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The Royal British Legion

Section 4

Book Review By Michael D Booker (May 2007)

Photographs: Brian Harris

Publisher: Merrell

ISBN: 1858943744

ISBN-13: 9781858943749

Published in May 2007

UK Price:£ 29.95

The History of the Commonwealth Wargraves Commission

Military historians and family history researchers along with the many of the thousands who regularly visit the battlefields and Commonwealth War cemeteries around the globe each year, will be delighted with this superb large format colourful volume, which in a mixture of words and beautiful photographs chronicles the history of the multi-national organization that is tasked with caring for the final resting places of over 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead of both the Great and Second World Wars.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission who’s work is funded by the Australian, British, Canadian, Indian, New Zealand and South African Governments, skilfully and caringly maintains cemeteries in no less than 23,000 cemeteries in locations spanning 170 countries worldwide, was founded 90 years ago with the aim of recording the exact burial places of servicemen killed in battle and providing them with a grave, where without distinction in rank, race or creed, but with uniformity would be remembered in perpetuity.

Writing this book would not have been an easy task, however the author has succeeded, in not only covering the history of the Commission, but has also cleverly “woven in” many fascinating stories behind the headstones adding a human and sensitive perspective to the history too. This factor alone makes fascinating reading however, when the text is coupled together with Brian Harris’s brilliant and very often artistic photographs taken in Europe, Canada, the Middle and Far East, the volume becomes more valuable to both the researcher and casual reader.

As all royalties from the sale of this excellent volume are being donated towards the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, I would therefore urge anyone with an interest is this fascinating subject to purchase this volume to assist them in keeping up their excellent work.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2007)

Author: General Sir Frank Kitson

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

ISBN-10: 0753821850

ISBN-13: 978-053821850

Published in February 2007

UK Price:£ 8.99

The Military Biography of Oliver Cromwell

This excellent volume represents superb value for money and it is therefore a must for Civil War enthusiasts.

The author- a former Commander in Chief of UK Land Forces with 40 years military service under his belt has carried out extensive research and as a result, with skilful penmanship, he has cleverly and successfully achieved a great deal in this short but comprehensive, handy sized volume which is in my opinion a potted history of the English Civil War!

Those purchasing the publication will find the author's very readable narrative revealing and most useful in helping them understand why Cromwell proved so successful. It covers Cromwell’s actions at Marston Moor, 2nd Newbury, the advance to and Battle of Naseby plus the Preston Campaign, together with exploits in Scotland and Ireland and of course Dunbar!

Several useful black and white photographs of key personalities add to the interesting text. The author’s epilogue and assessment are useful and therefore for those seeking a general overview and this famous character in British history, this volume is invaluable.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (June 2007)

Author: Ian F W Beckett

Publisher: Shire Publications
Cromwell House
Church Street
Princes Risborough
HP27 9AA

ISBN: 978 0 297 7478 2

Published in maY 2007

UK Price:£ 9.99 (paperback)


Another very useful, handy sized and splendid value for money volume from Shire, which I am sure will appeal to a wide range of readers with an interest in matters military.

The British Army is justly proud of its Regimental traditions and although some, such as the Trooping the Colour are famous worldwide, the majority will probably be unfamiliar to the outsider and may even seem strange and confusing at times, to even the serving soldier, especially those new to a particular Regiment or corps.

The author – no stranger to Shire Books, has cleverly covered the period from the emergence of the British Army in the days of Charles II, through its subsequent expansion over the past three hundred plus years, to the most recent amalgamations and in 2007. A mamouth task one might think, however in the short space of this compact volume, he provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the cavalry, the infantry and corps of the regular army, as well as the militia and territorial army. Regimental customs and ranks, together with the uniforms and badges they wear and the weapons and equipment they use are featured in chapters that also include ceremonials and bands, mascots and nicknames, along with medals and memorials too.

In common with other publications from Shire, this volume also includes many excellent high quality black and white and colour photographs, together with suggestions for further reading and a detailed index. Researchers and enthusiasts will also find the comprehensive list of military museums useful and therefore a must for days out.

I bought a first edition copy of this excellent title over thirty years ago and have found it an invaluable source of reference on many occasions. I therefore have no hesitation in recommending this much updated and improved edition to any researcher or militaria collector. I would stick my neck out and advise any new recruits entering the army to purchase a copy too.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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