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The Hood Battalion
The Hood Battalion
by Leonard Sellers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate battalion history, 17 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Hood Battalion (Paperback)
This excellent battalion history, first published by Leo Cooper in 1995 and now republished in paperback by Pen and Sword, is everything you could wish for in a unit narrative. First and foremost, the writing is pacey and engaging. There are numerous references to published, unpublished and archive sources (all expanded at the back of the book); first-hand accounts by the men, like Joseph Murray (himself the author of a cracking First World War autobiography) who were there; a nominal roll of the men who served with Hood Battalion, and even a war poet (Rupert Brooke). The book takes you from the battalion's formation in 1914 to its demise - job done - in 1919. The only pity is that this book was originally published too late for the majority of the men who had served in the RND. Nevertheless, for those of us who follow in their footsteps, this is an indispensable volume and as good as it gets. Words and research aside, there are also some great illustrations and good clear maps of where the battalion fought. Highly recommended.


Tracing Your Great War Ancestors - The Gallipoli Campaign: A Guide for Family Historians (Family History)
Tracing Your Great War Ancestors - The Gallipoli Campaign: A Guide for Family Historians (Family History)
by Simon Fowler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading and ill-informed, 14 Mar. 2015
Don’t get me wrong, the Tracing your… ancestors series has some very informative titles, it’s just that this particular guide isn’t one of those. Admittedly, it’s not as poor as the author’s Ypres ancestor guide in the same series, but it’s not far off.

But first the good part. The book gives a useful 36-page overview of the Gallipoli campaign. It is only an overview though and at no point does one get the sense of the sheer awfulness of the campaign.

Now to the rest. It is difficult to know where to start, but at the risk of boring potential buyers, here are some essential corrections to Simon Fowler’s assertions:

1. “With the exception of the Medal Index Cards much the same material [that is available on Ancestry] is available on Findmypast.” This is incorrect. There are huge differences between the sites and whilst Ancestry does have more relevant First World War material, Findmypast has better indexing of service and pension records (meaning you stand a better chance of finding your ancestor) and also some interesting niche collections. To be perfectly frank, if you are interested in military history you need access to both sites.

2. “[Medal index cards] occasionally include the address to which the medals were sent.” This could be clearer. The vast majority of officers’ records include an address and addresses may be included on some other rank cards too. Officers’ medal index cards generally contain more information (such as full middle names).

3. “The medal rolls… are probably not worth consulting”. This is absolute rubbish; of course they are worth consulting. Many British War and Victory Medal rolls note the battalions or units served with. Some also note dates served overseas, some of these further splitting out the dates served with multiple units. These rolls are now available on Ancestry and are an essential resource.

4. Silver War Badge rolls “are not very informative”. This is also complete tosh and really calls into question the author’s authority to write guides on this subject matter. The silver war badge rolls are immensely useful and routinely give the man’s date of enlistment and date of discharge. Many give age on discharge, whether the man served overseas or not, why he was discharged (wounds or sickness), but sometimes giving more detail such as “Amputation R. Hand” or “Myalgia & old injury G.S.W. R. foot & leg”. Apart from these crucial facts, the rolls are not very informative.

I’m going to leave my critique there but I could write pages of corrections. It’s a pity that Pen & Sword did not check some of these assertions themselves. At £12.99 for 140 pages, the book could have been better value and more to the point, more useful had more considered thought and a knowledge of surviving records been applied. 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and maybe this volume was hurried out. It's a shame if that is the case, because in many ways this is a missed opportunity.


Tracing Your Great War Ancestors: Ypres: A Guide for Family Historians (Tracing Your Great War Ancests)
Tracing Your Great War Ancestors: Ypres: A Guide for Family Historians (Tracing Your Great War Ancests)
by Simon Fowler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Old wine in old bottles, 10 Mar. 2015
Apart from the final 26 pages which cover, in the briefest of summaries, tourism in the salient, a glossary of place names and a timeline, there is very little in this book which is Ypres-specific. The majority of the book concerns itself with general tips, most of which will be known to readers because they appear in so many other books, and some of which are very out of date.

On the subject of online resources, the author writes of Ancestry, "with the exception of the medal index cards, much the same material is available on Findmypast." This is incorrect. Ancestry had medal rolls, the silver war badge roll and soldiers effects whilst Findmypast's indexing of WO 363 and WO 364 is far superior to Ancestry's and makes more soldiers accessible. Of Forces Poor Records, Simon Fowler writes, "It is hard to know exactly what they have available for the First World War, but it is unlikely they have any of the key databases". He's correct, they don't have anything worth paying for, but he could easily have seen this for himself by looking at their website.

This is lazy research that has little to do with Ypres and is covered better elsewhere.


Gallantry and Discipline: The 12th Light Dragoons at War with Wellington
Gallantry and Discipline: The 12th Light Dragoons at War with Wellington
by Andrew Bamford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charge!, 7 Feb. 2015
The people who will gain most from this book will be the cavalry buffs in general, and 12th Light Dragoons enthusiasts in particular. That said, this book is to be recommended to all those with an interest in British military history in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It's well-written and thoroughly researched and is probably to be dipped into in much the same way as one would dip into and out of the Marquess of Anglesey's cavalry histories. As a previous reviewer has said, the typeface could have been a little larger for those of us whose eyes have been in use for several decades.


Inside Wellington's Peninsular Army - 1808- 814
Inside Wellington's Peninsular Army - 1808- 814
by Rory Muir
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Iron Duke's men, 7 Feb. 2015
First published in 2006 and now re-published in 2014 in time for the Waterloo bicentennial in 2015. This is not an easy read by any means, but the prolific notes and annotations, a comprehensive index, good bibliography and clear chapter headings will make this a very useful reference work. To be honest this is probably going to be even more useful in a Kindle edition (and the beauty and usefulness of its keyword search facility) than it is as a book. Nevertheless, it's the latter that will find a welcome place on my bookshelves.


The Waterloo Archive - Volume vi: British Sources (Waterloo Archives): 6
The Waterloo Archive - Volume vi: British Sources (Waterloo Archives): 6
by Gareth Glover
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wellington's men remembered, 7 Feb. 2015
Fascinating and compelling collection of accounts by and about Wellington's men at Waterloo 200 years ago. Ashamedly, this is the first of Gareth Glover's volumes that I have read and now I want to read the others. A beautifully produced volume which should rightfully be a staple reference resource in every British military archive in the land (not to mention a good few private homes as well).


Conscientious Objectors of the First World War: A Determined Resistance
Conscientious Objectors of the First World War: A Determined Resistance
by Ann Kramer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of courage, 7 Feb. 2015
Anne Kramer writes well about a subject that is still misunderstood by many but which deserves a wider understanding. There are a number of books that have been published on conscientious objectors and this one, in my opinion, is one of the best.


No Surrender in Burma: Operations Behind Japanese Lines, Captivity and Torture
No Surrender in Burma: Operations Behind Japanese Lines, Captivity and Torture
by Fred C Goode
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Never forget, 7 Feb. 2015
2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of skeletal PoWs from Japanese prisoner of war camps, and the beginning of a flood of harrowing accounts of forced labour, torture and execution. Such themes will of course be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in world politics today, but it is timely to see Fred Goode's account of his own personal war. Sadly he did not live to see this published, having died some years ago. Nonetheless, he lives on through his crafted observations which are assisted by notes subsequently added. There are no so many WW2 veterans left these days, but Fred's testimony reminds us what those whose fate it was to be pitted against a cruel and merciless enemy, really went through.


Mister Brownrigg's Boys
Mister Brownrigg's Boys
by David Bebbington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Magdalen College's boys remembered, 7 Feb. 2015
This remembrance of Magdalen College School's fallen from the First World War has been meticulously researched and is well illustrated with photos that will be unfamiliar to most. David Bebbington is to be congratulated on research which must have taken him years to put together; well worth it though, and a fitting memorial to those who did not come back, Double VC winner Noel Chavasse is undoubtedly the best well-known of Magdelen College School's fallen, but there is no favouritism here and all of the men are honoured in equal measure. If it wasn't for the fact that every time I look at the title I'm reminded of an gormless TV 'comedy' programme, this book would have got five stars from me.


Gilgit Rebellion: The Major Who Mutinied Over Partition of India
Gilgit Rebellion: The Major Who Mutinied Over Partition of India
by William Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars India partioned, 28 Jan. 2015
Thankfully, a carbon copy of William Brown's account of his time spent in the Gilgit region of what was then north-west India, and which is today part of Pakistan, survived and was rescued for publication. This is by no means an easy read, but it is a compelling one and it is also extremely well written. William Brown writes with clear affection for India and its peoples but he never forgets that his imagined readership may not be as well acquainted as he is and is at pains to point out quirks and nuances which, to anyone who has ever lived in India, will be immediately recognisable as both quaint and endearing as well as illogical and frustrating. The 70th anniversary of partition will soon be upon us and this book is an important account of those desperate months and, more to the point, the vital role that William Brown played as the curtain came down on Britain's jewel in the crown.


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