The Untold Story of Britain's Highest Award for Bravery
The Victoria Cross is the most prestigious British military accolade and is rarely awarded. This investigation into the origins and bestowal of the medal reveals the political issues that have directed the selection of recipients since its inception. Gary Mead reviews the origins of the decoration; tells some of the heroic stories of qualifying candidates; and asks why some other acts of bravery have been inexplicably overlooked and why no women have ever been awarded the VC.
From Crimea to Afghanistan: the Real Lives of Women Behind the Men of Uniform
Through the centuries, army wives have had to contend with anxiety, separation, injury, bereavement, post-traumatic stress, and the struggle to maintain a normal home life in abnormal circumstances. Using interviews, letters and diaries, this remarkable history gives them a voice, sometimes for the first time. It traces their experiences from the Crimean War – the last in which wives followed their husbands to the front – to the new breed of independent women supporting their men through the war in Afghanistan.
The Last Post
Music, Remembrance and the Great War
Ever since the annual two-minute silence was first observed in 1919, the Last Post has been a powerful symbol of remembrance. In his exploration of this simple bugle call’s history, Turner tracks down its earliest known use (as ‘Setting the Watch’) in the 18th century, examines the role of buglers during the First World War and shows how the Last Post has kept its significance despite early controversy over the nature of the Cenotaph ceremony and the changing meaning of Remembrance today.
The Distant Drum
A Memoir of a Guardsman in the Great War
After having been rejected on medical grounds several times as a volunteer, Fen Noakes was conscripted in June 1917 and sent to France in October to join the 4th Battalion east of Arras. The memoir that he wrote in 1934, ‘while the memory is still comparatively undimmed’, together with the letters written from the Front to his mother, provide an articulate and very detailed account of living and fighting through the final year of the war.
Those Who Dared
Awards to the British SAS Regiments and Attached SBS Units 1941–1946
The first incarnation of the Special Air Service (and affiliated Special Boat Service) undertook daring missions in North Africa and Europe during the Second World War and was disbanded immediately afterwards. Aimed at the medal collector and military historian, this book records the awards given to men of the units between 1941 and 1946, and gives brief summaries of the units' operations.
The In and Out
A History of the Naval and Military Club
Originally conceived as a 'civilized place of association' for officers on leave from the Peninsular War, the then 'Military Club' was founded, not without controversy, in 1815. Lavishly illustrated with reproductions of Club portraits and photographs, this volume traces the eventful history of the Club, through two world wars and an IRA bomb, and through several London locations before landing in St James's Square – but still sporting the 'In' and 'Out' of its Piccadilly home. Foreword by Prince Philip, the Club's President.
Britain's Great War Experience
Life at Home and Abroad 1914–1918
Beyond the horrors of the Western Front, the First World War sent Britons to the far corners of the globe and affected all aspects of life on the home front. This portfolio of contemporary photographs, documents, letters and ephemera (first published as The Worst Ordeal in 1994) takes the broadest view of the conflict – from the experiences of soldiers, sailors and airmen and their families to dealing with strikes, volunteer work, rationing, conscientious objectors and the Irish rebellion at home.
Soldiers and Their Animals in the Great War
As well as the mascots, carrier pigeons and horses used by the army during the First World War, all manner of animals provided solace and interest for servicemen. Quoting letters, diaries and memoirs, van Emden follows the course of the war year by year, describing soldiers' experiences with animals, from entraining heavy horses in Birmingham to birdwatching at the front; and he also surveys the state of wildlife on the ‘murdered earth’ of the Western Front.
The Lost Tommies
Throughout the First World War, in the village of Vignacourt near the Somme battlefields, a French couple dedicated themselves to photographing soldiers on leave from the front. But their collection languished forgotten in boxes in an attic until it was recently discovered by researchers, Coulthart among them. This handsome volume presents the most interesting of the 4,000 high-quality glass negatives and identifies the British and Commonwealth troops depicted, many of whom were gathering for the Battle of the Somme.
The Life of Viscount Trenchard, Father of the Royal Air Force
Hugh Trenchard (1872–1956) had an unpromising start in life, failing the Army and Navy entrance exams, but found his métier when he joined the fledgling Royal Flying Corps in 1912. Nicknamed 'Boom' for his stentorian voice, he was obstinate and tactless, yet inspired unflagging loyalty in his men. And, as this fascinating biography makes clear, it was these very qualities that enabled him to create the Royal Air Force in the face of entrenched opposition from the older services.
Germany In Uniform
Once Hitler had taken control of Germany in 1933, he set about a rapid expansion of the armed forces, founding new units and paramilitary organizations. This review of German uniforms draws on the illustrations in the contemporary handbook Uniformfibel 1933 demonstrating the liveries in use at that date for the various branches of the army, navy and air force, as well as those of the police and other state organizations such as the SS and the Hitler Youth.
Fighting Fit 1939
Adam Culling, Curator of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps Museum, presents a number of the Army's training and equipment manuals, books and photographs. Ranging from Physical Training (1937) to Shoot to Kill (1944), the publications reproduced here show how the British soldier was kept fighting fit before and during the Second World War.
Letters and News from the Trenches and the Home Front
During the First World War the Daily Mail published letters from soldiers and civilians as well as reports from the front line and comment by literary figures such as John Galsworthy, Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy. This volume mixes these elements from the paper's archive with private diaries, correspondence and photographs from the battle and home fronts to give a valuable contemporary perspective on the war.
Greasepaint and Cordite
The Story of ENSA and Concert Party Entertainment During the Second World War
During the course of the Second World War, the Entertainments National Services Association put on countless productions for the troops across the world, offering everything from music hall turns to Laurence Olivier. The enormous number of shows meant that the talent was spread thinly and performances were often delivered in difficult circumstances and inhospitable climes. Drawing on interviews with surviving ENSA performers, this book tells the colourful story of this most unusual and complex theatrical enterprise.
Sailors in the Dock
Naval Courts Martial Down the Centuries
Some embarrassing cowardice displayed by the captains of several British ships at the Battle of Dungeness in 1652 led to the formulation of the 'Articles of War', establishing a strict code of conduct for the Navy and empowering officers to apply it. This collection of significant legal cases in the history of the Royal Navy ranges from a mutiny at the Battle of Cadiz in 1587 to a captain's decision to scuttle HMS Manchester in the Mediterranean in 1942.