13 December 2014

Omaha Beach Field Guide

The first field guide to the iconic and tragic Omaha Beach. The author, Brigadier General Theodore G. Shuey served under the command of Omaha Beach veterans, including General Cota. Sector by sector (with complete maps), he records the operations, relying upon the testimonies of veterans, as well as studying the battles from a military perspective, in relation to the role played by the German posts.

The book is highly illustrated, with photos from 1944 alongside modern colour photographs of the locations as they are today. This is also supplemented with photos of material and equipment used at the time, some of which has been found in Normandy in recent years. If you are considering visiting Omaha Beach, this book would be a good guide.

Published by Heimdal.

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The Gentlemen at War: Policing Britain, 1939-45

Very little has been written about the work of the police in the Second World War. The fire service, the wardens, the Home Guard - all have had books devoted to them. But the vital role played by the omnipresent police men and women, has been largely ignored. And yet policing tasks and responsibilities underwent an almost complete change virtually overnight. Draconian new laws were passed; policemen whose beats happened to include a Jewish ghetto found themselves interning some good friends, just because they came from Germany. New organisations were formed (wardens, Home Guard, AFS), many of which had responsibilities that tended to overlap those of the police. No longer did the country bobby have just a little poaching to worry about; he suddenly found a squadron of B17s based on his "patch", with its full complement of attendant US servicemen.

This book examines the changed role of the wartime police force and the effect the War had on the morals and mores of the population. It explores how shortages and rationing affected traditional standards. It reviews how the absence of menfolk and the influx of foreign troops was reflected in changes in moral behaviour, increased prostitution, sexual offences and vice in general. Other matters considered are the variations in crime patterns, the effect of the war on police/public relations and whether the experience fundamentally changed police attitudes and subsequent policing philosophies.

Using both primary sources (the memories of surviving members of the force) and secondary sources (official publications, contemporary books, magazines, etc.), The Gentleman At War successfully conveys the flavour of the period whilst providing an empirical analysis of the philosophy of policing in those uniquely troubled years.

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2 December 2014

An Englishman in Auschwitz

Leon Greenman was born in London in 1910. His paternal grandparents were Dutch, and at an early age, after the death of his mother, his family moved to Holland, where Leon eventually settled with his wife, Esther, in Rotterdam.

Leon was an antiquarian bookseller, and as such traveled to and from London on a regular basis. In 1938, during one such trip, he noticed people digging trenches in the streets and queuing up for gas masks. He hurried back to Holland with the intention of collecting his wife and return with her to England. The whispers of war were growing louder and louder.

In May 1940, Holland was overrun by the Nazis, by which time Leon and his family had been effectively abandoned by the British Consulate and stranded with neither passports nor money. Eventually, they were deported to Birkenau where Esther and their small son, Barney, were gassed on arrival. Leon was chosen with 49 others for slave labor. This book tells the story of Leon's remarkable survival, of the horrors he saw and endured at Auschwitz, Monowitz and during the Death March to Gleiwitz and Buchenwald camp, where he was eventually liberated.

Leon Greenman died in London in 2008. Read his obituary in The Telegraph.

Available from:
Vallentine Mitchell (currently out of stock)

30 November 2014

Neutral Shores - Ireland and the Battle of the Atlantic

From September 1939 until the last days of the war in 1945 Ireland was host to a constant flow of casualties from the Battle of the Atlantic. Ireland's unique location situated near the vital shipping lanes of the Western Approaches placed the country in the immediate conflict zone once the war at sea began with the sinking of the British merchant liner Athenia on 3 September 1939, when 449 survivors landed in Galway city. Neutral Shores follows the story of how many merchant navy ships during the war were attacked and sunk, and their surviving crews left adrift on the hostile Atlantic Ocean in a desperate struggle for survival. For the fortunate ones sanctuary was found along Ireland's rugged Atlantic shores, where the local people took these men from the sea into their homes and cared for them without any consideration of their nationality or allegiances to any of the belligerent nations.

A Tale of Two Tankers
Destination Ventry
Arlington Court
A Bad Winter for Neutrals
The Happy Time
Clan MacPhee and Kelet
Disaster Off Donegal
No Safety for Stragglers
English Navvies in Ireland
Richmond Castle
Empire Breeze
Beginning of the End
Bay of Biscay
Appendix I - Ships sunk through belligerent action that landed survivors in Ireland
Appendix II - Explanation of the Allied convoy code

Available from:
Mercier Press

8 November 2014

Rations, Raids and Romance - York in the Second World War

In this second volume in York Archaeological Trust’s Oral History series, author Van Wilson looks at life in York during the Second World War, as remembered by those who lived through it.

Over 70 interviewees contribute their experiences of life in York and the surrounding area; their memories of evacuation, rationing, air raids and dancing in the de Grey rooms give a wonderful insight into the joys as well as the hardships of life in wartime Britain.

Chapter One: Preparing for War
Chapter Two: Tbe Evacuees
Chapter Three: Civil Defence
Chapter Four: The Women's Land Army
Chapter Five: Rations and Fashions
Chapter Six: The York Air Raids
Chapter Seven: Work in Wartime
Chapter Eight: Entertainment and Romance
Chapter Nine: Prisoners of War
Chapter Ten: The Pacifists
Chapter Eleven: The End of the War
Profiles of Interviewees

Published by:
York Archaelogical Trust

29 July 2014

Warsaw Boy: A Memoir of a Wartime Childhood

Warsaw Boy is the memoir of a sixteen-year old boy soldier who fought in the vicious Warsaw Uprising in the late summer of 1944.

On 1 August 1944 Andrew Borowiec, then a fifteen-year-old volunteer in the Resistance, lobbed a grenade through the shattered window of a Warsaw apartment block onto some German soldiers running below. 'I felt I had come of age. I was a soldier and I'd just tried to kill some of our enemies'.

The Warsaw Uprising lasted for 63 days: Heinrich Himmler described it as 'the worst street fighting since Stalingrad'. Yet for the most part the insurgents were poorly equipped local men and teenagers - some of them were even younger than Andrew.

Over that summer Andrew faced danger at every moment, both above and below ground as the Poles took to the city's sewers to creep beneath the German lines during lulls in the fierce counterattacks. Wounded in a fire fight the day after his sixteenth birthday and unable to face another visit to the sewers, he was captured as he lay in a makeshift cellar hospital wondering whether he was about to be shot or saved. Here he learned a lesson: there were decent Germans as well as bad.From one of the most harrowing episodes of the Second World War, this is an extraordinary tale of survival and defiance recounted by one of the few remaining veterans of Poland's bravest summer.

Andrew Borowiec was born at Lodz in Poland in 1928. At fifteen he joined the Home Army, the main Polish resistance during the Second World War, and fought in the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising. After the war he left Poland and attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Available from:
Viking (A Penguin imprint)

6 June 2014

WN 62: A German Soldier’s Memories of the Defence of Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 6, 1944

Heinrich Severloh’s moving autobiography and service memoir describes the greatest amphibious landing-operation in history, which on D-Day marked the beginning of the decisive campaign of the Second World War. When in the dawn of June 6, 1944, the western Allies opened their offensive against the Atlantic Wall on the coast of Normandy, with 7,000 ships and 13,000 airplanes, Severloh, the machine-gunner who became the German most feared by the Americans, was posted at Strongpoint WN62. He fired at the G.I.’s on the beach with his machine gun and rifle for nine long hours - more than 2.000 of them were taken down.

In a moving and unsparing account, Heinrich Severloh describes  the dramatic hours during which 34,000 G.I.’s landed in his sector of what later was called “Bloody Omaha”, and met with the hard-fought resistance of only 300 German soldiers. Severloh the young farmer’s son from the L√ľneburg heath, survived a firestorm, as bizarre as it was terrible, that stamped the rest of his life.

Many internationally-known military historians, as well as the press and television, have immortalized Severloh in the history of warfare. Until the publication of this sad confession, Americans had never known the name of the one who, in large measure, caused the landing to become this awful slaughterhouse.

This memoir, in collaboration with Helmut Konrad Baron Keusgen, a writer for military history, is an extremely thrilling factual account with precise descriptions of the immediate area of the assault. It provides an additional point of view of the events of his dramatic day, and presents the relations of the French and the Germans in a different light.. It is told with violent emotion and unvarnished truth. Severloh clarifies uncompromisingly spurious moral values and ideologies, and questions hitherto prevailing official statements.

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