25 November 2016

The Night Hunter’s Prey - The Lives and Deaths of a RAF Gunner and a Luftwaffe Pilot

This is the story of two airmen - an RAF Rear Gunner and a Luftwaffe Pilot. Alexander Ollar was raised in the Highlands of Scotland. He became an exceptional sporting shot and volunteered as an RAF Air Gunner in 1939. Helmut Lent enrolled for pilot training in the Luftwaffe as soon as he was old enough. Both were men of integrity and honour.

Alec completed his first tour of 34 operations with 115 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal by the King. After a year as an instructor, Alec was commissioned and returned to 115 Squadron as Gunnery Leader. He took part in the first 1,000 bomber raid and was described by his Squadron Commander as the best rear gunner he had ever flown with.

At the same time Helmut was building up an impressive score of victories as a night fighter pilot and a national hero who was decorated by the Fuhrer. In July 1942, just as both men reach the apex of their careers, they meet for the first time in the night skies over Hamburg. As this fascinating book reveals, only one will survive.

Table of Contents
1. 'One of the Boys'
2. Early Days
3. First Blood
4. 'The Boys who bombed Berlin'
5. 'Two Birds dead in the Air'
6. Instructor
7. Rise of the Nachtjagd
8. Area Bombing
9. The First 1,000 Bomber Raid
10. Showdown
11. High Noon of the Nachtjagd
12. Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
13. Aftermath

Available from:
Pen and Sword

23 November 2016

6th Airborne Normandy 1944 - Past & Present

Operation Tonga began at 22:56 on the night of 5 June, when six Halifax heavy bombers took off from Tarrant Rushton towing six Horsas carrying a coup-de-main force consisting of D Coy, Ox and Bucks LI reinforced with two extra platoons from B Coy and a party of sappers, who were tasked with capturing the bridges over the Caen Canal and the River Orne.

6th Airborne Division—which included 1st Canadian Para Bn-had been allotted three specific tasks to achieve, apart from protecting the eastern flank of the Allied seaborne landings. First, it was to capture intact the two bridges over the Caen Canal and the Orne River at Benouville and Ranville. Second, the division was to destroy the heavily fortified Merville coastal artillery battery located at Franceville Plage, to ensure that it could not shell the British forces landing on Sword Beach.

A third task was to destroy several bridges spanning the River Dives-at Varaville, Robehomme, Bures, and Troarn. The division would then hold the territory that it had seized until it could be relieved by advancing Allied ground forces.

 6th Airborne Normandy 1944 - Past & Present examines these actions, providing a new angle on the stories with a range of period and modern photographs, detailing the locations as they now are. Similar to the excellent After the Battle titles,  6th Airborne Normandy 1944 - Past & Present is in an easier format for the battlefield visitor, as these are relatively compact paperback titles.

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10 November 2016

Names in Stone - Forgotten Warriors of Bradford-on-Avon and District 1939-45

Names in Stone: often just a surname and an initial on war memorials across Britain. Yet, behind the cold, grey inscriptions, what do we know about the lives of the men who marched to war, never to return?

The average age of Bradford and District's servicemen in the Second World War was 27. They fought and died across Europe, North Africa and the Far East, in the air and at sea. A whole community mourned their loss but with the passage of time, inevitably, people forgot.

Names in Stone aims to bring these forgotten warriors back to public consciousness - not only to their communities of Bradford and surrounding villages, but to a wider audience too.

Here are the stories of more than 70 men, and one woman, from Bradford-upon-Avon, Holt, Monkton Farleigh, South Wraxall, Westwood, Wingfield and Winsley, who gave their lives in the Second World War.

These accounts - many of them told for the first time - show the bravery and tragedy of local people caught up in extraordinary events almost a lifetime ago.

Available from:

9 November 2016

The Granite Men of Henri-Chapelle - Stories of New Hampshire's WWII Soldiers

They rest in a distant land they fought to liberate nearly 70 years ago, their lives ended by war and their stories quieted by time. For 38 New Hampshire World War Two soldiers buried in Belgium, their stories are brought to life once again in The Granite Men of Henri-Chapelle.

As WWII drew to an end in 1945, the New Hampshire state legislature adopted “Live Free or Die” as the state’s motto. At the same time, many families throughout the Granite state and the rest of the country prepared to welcome home their service members who had fought to preserve freedom around the world. Thirty-eight New Hampshire servicemen, however, would not be returning home.

Instead, they remained in Europe, resting permanently at the sprawling 57-acre American military cemetery called Henri-Chapelle in Belgium. These are not war stories. They are an attempt to illustrate each civilian life before the war as well as capture the essence of the person behind the military rank—to allow each one an opportunity to share his life once again, a life he sacrificed in the pursuit of liberty for his fellow man.

Available from:
Outskirts Press

8 November 2016

Lest We Forget - The Tavistock Fallen of the Second World War

The publication of this book completes, for Alex Mettler and Garry Woodcock, a journey of discovery that was begun six years ago. A shared interest in the history of the town of Tavistock (UK) and in memorials of all kinds led to a decision to launch a project based on the names inscribed on Tavistock's War Memorial.

The motives were not to uncover and record great acts of heroism or qualities of sainthood, although there were plenty of deeds of courage and sacrifice along the way. Rather the aim was to present the fallen of the two World Wars in their local contexts, to give them homes, families, schools and jobs, to try to say something about their war service and their deaths.

This, the second volume, deals with the Second World War. The stories of the forty who are named on the memorial as casualties of that war are arranged in the chronological order in which they died, so that the development of the war can be followed as both a theme running through the book and a context within which to place the individual stories.

The book opens with an essay about their home town, Tavistock, during the war, thus giving a record of events 'at home' to complement the record of momentous world-wide events in which local people participated.

Some people believe that the passage of the years makes it less needful for such events as these to be recorded. The authors of this book take the opposite view.

Available from:
Devon Museums

19 October 2016

Sheldrake - Memories of a WWII Gunner

Richard Hughes was an artillery officer with the British Army in World War II. He was sent to Europe twice. The first assignment in 1940 was short lived, as he joined the hopelessly ill equipped and overwhelmed Allied forces in France. The superior German army pushed them back to the English Channel at Dunkirk, and Hughes was one of some 300,000 troops miraculously rescued from the beach by a flotilla of small boats.

In 1944 he returned to France as apart of the Allied invasion, this time as a Major commanding a battery of field guns with 497 Battery, 133 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. The contrast is apparent. Now they were a well equipped, superbly trained and coldly efficient force. Supporting the Monmouthshire Regiment as they advanced across North West Europe, Hughes was involved in numerous battles right through Europe to reach Hamburg, at the final surrender of Germany in May 1945.

He received a Military Cross and was Mentioned in Despatches during his service. The title 'Sheldrake' comes from the code word used by artillery officers when communicating via wireless.

Table of contents:

Part 1 - A Fortnight in France
Chapter 1 - The Beginning
Chapter 2 - A Fortnight in France
Chapter 3 - England - 1940-44

Part 2 - The Second Front
Chapter 4 - The Landings
Chapter 5 - Hill 112
Chapter 6 - Battle for Le Logis
Chapter 7 - The Incident on Hill 210
Chapter 8 - The Battle for Leffard
Chapter 9 - Necy - Tiger Corner
Chapter 10 - Sweep Through France
Chapter 11 - Belgium
Chapter 12 - Voorheide
Chapter 13 - The Battle for s'Hertogenbosch
Chapter 14 - Assault Crossing of the Wessem Canal
Chapter 15 - On the Maas
Chapter 16 - The Ardennes
Chapter 17 - 'Operation Vertiable' Reichswald Forest; Weeze
Chapter 18 - Crossing the Rhine
Chapter 19 - 'Operation Eclipse' Final Push Through Germany
Chapter 20 - Postscript

Appendix 1 - Military Cross and the King's Letter
Appendix 2 - Mention in Despatches
Appendix 3 -  497 Field Battery, Royal Artillery
Appendix 4 - 25 Pounder Field Gun

Available from:
Pen and Sword

Les Parisiennes - How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation

Paris in the 1940s was a place of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation, and secrets. During the occupation, the swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower and danger lurked on every corner. While Parisian men were either fighting at the front or captured and forced to work in German factories, the women of Paris were left behind where they would come face to face with the German conquerors on a daily basis, as waitresses, shop assistants, or wives and mothers, increasingly desperate to find food to feed their families as hunger became part of everyday life. 

By looking at collaborators to resisters, actresses and prostitutes, as well as teachers and writers, including American women and Nazi wives, spies, mothers, mistresses, fashion and jewellery designers – Anne Sebba shows that women made life-and-death decisions every day, and, in an atmosphere where sex became currency, often did whatever they needed to survive. She considers the experiences of both native Parisian women and those living in Paris temporarily: American women and Nazi wives, spies, mothers, mistresses, and fashion and jewellery designers. Some like the heiress Béatrice Camondo or novelist Irène Némirovsky, converted to Catholicism; others like lesbian racing driver Violette Morris embraced the Nazi philosophy; only a handful, like Coco Chanel, retreated to the Ritz with a German lover.

Sebba also explores the aftershock of the Second World War in the postwar period. How did women who survived to see the Liberation of Paris come to terms with their actions and those of others? Les Parisiennes is the first in-depth account of the everyday lives of women and young girls in Paris  during the period of enemy occupation.

Read more about Anne Sebba.

Available from:
St Martin's Press