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Hussar (Cheshire)

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H.M.S. Thule Intercepts
H.M.S. Thule Intercepts
by Alastair Mars DSO DSC
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly gripping, 6 Feb. 2013
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This is one of those truly gripping war stories which leads you to ignore everything else just to read on and on. It's very well written, easy to understand, humorous, nerve-wracking ane exciting all at once.

A very special book which makes what happened to Mars at the end of his RN career, seem all the more disgusting.

I genuinely loved it and would recommend it to anyone with even just a passing interest in the Royal Navy in WWII.


The Perilous Road to Rome and Beyond: The Memoirs of a Gordon Highlander
The Perilous Road to Rome and Beyond: The Memoirs of a Gordon Highlander
by Edward Grace
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, 21 Jan. 2013
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Grace manages to make this book a damned exciting read and not just another, dry war story. It follows the path of the 6th Gordons from his perspective as a junior officer and as such has more information about places and times than many of similar stories written by Other Ranks.

That is not to take anything away from the story of ORs (which are equally as valuable) but it does give a slightly more rounded picture of things as Grace was supposed to know where his men were and where they were going. This makes it easy to read and to pinpoint what the battalion were doing in a specific time frame and geographical location.

This, coupled with Grace's ability to make his own stories come to life with remarkable lucidity makes this book an excellent read. No mention of how he won his MC though, which is a shame.


Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign (Smhs) (Stackpole Military History) (Stackpole Military History Series)
Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign (Smhs) (Stackpole Military History) (Stackpole Military History Series)
by John A. English
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reasonable assessment, 21 Sept. 2012
This book sets out to prove one simple point; the failure of the Canadian Army to make decent headway in Normandy was the fault of the commanders and not the men. Whether it actually proves this is another matter.

The author used the 'failure' of decent staff training to explain the lackluster performance of the Canadian Army (particularly 2 Corps) overseas in WW2. This has some basis in truth simply because of what the Canadian government spent on its army in peace time and because of the clique at the top of the Militia before war broke out which prevented decent men (like G.G. Simonds) from rising to the top sooner.

I have issues with the author's analysis of Totalize though, which I think put too much emphasis on the lack of advance by the armoured divisions. A simple point can be made here: No matter how good your staff officers are, a massive dust cloud kicked up by tanks on the move will confuse ANYONE and will have a negative impact on the progress of an armoured division. That the staff officers were blamed for not 'sorting' this out is nonsensical.

I do agree with the failure of Totalize mainly being explained by the pause caused by the bombing raid scheduled for the opening of Phase 2, however.

For a proper assessment of Totalize, read Brian Reid's book 'No Holding Back'.

This is a decent book and makes some very good points, but I think it should be read in conjunction with 'Fields of Fire' by Terry Copp for a balanced view.


Even the Brave Falter
Even the Brave Falter
by E.D. Smith
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning insight, 13 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Even the Brave Falter (Hardcover)
This book is a stunning insight into the British army and their approach to the Ghurka battalions.

Birdie Smith was obviously very fond of his Ghurkas and it can get very touching reading his reaction to the losses of his treasured soldiers.
He makes no apologies for the fear he felt going into action and even describes one fairly harrowing near-miss at Monte Cassino in which his body reacts negatively to the fright. I doin't know of many other first hand accounts of officers where such a thing would be stated so openly.

For those interested in such things, this book gives you all the little details that makes it stand out over more modern work. For instance, how many modern historians would have known that the Ghurkas referred to the Germans as 'Dushmen'? No mamy i'm willing to bet...


Anzio: The Gamble That Failed
Anzio: The Gamble That Failed
by Martin Blumenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, 20 April 2012
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I don't understand Blumenson's angle. His suggestion that the landings at Anzio weren't anything to do with the unfortunate Americans who, he intimates, were duped into going along with it is not only misguided but it's misleading too. True, it was largely a result of Churchill's overactive imagination and was ill-conceived to say the least but to suggest that Churchill and Alexander decided to arrange the landings on a whim with no real idea of the consequences, whilst poor old tired Lucas tried his best to make a go of it is unfair.

Many troops (both British and American) suffered because of Lucas's lack of drive and his inability to see an obvious opportunity when it lay in front of him. Blumenson tries to explain that Lucas was tired and his judgement and abilities were therefore adversely affected. He also states that none of Lucas's friends and associates believed him to be tired. Call me cynical, but surely this is evidence of Lucas making excuses AFTER the fact. Of course we'd never know for definite if Lucas stated this before or after he was removed and replaced, simply because Blumenson hasn't referenced ANY of his sources.

Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that Anzio was a gamble that failed, I disagree with the means, not the end.

I also found it difficult to see how Blumenson is so highly rated as an historian when he gets the basics of a British divisions' order of battle wrong. For information Martin, by 1944, a British division had three infantry brigades, not two.

This is a very US-centric work which, as a British person, I'm rather dissapointed by. There seems little in the way of balance as evidenced by the way Blumenson often cites Lucas's diary entries which seem very negative towards the British troops and their 'excessive losses' whilst Blumenson doesn't point out, in the way of balance, that the US losses were horrifying too, and that Lucas was wrong to state that - he just let's it stand which I find unnacceptable for someone who is supposed to look at the facts objectively and not side with the views (intentionally or not) of a man who's timid nature cost many allied troops their lives.

Read Clark's 'Anzio' or D'este's 'Fatal Decision' instead of this. They're better. By far.


Three Corvettes
Three Corvettes
by Nicholas Monsarrat
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Book, 16 April 2012
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This review is from: Three Corvettes (Paperback)
This book is excellent.

As the other reviewers have stated it is a collection of stories based on his wartime experiences and a number of short stories (fictional) that are very well set-out.

Firstly, his war was horrid. Read the section entitled "It Was Cruel" and you'll be disgusted at what these men went through to keep Britain going, but at the same time, their sacrifice will make you proud.

Monsarrat also injects humour in the most unlikely of places and some sections genuinely had me giggling at the absurdity of it all. It has highs, lows, humour and sadness - the lot.

I just wish there was more of it!


The Battle of the Atlantic
The Battle of the Atlantic
by Andrew Williams
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 14 Mar. 2012
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I genuinely loved reading this book. It covers so many disparate parts of the whole battle and manages to weave them together to make one very readable tapestry.

The technical aspects are dealt with through the right amount of detail without becoming too specialist and the human stories back this up very well.

The sheer horror of actually doing the fighting will shock a few of the readers as will the numbers involved - firstly the sinking of merchantmen and latterly the massacre of the U-boats that took place. The numbers are a genuine eye-opener.

It's also the simple aspects that I like, for instance, how hard can it be to cook a meal on a Corvette on escort duty? The testimony is there to give you the answer.

This is a good book, no doubt.


18 Platoon
18 Platoon
by Sydney Jary
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lucky man, 7 Feb. 2012
This review is from: 18 Platoon (Hardcover)
Jary was a lucky man. That he survived doing the things he did is truly astonishing. This book is a fitting tribute to an unorthodox junior officer in a difficult war. The book is easy to read and the enthusiasm with which he writes sucks you into his world and you do find yourself picturing his surroundings and the people he shares his experiences with.

How it must have been for someone so young to take such a responsibility and do it in such an effective way is difficult to comprehend. Jary deflects much of the platoon's achievements away from himself and on to the men he commanded.

This is a really inspiring book and one that should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in the fighting in North-West Europe.

It's easily as good a Trevelyan's book, which is saying something.


Sea Wolves: The Extraordinary Story of Britain's WW2 Submarines
Sea Wolves: The Extraordinary Story of Britain's WW2 Submarines
by Tim Clayton
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking book, 30 Jan. 2012
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The Negatives:

- Use commas more often please, Mr Clayton. Some of the sentences don't make perfect sense until one mentally inserts a little comma in the right place. A minor niggle that keeps occuring.

- It's sometimes hard to keep up with all the names of submarine personnel that the author throws into the narrative. Without remembering who served on which boat, it can get a little confusing sometimes.

- There are some glaring omissions, e.g the only underwater sinking of a submarine by another submarine ever to take place, is not listed. One would have imagined that this would be listed as a big success for the British but it doesn't even get a single sentence.

The Positives:

- It's very good. The subject matter is exciting and the author manages to describe how the various contraptions work without detracting from the overall story and also without being too technical. It works very well. The description of how a submarines' toilets work was fantastic!

- The layout of the book is excellent with the chapters in the order you'd expect them. It sound like such a simple thing but it makes the book so much more pleasurable to read. Many other authors can't seem to manage this, but Clayton does.

- It covers the horror and discomfort experienced in a very vivd way.

- The design of the cover is wonderful. A minor thing, I know, but it really captures the spirit of the topic, as does the title. It makes the book a tactile and visual pleasure.

Overall, I loved it and was genuinely a touch sorry that I'd finished it. WELL WORTH buying.


No Holding Back: Operation Totalize, Normandy, August 1944 (Smhs) (Stackpole Military History) (Stackpole Military History Series)
No Holding Back: Operation Totalize, Normandy, August 1944 (Smhs) (Stackpole Military History) (Stackpole Military History Series)
by Brian A. Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is no better, 6 Jan. 2012
For an unbiased and fair review of Operation Totalize, there is no better work than this.

Reid sets everything out in a linear fashion - the background, planing, lead up, Phase 1, Phase 2, analysis and comment. Just as it should be.

He seams to understand (as does Copp) just how hard the Allies had it against an opponent who had learned everything they needed to in order to ensure a successful outcome to operations.

There is little more to say that hasn't already been said by the others. This should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the Normandy campaign.

Outstanding.


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