Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

2007
Section 2

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (January 2007)

Author: Tim Saunders

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 2219

UK Price: 14.99

OPERATION PLUNDER

Here is yet another splendid volume from Pen and Sword’s Battle Ground Europe series of books. These excellent, highly illustrated and handy sized volumes provide the military historian, casual reader and researcher with a wealth of information that in my opinion, is invaluable during research into the particular campaign covered and thanks to the excellent suggested itineraries also included, is especially helpful when touring the actual battlefield areas themselves.

The author – a serving British Army officer and notable military historian to boot, has a wealth of operational experience behind him. He already has several publications in this series to his credit and in this particular volume, he successfully tells the fascinating story in both words and excellent pictures of the allied 21st Army Group Rhine crossing in March 1945. Although “Plunder” was the overall name for the entire operation, each of the major elements had its own codeword – “Turnscrew” and “Torchlight” for the British assault and river crossing and “Wigeon” and “Flashlight” for the crossing by XVI US Corps.

The operation was a success and I am sure this excellent value for money readable book will be too – I enjoyed it and it is now an valuable addition to my own library.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (February 2007)

Author: Giles E M Eyre

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

Website : www.naval-military-press.com

ISBN: 1843421097

First Published 1938 Re-Published By Naval and Military Press 2001

UK Price: 9.95

SOMME HARVEST

Sub titled “Memories of a B.B.I. in the Summer of 1916” his excellent and very moving volume recalls the war time experiences of a rifleman whilst serving in the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps as he fought in the trenches of France in the period between May and July 1916.

Some may of course wonder how one man – an ordinary Rifleman, could fill a 260 page volume with his experiences, for what is, in the whole context of the Great War, a relatively short period of time. Having read the volume from cover to cover, I can now appreciate that this brave but amazingly un-decorated man experienced more fighting and scenes of death and carnage than many did in the whole of the war and perhaps their lifetime too.

The author enlisted in August 1914, and having served in one of the two Special Reserve battalions at Sheerness, was soon posted to 7th KRRC (one of the first of that Regiment’s Kitchener battalions) at Winchester. He moved to France with his battalion in May 1915 and subsequently fought at Hooge when the Germans used the dreadful flame-thrower for the first time and on the 30th July that year alone, his battalion suffered no less than 300 casualties. In December 1915 he too was wounded and returned to England to convalesce. hence the reason this account opens after he returned to France, when his new battalion (2 KRRC ) launched a large scale raid on the Triangle at Loos – a raid which cost over 240 casualties, including Rifleman William Mariner VC, who was blown to pieces in front of the author! Graphic descriptions of further bitter fighting follow and cover subsequent events up until the actions at Bazentin and Pozières Ridge where his battalion commander, company commander and sergeant major were killed and he was eventually taken prisoner.

Military historians with a general interest in the Great War and family history researchers with a special interest in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps will find this volume fascinating. Many men are mentioned by name too, therefore aiding research.

It is yet another excellent value for money volume from this publisher that so many of us a grateful to, for making our research affordable.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (February 2007)

Author: Patrick Takle

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 54025

UK Price: 12.99

THE AFFAIR AT NÉRY

Titles in this superb series of excellent value for money books are in fact concise histories and guide books combined. They are of course well known and popular with a wide range of readers who share an interest in either the Great War or Second World Wars. In common with other titles in the Battleground series, this particular volume commences with a general but fairly comprehensive introduction which is then followed by more detailed information on the events and actions that actually took place in the area at the time. As usual, there is an excellent selection of high quality and possibly unique photographs and a host of maps too. The volume once again includes suggested itineraries for a battlefield touring which in itself is invaluable in planning a visit to the battlefield. .

Nery is a reasonably remote, small and ancient town in the Oise Department of France. It was here, on the 31t August 1914 that the 1st Cavalry Brigade settled for the evening during their retreat from Mons. By dawn the following morning they were discovered by the German 4th Cavalry Division and soon came under attack. The initial bombardment caused chaos and destruction and took our forces totally by surprise, amazingly however the British troops managed to rally round and the they fought an excellent defensive action which included a classic cavalry style charge by the Queen’s Bays, which in fact fooled the enemy into thinking they were outnumbered and as a result despite the Germans actually being the larger force, the enemy withdrew.

In the overall scheme of the Great War, the events here were small, Eight of the enemy guns were captured however and the gallant actions by the men of L Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery were such, that three members of that unit were awarded the Victoria Cross. In recognition of those events at Nery” a battery of the Royal Horse Artillery has been officially titled L (Nery) Battery ever since!

In summary, this another publication from Pen and Sword that will, I am sure interest both military historians and researchers alike and thanks to those useful itineraries, enhance the overall touring experience for anyone visiting the battlefield too.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: Patrick Delaforce

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

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

ISBN: 1 84415 512 9

Pulished; 2007

UK Price: 19.99

MONTY’S HIGHLANDERS

This in a nutshell is a very affordable, first rate history of first rate division written by a first rate author with actual wartime battlefield experience and therefore I am sure it will appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those with an interest in this particular division and the men who served in it .

Monty once described the 51st Highland Division as one of the finest formations that had ever served under his command. In fact, it was the only infantry division that had served with him from his time in the Western Desert at El Alamein through to the invasion of Normandy and then the final entry into Berlin.

After facing a disaster at St Valery in 1940 when many members of the division were either killed or captured, the division soon re-formed and fought with distinction throughout the war, however this was not without cost either, as they suffered over 2,000 casualties at El Alamein plus a further 1,500 men were lost whilst liberating Sicily. During the 11 month period between 1944 and 1945 they also sustained a further 9,000 casualties too!

After hard fighting in North Africa and Italy, the division returned to England in time to take part in the Second Front, they landed in Normandy and successfully fought through the Bocage to triumphantly re-occupy St Valery. After taking Le Havre, they continued on through Holland and the Ardennes and were amongst the first troops to cross the Rhine.

Famous for their HD cipher, they were sometimes referred to as the “Highway Decorators” however they were highly skilled troops who were well led and their achievements during this conflict will be immortal.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: Barry Gregory

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

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

ISBN: 978 1 84415 503 3

Pulished; 2006

UK Price: 15.00 (Hardback)

THE HISTORY OF THE ARTIST RIFLES
1859-1947

The Artist Rifles deservedly enjoy a reputation as being one of Britain’s elite volunteer Regiments - an enviable reputation earned for several reasons, which include the fact that it was originally formed by students at Carey’s School of Art in London in 1859 and a year later attracted painters, sculptors, engravers, architects, musicians, poets and actors to its ranks. One must not however forget the fact that the Regiment fought with distinction during both the Boer and Great Wars and having acted as a training ground, often provided officers for other units too. As a result eight former members of the Artists were awarded well-deserved Victoria Crosses.

This splendid well written volume provides the reader with insight into just part of the Regiment’s proud history, between the years 1858 and 1947, however the Artists story does not end there as they were reformed in 1947 and still served today under the more familiar title of 21 SAS Regiment (Artists) TA – the sister Regiment of the internationally famous 22 SAS whose daring exploits are legendary.

The author – a former member of the Regiment himself, has succeeded in producing a well over due volume that will be cherished by both serving and ex members of the Regiment and prove invaluable to researchers too, as it includes many excellent photographs of personalities involved with the Regiment over the years, together with extensive lists of names of members of the Regiment who achieved notoriety in sporting events, won decorations, or were involved in other spheres of public life for one reason or another.

All in all, a very valuable addition to many bookshelves and a most informative read.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: Barry Gregory

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing Co (Edinburgh) Ltd
7 Albany Street
Edinburgh EH1 3UG

ISBN: 978 1 84596 089 6

Pulished: October 2006

UK Price: 12.99 (Hardback)

THE BLACK WATCH
A Concise History

Formed in 1725 as an independent security force (or watch) their initial task was to guard the lawless areas of the Scottish Highlands. From those dark years through to the present day, the Black Watch has served its country fearlessly and has earned the enviable reputation as being one of the finest fighting Regiments in the British Army.

Brave men of the Regiment added many battle honours to the Regimental colours over the years– they are of course too numerous to mention them all here, however historically famous names such as Alma, Sevastopol and waterloo, together with Egypt, South Africa, Ypres, Arras, Loos, Somme, Cassino, Tobruk and El Alamein will be familiar to many and need no further elaboration in respect of the hardships suffered and the gallant actions fought . In post war years, the Regiment saw active service in Korea, Kenya, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and more recently in Iraq. Other unusual accolades include them being the last Resident battalion in Hong Kong and were present there in 1997 when the British flag was lowered for the last time. Rather unusual is the fact that 8 Pipers of the Regiment also led the funeral procession of the late President John F Kennedy !

This excellent concise history follows Trevor Royale’s previous publication detailing the history of the Royal Scots-another distinguished Scottish Regiment who, along with the Black Watch were “swallowed up” in 2006 (as part of the government’s radical defence policy), into the newly formed Royal Regiment of Scotland. Despite this volume’s compactness and most attractive price, the author has successfully managed to cover nearly 300 years of distinguished service in enough detail to provide the military historian, collector and family history researcher with a host of invaluable information. In common with his previous volume, this title has some excellent colour and black and white plates too, together with an appendix that includes a fully comprehensive index, a Regimental Family Tree, a full list of battle honours together with citations for the Victoria Cross together and details of Regimental marches, badges and tartans.

All in all, a very useful reasonably priced volume that will appeal to a wide range of readers especially those with an interest in the Regiment.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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