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Early One Morning
Early One Morning
by Virginia Baily
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected - but that is not a bad thing!, 31 Oct. 2016
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This review is from: Early One Morning (Paperback)
I bought this to learn more about the German Occupation of Rome after having read an article in a newspaper by the author. Although an important part of the story is set during this period, it is not solely about these events.

Nevertheless, a readable novel that touches on things that the reader might want to explore further - the rise of Mussolini, his sponsorship of the archeology of Rome, the Allied landings in Sicily, the fracturing of Italian forces into the pro - and anti- fascist groups, partisan attacks, German reprisals and the emptying of the Jewish ghetto. These are all hinted at and as I have written can be investigated further if required.

This is the background to a story of love and companionship between the (predominantly) female characters. The book is able to conjure up many images - especially for those who have been to Rome - although some of the scenes can lean towards a sitcom at times. Overall the story is well told although as has been written before by other reviewers I did feel it was dragging a little and felt it needed to end.

One thing that I would have appreciated (and perhaps a strange request for a novel) was a map of Rome as the characters often walk down specific streets and cross named bridges and it would have been useful to have been able to occasionally follow their progress.


Spitfires Over Scotland - First Blood to the Auxiliaries: The Life of Squadron Leader Patrick Gifford DFC (Local History)
Spitfires Over Scotland - First Blood to the Auxiliaries: The Life of Squadron Leader Patrick Gifford DFC (Local History)
by Bill Simpson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Once you know the circumstances you can appreciate the difficulties that faced the author and others., 17 Aug. 2016
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Like a previous reviewer I came to this wanting to know more about the short operational life of Squadron Leader Gifford (whom I 'rediscovered' recently).

However, unlike the other reviewers or the author I have recently managed to get a redacted version of his casualty file at the UK National Archives opened - it was originally closed until 2029.

The file sheds very little light on the circumstances of Gifford's demise and was closed simply to protect the identity of a woman who wrote to the Air Ministry after having read an article months after his reported death about a squadron commander who disappeared in France in the same month as he did. She had read that this man was a POW in Germany and thought it could be Gifford.

Because she could be still alive her identity is still protected by the Data Protection Act.

The initial signal confirming his death appears to never have been received and there are other clerical omissions - not surprising given the fact that the German forces were sweeping across France and the Low Countries and there were more important things than paperwork.

All of which highlights the work that Bill Simpson has done. Yes, he was probably working from the 'other half' of the file - the letters the family sent to the Air Ministry and their replies but he has gone further than the official files in his investigations.

The fact that he has not reached a 'cut and dried conclusion' (and thus 'solved' the mystery) is an indication of the magnitude of the task which defeated officals at the time and others since., He is to be congratulated for his leads as to what could have happened and for providing a basis from which I and others can work from.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2017 4:24 PM BST


L'orage (French Edition)
L'orage (French Edition)
Price: £3.99

1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 14 April 2016
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Never again


Private Pictures: Soldiers' Inside View of War
Private Pictures: Soldiers' Inside View of War
by Janina Struk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into the often hidden side of war photography, 10 Mar. 2015
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If you have ever looked at pictures in history books showing the Holocaust or images of the Second World War on the Eastern Front and wondered about the photographer who took the images and why and how when logic suggests that private cameras would be banned from combat areas then this book will be of interest.

Ranging from the infamous American Abu Ghraib prison photographs to the soldier portraits (khaki portraits) sent back to family and loved ones, through the private photo albums of the Second World War (many now being sold on internet auction sites) back to the faked Daily Mirror pictures meant to show ill treatment of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers and then to Israeli Defence Forces in the Occupied Territories, this book sets out to answer a multitude of questions about why servicemen and women take, swap and keep photographs - particularly of atrocities and enemy dead - often for years without looking at them.

The emphasis is on the motives of the 'ordinary' soldier - the person who is a professional soldier first and an amateur photographer second. Professional photographers are very much on the sidelines.

By using interviews and her own extensive investigations of archived material and recent exhibitions, the author (an accomplished documentary photographer and lecturer) finds many answers.

As would be expected these answers are many and varied and at times even owe something to being encouraged by government and the media in an effort to get away from what at various times is seen as the 'composed' (or contrived) mainstream press photograph to a more 'real' and 'raw' image stripped of its artfulness. Of course, this can only happen to a degree as both the professional and amateur are taking decisions about where to point the lens and when to push the shutter button.

Mercifully, the images have been chosen with care and this well-researched book is very accessible and very informative.

Strangely, for a book about such a visual medium, it is the quotes that and descriptions surrounding the events that the pictures highlight that stay with me.


Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41 (Combat Aircraft)
Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader 1937-41 (Combat Aircraft)
by John Weal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 23 Feb. 2015
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As has been noted previously, a general introduction to the initial operational use of this aircraft.


Scale Plans No. 16: Junkers Ju 87 Stuka
Scale Plans No. 16: Junkers Ju 87 Stuka
by Dariusz Karnas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A work of art in itself, 23 Feb. 2015
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I purchased this document not to construct models but to help in identifying 'lumps and bumps' in old photographs of these aircraft which in turn could used for sketches and the like.

The quality is very good and tge differnt scales useful for clarifying details.

What is missing however (obviously due to space constraints) is sections through the aircraft at various points, both port and starboard side views and the same number of views as the scale increases, e.g the size of page and number of pages for each scale (two double-sided A3 folded to A4) remains the same allowing more vaiants to be shown at 1/72nd scale than at 1/32nd scale.

While this is not a great probkem for me it could be for the aircraft modeller - I just wanted to see more drawings of this standard!


The Battle of France Then and Now
The Battle of France Then and Now
by Peter D. Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £44.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book - just decide how to use it!, 5 Dec. 2014
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As has been noted by many others this is a wonderful book - full of detail describing not just the air battle leading to the Fall of France but also the efforts of the Dutch and Belgian airforces to resist the German invaders.

Given the circumstances that prevailed at the time, there are a large amount of photographs of wrecked and abandoned airframes often with German military personnel posing nearby. Many were taken by German soldiers and despite the efforts of Mr Cornwell (and no doubt others) to identify the individual aircraft and locations many remain anonymous.

I find these - especially where the same airframe has been photographed at different times - as fascinating as the detailed accounts of the day to day losses of the opposing forces.

Although I have already marked many pages in this book (and in 'The Potez 63 Family' by José Fernandez that I also bought at the same time) my main problem has been how to use such a huge amount of information contained in this impressive book - it is a both a detailed diary of events, a grouping of general summaries and a collection of photographs.

The book was bought through Amazon Marketplace and arrived before the expected delivery date.


Potez 63 Family (MMP: Orange)
Potez 63 Family (MMP: Orange)
by Jose Fernande
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars An accessible primer book on a specialist subject, 5 Dec. 2014
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As noted by other reviewers, this book is aimed at model makers and those interested in aviation or military history.

As such this little book has a niché market (I bought it together with Peter Cornwell's 'The Battle of France Then and Now' as reference for private research into the use of the Potez 63.11 in the L'Armée de l'Air during the Fall of France), but fills it well with interesting information not just about the technical aspects of the aircraft, its use by the French and RAF - as would be expected - but also accounts of its service use in by the Greeks and Romanians on the Eastern Front.

Admittedly, these are not detailed descriptions - almost a third party of the 178 pages are taken up by colour profiles of the various subtypes - but there is enough to whet the appetite of those new to the aircraft's history.

I found the table giving the production figures, construction codes and underwing codes useful as a first step in trying to track down individual aircraft.

Hopefullly more French aircraft of the Phoney War/early war period will be added to the series in addition to the volumes on 'French Bomber and Reconnaisance Aircraft 1940' and 'Montpellier Fighter Squadron'.


World War II photo intelligence
World War II photo intelligence
by Roy M Stanley
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and easy to read book on an important and sometimes neglected subject, 23 Nov. 2014
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Bought to be read with 'Patton's Eyes in the Sky', I found this book to be another accessible book on the subject.

Although with a bias towards US photo reconnaisance (as would perhaps be expected from an Amercian author) this book, nonetheless covers not only the work of the U.S. but also has limited information on British, German, Japanese and Russian aircraft and camera systems.

Sections on the 'best practice techniques' of photo-reconnaisance (as well as examples of what can go wrong) are described in an easy to understand way - to sit here an extent that I often found myself making a plane from my hand to confirm that I had understood the point described.

There are not many books that make me do that!


Patton's Eyes in the Sky: USAAF Combat Reconnaissance Missions - North-West Europe 1944-1945 : USAAF Tactical Reconnaissance Missions North West Europe 1944-45 (Air War Classics)
Patton's Eyes in the Sky: USAAF Combat Reconnaissance Missions - North-West Europe 1944-1945 : USAAF Tactical Reconnaissance Missions North West Europe 1944-45 (Air War Classics)
by Thomas G. Ivie
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Good job Mr Ivie!, 23 Nov. 2014
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Bought for research purposes into two pilots that flew with the USAAF's 10 PRG, this is a very accessible book giving the highlights of the Group's activities in the final part of the Europe phase of the Second World War.

Because of my specialist interest, I (naturally) wanted more - but that should not detract from good job Mr Ivie has done.


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