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Section 10

Book Review By Michael D Booker (August 2006)

British Trench Names of the Western Front 1914-1918

Author: Peter Chasseaud

Publisher: Spellmount Publishers

ISBN: 1 86227 276 X

Published: February 2006

UK Price: £21.25

This unique volume from Spellmount is certain to prove invaluable to Great War military historians, Battlefield Guides /enthusiasts and serious family history researchers alike, as it is the first ever study of British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Indian trench names of the Western Front to be published.

All battlefields, from Ypres, Loos, Vimy Ridge and Arras to the Somme, Cambrai and the 1918 battles are covered and the reader is provided with a very useful gazetteer of an unbelievable 10,000 plus trench names, which in themselves prove the important part that trench warfare actually played during the Great War.

The background information on British trench naming policy provides interesting reading too and the fact that many trench names chosen by the troops actually reflect the background of the men involved, where they came from, the conditions in which they lived and of course the full horrors they experienced is useful from a cultural point of view. Lovers Lane, Lavender Walk, Idiots Corner, International Trench, Nonsense Trench, Chaos Trench, Gangrene Alley are just a few names chosen for these muddy pits of death - confirming that despite all the hardships and suffering the troops were experiencing at the time, they still had a remarkable sense of humour and imagination.

As well as providing the researcher with a long list of names, it also includes all map references and some superb aerial photographs too, making it an important aid for those wishing to pinpoint sites of specific battles and actions etc.

Certainly one for the Great War bookshelves!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (September2006)

Peace and War and The Sandline Affair

Author: Lt. Col. Tim Spicer O.B.E.

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

ISBN: 1 84018 349 7

UK Price: £7.99

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer's autobiography provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the world of private military companies and the interesting career of a typical British Army officer in the years leading up to the end of the cold war.

An Unothodox Soldier is well written and I am sure that Tim Spicer’s experiences in the Scots Guards will be inspirational to any young man contemplating joining the British Army today, as well as being invaluable to anyone researching our military involvement in Northern Ireland, the Falklands Campaign and Bosnia. Tim also spent a great deal of time on what many will consider more mundane duties, including a United Nations tour in Cyprus, training in West Germany, the Trooping The Colour and other ceremonial duties in London

His role in the Falklands and Northern Ireland are worthy of books in their own right, however it is the Sandline affair that is covered in great detail and here he tells his own intriguing story and the truth behind the ‘arms for Africa” affair that rocked the comfortable lifestyle of many politicians and diplomats worldwide.

Tim was also captured at gunpoint and held in captivity in Papua New Guinea and I guess shot at on more than one occasion – his life and career certainly hasn’t been dull – nor is this book! At £7.99 it is excellent value for money and a cracking read!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (September 2006)


Author: Patrick Davis

Publisher: Spellmount Publishers

ISBN: 1 86227 337 5

Published: February 2006

UK Price: £14.99

This is a welcome re-print and updated edition of the excellent Spellmount Classics publication covering the fascinating account of a young man’s war against the Japanese in the jungles of Burma in years1943-45.

The author - Patrick Davis enlisted as an 'hostilities only' officer in the army during the Second World War. After his initial training, he was posted to one of the outstanding Gurkha battalions of Slim’s “Forgotten Army”. As one can imagine, as a young and inexperienced officer serving in this campaign, the pressures and learning curves were great, however despite the discomforts, fears and tragedies he experienced along the way, with newly found courage and stamina, he survived the war against a ferocious enemy and all the accompanying dangers of the tropical jungle.

There is no doubt, this splendid volume provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the training our troops undertook in India and the subsequent lead up to battles that resulted in a member of his battalion earning a much deserved Victoria Cross.

The author is very modest in his approach to this story, however having listened to the similarities to my own Father’s experiences as a Chindit, I this volume accurately sums up what it was really like for our troops in this theatre of war at that crucial time in history.

I am sure this will provide the reader with a most enjoyable read. It will also be invaluable to anyone researching the Burma Campaign especially the 4th/8th Gurkha Rifles at that time.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (September 2006)

The British Navy’s Struggle Against Napoleon

Author: Roy and Lesley Adkins

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
London WC2E 7EN

ISBN: 0316 72837 3

Published : September 2006

UK Price: £20.00

Following the success of their first book – “Trafalgar” (published last year), Roy and Lesley Adkins - the husband and wife duo, who enjoy the unique combination of being writers, historians and archaeologists, have produced another excellent volume, which will I am sure, enjoy the same success as “Trafalgar” has and prove to be an invaluable research tool for a wide range of readers too.

This splendid title starts with the British defeat over the French at the Battle of the Nile and ends nearly twenty years later, with the famous success at the Battle of Waterloo. I believe that this period is one of the most interesting and colourful in British history and the authors skill and excellent narrative successfully brings to life vivid accounts of everyday life for the sailor at that time . From press gangs to prostitutes and prisoners of war through to the first hand accounts of the actual daring actions a sea involving lone ships through to whole fleets are covered.

For the reader who believes amphibious assaults, costal bombardments and espionage are products of the twentieth century, think again, as these events are also covered along with the famous action in which the Presidential White House was actually burned to the ground.

To add to the value of this publication, the researcher will be delighted with the two black and white photo sections featuring a total of 32 photographs, there are also 18 splendid maps –mostly from antiquarian sources including a plan of the Battle of the Nile and a massive 9 page bibliography and a detailed index.

There is no doubt that this particular volume, like the earlier publication has been well researched and will provide fascinating reading for anyone from the casual reader who normally enjoys the Hornblower style novels, through to the serious family and maritime history researcher and naval historian.:

This volume in my opinion is a must read!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (September 2006)


Author: Michael Fitzgerald

Publisher: Spellmount Publishers

ISBN: 1 86227 322 7

Published: 2006

UK Price: £20.00

The author – an acknowledged authority on Gemany between the period 1918-1945 has produced a volume that I think many readers will agree, is a very different biography of Adolf Hitler, one which will therefore will appeal to many historians and students of military history, as well a large number of general readers too.

This excellent volume is based on the author’s extensive original research and reveals in print for the first time, many aspects of Hitler’s life that were not widely known until now. It is said that this is the first book to convincingly explain the basis of Hitler's anti-Semitism and in that respect alone it will be invaluable for many. From another angle, he also demonstrates the importance of art in Hitler's life and his vision for the future of the German people.

It also reveals the truth behind the 1939 assassination attempt on Hitler’s life and with the extracts from Mein Kampf and the many excellent photographs also included (which I personally believe tell a story all on their own), this volume provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the dictators life in general and thought processes,therfore making it a very interesting and readable volume.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (September 2006)


Author: Andrew Rawson

Publisher: Sutton Publishing

ISBN: 0750937459

Published : 2006

UK Price: £25.00

As many readers are aware, the British Army of 1914 was comparatively small and ill-equipped for the war it was about to fight, however from those modest beginnings and in what really was a comparatively short period of toime, it grew into a much larger, better equipped and well trained organisation, that soon became the most effective fighting force in the field at that time. This larger Army with almost seven million men was now much more complex than it had ever been in its entire history.

This volume – one of several in a series from this specialist publisher, provides the reader with an excellent insight into this unique army during the Great War period and covers just about every aspect of its operation and organisation from conscription and training, equipment , vehicles and weapons through to tactics and communication and so much more. I personally found the section on divisional organisation and histories useful and I am sure the part pertaining to sites of interest and remembrance will be invaluable to those visiting the battlefields today.

In fact, military historians, family history researchers, militaria collectors together with anyone with even the slightest interest in the Great War will find this splendid publication provides fascinating reading and an invaluable source of reference for the future too. Many will agree with me, that it is a must have in their collection or library and will therefore want to go on an read other titles in the series.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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