Atlantic Linchpin by Guy Warner

Atlantic Linchpin by Guy Warner

A relatively slim (160 pages) volume that appears to be incredibly well researched and populated generously with some very good pictures, adequate notes, bibliography and references.

My knowledge of both World Wars is limited to the JMB ‘O’ level syllabus of the early 70s, which loosely encompassed World War One in Europe. So, books like this are always welcome as they add to my rather scant (but steadily growing) knowledge.

The ‘blurb’ on the rear cover states… ‘The significance of the Azores has been overlooked in most military histories…’ I think I must agree with this, I didn’t even know where the Azores were. – Yes, I failed ‘O’ level geography, but thank you Google maps; technology has its uses

The main content of the book is split into four convenient sections:-
  • The Azores in the first World War. Sixty pages of how the islands were used as a supply base and major base for the disruption of German U boats.
  • Aviation in the Azores between the wars. Fifteen pages about military withdrawal after World War one and how the islands became a base for regular airmail services between the US and Europe using seaplanes.
  • The Azores and the battle of the Atlantic, 1940 to 1945. Fifty pages describe how yet again, the islands were used as a base from which to disrupt the German U boats attacking the Atlantic convoys.
  • The three airfields in the immediate post-war years. A disappointingly brief seven pages where we learn about inflight refuelling of aircraft.
It will likely come as no surprise that sections two and four held the most interest for me, but that’s not to say that I didn’t learn things from the other sections. In fact, even the foreword and author’s preface taught me a few things. And that is how this book runs; you pick up something different on virtually every page; or at least, I did.

Much of the information in the book has been supplied via various Portuguese archives and it is a testament to the author’s diligent research that I’ve only ever seen very few of the pictures before, and his choice of pictures to illustrate his text I can only describe as first-rate. Most of the pictures are incredibly clear and tell a story all their own if you look at them properly. I really enjoy looking at old pictures and what you can see in the background. Equally interesting, is just how far military equipment has developed over the years.

Many history books are uncomfortable and difficult to read, but the author of this one has a very engaging and relaxed style. I’d guess that when he was a schoolteacher he engaged well with his pupils, unlike my teachers who were all ‘chalk and talk’.

The only minor gripe that I have is the price of the book. Whilst I appreciate that books like this are never going to be best sellers and must cover their costs, I feel that at £25 it is a little steep.

I’m going to run to 4.5 anchors on this book. Yes, it’s only going to appeal to a narrow audience, but if you fit into that audience, I don’t think you’ll find the information presented here anywhere else. The author has packed a lot of detail and information into relatively few pages.

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