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A very good military read

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A very good military read

Old 12th Jun 2012, 20:24
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Albeit from a a fair few years ago, but there are some, no many, lessons which could and should have been taken from the Dhofar war and applied to most if not all of the present and recent conflicts in the "Middle East". A superb record of how a war against an implacable enemy can be won is to be found in John Akehurst's account "We Won a War".

Sorry chaps, its no longer in print and I am hanging on to my well battered and treasured copy. But the ISBN is 0859550915 should you be lucky enough to find it on ebay or wherever..
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Old 13th Jun 2012, 09:23
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I can recommend Ben Anderson's tome "No Worse Enemy" ISBN 1851688528, try and read it with Ledwidge's "Losing Small Wars" for a pretty demoralising view of campaign progress in Helmand.
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Old 14th Jun 2012, 14:19
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Currently reading 'Midway' by Hugh Biceno. Foreword by Richard Holmes.

Also dipping into Catch-22 for about the third time.
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Old 14th Jun 2012, 21:59
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goudie, if you're finding Catch 22 a bit hard to handle, a sure way to get yourself back into it is to go to just after halfway into the book and search for the Nurse Ducket chapter. The first two pages about Nurse Duckett and her wonderfully described "divine fulcrum", (which Yossarian locates from his hospital bed - to her great surprise), will have you back into the book with renewed enthusiasm.
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Old 15th Jun 2012, 07:15
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For something a little different, try "Soldier Blue" by Paul Williams.

The story of a young man's life at home and at war in the 1970's Rhodesian bush.


"Hippocrates, RN" - Memoirs of Naval Flying Doctor, Herbert Ellis.

He went solo after 4 hours 50 and was involved in research and flying in the late 40's and 50's. A good read.

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Old 15th Jun 2012, 14:55
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Thanks Andu. I do remember Nurse Ducket and will dip into her episode asap!
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Old 24th Jun 2012, 20:50
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Falklands Argentinian viewpoint?

I'm an avid reader of all aviation books, but have recently been immersed in books about the Falklands. This includes the books by David Morgan, Jerry Pook and I'm currently reading SCRAM! by Harry Benson.

But, are there decent books from the Argentinian viewpoint? Not in terms of the politics, but in relation to the actual experience.
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Old 24th Jun 2012, 22:18
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mmm, you could try this one:
Wings of Courage: The Argentine Air War Over the Falklands: Amazon.co.uk: Rivas Santiago: Books Wings of Courage: The Argentine Air War Over the Falklands: Amazon.co.uk: Rivas Santiago: Books


PS: I am reading "Azorian" right now. What a read!
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Old 25th Jun 2012, 14:00
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Just finished "Out of the Italian Night, Wellington Bomber Operations 1944 - 45" by Maurice G Linhou. Interesting read as it gives another side to the bomber offensive with Wellingtons based in Italy and attacking the Balkans and southern Germany. Got the impression that this was a forgotten area even during the war.

During 1944 and 1945 the squadrons of 205 Group were launching air attacks from bases in Italy. In many ways their efforts were the same as those of aircrew attached to Bomber Command in Britain, yet conditions for the men were very different. The men fought their war as much against the weather, as against the enemy. The Wimpy, as the Wellington was affectionately known, had been operational when war was declared and five years on their young crews were still taking them into battle. Maurice Lihou joined the RAF in 1939, just before the outbreak of war. He trained as a wireless operator to become aircrew, but found himself working in ground stations. He decided to re-muster as a pilot and completed his training in Canada where he was awarded his wings. He soon became captain of an aircraft and ferried a Wellington to North Africa. He was then posted to Italy and joined No 37 Squadron, becoming involved in various operations to harass the retreating German army.
From the well known south American river site
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 16:47
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Half way through "Pathfinder" by David Blakeley, Special Forces Mission in second Gulf War.
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Old 27th Jun 2012, 08:43
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No Moon Tonight - Don Charlwood

Many thanks Sidevalve, your recommendation on the Vale Don Charlwood thread last week caused me to get the book and I read it in 2 days. A very moving, thoughtful and interesting book. I know it was recommended on here about 3 years ago, but I think it's timeless and thoroughly recommend it myself.
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Old 27th Jun 2012, 08:51
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Just finished on my Kindle:

Dingo Firestorm (Ian Pringle, pilot at Thunder City) - Cross Border raids by RhAF against Robert Mugabe's ZANU HQ in Mozambique (mid 70s)


Storm Front (Rowland White of Vulcan 607 and Phoenix Squadron fame) - SAS and RAFO ops against insurgents in the Dhofar (Operation Storm).

Can thoroughly recommend both.


Last edited by foldingwings; 27th Jun 2012 at 18:30. Reason: Thanks EngAl for correcting me, I was off to play golf! More Haste Less Speed!
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Old 27th Jun 2012, 09:40
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There are thousands of books about WW2 - usually written by officers or academics.
"St Valery: the Impossible Odds" (Birlinn) is an account of the capture of the 51st Highland Division in 1940.
After an admirably succinct and well-illustrated account of the fall of France (including the air campaign), it contains four first hand accounts of life in the POW camps by ordinary soldiers - who had a completely different experience to officers or NCOs. (They had to work 12 hour days on minimum food). It is humbling to read what that fast disappearing generation endured.
It's 7.99 from Waterstones - or available from Amazon (reviewed) from 6.85 upwards - with royalties going to the Erskine Homes for veterans.
For the really stingy there are second hand copies from .01p upwards!
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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 18:12
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A very good read

Phoenix - Policing the Shadows - on your Kindle

An updated text - which pulls no punches. Some very senior officers will find the last chapter uncomfortable reading.

Phoenix, Policing the Shadows with 2012 Bonus Chapter eBook: Jack Holland, Susan Phoenix: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store Phoenix, Policing the Shadows with 2012 Bonus Chapter eBook: Jack Holland, Susan Phoenix: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 21:11
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I can but endorse flip's recommendation. Phoenix Policing the Shadows is a remarkable book indeed, and that was true enough before the new Kindle Edition was published with its all important additional chapter. That chapter alone should be required reading for every professional aviator, particularly the military ones!
Here is a record of proven suborning, of deliberate acts by VSOs in contravention of the most basic of the Military Airworthiness Regulations, resulting in a Release to Service of a knowingly unairworthy aircraft. An aircraft that had a Controller Aircraft "Switch on Only" limited release that included the entire Navigation and Communication Suite. Yet it was released into Squadron Service! What did "Switch on Only" require? That the equipment concerned was:
not to be operated in any way that places any reliance whatsoever on the proper functioning of this equipment
Added to such damning evidence is the matter of the FADECs, so riddled with bad code that Boscombe Down grounded their test aircraft and urged the RAF to do the same with their aircraft already, and so prematurely, in Squadron Service. It didn't, and ZD576 crashed taking 29 lives with it.
We may remember a darker side of the Bombing Campaign, following the somewhat tardy (by 67 years!) dedication of the BC Memorial. Aircrew who could not carry on to the end of a tour in the face of such grim odds were deemed to show "Lack of Moral Fibre", broken to the ranks and made to sweep out the areas populated by those that carried on. If there were any justice in the modern world, those hangar floors would be swept clean now by the "honourable" VSOs who betrayed their Service, their duty, and those unfortunates under their command.
Amazon Amazon

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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 21:54
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I've just taken out 'AIR GUNNER' by Alan W. Cooper, from the library.
Quite a few of these guys were selected from the groundcrew lower ranks and gave a bloody good account of themselves.
One story typifying the harshness of those times is about
the first 1000 bomber raid. Just about anything and anyone was thrown into the pot. A gunnery instructor who was crewed up with a crew that was still in training refused to fly with them because he knew they were not ready for ops. He was immediatly stamped LMF and never seen again.
There are other stories of incredible feats of bravery and sacrifice by these young men.
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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 23:08
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I've just taken out 'AIR GUNNER' by Alan W. Cooper, from the library.
Along similar lines, and one I've recommended here before, is:

They Hosed Them Out

John Beede

Bookseller: OurBooks

(Braddon, ACT, Australia)

Bookseller Rating:

Quantity Available: 1

ISBN: 0426052153 / 0-426-05215-3
Written quite soon after the war, it's unusually frank (and bitter), and very critical of the RAF 'System'.

One story in it comes immediately to mind, of a tail gunner who from the start, was obviously not suited for the job, (for one, he was tall and lanky and had difficuty fitting into the cramped turret, but his main problems were psychological). His captain tried to get him re-assigned during training, but to no avail, and on his first op, when the captain called for a guns test, they got no answer. Someone went back to discover that in a blind funk, he'd jumped, (as it turned out) before they crossed the English coast.

Within 24 hours, he was found, court-martialled, and sentenced to death, his execution delayed only for as long as it took for Bomber Command to transport one air gunner from each and every Bomber Command station to witness the execution to spread the word of what awaited anyone who deserted his post on an op.

Beedle also talks about the LMF camp, (perhaps mythical, but 'known to exist', a bit like the boogie man), in far northern Scotland, where LMFs were treated extremely harshly by SPs who had never seen a shot fired in anger themselves.

Beedle did a tour on tactical light bombers, where the casualties (twin .303 turrents against 20mm cannon) at the hands of massed FW190 squadrons were appaling. Not pleasant reading, but still a very good read.

Complete change of subject, but in regard to the book's title, my next door neighbour when I was a boy in far North Queensland had been a (civilian) ambulance driver at Garbutt, which was a huge American air base in North Queensland early in the Pacific war, and he said he'd seen the USAAF quite literally do that on a number of occasions with B17 tail gunners when the aircraft returned to base from ops over New Guinea. They would remove what they could from the turret, (which he was there to take to the morgue), and then feed a high presure fire hose in through the waist gunner's window and hose out the turret.

I always found myself wondering what it must have been like for the next gunner who occupied that turret. Hard to find any glory in that. They had to be seriously brave men.
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Old 30th Oct 2012, 14:00
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The Operators by James Rennie is an excellent read - describes the activities of 14 Intelligence Company in Northern Ireland. Bizarrely, it actually helped improved my driving skills on winding country lanes...

Anyone read Dead Man Risen by Tony Harnden? It was referenced at the end of an episode of the BBC's 'Our War' series.
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Old 30th Oct 2012, 17:45
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"Winged Warriors: the Cold War from the Cockpit" is a brilliant and amusing/must read book by retired Group Captain Paul McDonald which also includes a lovely tribute to my late husband Rod Leigh. Thank you Paul.
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Old 30th Oct 2012, 21:03
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more information, extracts and photos on:

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