World War II
The Battle of the River Plate
The First Naval Battle of the Second World War
The first encounter at sea of the Second World War took place along the South American coast when three British ships inflicted enough damage on the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee to corner it in Montevideo harbour. The Captain, encouraged by British misinformation, chose to scuttle his ship rather than face destruction. This account of the famous episode was first published in 1956 and also contains the official despatch from the British commander.
Surviving the Death Railway
A PoW's Memoir and Letters from Home
During his time as a prisoner of the Japanese, Barry Baker corresponded regularly with his wife Phyllis and she in turn kept in touch with the relatives of the 68 men of his unit. These letters, together with a detailed memoir written by Baker in later life, form the basis of this account of the infamous ordeal of the Burma Railway, following events from the Fall of Singapore and incarceration in Changi Jail to the eventual liberation of the survivors.
Jewish Commandos and the Raid on Tobruk
During the North African campaign in 1942, the British used a special force of German-speaking Jews recruited from displaced Germans in Palestine. This ‘Special Interrogation Group’ was equipped with German military police uniforms and equipment and tasked with gathering crucial information from behind enemy lines. This book outlines the formation of the unit and describes its part in the raid on Tobruk in September 1942, which involved trekking across hundreds of miles of desert disguised as German soldiers transporting PoWs.
The True Story of Agent Dronkers, The Enemy Spy Captured by the British
Accused of spying for Germany in 1942, Dutchman Johannes Marinus Dronkers was convicted of espionage at the Old Bailey and executed. Why he was not 'turned' and used as a double agent as many other agents were or simply interned raises questions about how the British authorities handled the case. This investigation utilizes newly available official files to tell the story of his recruitment by the Abwehr, capture, interrogation and trial, and considers whether high-level political interference influenced his fate.
Fuehrer Conferences on Naval Affairs 1939-1945
Facing defeat in 1945, Hitler ordered the destruction of official military documents. Admiral Dönitz defied the order, believing that the German navy had fought an honourable war and had nothing to hide. The result was the survival of these first-hand accounts, written without hindsight, of Hitler's meetings with his naval commanders-in-chief, Raeder and Dönitz, and other high-ranking officers. This edition contains the original Anthony Martienssen translation made for the British Admiralty and first published in 1947.
Chronicles of the Worcestershire Home Guard
Though the immediate danger of invasion receded after 1941, the Home Guard was only disbanded in 1945 and revived again in the 1950s as the perceived threat from Russia intensified. This local history examines the evolution of the Home Guard units in Worcestershire, profiling some of the key characters, charting the developing structure of the organization and the increasing professionalism of the volunteers, and describing some of the incidents in which they were involved.
The Drive on Moscow, 1941
Operation Taifun and Germany's First Crisis of World War II
After initial success, the German campaign to capture Moscow in the last months of 1941 was bogged down in the mud, buying precious time for the Soviets to regroup and hit back. Examining this first serious setback of the war for Hitler, the book assesses the tactics of both sides and the part played by the winter weather, and draws on personal diaries and letters to give the perspective of both ordinary soldier and general.
An End of War
Fatal Final Days to VE Day, 1945
After D-Day, German defeat may have been inevitable but there was still almost a year of fighting before Berlin finally fell. This book recounts experiences of the last months of war from British, Canadian, Dutch, German, Polish and American sources. Slightly off-mint.
The American Voice of Nazi Germany
A failed Broadway actress living in Germany, Mildred Gillars was hired by the Nazis as a radio announcer when the Second World War began. This first-ever biography tells the remarkable story of the woman whose broadcasts as ‘Axis Sally’ sought to undermine the morale of US troops, taunting them with the terrible injuries they faced and their wives’ infidelities back home, and recounts her dramatic arrest and trial for treason.
The Second World War Assault Training Exercises at Slapton Sands
Slapton Sands in South Devon was a good match for the projected landing area of Utah Beach on D-Day and so elaborate rehearsal exercises were set up there in 1944. Drawing on first-hand accounts, this book tells the story of how over 20,000 acres of land was requisitioned, and its residents evacuated and compensated, and describes the various military manoeuvres, including the friendly-fire catastrophe of Exercise Tiger that cost almost 750 lives.
The Fall Of Hitler's Fortress City
The Battle for Königsberg 1945
The easternmost city of Hitler's Germany, Königsberg, was fanatically defended by the Nazis against Russia but the historic Prussian capital was largely destroyed by bombing and ultimately annexed by the Soviet Union and renamed Kaliningrad. Using first-hand accounts, this book tells the story of the city from the end of the First World War and the Jewish persecutions of the early Nazi period to the brutal siege and battle of 1945 and the desperate flight of its last German residents.
The Special Operations Executive's French Section and Free French Women Agents
Odette Sansom, one of the best-known female agents of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), was recruited when she responded to a request for photographs of the French coast. The snaps she sent included notes that showed her knowledge of France, alerting the department to her potential as a spy. Drawing on recently declassified documents, memoirs and mission reports, this book profiles 38 women sent out by the French section of the SOE between 1942 and 1944, detailing their recruitment, training and active service.
Last Hope Island
In this epic narrative – a former Mail on Sunday Book of the Year – the American popular historian Lynne Olson focuses on the relationships between Britain and the governments from occupied Europe that found refuge in London during the Second World War. She explores their valuable contributions to the Allied war effort, as well as Britain’s staunch resistance to Hitler, and the exploits of the fighters across Europe who were inspired by the British ‘beacon of hope’.
Strafer: Desert General
The Life and Killing of Lieutenant General William Gott
When William 'Strafer' Gott was shot down and killed by the Luftwaffe in 1942, the command he had just been assigned – the 8th Army in North Africa – was given to Bernard Montgomery. Exploring his leadership and personal qualities, this biography examines Gott's formative military experiences in the First World War (during which he was a PoW and won the Military Cross), postings between the wars and his campaigns in the desert from 1940 to 1942, before his assassination.
The Story of a Desert Gunner in the Second World War
Extremes of temperature and desert sandstorms made for severely trying conditions for the men and equipment of the North African campaign in the Second World War. This account is the personal story of a gunner in the Eighth Army, giving a front-line view of the fighting, as well as an insight into everyday life for the infantrymen, from 1941 to the pivotal victory at El Alamein in November 1942.
German Special Forces of World War Two
German paratroopers scored notable successes in the invasion of Holland in 1940 and Crete in 1941 but were not developed during the war to the extent of Allied special forces. This analysis, first published in 1985, investigates the reasons for this and explores the irregular units that were deployed by Germany, including the Brandenburgers, an elite force recruited from fluent speakers of foreign languages who were able to work covertly behind enemy lines.
Gun Button to Fire
A Hurricane Pilot's Dramatic Story of the Battle of Britain
In an amazing account, largely based on his own and others’ letters written during the Second World War and the memories they conjured, Wing Commander Tom Neil tells his own story when, as a 19-year-old fighter pilot, he was one of ‘the Few’ who fought the Battle of Britain during the eight months between May and December 1940. First published in 1987, the book now incorporates new material, an epilogue and 102 monochrome photographs.
The True German
The Diary of a World War II Military Judge
Hitler’s propaganda machine was so effective in stifling opposition that we still know little about what ordinary German soldiers thought of the regime. Only recently discovered, this secret diary offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a dissenting German soldier during the catastrophic final months of the Third Reich. Here, in all their contradictions, are the thoughts of a patriot who despised the regime he served, and his fears for the future of his country.
Orde Wingate remains one of the most controversial figures in British military history. His pioneering methods of counter-insurgency warfare, which worked by co-opting local rebels into disruptive guerrilla squads or ‘Chindits’, still attract criticism. In this re-examination of Wingate’s operations in Palestine, Ethiopia, India and Burma, including Longcloth and Thursday, Simon Anglim draws extensively on official and private papers, and argues that Wingate’s legacy has influenced recent military operations in Iran, Afghanistan and Libya.
"If Chaos Reigns"
The Near-Disaster and Ultimate Triumph of the Allied Airborne Forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944
The success of German paratroops in the invasion of Crete in 1941 convinced the Allies that airborne forces would be crucial as the war progressed, but the high casualty rate persuaded Hitler of the opposite. This book analyses the development and training of American, British and Canadian parachute and glider units and explains the critical role they played on D-Day, describing how close they came to failure in securing key locations ahead of the invasion.
Fighting with the Fourteenth Army in Burma
Original War Summaries of the Battle Against Japan 1943–1945
Called to fight in some of the most difficult conditions in any theatre of the Second World War, the million men of the Fourteenth, so-called 'forgotten’, Army were drawn from East and West Africa, India and Britain. This account of their successful campaign to repel the Japanese from the Indian border and drive them back through Burma, from 1943 to 1945, is based on the summary reports compiled by each of the thirteen divisions shortly after the end of hostilities.
Occupied France, 1944–The End Game
Shot down in his Lancaster in April 1944, Neil Nimmo escaped capture and made his way to Paris, and later nearby Montlhéry, where he remained in hiding until liberated by the Americans. Also following the story of the German pilot who shot him down, this account of the last months before the liberation of France gives a valuable insight into the atmosphere in the occupied capital and includes a number of previously unpublished photographs.
European Resistance in the Second World War
Throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, resistance took many forms, ranging from non-co-operation, disinformation, espionage and sabotage to out-and-out partisan warfare. This first comprehensive overview of the subject in 30 years charts the experiences of resisters from France to Russia, from Scandinavia to Greece. Accessible and authoritative, it offers a panoramic and detailed account of the make-up, motives, actions and impact of resistance movements – and of the Axis reprisals. It also assesses their often-controversial role in post-war national narratives.
The Fall of Danzig 1945
Egbert Kieser’s history of the Red Army’s assault on East Prussia in 1945 is a riveting narrative of the last months of the Second World War on the Eastern Front. Using extensive eyewitness testimony, it describes in unflinching detail the horrors that engulfed German civilians and soldiers as their world collapsed around them. This superb translation makes the classic account of the death-throes of Hitler’s Reich available to English-speaking readers for the first time.
1 Group: Swift to Attack
Bomber Command's Unsung Heroes
Formed in June 1940, No1 Group Bomber Command became one of the principal offensive weapons wielded by Britain over the next five years, the force including squadrons that flew the most sorties, dropped the most bombs and suffered the highest casualties of any during the war. This account describes 1 Group's wartime activities, explaining its structure, analysing its aircraft, reviewing principal operations and paying tribute to the 8,760 men who lost their lives.
Military Despatches From Dunkirk to the Battle of Britain
Churchill's rousing speeches and the popular narrative of the Battle of Britain and the 'miracle of Dunkirk' belie the grave reality of Britain's military position in 1940, when defeat seemed the most likely outcome. Presenting the contemporary situation without the romantic interpretations of hindsight, this book reproduces, with contextual commentary, the detailed despatches of contemporary generals Gort and Brooke and Air Chief Marshal Dowding, analysing the Battle of France, the withdrawal of the BEF and the Battle of Britain.
At Leningrad's Gates
The Story of a Soldier with Army Group North
The refusal of the author's unit to replace the army salute with the Nazi Party one, as directed in July 1944, shows the growing dissent of ordinary German soldiers and also illustrates the conflict that loyal and patriotic soldiers faced as they became disillusioned with Nazism. Explaining his thoughts and motivations at the time, this memoir follows a German soldier's experience on the Russian front from 1941–1944 as well as describing the chaos of post-war Germany.
Hitler's Wave-Breaker Concept
An Analysis of the German End Game in the Baltic
Hitler could have marshalled his resources for the defence of Berlin more effectively had he not clung on to ground on the Baltic coast on the theory that fortified enclaves could be more easily defended than attacked. There were, however, valid reasons for protecting the territory beyond this so-called 'wave-breaker' concept. Analysing Hitler's strategy and his military thinking in general, this book provides a detailed appraisal of the Russian campaign between 1941 and 1945.
The Fourth Reich
and Operation Eclipse
Operation Eclipse was an Allied plan conceived to achieve strategic goals in the final phase of the Second World War in Europe and manage the immediate post-war period. From protecting Denmark from occupation by the Russians and dealing with Admiral Doenitz's short-lived government after Hitler's suicide (the 'Fourth Reich' of the title), the book goes on to examine the liberation of Holland and Norway, the release of PoWs and forced labour from German camps and the War Crimes Trials.
Blood and Steel
The Wehrmacht Archive: Normandy 1944
The defending German army faced an overwhelmingly superior force in terms of troop numbers and materiel during the Normandy campaign in 1944, but that did not always mean that the soldiers had respect for their enemy's fighting qualities. This book reveals the attitudes and opinions of Wehrmacht soldiers through contemporary orders, field reports, letters, diaries and PoW interviews, mostly drawn from the intelligence summaries of the First Canadian Army, which also contained material from British and American sources.
Hitler's Island War
The Men Who Fought for Leros
Italy's surrender in September 1943 opened the opportunity for the Allies to take control of strategically important Greek islands. The British moved to strengthen the Italian garrison on Leros, only to lose it in one of the last significant Allied defeats of the war. Drawing on first-hand accounts, this book tells the story of the siege and battle, the daring escapes from the German invaders and the years of incarceration for those captured.
The American Arsenal
The World War II Official Standard Ordanance Catalogue
During the Second World War, the US Ordnance Department set about producing a definitive catalogue of army equipment to counteract inconsistent information in circulation in unofficial publications and to avoid the parallel development of similar equipment by different departments. The exhaustive master guide, reconstructed from the original loose-leaf version, contains descriptions, specifications and over 900 photographs and drawings of vehicles, weapons, ammunition and equipment from the M4 Sherman tank to the M1 helmet.
A History of Horror
Jacques Delarue was a member of the French Resistance during the Second World War and as a policeman from 1945 was able to interview many of the Gestapo leaders that operated in France when they were brought to trial. His analysis of the organization, originally published in 1962, explores how it was formed and run, examines the motivation of the men responsible for unspeakable brutalities and reveals how dissent began to emerge as the regime collapsed.
Hitler in Cartoons
Lampooning the Evil Madness of a Dictator
German cartoonists mocked Hitler when he came to prominence in the 1920s, but such satire was not possible once the Nazis were in power and the job was left to foreign illustrators. This book follows the career of the Führer through a collection of political cartoons, demonstrating how artists such as Herb Block, EH Shepard and Ding Darling were able to show Hitler as he was – in contrast to the German propaganda image of god-like superman.
Ghosts of the ETO
American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theater, 1944–1945
Within a few weeks of D-Day, the American 23rd Headquarters Special Troops landed in France and positioned a number of inflatable howitzers to draw German fire away from regular artillery units nearby. The 23rd were thereafter engaged across France and into Germany, creating fake radio transmissions, deploying dummy materiel and impersonating other troops in over 20 operations during 1944 and 1945. This book pieces together the long-classified activities of the unusual unit.
Somewhere in England
American Airmen in the Second World War
In 2012 the Imperial War Museums acquired a remarkable collection of 15,000 photographs showing American servicemen who were stationed at air bases in Britain during the Second World War. This selection presents more than 70 of the images illustrating the GIs’ work and recreations, both at military sites and among local communities. The accompanying text gives brief biographies of those pictured and celebrates the resilience and bravery with which pilots flew deep into enemy territory.
The Dam Buster Raid
A Reappraisal, 70 Years On
Barnes Wallis's bouncing bomb and its use on the Ruhr dams is one of the best-known stories of the Second World War. This reappraisal of the events examines the mission itself but also assesses the real effectiveness of the attack on the German war effort, follows the careers of the protagonists of 617 Squadron beyond May 1943, and explores the legacy of the raid and how the legend of 'the Dam Busters' was born.
Behind the Lines
A Critical Survey of Special Operations in World War II
Michael F Dilley offers a critical examination of the use and success of special purpose, special mission units during the Second World War, including groups used by both Allied and Axis powers, and in every major theatre of war. The missions discussed range from direct action raids to intelligence gathering, and include the raid to kill Rommel, code named Operation Flipper; the activities of Popski’s Private Army; and the SOE’s Jedburgh Project.
A Complete Account of the RAF's Support Role during the Audacious Commando Raid on St Nazaire, March 1942
The British raid on St Nazaire in March 1942 deprived Germany of an important seaport for the duration of the war but the RAF's diversionary role in the attack has been criticized as ineffectual. This new assessment of the RAF's part in Operation Chastise explains the restrictive orders that hampered the bombers and outlines the other crucial functions that they performed: sweeping the Bay of Biscay and searching for survivors in the aftermath.
The location, strength and operational status of enemy ships was of primary concern to the belligerent nations during the Second World War, with the threat of powerful vessels such as Tirpitz significantly affecting military planning. Aerial and surface reconnaissance photographs were acquired whenever possible and this book presents a collection of such images, drawn from contemporary intelligence files, assessing the vessels of the German, Italian, French and Japanese navies. Former USAF photo interpreter Roy Stanley provides expert commentary.
In Bomber Command
Gerry Anderson, the creator of Thunderbirds and Joe 90, was clearly influenced in his stories by his pilot brother Lionel who was tragically killed flying a Mosquito over France in 1944. This book tells the story of Lionel Anderson's life and career, and includes excerpts from his many letters commenting on his experiences of flying combat missions with the RAF and training in America, where he made friends with actors Gene Tierney and Preston Foster.
The Secret Life of Fighter Command
The Men and Women Who Beat the Luftwaffe
The Battle of Britain may have been won by 'the Few' but resistance to German aerial attack in the early part of the Second World War also relied on a well-organized network of support staff. Based on interviews with members of this formidable team, the book pays tribute to the men and women who enabled the Spitfires and Hurricanes to prevail, from radar engineers and coastal spotters to Wrens in the control rooms and pilots in the air.
Double Cross in Cairo
The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East
With a talent for invention and a taste for adventure, Italian Jew Renato Levi operated as a double agent in the Middle East and North Africa during the Second World War. This book uncovers the story of the remarkable spy, which has only come to light in recent years, and his CHEESE network, an entirely fictitious ring of intelligence sources providing misdirection that helped to defeat Rommel in North Africa and diverted German defences from the D-Day landing sites.