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.

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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.

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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