes.

I am a great lover of these little books – I have owned and used them personally for my own research and collecting purposes for over forty years and they have never failed me yet.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2006)

A CENTURY OF REMEMBRANCE

Author: Derek Boorman

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

www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

ISBN: 1844153169

UK Price: £15.99

As one can imagine, with our armed forces having taken part in a vast number of campaigns in the far flung corners of the empire, there has been a price to pay in the form of a great loss of human life and therefore, there is hardly a town or village in the whole United Kingdom, that has not been effected in one way or another. Whilst there is a minority who believe war memorials glorify war, the majority see them as lasting tributes to the brave men and women of our country who paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for our freedom today. Sadly however as we go about our daily routines many of these monuments often go un-noticed. Occasionally, we may stop and rest by them, or research a particular name or inscription and perhaps admire the design and craftsmanship of the architect and sculptor.

This excellent volume containing many splendid black and white and colour photographs has been published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the first memorials to the fallen of the Boer War and features 100 outstanding memorials from our city centres, schools, churches and even places of work around the country. The monuments featured are of all sizes and cover just about every major campaign of the 20th Century, from the Boer War, through to the Falklands conflict and it even includes the most recently completed memorial in London commemorating Animals in War.

There is a lot of useful information that will prove helpful to a wide range of readers that will include Family and Military Historians, art students and architects through to the man in the street and whilst not featuring every memorial in the country, it will certainly encourage further research and perhaps make you look twice when you pass by a similar monument in the future.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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