7 August 2017

Beyond Adversity - 'U' Company, 15th Battalion 1941-1942

In November 1941, about 100 Queensland University students began their short-term compulsory military training with the Australian 15th Infantry Battalion. Most were aged 19-22, had daytime jobs and were evening or external students from the arts, commerce and law faculties. They were ambitious, hard-working young men anxious to make their way in the world.

Their compulsory military training was due to end on 4 February 1942 and the students would then be released to return to their jobs and continue their part-time studies. The outbreak of the Pacific War on 7 December changed everything. In April 1942, the 15th Battalion was given 24 hours' notice to move from Caloundra to Townsville. In January 1943 the Battalion went to New Guinea to take part in the Salamaua and Lae campaigns and did not return to Brisbane until July 1944. In November it was sent to fight in Bougainville. The Battalion finally returned home in January 1946 and most returned to resume their studies and jobs within the community.

This book tells the story of those Queensland University students of `U' Company, 15th Battalion during its brief existence. It covers their wartime service in all its tragedy and triumph and how they resumed their lives, studies and careers once the war was over. Most regard themselves as being very fortunate - to have survived the war, to have learned to cope with adversity, to have learned the importance of getting on with life in spite of insurmountable obstacles and in having been able to make the most of opportunities that arose. They have been fortunate to find a life beyond adversity.

Available from:
Big Sky Publishing (Australia)
Casemate Publishing

5 August 2017

Captive Memories: Far East POWs & Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Conditions for Far East Prisoners of War were truly hellish. Appalling diseases were rife, the stench indescribable. Food and equipment were minimal or non existent. Men died daily, many in agony from which there was no relief. And yet, in the midst of such horrors, the human spirit steadfastly refused to be broken. Captives helped each other, intense bonds were formed, selfless sacrifces made. Tools and medical equipment were fashioned from whatever could be found, anything that could make life more bearable. Resilience, resourcefulness, pride and camaraderie; these were the keys to survival. Freedom, for those who made it, meant many things: home, family, comfort, of course; but also adjustment, loss of friendships, and a difficult road to recovery that for some would be lifelong. Most refused to talk about their experiences, coping alone with the post traumatic stress and chronic health problems. It was these ongoing physical after effects of captivity that brought a group of men into contact with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Beginning in 1946 and lasting right up to the present day, LSTM's involvement with the health (and latterly the history) of these veterans represents the longest collaborative partnership ever undertaken by the School. Out of this unique and enduring relationship came knowledge which has improved the diagnosis and treatment of some tropical infections, together with a greater understanding of the long-term psychological effects of Far East captivity. Using eyewitness accounts and the personal perspectives of this group of now elderly POWs as the backdrop, Captive Memories charts this fascinating history.

For more information, see the project website - Captive Memories

Available from:
Carnegie Publishing

3 August 2017

Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes

In Forgotten, Linda Hervieux tells the story of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions at D-Day have gone unrecognized to this day.

In the early hours of the 6th June 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation's highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in the Second World War.

Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, the author tells the story of these men. Members of the 320th came from many States and backgrounds, and were some of the thousands of other African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied to them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in their homeland - experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil rights movement.

In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.

Available from:
Amberley Books

13 July 2017

Beachhead Assault - The Story of the Royal Naval Commandos in World War II

The Royal Naval Commandos had one of the most dangerous and the most important tasks of any in World War II - they were first on to the invasion beaches and they were the last to leave.

Formed in 1941 as the Royal Naval Beach Parties, many lost their lives in the Dieppe raid. After Dieppe they became fully fledged fighting Commandos with their legendary Fairbairn Sykes commando knives, organised into units from A Commando through to the all Canadian W Commando.

Under their officers who were designated as Beachmasters, the Royal Naval Commandos led the way in on the beaches as part of the Allied landings in Madagascar, Dieppe, North Africa, Pantelleria, Sicily, Salerno, the Volturno River, Anzio, Arakan, D Day, Elba, Walcheren and Commachio. Their work on the beaches was crucial to the success of the Allied invasions.

After the War the Royal Naval Commandos were disbanded and forgotten. Their wartime role was given to the Royal Marines. But now through the personal accounts of many of the Royal Naval Commandos themselves this book tells their remarkable story. It is a story which covers their beginnings early in the War and their training, both at their base HMS Armadillo at Ardentinny in Scotland and the famous Achnacarry Commando training school, through to the invasions where they led the way in.

Beachhead Assault includes a Foreword by Man and Boy author Tony Parsons, whose father was a Royal Naval Commando who fought at Elba. It also contains a preface by Ken Oakley, Chairman of the Royal Naval Commando Association.

Available from:
Frontline Books

11 July 2017

295th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company Audio Book

The 295th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company (FA) was a Field Army company of the United States Army from April 16, 1943, until January 1, 1946. Serving under the First, Second, Third, Seventh, and Ninth Army divisions, the company participated in the liberation of Europe during World War II.

Mike Rockett's grandfather, James T. Rockett, served with the Company, and he has created an audiobook which details the history of the Company, and their service.

Information on the 295th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company can be found on Mike's site - www.295th.com, including interviews with some members and a number of photos. A summary of their service can be found here:

1 Training
1.1 Camp Sutton
1.2 Camp Toccoa
1.3 Camp Campbell
1.4 Tennessee Maneuvers
1.5 Camp Forrest
1.6 Fort McPherson
1.7 Camp Gordon
1.8 Fort Jackson
1.9 Camp Kilmer
2 Battle Operations
2.1 Port of Embarkation
2.2 Liverpool, England
2.3 Wem
2.4 Ninth Army
2.5 Weymouth
2.6 Le Havre, France
2.7 Camp Twenty Grand
2.8 Vis, Belgium
2.9 Maastricht, Holland
2.10 Tegelen, Holland
2.11 Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany
2.12 Sterkrade, Germany
2.13 Detmold, Germany
Occupation in Post-War Europe
3.1 Ammendorf, Germany
3.2 Gotha, Germany
3.3 Karlsfeld, Germany

The audio book contains the full narrated story of the Company, and contains many additional details not featured on the website.

Available to download from:
Amazon

7 July 2017

Cassel and Hazebrouck 1940: France and Flanders Campaign

This is the first detailed account of the rearguard action that took place between 25 and 29 May 1940 at Cassel and Hazebrouck on the western perimeter of the Dunkirk Corridor.

By 25 May the decision to evacuate the BEF via Dunkirk had already been taken, Lord Gort, commanding the BEF in France, had given instructions to Lieutenant General Sir Ronald Adam to relinquish his command of III Corps and prepare a perimeter of defence around Dunkirk. As part of the western defensive line of the Dunkirk Corridor, 145 Brigade were deployed to Cassel and Hazebrouck with the instructions to hold the two towns until the last man.

Under the command of Brigadier Nigel Somerset, the brigade occupied Hazebrouck with the infantry of 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion and Cassel with the 4/Ox and Bucks Light Infantry together with the regulars of the 2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. Attached to Somerset s meagre force was a number of units that had previously been part of two of Gort s ad hoc formations - Macforce and Woodforce, and it was with these men that the two towns were fortified against the advancing German armoured divisions.

While Hazebrouck was overwhelmed very quickly, the hilltop town of Cassel held out for much longer with German forces failing to consolidate any penetration of the perimeter. The book looks closely at the deployment of units in both towns and focuses on the individuals involved in the defence and the subsequent break-out, which ended in capture or death for so many.

There are two car tours that explore the surrounding area of Cassel and the deployment of platoons within Hazebrouck. These are supplemented by two walking tours, one in Cassel itself and the second further to the west of the town around the area controlled by B and D Companies of the 2nd Gloucesters. The book is illustrated with ten maps and over 100 modern and contemporary photographs.

Available from:
Pen & Sword

28 June 2017

Paras - Voices of the British Airborne Forces in the Second World War

This book is full of untold short stories of men who created a legend, the legend of the British airborne forces during the Second World War.

Impressed by the performance of the German paratroopers in Belgium and the Netherlands in 1940, and on Crete in 1941, Winston Churchill ordered the creation of a British Airborne force of no less than 5,000 parachutists. Their task was to land behind enemy lines and take and hold or destroy key objectives while ground troops advanced toward them. The result was the 1st and 6th Airborne divisions, and this is their story, as told by the men themselves.

Covering everything from the initial training at Hardwick Hall and Ringway through their first operations in North Africa and Italy, to D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the crossing of the Rhine, this is a compelling account of the war fought by the paratroopers and their comrades in the glider units.

Contents:
  • The British Airborne Forms
  • Hardwick Hall: The Selection Process Begins
  • Ringway: The Parachute School
  • The Glider Pilot Regiment
  • Tunisia, Sicily and Italy
  • Normandy: 6 June 1944
  • Arnhem: 17 September 1944
  • Over the Rhine and Walking to the Baltic

Available from:
Amberley Publishing