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Author: Jonathan Sutherland and Diane Canwell

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books Limited

ISBN: 978 184415 4203
Price: £19.99

BERLIN AIRLIFT - The salvation of a city

As my Father took part in ground operations supporting the Berlin Airlift and was actually stationed in Berlin at the time, I was fascinated by the content of this excellent volume which tells the gripping story of how the Russians, following an order from Stalin cut off all road and rail traffic into and out of the Allied Sector of Berlin in the early Summer of 1948.

Suddenly, Berlin became a city under siege! Now, the only way to get much needed food and medical supplies and other necessities of life into the beleaguered city was by a narrow air corridor that stretched just twenty miles wide and which crossed over the Soviet occupied zone. Not to be defeated, Britain with its wartime allies – France and the USA answered the call for help, however this demanded skill, courage and sheer determination. Wartime aircraft and pilots were therefore dragged out of retirement and in spite of threats the Russians to destroy any aircraft straying off course, the city was saved and by the time the blockade ended 328 days later, over two and a quarter million tons of essential supplied had been ferried into what eventually became known as West Berlin.

The authors- specialists in military history and warfare have carried out extensive original research and as well as providing the reader with an excellent ins ight into Operation Plainfare, they have also included many superb atmospheric photographs of the aircraft, equipment, personnel and of the German population too. There is a very useful bibliography and has an appendix which includes details of the RAF units involved, monthly tonnages, examples of Soviet harassment, a chronology of events and copies of original documents relation to rationing.

A very useful and fascinating volume that will appeal to many veterans who served in Berlin at the time together with students of social history and logistics and of course both military and aviation enthusiasts too.

Author: Julian Spilsbury

Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson

ISBN: 978-0297846512

Price: (UK Pounds) 20.00


The Indian Mutiny took place just one hundred years ago in the Summer of 1857. This event, which many considered to be the first move towards Indian national liberation, occurred when what were previously loyal, disciplined and normally obedient Indian soldiers and their officers turned against their imperial masters and started a campaign of hate, which resulted in a bloodbath where innumerable men, innocent women and children on both sides were slaughtered with little, if any mercy shown.

Several titles to my knowledge have been published to mark the 150th anniversary of this event – having read most of them, this is one of my favourites, as it has been well written and thought out, following extensive and original research which has been coupled with eye witness accounts together with extracts from contemporary letters and reports.

It may surprise many to learn that the author is not only the military obituarist for the Daily Telegraph, but he is also a highly successful scriptwriter who has also written scripts for television’s - The Bill, Taggart and Casualty! He is therefore by profession a good story teller and in this title he has not failed, as he has used all his skill to produce an exceptionally moving volume that tells of remarkable courage by not only soldiers stationed there, but also by normal family members, their friends and their servants, who gave their all, trying to protect their loved ones and the families they loved and served!, He successfully chronicles the ferocity of the brutal street fighting with both sword and sabre, the horrific bombardments, the hopeless rescue missions and of course the immense bloodshed all around.

As well as including many excellent sepia, colour and black and white photographs, drawings and plates, there are some excellent maps and also a very useful guide to the battlefield today. For the family history researcher, investigating where a relative may have fell, there are one or two highly useful photographs of the memorial tablets in the church at Cawnpore (where the garrison surrendered, but was still massacred). These name the casualties and in that connection alone are invaluable.

An excellent publication and good value for money- worthy of space on any military enthusiasts bookshelves!

Author: John Hill

Publisher: Spellmount Publishers

ISBN: 978 1 86227 407 5
Price: £16.99


I am proud to say my Father was a Chindit – hence the reason why this particular title attracted me more than many military autobiographies have done recently. Slim’s Burma Boys was actually written by one of the few men who served and survived the entire Burma campaign and in this respect, I believe it is fairly unique, as it therefore provides the reader with both a fascinating and accurate insight into the extreme jungle conditions in which the brave men of the “Forgotton Army” both lived and fought in the period between 1941 to 1945.

Although the long running Burma Campaign started with a humiliating retreat by the British in December 1941, through experience and continual “on the job” training, together with sheer resilience, courage and dogged determination, we were eventually triumphant and crushed the occupying Japanese Army in August 1945.

The author, who many may consider was just a small cog in a big wheel, commanded B Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment during this campaign and remarkably experienced more in four years than many men have in a lifetime. He was personally awarded a Military Cross for gallantry and several others his company received awards that included two Military Crosses, a Distinguished Conduct Medal and four Military Medals! These accolades were not without cost however and sadly resulted in loss of life and this became the author’s reason for writing this excellent volume, as he did not want those men and many others with whom he served and who gave up so much, to go unrecognised.

In this fitting memoir, in which he faithfully describes his feelings and the subsequent adrenaline rush as he prepared for action, crossed swollen rivers, set up ambushes and when he also engaged the enemy, is based on just part of his original diaries. This is a publication which will not only provide fascinating armchair reading for the casual reader, but it will be of great interest to both the military historian and the offspring (like myself), of those who fought in this campaign.

The publishers believe this volume should be prescribed reading for all would be officers and soldiers too. Although I sincerely hope future generations will not need to fight in a war like this ever again, I agree and do not see any harm in anyone (soldier or civilian) reading this and similar books and learning of the experiences, bravery and price paid in more ways than one of our forefathers!

Author: Mark Kurzem

Publisher: Rider Books

ISBN: 978 1 84 604036 8
Price: £16.99


This excellent hard backed volume, tells the fascinating story of Alex Kuzem, a young Latvian boy, who at the tender age of five in the winter of 1941, saw both his Mother and his siblings brutally murdered by the invading German Army as they advanced across Eastern Europe. Remarkably, despite all odds, he managed to survive the slaughter and escape. Amazingly despite his young years, he then lived alone in the forest and by eating little else but berries and plants and sleeping under branches of trees to shelter from the extreme cold for several months , until he was eventually found by Latvian police battalion .

Apart from one man in the unit, the others were obviously unaware of the boys Jewish origins. These tough men therefore took pity on him and having dressed him in a uniform similar to theirs, they made him their mascot and wherever they went, he now went too. This was a blessing, in disguise, but sadly, when this battalion became part of the dreaded SS it resulted in him witnessing unbelievable atrocities as they also went on the rampage! It is now certain, that had his identity become known, he would have been murdered, however despite all odds, his secret was safe with his guardian and he miraculously survived the war.

Many years later and now living in Australia, with nothing more in his possession other than an odd photograph or two, together with a small number of papers and no more than a few vague memories, Alex knew little of his birth family and it was not until 1997, when after some quizzing , that he eventually confided in his son, whom he now asked to assist him in tracing his routes and to help him discover the truth about his mysterious past.

It is at this point where this splendid volume begins. Alex’s story is nothing less than remarkable and I am sure that the reader will find it as fascinating and as gripping reading as I did. The splendid text is backed up by no less than 30 excellent photographs and therefore, at under seventeen pounds for a hardback volume of this quality, it represents excellent value for money.

Author: Ian Daglish

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books Limited

ISBN: 1 84415 562 5
Price: £19.99


Here once again, is yet another successful title from the excellent Over the Battlefield series of books from Pen and Sword. This particular volume covers Operation Epson-the first of Montgomery’s major battles that marked a turning point in Normandy Campaign.

Up until then odds were very much in favour of the enemy launching a counter attack and therefore threatening the allied bridgehead! Although well trained, the British forces, had only recently arrived in Normandy and were relatively inexperienced compared to the much superior enemy they now faced. In fact, many experts actually consider our opponents to have been the best equipped and most experienced combat formations of the German Army. Fighting in dense terrain and on the slopes of Hill 112 and 113, we were however successful and this resulted in the allies retaining the strategic initiative and then going on to liberate the remainder of France and Belgium.

In this new study, the author fully analyses the tactics employed at the time. He also includes a vast amount of detail based on previously unseen information and has used impressive aerial photography and contemporary army maps to fully support his excellent text. In addition, he has included some interesting black and white photographs too which together with the detailed Order of Battle and the very useful bibliography, will prove useful reference tools for those studying the battle in detail or visiting the area.

If you have a specific interest in the Normandy Campaign and the allied liberation of Europe in 1944, this well written volume is a must for your library.

Last updated 14 August, 2009

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