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The Royal British Legion

Section 3

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: Lt Col George Forty OBE FMA

Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Phoenix Mill
Thrupp, Stroud,
Gloucestershire GL5 2BU

ISBN: 0750931906

Re-Published: March 2006

UK Price:£ 14.99


Military Historians, Militaria collectors and Family History Researchers with an interest in the British Army in the Second World War cannot go far wrong by buying this superb value for money volume, as I am sure it will be invaluable in their research whatever it might be now and in years to come.

In common with the other titles in this excellent series of books from Sutton, this volume is once packed to the hilt with a wealth of very readable information, therefore providing the reader with a comprehensive overview of the British Army during one of the crucial periods in our history. There is no doubt, that this excellent work is the result of a vast amount of research by the author- who as an ex-army officer himself, certainly knows his stuff and has therefore succeeded where many have failed in producing a volume that, although it does not profess to cover everything about the British Army, has gone most of the way towards that task!

This soft-back volume covers details of mobilisation and training, unit formations, headquarters structure as well as weapons and equipment, however it also includes chapters on tactics plus so much more. I personally think it is worth the price for the numerous photographs alone and although they, along with the maps and diagrams etc. are black and white, they do not detract from the quality of the publication.

If you have the slightest interest in the British Army, this is a book for you and at under fifteen pounds, is a good investment.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: David Wragg

Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Phoenix Mill
Thrupp, Stroud,
Gloucestershire GL5 2BU

ISBN: 0750939370

Published: March 2005

UK Price: £25.00 (Hardback)


David Wragg has successfully written over twenty books covering naval and aviation history and I am certain that this volume will be as popular with the others in the same series, as it provides the reader with a wealth of information that is sure to be invaluable to a wide range of readers that include Naval Historians through to collectors and family history researchers alike.

No matter how skilled the author is, I don’t think anyone would he be able to cover this fascinating subject in its entirety and in one volume, especially as the Royal Navy boasted around 1000 ships and nearly 90,000 men by the end of hostilities. The author has however succeeded in producing a superb volume at a very reasonable price. His readable text is once again supported with many fascinating photographs and diagrams and includes illustrations of rank and branch badges. The detailed appendix features sections on battle honours and medals plus a chronological order of events.

Anyone with an interest in the Royal Navy during this crucial period in British History will enjoy reading this book. I am sure if will be refered to time and time again over the years to come, therefore making it a sound investment that will save many hours of painstaking research.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: Adrian Greaves

Publisher: Orion House
5 Upper St Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA

Website :

ISBN: 978 0 297 84656 7

Published: 2007

UK Price: £20.00 (Hardback)

Mirage of a Desert War

As T.E. Lawrence is one of the most enigmatic characters in British History, much has already been written about him, however this splendid volume is very different from the other previous titles, as it separates truth from all the fiction that surrounds this legendary man and covers the battles in which he fought in greater detail than anything previously written. It also goes further in the respect that is goes on where others have stopped and describes events involving Lawrence after the war.

Lawrence was 26 when war broke out and was already working as an archaeologist in the Middle East. Despite no previous military training or experience, he was quickly sent to work in Cairo as a junior intelligence officer. From those humble beginnings, the rest is history, for as we all now know, he went on to succeed in a task where many others had failed and united the arab people and led them to victory against their arch enemy-the Turks.

This splendid volume will fascinate serious military historians and casual readers alike, as it goes great lengths to dispel the many myths surrounding this eccentric hero, who in reality was much more ruthless than the man depicted in the film. It is well known, that he was a man who hated both politicians and senior officers, however it may surprise many to learn that he had originally been nominated for a Victoria Cross, however this was refused by the War Office. In later years he was invited to meet the King at Buckingham Palace, however once there, having learned he was to receive a probable Knighthood and a Victoria Cross, he quickly made his excuses and departed, leaving a very embarrassed King holding the awards with no recipient to pin them on!

The very readable text is supported with some excellent historically important personae involved in the events and a detailed list of historical documents invaluable for further research. It summary, it is a superb, excellent value for money read.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (March 2007)

Author: Ian Baxter

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

Website :

ISBN: 1 84415 490 4

Published: 2006

UK Price:£ 14.99


This really is an excellent publication from Pen and Sword’s Images of War series and is therefore certain to appeal to a wide range of readers with an interest in armoured fighting vehicles. Military historians together with modellers and militaria collectors will find it invaluable as it is packed to the hilt with a wonderful collection of over 250 rare black and white photographs featuring German tanks and their crews from the Second World War period as well as a number that date back to the early 1930’s too.

There are more photographs than text, but don’t let this deter you as these splendid photographs together with their accompanying text/captions are worth thousands of words and actually tell a unique story on their own, especially as they include pictures men and their machines taken during training as well as during their time on active service on many fronts during the war itself.

The author has gone to great lengths in his research to find the splendid subject matter for his book, this has involved scanning official war archives as well as private collections and the result is, that he has produced a excellent value for money and invaluable publication.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (April 2007)

Author: John Nichol
& Tony Rennell

Publisher: Penguin Viking
80 The Strand
London WC2R 0RL

Website :

ISBN: 9780670916030

Published: March 2007

UK Price: £20.00

Escape from Nazi Europe

If you are interested in the Second World War, then I promise you that here is one title you will not want to miss!

This exciting and often very moving volume provides the reader with hours of excellent reading and a fascinating insight into the world of escape and evasion in wartime Europe, where no less than a quarter of a million allied soldiers, sailors and airmen found themselves in captivity following failing to be evacuation at Dunkirk or after being shot down during bombing raids over enemy held territory. Amazingly between 3000 and 5000 of these men actually managed to avoid capture, remained free and many remarkably made it back to Britain to “fight another day” too. This is their story!

John Nichol - one of the co-authors of this excellent book, is no stranger to being on the run in enemy territory – whilst serving as a member of the crew of a RAF Tornado during the First Gulf War, he was “shot down”, subsequently captured and became a Prisoner of War, therefore he is able to relate to those brave men of sixty years ago and is suitably qualified to co-write this volume.

Pain-staking research, wading through massive amounts of archive material together with the collation of many eye witness accounts has resulted in a publication that not only explains how allied servicemen found themselves behind enemy lines in the first-place, but continues to cover tales of sheer determination and cunning evasion also. It recalls acts of extraordinary heroism amongst the ordinary men, women and sometimes the children of occupied France, Belgium and Holland, who risked their lives and those of their families and friends in operating safe houses and setting up escape routes to bring our boys back to safety. Not all escapes were successful or without cost however, as the book also proves by providing the reader with rare first hand accounts of torture and interrogation and life in the gaols and concentration camps of the notorious Gestapo and their Nazi colleagues.

This engrossing volume provides a unique insight into a very different aspect of the war. It is without a doubt a must for researchers and enthusiasts bookshelves and is exceptional value at only twenty pounds.

Book Review By
Michael D Booker (April 2007)

Author: Barrie Fieldgate

Publisher: Melrose Books
St Thomas Place
Cambridgeshire CB7 4GG

Website :

ISBN: 1905226462

Published: February 2007

UK Price: £24.99

The Falklands 1982

This excellent volume based on a diary written by Falkland’s Veteran Barrie Fieldgate provides the reader with a fascinating insight into life aboard a British warship on the lead-up to and during the Falklands War of 1982. Although many volumes have already been written by about this conflict by senior officers, politicians and historians, this particular one has been written by an ordinary naval rating who along with his ship-mates did an extraordinary job in extreme conditions and therefore adds a new perspective to the written history of war.

The author served as the Captain's Steward onboard the Royal Navy frigate HMS Broadsword at this time and as such was ideally situated to experience the private thoughts and fears of everyone from the ordinary seaman on the mess deck to the officers in the Wardroom and the Captain- the man with overall responsibility for the multi million pound vessel and everyone on board her.

Fieldgate’s diary begins on April 5, 1982. At this point he outlines his general duties and daily life on board Broadsword. OK, much of this is routine naval life, however it describes the many incidents that he and his colleagues were involved in at the time and the excitement amongst the crew when the ship arrived in an overseas port the ship had not previously visited and therefore from a social history point of view alone, this volume is important too. However back to the main story, Broadsword had in fact left Gibraltar and was heading for Naples, when the ship received "the one and only signal that the whole ship's company had hoped would never be received" - the ship had been ordered to return to Gibraltar and prepare to sail to the South Atlantic - and war! At that point, the author states "We all realise that this is for real," .This fascinating volume therefore continues and recounts the progress of the war and his experiences aboard as the number of casualties (men and ships) mounted as several British warships were hit by enemy fire. During the period between 01st May and the 24th May, British ships were in fact under constant attack from the enemy and this book reflects exactly what the author saw of those actions".

There is no doubt that this volume will interest men who served in the Falklands at that time. Those who were aboard Broadsword will not wish to be without it I am sure, however anyone with an interest in this war will find it an entertaining read and a useful source of reference. There is a very useful (although irrelevant) section on naval heroes in history and a guide to naval terminology, jargon and slang. There are some very good black and white and colour photos too that feature either life on board the ship or other ships either on fire or crippled by enemy action.

A useful addition to the maritime enthusiasts liabray!

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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