28 June 2016

The Faustball Tunnel: German POWs in America and Their Great Escape

On December 23, 1944, twenty-five German prisoners of war broke out of an Arizona prison camp not far from the Mexican border by crawling along a 178-foot tunnel. By Christmas day, they were looking for ways to reach Mexico and Axis sympathizers who would help them. Drawing on extensive interviews with the escapees and formerly classified documents, John Hammond Moore tells their incredible story―one of the few untold dramas of the war.

Many of the men imprisoned at the Papago Park camp were among the Nazis' toughest and smartest U-boat commanders and their crews. Expecting trouble, their American guards marveled at how well the men adjusted to camp life. Spirits were high and the compound neatly raked several times each day. But the guards failed to realize the men were digging a tunnel right under their eyes. They hid their activity by building a volleyball (faustball) field. Twenty-five escapees used makeshift tools and coal shovels issued them by the camp to hack through the rocky soil. Once free, they disguised themselves as merchant seamen, consular officials, and workers armed with false identification papers. The men lasted six weeks on the outside before being recaptured. Their breakout, told here is breathtaking detail, remains the most sensational mass escape ever to take place from a POW camp on American soil.

Available from:
Amazon

6 June 2016

The Second World War Through Soldiers' Eyes - British Army Life 1939-1945

What was it really like to serve in the British Army during the Second World War?
Discover a soldier's view of life in the British Army – from recruitment and training to the brutal realities of combat. Using first-hand sources, James Goulty reconstructs the experiences of the men and women who made up the 'citizen's army'. Find out about the weapons and equipment they used; the uniforms they wore; how they adjusted to army discipline and faced the challenges of active service overseas.

What happened when things went wrong? What were your chances of survival if you were injured in combat or taken prisoner? While they didn't go into combat, thousands of women also served in the British Army with the ATS or as nurses. What were their wartime lives like? And, when the war had finally ended, how did newly demobilised soldiers and servicewomen cope with returning home?

The British Army that emerged victorious in 1945 was vastly different from the poorly funded force of 865,000 men who heard Neville Chamberlain declare war in 1939. With an influx of civilian volunteers and conscripts, the army became a ‘citizen’s force’ and its character and size were transformed. By D-Day Britain had a well-equipped, disciplined army of over three million men and women and during the war they served in a diverse range of places across the world. This book uncovers some of their stories and gives a fascinating insight into the realities of army life in wartime.

James Goulty has utilised personal testimonies from the Imperial War Museum, Northumberland Archives and interviews he has carried out himself, combined with memoirs, diaries and written accounts from numerous archives including Durham County Records Office, Lincolnshire Archives, Tyne & Wear Archives to ensure first hand testimony in central to The Second World War Through Soldiers' Eyes.

Table of Contents
  • Call Up and Training
  • Life on Active Service
  • Enduring Active Service
  • Prisoner of War Experiences
  • Casualties and Medical Matters
  • The Aftermath c. 1945-46
  • Bibliography
Available from:
Pen & Sword

27 May 2016

Raiders from the Sea

The Special Boat Service was a small force during the Second World War, never more than about 300 men. But that did not stop it from inflicting great damage on the enemy. In the Mediterranean and in the Aegean, which the German controlled after the fall of Greece and Crete, this small commando force kept up a constant campaign of harassment, this pinning down enemy forces and preventing their joining other fronts.

They traveled at night to their targets, using submarines, small surface vessels or canoes, with the commanders of vessels often putting themselves in danger in order to help the men carry out their dangerous and secret missions. They were reliant on the co-operation of the fiercely independent Greeks and in particular the Cretans, all working together in their common objective against the German invaders.

John Lodwick took part in the SBS Mediterranean campaign, and writes from personal experience. For it is more than the story of daring exploits and wartime sabotage. It is above all the story of the remarkable men who made up the force: men such as Anders Lassen, 'the Dreadful Dane' who was awarded a posthumous VC, Fitzroy Maclean, Eric Newby, Jock Lapraik, and Lord Jellicoe, who commanded the squadron for almost two years and who contributed a foreword to the 1990 edition of the book.

Individualistic in themselves, together the men of the Special Boat Service formed a deadly, cohesive fighting force which contributed much to the war in the Mediterranean and to whom John Lodwick's book is a tribute.

Available from:
Amazon

24 May 2016

Prelude to D-Day: Devon's Role in the Storming of Hitler's Europe

Over twenty years of original research lie behind the author's remarkable retelling of the last months of the Second World War in Devon. Following the Allied agreement on a strategy to reclaim Europe from Nazi occupation, Devon's beautiful coast became the crucible from which was forged the mighty forces that were to be unleashed on the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944.

From official British and American records, and through the inclusion of over 250 photographs, maps and other illustrations, Gerald Wasley reveals the detailed military planning and months of training undertaken by thousands of troops that brought success on D-Day. And yet at what cost to those who were forced to move from their homes to make way for the US Army?

In November 1943 the authorities announced that an area of over 30 000 acres in South Devon was to be evacuated to allow realistic battle training, throwing over 3000 residents out of their homes just five days before Christmas that year. In Prelude to D-Day the author portrays life in Devon before the war and changes brought about during the early war years up to the arrival of the US Forces leading to the evacuation of the South Hams.

He examines the reasoning behind the choice of training areas, the logistics involved in their operation, elements of training, live firing, and experimental weapons. New light is thrown on the circumstances surrounding Operation Tiger, a training exercise in which over 700 troops lost their lives. The D-Day landings themselves are covered, as are the lessons learned, with rare photographs and maps making this a significant and important book.

Available from:
Halsgrove

16 May 2016

Fight the Good Fight - Voices of Faith from the Second World War

The Second World War challenged many of the concepts that had provided stability and unity in the world. As totalitarian regimes in Europe and Asia attempted to impose their world view on their neighbours, a struggle for what Winston Churchill described as 'Christian civilisation' took place on many fronts. On the home front, on land, on sea and in the air, as well as in the horrific concentration camps of Europe and prisoner of war camps in the Far East, people of a Christian faith found their beliefs challenged. However, for many this challenge provided an affirmation of that faith, as it provided a rock amidst the ever shifting sands of circumstance.

In Fight the Good Fight, John Broom has collected the accounts of twenty such individuals, many drawn from previously unpublished sources. Their testimonies provide evidence that during a time of discord, disruption, dislocation and death, the Christian faith remained a key force in sustaining morale and a willingness to fight the good fight.

Fight the Good Fight includes the stories of:
  • Michael Benn, brother of Tony, killed in RAF action in 1944
  • Bill Frankland, an ex-Far East prisoner of war, still professionally active aged 103
  • Hugh Dormer, a Special Operations Executive in occupied France
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German priest who resisted Nazi rule
  • Carrie ten Boom, who survived a Nazi concentration camp
  • Ken Tout, a young tank commander in Normandy
  • James Driscoll, a London conscientious objector who carried the wounded from the battlefield of El Alamein
  • 'Tommy' Tomkins, who traveled the world in his role in the Intelligence Corps
  • John Broom, who served in Monty's Desert Rats in Africa and Europe
  • Israel Yost, a US Army chaplain ministering to Christians and Buddhists on active service
  • Stanley Warren, a London artist whose beautiful Changi murals saved his life
  • Eric Cordingly, a Costswolds chaplain who sustained men's faith and morale in Japanese captivity
  • Audrey Forster, a girl whose Lancashire home was turned over to the military and civilian evacuees
  • Edgar Mash, a London dentist whose testimony of deliverance from Dunkirk reached thousands
  • Ruth Hargreaves, a German schoolgirl turned refugee 
Available from:
Pen & Sword

30 April 2016

The Sinking of the Laconia - A Tragedy in the Battle of the Atlantic

This book tells one of the most exciting and heroic stories of the Battle of the Atlantic, yet it is one which is unjustly neglected by naval historians.

In September 1942 the Laconia, built in 1922 as a cruise liner but requisitioned by the Admiralty as a troop carrier, was torpedoed and sunk in the shark-infested South Atlantic while carrying over 2,700 people, including 1,800 Italian prisoners of war and 80 civilian passengers. The U-Boat Commander responsible, Werner Hartenstein, immediately launched a major rescue attempt, turning the U-156 into a hospital ship and exposing her to great danger. The Germans sent two further U-Boats to help, the U-506 and U-507. The Italians sent another submarine, the Cappellini. The French sent three warships, the Gloire, Ammanite and Dumont-d'Urville. The British could do nothing, and the Americans, in the fog of war, twice attacked the rescuers with a Liberator bomber.

After the attacks, the U-Boats did their best to continue their mission, taking survivors to the rendezvous point with the French ships, but Admiral Dรถnitz then issued the 'Laconia Order', forbidding his submarines carrying out further rescue attempts. This was a major turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic and in the general history of sea warfare, for the Laconia Order has since been standard practice in submarine attack. 

In all, nearly 2000 people lost their lives in the Laconia incident, victims of torpedoes, sharks, struggles to get into the lifeboats, bombs or thirst. Two lifeboats were missed by the rescuers. They drifted slowly towards Africa, most of their passengers dying en route. One survivor, Doris Hawkins, wrote a graphic contemporary account of this journey, most of which is included in The Sinking of the Laconia.

This book is constructed from survivor's own stories, contemporary accounts and official documents and includes much hitherto unpublished detail about the ship and her tragic fate.

Available from:
Paul Watkins Publishing

25 April 2016

Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov - World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond.

Attorney and author Larry Loftis examines international spy and double agent Dusko Popov’s life in Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov: World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond.

Dusko Popov had a storied past, starting with his expulsion from prep school as a young man. Years later he was arrested and banished from Germany for making derogatory statements about the Third Reich. And when World War II ensued, Popov became a spy, eventually serving three networks as a double agent: the German Abwehr, the British MI5 and MI6, and the US FBI. He also had a reputation for living an extravagant lifestyle and cavorting with lots of beautiful women.

On August 10, 1941, the Abwehr sent Popov to the United States to construct a spy network and, specifically, to gather information on the defense installations at Pearl Harbor. What they didn’t
know was that Popov was actually working as a double agent for the British.  Upon arrival in New York, Popov contacted the FBI and warned them that the Germans wanted this information on behalf  of Japan, and that an attack was imminent.  The FBI ignored this, and then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who did not trust him, succeeded in blowing his cover.  While MI5 desperately needed Popov to deceive the Abwehr about the D-Day invasion, they assured him that a return to the German Secret Service Headquarters in Lisbon would result in torture and execution. He went anyway.

Into the Lion's Mouth is the account of one man’s globe-trotting entanglement with espionage, murder, assassins, and lovers - including enemy spies and a Hollywood starlet. It is a story of subterfuge, seduction, patriotism, and courage - themes that Ian Fleming would incorporate into the tales involving his iconic hero, James Bond.

Find out more at the Author's website - www.larryloftis.com

Available from:
Penguin Random House