Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

Section 12

Book Review By Michael D Booker (October 2006)

Hitler’s Final Gamble

Author: Patrick Delaforce

Publisher: Longman
Pearson Education EMA
Edinburgh Gate, Harlow

ISBN: 13 9781405840620

Published in July 2006

UK Price: £9.99

This is an excellent value for money publication that will prove to be a very useful addition to any WW2 enthusiast’s bookshelves and at this very reasonable price, is too good to miss! Written by a prolific author of military books, who was himself decorated whilst serving with the Royal Horse Artillery during the Second World War, this well written volume provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the German Ardennes Offensive of World War Two.

Better known to many as he Battle of The Bulge, this famous battle took place in the Ardennes Forrest region, some 80 miles from the German/Belgian border between 16th December 1944 and 25th January 1945. The battle was without a doubt, one of the most crucial land battles of the war and at one stage involved no less than one million troops from America, Germany, Britain, France, Belgium and Canada. Fighting in some of the worst weather conditions in living memory, losses were great - as many men died from exposure and extreme cold as did those who were actually killed in action. In terms of losses, America lost more men in this battle than in any other in the whole of the war, when no less than 19,000 were killed and a total of 23,554 captured.

Many books and films covering this battle have been produced over the years, however as German British casualties totaled over 100,000, the author has placed a lot more emphasis of the British and German involvement than others have in the past, therefore making it a very useful source of reference for the researcher.

Using many excellent photographs, battle plans, drawings and maps to support the numerous personal incredible stories from survivors of the battle, this volume has been clearly written with emphasis on attention to detail and it is therefore certain to provide the reader with a most fascinating read and guide in the future.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

A Concise History

Author: Trevor Royle

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
7 Albany Street
Edinburgh EH1 3UG

Website :

ISBN: 1 845960882

Published: July 2006

UK Price : £12.99

Many may have said it would have been impossible to produce a hardback edition of a volume featuring the history of this famous Regiment for under thirteen pounds, however the author in conjunction with Mainstream have done this and have been successful in providing readers with an excellent value for money volume that will prove to be useful for all types of research ranging from local and family history through to medal collecting. It will of course be invaluable for those studying a wide range of conflicts spanning a period of over 370 years!

The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) also known in the past as the 1st Regiment of Foot and “Pontious Pilates Bodyguard”, is the oldest Regiment in the British Army. Tracing its history back to 1633 when 1200 men were recruited in Scotland to serve under Louis Xlll of France, the Regiment gained its first battle honour at Tangier in 1680 and between then and its amalgamation into the new Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006 went on to earn a further 148 honours, therefore re-confirming its valuable contribution to the nation’s heritage.

This excellent volume - the first concise history of the Regiment ever published, features a wealth of useful information covering campaigns that include the Regiment’s service in North America and the West Indies, through to South Africa and India and both the Great and Second World Wars and more recently, their operations in the Balkans and Iraq. The very readable narrative is supported by many excellent black and white and colour plates, together with a very handy appendix featuring the Regiment’s battle honours, Victoria Cross holders and Regimental affiliations too.

This volume is without a doubt a must for researchers, however I would say that any former member of the Regiment or their families together with future recruits into the new Regiment will not want to be without a copy and lets face it, at £12.99 its most affordable!

Book Review By Michael D Booker (October 2006)

Growing up among the Nazis

Author: Hans Georg Behr

Publisher: Granta Books

ISBN: 1862078661

Published : 2006

UK Price: £8.99

As this volume covers the remarkable experiences of a child brought up in wartime Austria, it will provide the military historian and researcher with a completely new perspective of the Second World War and for that factor alone makes it a valuable contribution to any Second World War enthusiasts library.

The author of this excellent publication (expertly translated from German into English) was born in Vienna in 1937 into a family where his parents were staunch Nazis and his grandparents members of the aristocracy. What makes his story unique and even more interesting is the fact that his mother was a celebrated opera singer and as his father held a senior appointment in the Ministry of Aviation, he was brought into close contact with many notorious personalities of that time including Goebbels and Goring, as well as the Furher himself!

For these reasons alone, the book is fascinating , however when you then learn that his brother was killed opposing Russian troops armed with just an air-rifle whilst wearing his Hitler Youth uniform and his half sister died from swallowing cyanide, his story is even more engrossing.

As the war years progressed, this well off upper class family suffered in many other ways too - the advancing Russians forces wrecked his grandparents estate and then as his once famous mother was now no longer unable to perform for the rich and famous, as she had done in the past, she was relegated to serving in a bar, whilst her young son collected glasses!

This volume has been heralded as a literary masterpiece – it certainly is very different and very enjoyable.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)

The Pegasus Diaries - The Private Papers Of Major John Howard DSO

Author: John Howard and Penny Bates

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
S70 2AS

Website :

ISBN: 1 84415 446 7

Published: 26th October 2006

Price: 19.99

Basically this is the biography of Major John Howard DSO, the courageous British Army officer who led the attack by the 6th British Airborne Division on the bridge over the Caen Canal of the River Orne in June 1944.

Having said it is a biography and a most enjoyable one at that, this interesting volume based on Howard’s own diaries and papers and co-written with his daughter, provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the man himself, as well as conditions on the home front in the latter years of the Second World War. The majority and most interesting part of the book however is devoted to the recruitment and subsequent training of a battalion of the Airborne Forces for D-Day as well as the actual invasion itself.

Howard and his men of the 2nd Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were amongst the first troops to land on enemy held soil on D-Day. Transported by Horsa gliders, they were towed across the English Channel by Halifax bombers and having been released from their towing aircraft at 8000 feet, they remarkably landed within meters of their target – a target that had been chosen as it would be via this bridge that the enemy would aim to re-enforce their positions in Normandy in the event of invasion.

John Howard died at the age of 86 in 1999. As a result of his actions during this particular campaign, Howard was awarded the DSO and Croix de Guerre with Palme, however many consider that a far greater and lasting tribute to him and his brave men was the fact that the road that crosses the bridge was re-named Rue John Howard and the bridge itself is now known both locally and internationally as Pegasus Bridge.

This volume will appeal to a wide range of readers from anyone who enjoys war biographies to those with a special interest in events at this time. It will no doubt be popular with military historians and anyone whose ancestors actually fought there.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)


Author: Richard Hargreaves

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
S70 2AS

Website :

ISBN: 1 84415 447 5

Published: 26th October 2006

Price: 19.99

This splendid publication providing the reader with an excellent insight into the German occupation of Normandy in WW2 will prove invaluable to researchers, as up until now the vast majority of books published have concentrated on the Allied invasion of June 1944 and subsequent break-out battles, as opposed to the defenders role.

It may surprise the reader to learn that over 60,000 German soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed defending Normandy. These troops, who had been entrusted to defend Hitler’s Atlantic Wall firmly believed in their cause and initially had every reason to believe in their ability to successfully defend their ground too. However within a few days of the Allied invasion, opinions changed and their belief in victory soon led to disappointment as casualties mounted and the reality dawned on them that the allied forces were far superior to their expectations.

The author (an experienced war correspondent)has spent over fifteen years researching the content of this volume. He has drawn upon first hand accounts, extracts from newspaper cuttings, diaries and letters of those who were there, plus a wealth of other archive information, to produce this invaluable work. His excellent and very readable narrative is backed up with some superb but very graphic black and white photographs and a host of other information including a detailed bibliography and a useful comparison of ranks in both British and German forces.

Priced at just under twenty pounds, it is excellent value for money and a worthy addition to any WW2 enthusiasts library.

Book Review By Michael D Booker (November 2006)


Author: Martin Bowman

Publisher: Pen and Sword
47 Church Street
S70 2AS

Website :

ISBN: 1 84415 418 1

Published: 9th November 2006

UK Price: 12.99

Here once again, is another splendid and excellent value for money volume from the Pen and Sword AHT series that will I am sure , prove to be as popular with pure aviation enthusiasts, as it will with family history researchers interested in any of the several RAF squadrons involved in either offensive or defensive electronic warfare squadrons that operated out our Norfolk airfields during World War 2.

The fascinating narrative cleverly, not only covers the history and personalities involved with the various airfields and the role of each location and the units that flew from them, but also includes a detailed list of aircraft shot down. Plus, what makes the volume even more valuable, is the host of superb black and white illustrations featuring the key personalities, their aircraft, aircraft nose art and actual aerial views of the airfields themselves.

Local and cultural historians will not miss out either, as they will find the details relating to the favourite wartime haunts of the air and ground crew fascinating too, especially as they are also supported by and several “then and now” photographs and a range of maps providing today’s visitor with a guide to museums in the area and useful instructions on how to get there.

WW2 aviations buffs will not want to be without this volume on their bookshelves.

Last updated 17 February, 2009

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