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Battleaxe Division (British Army at War) [Hardcover]

Ken Ford
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Aug 1997 British Army at War
In 1942, 78th Division was raised specifically for the North African invasion. From the time that the Division landed at Algiers there were to be few easy days, and the campaigning through Tunisia, Sicily and Italy was a tale of bitterly fought actions in a harsh terrain against a skilful enemy. In its first year of action alone, 78th Division suffered 10,000 casualties. Longstop Hill, Centuripe, Termoli, Cassino, the Gustav Line, the Argenta Gap; there was always one more river to cross, another defended mountain line to breach. Ken Ford brings out how quickly the Division developed its fighting power and shows how success resulted from an all-arms effort by infantry, armour, artillery, transport, and especially engineers. Yet it is the resilience and sacrifice of now vanished County infantry regiments that rightly form the core of the book. Using first hand accounts of men who actually fought with the 78th Division, and fully illustrated with photographs and maps, this is a fitting tribute to the soldiers of the Battleaxe Division.

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Battleaxe Division (British Army at War) + Monte Cassino: The Story of the Hardest-fought Battle of World War Two
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; New edition edition (28 Aug 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075093199X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750931991
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 14.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ken Ford trained as a telecommunications engineer, but a fascination with military history led ultimately to a career change and he is now a bookseller specialising in military books. He lives in Hampshire.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Good 19 Nov 2011
By Hussar
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. It doesn't get itself bogged down in the specifics of military tactics too much, something which some may miss.

One thing the author doesn't shy away from is military failure on the part of the division, which adds to the sense that the book was written with at least one eye an historical accuracy which always goes down well. The author also appears to have a certain empathy with the average Battleaxe Div soldier, which is neatly emphasised in his explanation of the reasons behind the Cairo riots.

It did seem to me however, that the author rushed the last part of the book a little too much. It feels like he was limited by a page count and only realised this after writing 3/4 of the book, so tried to cram the last 12 months of action into the last 50 or so pages.
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By William
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good imtroduction to a frequently overlooked part of the war in europe and the role of the Irish in WW2
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4.0 out of 5 stars Liverpool Map and Battleaxe Division 29 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Both map and book were good.Map excellant for slipping in pocket and war book was a very easy read and to the point
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased the book because I wished to augment my previous knowledge regarding the Battleaxe Club and the campaigns of the Second World War mainly in Sicily and Italy. The book presented a slightly different view of events compared to the publication "Algiers to Austria" and Ford told the same story using less military jargon as well. The price represented value for money and the publication was delivered promptly and this was appreciated.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid history of the British 78th infantry division in WW2 13 Jun 2010
By Colin Platt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good history of the British 78th (Battleaxe) infantry division in WW2. My only genuine complaint about the book is that it seems to have become a requirment of military histories to have bad maps. Given the mountain terrain that the 78th fought over in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, this is especially frustrating as the author consistantly reinforces the the problems posed by an enemy holding higher ground, so the 'broad brush' approach of the maps is not appropriate. That said, this is a very good divisional history. Perspective is given from both the brigade and divisional level to see the 'top down' perspective of battle problems, but also from the perspective of the battalions involved, and how they approached each battle, and deployed their companies and reserves.

Without commenting directly on it, the fluidity of the British system whereby battalions and brigades are individual units that can be assigned to a particular problem or reassigned to a different command comes through clearly. So do the problems of 'seniority' whereby the Guards brigade originally assigned to the division has to be reassigned. The problems here are not gone into, but frankly it does not reflect well on anyone that pride appears to have meant more to some people than professionalism. Thus, after the appointment of a 'junior' brigadier to command the division, the Guards brigade (with its 'senior', and 'overlooked' commander) must be removed from the division.

The narrative is interspersed with commentary from the soldiers of the 78th, and this is invaluable to later readers to get some idea of what the soldiers were going through. The courage, the fear, the 'near misses' and the survivors of the disasters all have their voice.

Not surprising the book starts slowly, but as the division moves into Sicily it becomes engaging reading.

The book only occassionaly steps back to look at the larger picture of campaigns to see where other allied forces may be, and while some readers may have a problem with this, I do not, the book has one division as its focus and does an excellent job maintaining it.

Overall, this book is to be recommended to readers with an especial interest in the British 78th division, but also to those with either an interest in the Scilian and Italian campaigns or the British forces in Italy and Sicily.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story, especially in Italy 11 Mar 2013
By David W Riede - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is worth reading to get an understanding of the British Division in WWII. Not enough detail about the organization of the British Infantry Division, Brigade, Battalion, Company, Platoon, and Squad.
Not enough detail about the equipment. The early section about the Division in the Race for Tunisia is spotty - has some very good information on the 36th Brigade, but not much detail on Blade Force or the 11th Brigade.
The details of the fighting in Sicily and Italy are very good.
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