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      by  Number of Views: 81 
      1. Categories:
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      Can the Army win the war before the Navy lose it?’- Lord Fisher, 1917

      Where there is no vision the people perish’ - Proverbs ch29.v18

      This fourth volume (of five) of Marder’s unmatchable analysis of the Royal Navy in the First World War opens with a new team (Carson, Jellicoe) in charge in Whitehall; Beatty commanding the Grand Fleet (and revising its Battle Orders in perhaps riskier ways which, however, would never be tested); the K-class submarines beginning to join the Grand Fleet; and a reorganised (16.12.1916) Anti-Submarine Division at the Admiralty. Almost immediately, on 1st February 1917, we were confronted with the German abandonment of the ‘cruiser rules’ required by the Hague Conventions - not the only deliberate German breach - and their start of unrestricted piracy in the Atlantic with expediency displacing humanity. This [together with the Zimmerman Telegram intercepted and decrypted by the RN, but not mentioned by Marder] finally brought America into the war on 6th April.

      Merchant sinkings rose to such a pitch that it seemed we would run out of food and would have to sue for peace. [My grandmother related how we were so short of food in 1917 that she had to take up smoking in order to suppress her appetite so that she could give her rations to her children.]

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      by  Number of Views: 149 
      1. Categories:
      2. Crime,
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      Another book that I wouldn’t have selected for myself; so thanks to Ageing_Gracefully for the opportunity.

      This book is tightly written, fast paced and in places, quite violent.

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      by  Number of Views: 179 
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      ‘Jellicoe is the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon’
      Winston Churchill, ‘The World Crisis’
      .. But fortunately for the whole world, being calculating and far-seeing, rather than hot-headed, he didn’t.

      Seaforth here present in paperback a reprint of Professor Marder’s 1975 second edition of his analysis of Jutland, which he had been able to tune using input from a very long list of Jutland veterans who wrote in following the original publication of the work.

      The first half of the book is devoted to an exhaustive and authoritative account of the battle itself, which will forever be the greatest sea battle in the history of the world. It has been fought over ever since, from tactical floor to tablecloth, floodlit by hindsight and the audience misled by partisan efforts to big up favoured participants, Churchill’s ill-informed and ignorant comments in ‘The World Crisis’ (apart from his lambent insight quoted above) and Beatty’s deliberate tampering with the official record, and widespread mistaken belief that sea battles are an end in themselves. Here in Marder, an academic historian and an American at that, we have an absolutely neutral commentator who cuts through all this to present us with the ultimate, wholly objective account, analysing all available detail (much only unearthed due to his diligent ferreting) with scrupulous fairness to the participants of whom he provides interesting character sketches. In the process he demolishes or qualifies several popular myths. His exhaustive research apart, it is remarkable that a civilian can get so accurately under the skin of naval events. His analysis benefits from his own WW2 intelligence experience.

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      by  Number of Views: 240 
      1. Categories:
      2. History,
      3. Memoire/Battlefield Memoire,
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      'memoir of a Wartime childhood.'

      To say that this story is ‘different’, is doing it a dis-service; I found it a fascinating read.

      One has heard, in recent times, of heroic deeds done during The Second World War. But few capture the imagination as this tale did for me. Andrzej Borowiec was the son of a Polish Army Officer, Colonel Stanislaw Borowiec, Deputy Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division based in Kielce, Central Poland. His childhood was that of a well educated boy who was steeped in Polish tradition, had a huge pride in the Army that his Father served in. He had his own Governess. (his Fathers Mistress).

      His story was written on stolen toilet paper when, in October 1944, he was taken to Stalag X1-A in Germany. Andrew tells the story of how he came to be here. He was 15 years old.

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      by  Number of Views: 319 
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      The 40mm Bofors gun was first produced in the 1930s and has become a famous artillery piece. Far from being just an anti aircraft gun this gun has gone on to perform in different roles that the designers did not even imagine and for much longer than they first thought. The Canadians had some mounted on their ships during the 1st Gulf War and new designs are still being developed.


      The original design was for an Anti Aircraft gun for the Royal Swedish Navy, this design then developed into towed, mountings for truck, ship, submarine and even aircraft mountings as used in the AC47D and AC130H.

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      by  Number of Views: 287 
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      This book is a very evocative description of the liberation of Paris in the summer of 1944. Matthew Cobb draws on a comprehensive set of witnesses from all the parties involved and uses their eye witness accounts to great effect in describing the events on the ground and the political activity on both sides during the 11 day period leading up to and just after the liberation of the French capital.

      France’s involvement in WWII is a complex one, made up of groups with diverse aims and interests. Outside of France were the Free French, led by De Gaulle. This was the public face of France as far as the Allies were concerned. As well as the support to the Free French the Allies, Britain in particular, also sponsored the Resistance in their efforts against the occupying forces. The other resistance group being the communists, the last group were the pro-Nazi faction who supported the Petain government and who had the dreaded Milice as their enforcing arm.
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      by  Number of Views: 284 
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      Whatever happens, they have got
      The Exocet and we have Nott.

      Paraphrased from Mr Irfon Roberts’ letter to the Times 2.2.1983, paraphrasing Hilaire Belloc.

      This is a very well-told and researched account of three disparate missions that were dreamed up to remove the threat to our Falklands War task force from air-launched Exocet missiles. One was aborted and two were cancelled, but their study provides lessons far beyond the difficulties caused by ‘Fog of War’. The stories of their conception exemplify a belief in action as a substitute for thought.

      The author emerges from his other careers as yachtsman, Commando, and popular author as now a serious professional historian. The acknowledgments, let alone numerous attributions in the text, show how complete his inquiries have been, aided by his personal acquaintance with many of the senior players stemming from his own time ‘down South’ both before and during the Falklands War. His ability to tap into and interview Argentinians suggests an engaging personality.

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      by  Number of Views: 302 
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      3. Naval,
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      ‘Churchill and the Admirals’ by Stephen Roskill, Pen and Sword ppb, ISBN-1473821126

      ‘…a bad strategist but doesn’t know it, and nobody has the courage to stand up to him…’ Admiral Andrew Cunningham on Churchill, quoted in ‘Churchill and the Admirals’

      Captain Stephen Roskill’s credentials as a military historian are fairly impeccable: ex-CO WARSPITE, Naval Staff, Deputy Director Naval Intelligence and then Official Historian of the RN in WW2. He was, therefore, well-placed to examine the relationship between Churchill and his Admirals, which could be summarized as ‘…ranging from the fraternal to the fratricidal’ (to quote Tony Geraghty’s description of SAS/SBS relations during the Falklands Conflict).

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