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Robert Widders

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List of Personnel of the Irish Defence Forces Dismissed for Desertion During the Second World War
List of Personnel of the Irish Defence Forces Dismissed for Desertion During the Second World War
by Document Official
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kangaroo Court-Martial, 28 July 2011
This is a fascinating document. It contains 4,987 names, addresses, dates of birth, and other personal information, of the men who deserted from the Irish Defence Force during WW2, to join the British armed forces. It was the basic research tool for my book, Spitting On A Soldier's Grave. Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers

I interviewed some of the men on this List. Though what most people will be unaware of is that many of the men on this List of Personnel... died fighting to defeat Nazism, long before they were added to this document. The List is a fascinating research tool, which I've now digitised.


The Armed Forces of the European Union 2012-2013
The Armed Forces of the European Union 2012-2013
by Charles Heyman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating little book, 25 Jun. 2011
As the title suggests, 'The Armed Forces Of The European Union' presents an overview of the collective military capabilities of the EU. Inevitably the book breaks this down by country, further sub-divided into land, sea, and air assets. As the cover blurb says, the defence forces of the 27 member states include 1.6 million personnel, 25,000 armoured vehicles, 2,000 combat aircraft and so on.

Undoubtedly, the EU's armed forces present an impressive military grouping. Though whilst proponents of the creeping creation of the 'United States of Europe' would have us buy into this, and present it as a joint force capability to rival the USA and China, collectively it's about as much use as an outside toilet on a submarine!

This is absolutely no reflection on the author though. He has presented a useful, well written, clear and concise guide. I would have liked to have seen a little more detail/depth in the entries. But given the modest price of the book and the fact that it only claims to present baseline information, there is no cause for complaint.

Overall, interesting, well presented and good value.

(The reviewer, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers received a free review copy of this book.)

Please note; I occasionally review books for this publisher. I do not receive payment. And reviews, when favourable, are a reflection of my personal views. When I dislike a title I don't bother reviewing it, it just goes into the bin.


Panzers in the Sand: 1935 - 1941 v. 1: The History of the Panzer-Regiment 5
Panzers in the Sand: 1935 - 1941 v. 1: The History of the Panzer-Regiment 5
by Bernd Hartmann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Panzers In The Sand, 17 April 2011
Panzers In The Sand, is the first of a two volume history of Panzer Regiment 5. A minor irritant is that this book has been translated into English, from German, by an American. Occassionally the translation (such as the letter home from an Afrika Corps soldier, complaining that he was ignored as a 'newbie') sounds silly. The book also uses the irritating Americanism describing tank crewmen as 'tankers', instead of the British expression 'tankies'.

Now that I've got that off my chest I can happily say that this is a truly fascinating account of life in an armoured regiment during its formative years, between 1935 and 1941. Overall, the narrative is well informed and interesting. But what really makes this book stand out is the wealth of photographs, illustrating daily life for the soldiers and showing the regiment in action in Europe and Africa.

(The reviewer, Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers received a free review copy of this book. Robert Widders is not connected with the publisher in any way and did not receive any payment or inducement for this review.)


20th April 1939 - Adolf Hitler's 50th Birthday - 2 DVD BOX
20th April 1939 - Adolf Hitler's 50th Birthday - 2 DVD BOX
Dvd ~ MMStore
Price: £19.16

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitler's birthday parade, 6 Feb. 2011
I often get asked to review books. But this is the first DVD I've been sent, and on first inspection I was inclined to give it a miss. 'Adolf Hitler's 5oth Birthday Party' wouldn't be the sort of viewing I'd normally go for. But, I have to admit that it made compelling viewing.

A number of films of Hitler's 1939 birthday parade have been woven together to present a two hour film, of what must be one of the largest military parades in modern history. And what a parade it is. It took four and a half hours to pass the saluting stand and would have stretched some 100 kilometres length in total. Without wishing to approve of Nazi glorification in any way at all - anyone who has ever been involved in organising a military parade will understand the immense logistical challenge such an event must have presented.

An understated modern interpretive narrative generally allows the film to speak for itself. But it can also be watched with the original German commentary (and translation) which, with the Wagnerian musical accompaniment, provides a compelling example of the dark arts of Nazi propaganda.

This is not a film to captivate the sound-bite generation. But showing film in its entirety, that is normally only seen in short excerpts, proves well worth watching for serious students of the period's history.

Faults; the price is a little high and it's shame that it doesn't come in formats compatible with iPad. But a fascinating piece of military history nonetheless.

The reviewer, Robert Widders, is the author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers He received a free review copy of the DVD. He did not receive any payment for this review and is not connected in any way to the publishers.)


Commando Tactics: The Second World War
Commando Tactics: The Second World War
by Stephen Bull
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Commando Tactics, 27 Nov. 2010
An excellent introduction to the formation of the British commandos in WW2 - a field of warfare where Britain led the way. The book maintains a good balance between narrative and analysis, and is readily accessible to the general reader as well as those with a more specialist interest. Perhaps the illustrations might have been a little more inspiring but, overall, a very good publication.

(Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers, received a free review copy of this book. He is not linked to the publishers in any way and did not receive any fee or inducement in return for this review.)


Operation Barbarossa: Hitler's Invasion of Russia (Images of War)
Operation Barbarossa: Hitler's Invasion of Russia (Images of War)
by Ian Baxter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barbarossa, 17 Nov. 2010
Operation Barbarossa is another volume in the Images Of War series. The press release describes this as a 'superb collection of rare and unpublished German photographs'. Some of the photographs certainly are superb, though how rare they are is a matter of conjecture. A little background information about the photographs' provenance would have been helpful, but this is a minor flaw in what is otherwise a very interesting collection.

One picture which especially caught my imagination showed a column of Wehrmacht soldiers marching through Russia. There was a loaf of bread tucked into the back of one man's webbing, and a crack in the loaf threatens to deposit it in two halves upon the Russian steppes. It's ridiculous, but I can't help repeatedly looking at the photo and wondering if the bread goes flying or whether the man behind catches the two halves. Maybe you have to have been a soldier to wander off into these daft flights of fancy...

Overall it's an illuminating and interesting collection that brings many aspects of Op Barbarossa to life in a way that the written word never can. This is a book I'll hold onto - if only so that I can ponder again on that loaf of bloody bread.

(The reviewer, Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers , received a free review copy of this book. Robert Widders did not receive any fee or inducement in return for this review and is not connected to the publishers in any way.)


Wavell - Soldier and Statesman
Wavell - Soldier and Statesman
by Victoria Schofield
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good solid piece of work, 25 Oct. 2010
Wavell, Soldier & Statesman, by Victoria Schofield, dropped through my door with a thud - it's a weighty tome... Oddly enough I had just finished reading volume 2 of John Connell's 1969 biography, Wavell, Supreme Commander.

Connell's book, for me at least, paints a warmer picture of Wavell than Schofield does. But overall she has put together a well researched and readable account that manages to cover a lot of ground in its 528 pages. It's a good solid piece of work and I enjoyed reading it.

(The reviewer, Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers received a free review copy of this book. Robert Widders is not connected with the publisher in any way and did not receive any payment or inducement for this review.)


August 1914: Surrender at St Quentin
August 1914: Surrender at St Quentin
by John Hutton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars August 1914: Surrender At St Quentin, 11 Oct. 2010
The colonel of a British regiment leads his men throughout the chaotic retreat from Mons in 1914 and both he and his regiment fight bravely. Exhausted, and clearly stressed, he orders his men to surrender believing the battalion to be surrounded by overwhelmingly superior (in numbers) forces.

But other officers take over and lead the men back to the main body of the BEF. Colonel Elkington is cashiered and dismissed from the British Army in disgrace. So he enlists as a private soldier in the French Foreign Legion, fights on the Western Front, is wounded and returns to England after being decorated for gallantry by the French Army. With his honour regained the King reinstates him in the British Army.

If you made it up - if you wrote it as fiction - people [now] would laugh at it... But it's all true - and what an incredible story.

I could have done without the little poem or quote that heads each chapter - I don't think they add anything. But that's a minor criticism. Overall, it's an interesting and well researched book.

(The reviewer, Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers recieved a free review copy of this book. He is not connected to the publishers in any way and did not receive any payment or inducement for this review.)


War Under the Red Ensign 1914-1918
War Under the Red Ensign 1914-1918
by Bernard Edwards
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War Under The Red Ensign - WW1, 4 Oct. 2010
There's a memorial in Liverpool Street Station (London) to Captain Charles Fryatt. I've walked past it any number of times and wondered what the story is. Well now I know - It's one of a number of fascinating incidents recounted in War Under The Red Ensign, by Bernard Edwards.

This book tell the story of the British Merchant Navy during the First World War. It recounts a series of ever worsening incidents, showing how the development of U-boat warfare progressed from almost gentlemanly behaviour, reminiscent of the Victorian era, to all out total war.

War Under The Red Ensign is well written, nicely illustrated, informative, and easy to read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

(The reviewer, Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers received a free copy of this book from the publishers. But he did not receive any fee or inducement to write this review and is not linked to the publishers in any way.)


Fallschirmjager: Elite German Paratroops in World War II (Images of War)
Fallschirmjager: Elite German Paratroops in World War II (Images of War)
by Jon Sutherland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars German Airborne Forces, 1 Oct. 2010
Fallschirmjager is a narrated collection of photographs of the elite WWII German paratroop regiment. The photographs show men of the Fallschirmjager, both informally, and in action, in the Balkans, Greece, Crete and Russia.

But what made this book stand out from the crowd for me is that the photos were taken by one man, Wilhelm Plieschen, a First Sergeant in the 7th Flieger Division. Leafing through what is, in effect, a soldier's photograph album, it's very easy to empathise with Plieschen. Admittedly, the pictures lack the technical gloss of better known collections taken by professional war photographers. Some of them are the typical sort of posed shots that all of us with military experience have tucked away somewhere or other. Whilst others are hastily snapped pictures taken minutes after landing on the battlefield. One picture, taken whilst airborne, is especially poignant, clearly showing the trepidation on the men's faces as they sit inside their Ju52 [aeroplane] heading towards the drop zone in Crete.

A well written narrative interprets each picture on the same page making it very straightforward to read without having to flick back and forth between pages. At £14.99 it's not a cheap book: But anyone with an interest in WWII airborne forces will find it well worth the price.

(The reviewer, Robert Widders, is a writer, historian and ex-soldier. He received a free review copy of Fallschirmjager from the publishers. But he did not receive any fee or inducement to write this review and is not linked to the publishers in any way.)
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