Defending the Rock
Gibraltar and the Second World War
Gibraltar has been an indispensable naval fortress since 1704, yet in July 1940 it was threatened on four sides: by Vichy France, Nazi Germany, and fascist Italy and Spain. This history of the Rock’s strategic importance during the war also explores the pre-war imperial incursions in the Mediterranean region, which would threaten Gibraltar as a wartime escape route and key link in the ‘steel chain of sea power’.
To Meet in Hell
Bergen-belsen, the British Officer Who Liberated it, and the Jewish Girl He Saved
Brigadier Glyn Hughes was among the first Allied soldiers to enter Bergen-Belsen. Rachel Gemuth, then just 15, was one of its inmates. This account by her daughter draws on her memories, Hughes’s diaries, other oral histories and documentary sources to record their respective journeys – following him from Normandy to a defeated Germany, and her from Hungary via Auschwitz to Belsen – before recounting the horror of the camp, and the justice administrated to its perpetrators.
Biteback Espionage Classics - 3 Books
Biteback Espionage Classics reprint vintage accounts of real-life covert intelligence operations and underground networks behind enemy lines, from the First and Second World Wars to the Cold War. The three titles included in this set are: The Unknown Courier (Read more...) MI9 (Read more...) Double Cross in Cairo (Read more...)
The Collected Works
Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most widely recognized personal testimonies of the Second World War. The full, definitive text is presented here along with her letters, personal reminiscences, daydreams, essays and a notebook of favourite quotations. Scholarly essays provide background on Anne’s life, her family’s history, and the story of how her diary came to be published. The book also includes numerous photographs of the Franks and the other inhabitants of the annexe in which they hid from the Nazis.
The Remarkable Story of Britain's Greatest Nightfighter Ace of the Blitz – Flight Lieutenant Richard Playne Stevens DSO, DFC and Bar
Before his early death, Richard Stevens was the RAF’s highest scoring nightfighter of the Second World War. Without radar, his reliance on pure skill, instinct and marksmanship earned him the nicknames 'Cat's Eyes' and 'Lone Wolf'. Based on years of research, contemporary documents and photographs, Andy Saunders tells the story of an extraordinary pilot.
A German View
Rudolf Böhmler was a highly decorated German paratroop officer who participated in various fronts of the Second World War. Afterward, he wrote this description of the Italian campaign, focusing on the exhausted, heavily outnumbered German troops who tenaciously defended the town of Cassino and the Monte Cassino abbey.
SAS Shadow Raiders
The Ultra-Secret Mission that Changed the Course of WWII
Relying on newly declassified files and testimony from eyewitnesses and participants’ families, Damien Lewis recounts the radar war and the birth of British special operations, created by Churchill for specialised missions. After Operation Colossus, an unsuccessful attack on an Italian aqueduct, the book focuses on the more successful Operation Biting, an SOE mission to steal a radar dish from the French coast, along with the crucial technology powering it.
D-Day Through German Eyes
How the Wehrmacht Lost France
Hampered by tactical mistakes in preparation for the invasion and by severely stretched resources, the Germans nevertheless almost repelled the Allies in June 1944 and the Battle of Normandy remained in the balance for two months. This assessment of the D-Day landings and the subsequent struggle for the Falaise Pocket from the defenders' perspective, focuses on the performance of the German commanders on the ground and uses first-hand accounts to give an insight into conditions and contemporary attitudes.
The History Behind the Major Motion Picture
Dunkirk in June 1940 saw the dramatic rescue of 300,000 Allied troops. Drawing on new interviews with survivors, this presents the true history of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians caught up by the lightning German advance into France, and their last-minute evacuation by hundreds of small ships.
The End is Always Near
Apocalyptic Moments from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses
Dan Carlin is a broadcast journalist, best known for his Hardcore History podcasts. Here he explores the impact of major crises for humankind, including the fall of the Roman Empire, the Black Death, and the two world wars, considering issues such as whether hard times make people more resilient, and why some civilizations, such as the Assyrian Empire, showed greater longevity than others.
The Dambusters Story 1943
Max Hastings pays tribute to the heroism of the airmen and the inventiveness of Barnes Wallis in this new analysis of the Dambusters raid (Operation Chastise), but he also reveals failures in the mission that severely restricted its ultimate effectiveness. He describes the development of the bouncing bomb and the bombing raid itself as well as discussing the impact of the attack, both in the immediate aftermath and in the months following, as the Germans swiftly repaired the damage.
War and Peace
FDR's Final Odyssey D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945
Concluding his trilogy assessing Roosevelt’s leadership in the Second World War, Hamilton focuses on the president’s role in the D-Day landings and his legacy. Using previously unpublished documents and interviews the book counters the narrative offered in Churchill’s memoirs. It reveals the extent of the president’s influence and argues that despite his failing health FDR played a pivotal role in creating the conditions necessary to build a peaceful, US-backed world order.
Escape and Evasion
Small, dedicated, under-staffed and under-resourced, MI9 supported resistance groups in Nazi-occupied Europe and helped Allied prisoners of war to escape. First published in 1979, this account tells how the organization smuggled money, clothes, maps and equipment past the Germans, and brought out coded letters containing vital intelligence about enemy plans.
Double Cross in Cairo
The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East
Codenamed ‘Cheese’ by MI6, Roberto Levi, an Italian Jew by birth, was one of the most successful double agents of the Second World War. Drawing on recently declassified files, this book reveals how, while pretending to spy for the Germans, he fed them false information about Allied troop deployments and strategy, misleading the Afrika Korps and saving Malta from German occupation.
Wehrmacht Combat Reports
The Russian Front, Eastern Front from Primary Sources
Based on rare material from German and Russian original sources, this collection of field reports details the tactics and combat activities of the Wehrmacht in Russia. Compiled by historian Bob Carruthers, and supplemented with illustrations from US intelligence files, it focuses on neglected military features including armoured trains, the construction of field defences, street fighting techniques and improvised anti-tank measures.
Trumpets of Jericho, Luftwaffe in Combat 1939–45
Despite its ubiquity in newsreels, there were only ever 700 Stukas at a given time, and although the craft had well known technical limitations it nonetheless became an iconic image of the Luftwaffe. This illustrated overview of the dive bomber draws on interviews with pilots and staff officers, and rare translations of articles from Der Adler, the Luftwaffe’s in-house magazine.
The Jungle Survival Pocket Manual 1939–1945
In wartime South-East Asia, Allied soldiers occupied an alien environment where knowledge of tropical diseases, plant identification, and survival techniques were crucial. Assembled from their official manuals, with diagrams and drawings, and produced in a contemporary style, this compendium shows how they managed the challenges.
How a Military Life Guided Winston's Finest Hours
As war leader, Churchill was heavily involved in both the overall strategy and the minutiae of the war effort. Lavery recounts his career as an army officer in India, Sudan and South Africa, and argues his direct experience of the different combat branches played a crucial role in his ability to assess their priorities in the most challenging moments of the conflict.
The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943
On the night of 16 May 1943, Operation Chastise – the Dambusters Raid, as it became known – was undertaken by 19 Lancasters of 617 Squadron armed with Barnes Wallis's bouncing bombs. Their objectives were the great Mohne and Eder dams in Germany's industrial heartland. Meticulously researched, Holland's fast-paced narrative gives a full account of both the engineering ingenuity and the courage of the bomber crews that came together in one of the most daring actions of the Second World War.
A True Story of Blood, Betrayal and Deceit
Covering the years between the early 1930s and the end of the Second World War, Josh Ireland tells the stories of four men who threw in their lot with the Nazis, betrayed their country and suffered the consequences of their treachery: John Amery, Harold Cole, William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) and Eric Pleasants were traitors who ‘led untidy existences that were fat with accident and mess, but that were shaped by the epoch they inhabited’.
From Infamy to Greatness
Craig Nelson gives a vivid account of the Japanese surprise attack on the American naval and air forces on 7 December 1941. Blending archival research with the individual stories of sailors, soldiers, pilots, diplomats and leaders, he describes the situation in Japan and the US prior to the attack, the immediate result, and the unforeseen consequences that continue to linger.
The Times D-Day
The Story of the Allied Landings
As well as a successful military operation, the Normandy invasion of June 1944 was one of the most impressive logistical feats in the history of warfare. Using contemporary photographs and over 90 detailed maps, including declassified secret documents, this analysis explains how the Allies conceived the plan. It reveals how they co-ordinated several armies and deception schemes, meticulously assessed and charted German defences, and organized the 5,000 craft and 150,000 troops for the assault and subsequent breakout from the beachheads.
The Sea Devils
Operation Struggle and the Last Great Raid of World War Two
The midget submarines that were famously used to attack the battleship Tirpitz in 1943 were developed further and the improved 'XE-class' craft were used in a daring attack on Singapore harbour in 1945. This history recounts how 18 British, Australian and New Zealand submariners, two of whom were awarded the Victoria Cross and several others decorated, piloted two XE craft through the Japanese defences to successfully incapacitate the heavy cruiser Takao.
And the Last Days of the Third Reich
While he commanded the German submarine fleet, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz earned Allied respect as a military leader and formidable enemy, but after he succeeded Hitler as head of the Third Reich, his name became more closely associated with Nazi ideology. Turner's study looks in depth at the Admiral's character and conduct, particularly his Operation Hannibal, which rescued two million civilians and troops from the Russian advance; his negotiations for ending the war; and his actions in its aftermath.
We Speak from the Air
And Over to You, Broadcasts by the RAF
During the Second World War, RAF personnel made more than 1,200 radio broadcasts describing first-hand their operational and combat experiences above Europe and the Atlantic. Originally published in two wartime books, this volume brings together over 50 transcripts of their revealing recordings.
Wing Commander Paddy Finucane was at the height of his powers when, in July 1942, his Spitfire was hit by German fire and ditched in the English Channel. Drawing on family archives, this book tells how the Dublin-born accountant joined the RAF in 1938 and rose swiftly through the ranks, destroying 32 enemy aircraft before his own disappearance.
Blood and Fears
How America's Bomber Boys and Girls in England Won Their War
Drawing on letters, diaries and interviews, Kevin Wilson recreates the experiences of the men of the US 8th Air Force, and the Women’s Army who served alongside them, from their arrival in Britain in February 1944 to victory in May 1945. Their own words offer vivid glimpses of the camaraderie, relations with their British hosts, and the terror of daytime raids over Berlin.
The Secret Pigeon Service
Pigeons were still in use during the Second World War to carry messages from planes and battlefields but Operation Columba set them to work in a more ambitious project gathering intelligence across Nazi-occupied Europe. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera tells the recently declassified story of the thousands of birds released over Holland, Belgium and France and assesses the value of the information they brought home. Slightly off-mint. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
A WWII German Airman's Story
Erich Sommer flew for the Luftwaffe as both navigator and pilot during the Second World War, from an early posting in Morocco to missions over Britain, the Russian front and Italy. His career culminated in the first reconnaissance sortie in a jet (the Arado AR234). His memoir also reflects on his childhood and early career in the brewing industry in the 1930s and includes insights into life and attitudes in pre-war Germany.
Stalag Luft III
An Official History of the 'Great Escape' PoW Camp
Prepared for the War Office at the end of hostilities, this official history of the PoW camp has never been published before. Drawing on prisoners’ testimonies, it details the German administration of the camp, the morale and conditions of the men, and the many escape attempts, including the famous ‘Wooden Horse’ of October 1943 and the ‘Great Escape’ of March 1944.
The Battle of Kursk
Controversial and Neglected Aspects
Valeriy Zamulin has written extensively on the Battle of Kursk. Here he takes a closer look at aspects of it that have been subject to debate, including examples of friendly fire censored from Soviet history, German preparations for the counterattack, and myths about battlefield tactics.
Images of War: SS Specialist Units in Combat
Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives
The Waffen-SS deployed their particular combination of risk-taking, aggression and inventive tactics on every German front (excluding North Africa) throughout the Second World War. Following an introductory essay on their role this photographic history collates rarely seen images of the Nazi special forces in action.
Opening the Road to Rome
After the Allies secured Sicily and invaded Italy in 1943, Mussolini was deposed and an armistice was signed with the Italians. However the subsequent long, bloody campaign only ended just before the German surrender in 1945. This chronological history by a leading Irish historian covers the crucial battles of Monte Cassino in early to mid-1944, with a particular focus on the Northern Irish troops involved.
Women at War in World War II
Outlining the many and varied challenges women faced during the Second World War, this illustrated volume considers both their life at home – with rationing, black-outs and air raids, and on the front line – as nurses, secret agents, journalists and members of the armed forces, interspersed with reminiscences.
Russian Weapons of World War II
With detailed specifications, drawings and archival photographs, this guide to Russian military hardware includes every significant weapon deployed by Soviet forces during the Second World War, some of which provided models for those still in use decades later. Chapters cover tanks and armoured fighting vehicles, artillery and small arms, aircraft and naval weapons, in addition to the lend-lease weapons that were supplied to the Red Army by the Western Allies.
Air Battles Over the Baltic 1941
The Air War on 22 June 1941 – The Battle for Stalin's Baltic Region
This overview of the Red Army’s air forces in the opening days of the German invasion of 1941 presents a survey of the technical specifications, personnel, key locations and strategic plans of the commanders. A detailed introduction also describes the preparations and the territorial infringements that preceded Operation Barbarossa. Drawing on German and Soviet archives, the book includes maps and over 300 photographs, many of them previously unseen.
The Life and Times of the Honourable Ivor Montagu – Filmmaker, Communist, Spy
The son of a wealthy peer, Ivor Montagu founded the London Film Society to champion the art form – but his overriding interest was in communism. Based on interviews and archival research, this biography follows these two concerns, recounting a career that included making documentaries about the Spanish Civil War, producing several of Hitchcock’s films and spying for Russia, while remaining blind until the end of his life to the horrors of Stalin’s regime.
The Soldiers' Story
Giles Milton narrates the momentous events of 6 June 1944 through the voices of individual survivors on all sides. As well as describing the experiences of the young soldiers who helped to secure the beachheads, he tells the stories of those caught in the front line of Operation Overlord, including the German women transcribing coded messages about ‘something serious’, and the commander whose intimate evening with a local lady was cut short by the Allies.
The Unknown Courier
The True Story of Operation Mincemeat
First published in 1953, this book describes how the body of a fictitious Major Martin washed up on the Spanish coast in 1943, carrying plans for an Allied invasion of Italy. It tells how the plans were fabricated to divert the Germans from the real landings, and investigates the identity of the corpse.
Safe in Wartime Devon
Deposited with an aunt in Devon in 1939, Angela (12) and Hugh McBride (3) saw little of their parents for the next five years, moving between various boarding schools and lodgings and finally joining their family after the war on a posting to Australia. This record of their unusual experience is told as two separate memoirs, one by each of the siblings, highlighting their different perspectives on an eventful but unsettled upbringing.
The Origins of British Deception During the Second World War
While the story of British agents’ misdirection of Axis intelligence services in the run up to D-Day is well known, fewer people know that this approach originated in the North African campaign. The British were heavily outnumbered and in serious difficulties when General Wavell instigated a campaign to exaggerate their strength using various subterfuges and deceptive manoeuvres, leading to the formation of the ‘A’ force organization which specialized in tactical and strategic deception.
An Island Under Siege 1940–1943
In March and April 1942 more bombs fell on Malta than on Britain during the first year of the Blitz. Rommel was determined to take the island, from which the Allies could attack Axis supply lines to North Africa. This book tells the story through eyewitness accounts: the fighter pilots, anti-aircraft gunners and submariners, and the late cabaret dancer-turned RAF plotter Christina Ratcliffe.
To VE-Day Through German Eyes
The Final Defeat of Nazi Germany
The story of the Nazis’ final defeat in Western Europe is often told from the advancing Allied soldiers’ viewpoint. Jonathan Trigg has centred this book on the accounts of German veterans, whose retreat came with disastrous and brutal consequences. Demonstrating how shambolic and merciless war can be the numerous photographs, some previously unpublished, show revealing details, including helpless German soldiers held captive in Antwerp zoo, and last-minute preparations by Berliner conscripts.
The Hawker Hurricane was designed and built to counteract the growing aerial power of the Axis nations in the 1930s. With its stable firing platform and robust construction, it played a vital role in the RAF’s success. This illustrated guide details the technical history and combat performance of the aircraft, which chalked up more kills than the better-known Spitfire in the battles over Britain and France.
Love Among the Ruins
A Memoir of Life and Love in Hamburg, 1945
The author and activist Harry Leslie Smith recalls how, as an RAF serviceman stationed in Hamburg, he met the love of his life, a young German woman named Frieda. In a city reduced to rubble by Allied bombing, and populated with refugees, black-marketeers, corrupt businessmen and cynical soldiers, their relationship flourished, despite suspicion and disapproval on both sides. Slightly off-mint.
The Battle of Arnhem
The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II
The bold Allied plan to defeat Germany quickly in September 1944 by capturing the bridges leading to the lower Rhine, was ultimately a failure and led to the complete destruction of Arnhem and cruel reprisals on the Dutch population for the remainder of the war. Antony Beevor’s account describes the airborne assault, its planning and aftermath, drawing on many overlooked and new sources from Dutch, German, Polish, British and American archives. Slightly off-mint.
The End of the Gallop
The Battle for Kharkov, February–March 1943
A leading military historian, who specializes in the Second World War’s Eastern Front, analyses one of the most intriguing periods of the Battles for Kharkov, when German forces retook the city. The conquest seemed decisive, but the complex daily troop manoeuvres and tactical switches that were involved laid the groundwork for the Soviets to reframe their strategy for a final victory later in the year.
Out in Front
A Polish Fighter Pilot's Dramatic Air War
Fighter pilot Lanowski tells the story of his Second World War – escape from Axis soldiers in his native Poland, his combat experience with three separate Allied air forces, and his legendary, rebellious exploits – with previously unpublished photographs of his comrades and aircraft.
The Flying Hours
The Compelling Memoir of Squadron Leader Andrew Millar, DSO, DFC, and the Second World War Battle Against Japan
In 1942–45 Andrew Millar carried out combat operations against the Japanese from India and Burma, initially in Westland Lysanders and then in Hawker Hurricanes, before commanding No. 20 Squadron and being awarded the DFC and DSO. He used his comprehensive logbook and notes from the period, and previously unpublished photographs, for this memoir of the ‘Forgotten War’, which gives an insight into not only the challenges and dangers of operations, but also everyday life and camaraderie.
From War to Peace
A Photographer's View of British Aviation During the 1940s
As an aircraft inspector during the Second World War, Richard Riding's father, Eddie, could only take pictures of the planes surreptitiously, but from 1946 to his death in 1950 he amassed many more images and his collection showcases the British aviation scene of the period. Accompanied by detailed captions, the photographs include air-to-air shots of light aircraft, the new generation of passenger craft operating from Croydon and Heathrow and innovations on display at the Farnborough Airshow.
One of the mainstays of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, the Focke-Wulf Fw190 was less effective at high altitude and its designer Kurt Tank worked on numerous developments that used turbojets, turboprops, ramjets and rocket engines to increase power. This analysis of these prototype aircraft contains detailed technical information and the author’s hand-drawn diagrams and sketches of each design.
Blenheims Over Greece and Crete
To help Greece respond to Italian attacks from October 1940, the RAF sent three squadrons of Bristol Blenheims (30, 84 and 211 Squadron) to reinforce the Greek Air Force’s own complement of 12 Mark IV Blenheims. Drawing on first-hand accounts, this study describes the efforts of British and Greek airmen against superior forces (particularly after Germany invaded) up to the fall of Crete in May 1941.
Axis Suicide Squads
German and Japanese Secret Projects of the Second World War
The need to gain some material advantage from the inevitable loss of men and machinery in aerial warfare led both the Japanese and German air forces to resort to ramming and suicide tactics during the Second World War. This study of these attacks features detailed technical drawings of the planes used, from the various Japanese kamikaze planes to the Messerschmitts of Germany’s suicide squadron, Rammkommando Elbe.
True Adventures of the Gentleman Commando Who Took on the Nazis
Robert de La Rochefoucauld was a French aristocrat who was taught sabotage and combat skills by Britain's SOE before teaming up with the French Resistance to organize cells, blow up munitions factories and assassinate prominent Nazis. Drawing on family archives and wide-ranging historical documents, this account tells how he was captured and tortured for months, making two remarkable escapes, one of them from the hands of a firing squad.
Gallantry in Action
Airmen Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Two Bars 1918–1955
The DFC was introduced as the medal for gallantry by airmen when the Royal Air Force was formed after the First World War; multiple awards are recognized with silver ribbon bars. There were sixty recipients of a second bar up to 1955 (only three have been awarded since) and this book profiles each one with a brief biography, contemporary photograph and the original citation that accompanied the award.
The Veteran's Story
For the bombers of the RAF and USAF, supporting the invasion on D-Day was the culmination of a planned series of strategic raids in preparation for the landings. Focusing on the service of eight crews, and drawing on first-hand accounts, this analysis of the campaign explains the wider strategy and describes the personal experiences of the airmen, from raids on German infrastructure in spring 1944 to supporting land forces several months after D-Day.
The Codebreaking Outstations, from Eastcote to GCHQ
The codebreaking work at Bletchley Park was supported by an extensive infrastructure of outstations, the largest being at Eastcote, which later became GCHQ. By consulting archival documents, visiting the wartime bases and talking to those with personal knowledge, the author has pieced together the stories of these lesser-known sites. The book also features analysis of the improvements to Alan Turing’s Bombe machine and highlights the vital contribution of the Wrens in operating this equipment.
The Plots Against Hitler
Danny Orbach explores the perennial question of what could have been done to stop Hitler in this exploration of the Third Reich’s anti-Nazi underground. Disparate small groups based on academic, political, personal and religious affiliations tried repeatedly to end the Führer’s genocidal reign. This is their story of the sometimes ingenious but always doomed efforts, looking at the assassination plans and ethical conflicts surrounding the attempts.
The Fear and the Freedom
How the Second World War Changed Us
The Second World War was one of the most destructive in history, but also one of the most innovative, sweeping away empires and creating new global institutions. Ranging over five continents, this study examines how the war shaped the modern world, inaugurating the arms race and the space race, the United Nations and Bretton Woods, decolonization and globalization. With demagoguery on the rise again, it argues, we cannot afford to ignore this legacy.
Mercedes Benz Type G4 (W31)
The Ultimate Study
The extravagant and impressive six-wheeled, all-terrain Mercedes G4 was developed for the Nazi leadership in the 1930s, providing a powerful symbol of state. Only 57 of the exclusive limousines were ever built and this tribute traces its history, development and manufacture, examines its use by Hitler and General Franco, and provides an extensive photographic study of one of only four surviving examples.
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car
Owner's Workshop Manual 1915–44 (All Models)
The Rolls-Royce armoured car first saw action in the First World War in Gallipoli, on the Western Front and with Lawrence of Arabia in the north African deserts, and it ended its active service in Libya in 1941. As well as the history of the vehicle, this Owners’ Workshop Manual covers its design, construction, operation and maintenance, with diagrams, wartime photographs and new photographs of the Tank Museum’s surviving example.
Who Betrayed the Jews?
The Realities of Nazi Persecution in the Holocaust
In The Other Schindlers Agnes Grunwald-Spier wrote of the many unsung individuals who helped the Jews during the Nazi persecution; in this study she uncovers the individuals and groups who betrayed them. Quoting extensively from survivors' accounts, and in sometimes shocking detail, she examines betrayals made for ideology or greed, but also the 'commercial betrayals' by the railway companies who transported Jews and the industries that used forced labour, and the betrayals made in fear and desperation.