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A very good military read

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A very good military read

Old 1st Feb 2014, 12:16
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The Red Line

Just finished the subject book in <3 days (unputdownable).

Tremendous account by fellow PPRuNer (& former Tonka Nav) John Nichol of a major raid by Bomber Command in WW2, with huge crew losses. Personal story insights of combatants & civilians literally 'puts flesh on the bones' of the raw statistics of BC's 55,573 dead in WW2.

Wholeheartedly recommended.

HB
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 14:00
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"Duty" by SecDef Robert Gates.

What I found very interesting is his evaluation of the US Military's Readiness Posture when he took office as SecDef.....and the situation it is in today. It seems those concerns then are the same concerns now.

His account of Military Leadership and Decision making at the Top Levels of the US Military are not very comforting. Having studied the Leadership in place during the Vietnam War years....I don't see much difference between then and now sadly.
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 11:53
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A very interesting read that I finished not long ago was `Diary of a Spitfire pilot' byGranville Allen Mawer. It really was a diary and was only published in 2011 - long after his death. It covers flying in UK and later Darwin during the war. It gives an insight into the thoughts and feelings of the writer. Surprise ending.

Also `There's always Bloody Something' by Frank Bryant who travelled many times to Germany of an evening until he finally found himself on the ground there and locked away for safekeeping until the war was over. A very good read and highly recommended.

And `Bring back my Stringbag' by lord Kilbracken for a bit of nautical aviation.
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Old 8th Feb 2014, 13:57
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Just read 'Chimera' by Vivek Ahuja. A good 'what if' fiction about conflict between China and India.
A good price on Kindle too.
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 14:35
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A read I'd recommend is "The Great Game" by Peter Hopkirk. Book dates from about 1990, is 524 pages of fascinating history about Russo-British rivalry in central asia, up to about 1905. Got it from our local library, (1st time its been out in 7 years) but its still timely.
I hadn't realized that Russia had been a major Imperial power prior to the Soviet era, and the deep seated distrust and rivalry between "our" empire and theirs, (which probably explains a lot of subsequent history).
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Old 24th Feb 2014, 16:46
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Lt Cdr John Moffat's book "I Sank the Bismark" is quite an eye-opener
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Old 26th Feb 2014, 12:10
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"Simple Sounds of Freedom" by Joseph Beyrle

Life Story of an American Para who made two Jumps into France before D-Day, then made the D-Day Jump only to be captured, escape several times, get handed over to the Gestapo for some bad treatment and saved by the intervention of the German military.....to escape and wind up fighting alongside a Russian Tank Unit.

He was declared KIA...a funeral was held....and a couple of years later the same Priest married him to his girlfriend.

It is thought there is a German Soldier buried in an American Military Cemetery under a marker bearing the author's name.

His Son later became a Deputy Ambassador to Russia.

He later was awarded four Military Awards by Boris Yeltsin and an AK-47 by Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK.

Joseph R. Beyrle, Sergeant United States Army
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Old 28th May 2014, 12:59
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WW 1

Re Wiley´s Post Apr 2009 - I appreciate that this is now an old Post - but with the Centenary coming up, its still relevant.
I have just finished a book called 'Through German Eyes' by Chris Duffy. Its a very interesting insight to the British Offensive on the Somme in 1916, and it left me thinking that the 'Lions led by Donkeys' outlook on the British War effort is largely unfounded. I was surprised how quickly lessons were learn´t and applied during this offensive.
Another excellent book is '1918: A very British Victory' by Peter Hart, which examines the successful British offensive of 1918, that defeated the German Army and led to the Armistice.
In the past I have been very much a student of WW2 - so these books have been an eye opener to me, and its difficult not to reflect that the hard won lessons of WW1 were largely lost in the inter-war years, as the focus of the UK Military shifted to minor skirmishes with ill equipped rebels. One can only ponder, if history is repeating itself.......

Last edited by Hosepipe; 28th May 2014 at 13:02. Reason: Correction
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Old 28th May 2014, 14:57
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I am reading an account of the Omaha Beach Landing by the US 1st Infantry Division, primarily the 116 Infantry Regiment.

The repeated comment by the individual Soldiers is how burdened they were with extra equipment, arms, explosives, and ammo to the extent they were unable to move with any speed or agility much less swim.

That was one of the criticisms about the Somme Attack.

Here we are today with our guys loaded down with Body Armor and all sorts of gear that, yes, slows them down and hampers their movements.

No, Lessons are always forgotten. Soldiers die because of it.
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Old 28th May 2014, 15:11
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The repeated comment by the individual Soldiers is how burdened they were with extra equipment, arms, explosives, and ammo to the extent they were unable to move with any speed or agility much less swim.
As a fit and professional military man in my youth I took part in a landing craft assault. These were the old WWII craft with the crash down doors at the front. All I had was an SLR (an M4 size rifle), a small backpack and webbing belt with water bottle etc. We were dropped for draught considerations up to our neck in water. By the time I got to the shore I was absolutely done in and all I could do was lay there trying to get my breath, as were all of my colleagues.

I have no idea at all how young conscripts, weighed down with up to a hundred pounds of kit, tin helmet et al got off the beach at all. They were amazing men, but then I suppose they were amazing times.
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Old 28th May 2014, 15:45
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"The Dead and those about To Die: D-Day", by John C. McManus.

ISBN 978-0-451-41529-5

Excellent Book!
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Old 28th May 2014, 22:15
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There is a couple of books about BRIXMIS by Tony Geraghty and Steve Gibson, who were the Military Commission to the GSFG. Some very interesting things went on and some of the stories are amazing of travelling at speed through East German forests at night being chased by the STASI or the Russians, sat watching railway lines and convoys, noting all the vehicles equipment and people.

Now I know where some of the pictures from Recognition Journal came from.
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Old 4th Jun 2014, 13:24
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@thing:

As a fit and professional military man in my youth I took part in a landing craft assault. These were the old WWII craft with the crash down doors at the front. All I had was an SLR (an M4 size rifle), a small backpack and webbing belt with water bottle etc. We were dropped for draught considerations up to our neck in water. By the time I got to the shore I was absolutely done in and all I could do was lay there trying to get my breath, as were all of my colleagues.
F**k, that has brought back a really unpleasant memory from almost thirty years to the day (Although, I would say that the SLR is closer to the M14 than the M4).

If I may give a little more colour. The first thing is the ramp goes down and a big splash of water soaks the troops at the front. All thirty of you rush off the end of the ramp and in our case we had full marching order including bergans. You run off the ramp and immediately go completely underwater, less your rifle which is held one handed above your head. By standing on tip-toes and leaning your head back you can just get your mouth above water and gulp air in. But to step forward you need to bend your knee so your head goes under again with each step.

At the same time the rest of the troops are crashing in on top complete with heavy weapons such as 84mm (36lb) and GPMG (24lb). In this total maelstrom you have to force yourself forward against the weight of the water. We didn't have anything really cumbersome like bangalore torpedoes etc. Even so it is really easy to get knocked over. As thing says, by the time you have struggled to shallow water you are completely done in and encrusted with salt water.

I did it once in training and that was once too many. So hats off to those that did it for real in 1944 especially at Omaha. Equally I would not have liked to attempt the Ranger assault up the cliff face at Pointe du Hoc.

As an aside OVERLORD was the last time in the NW Europe campaign where the British and Commonwealth force was larger than the US contingent.

EG
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Old 14th Aug 2015, 09:16
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Tornado over the Tigris – Recollections of a Fast Jet Pilot. By Michael Napier

For anyone with an interest in military aviation, this recently published book is a must. It can stand alone as a very well written account or complement perfectly a number of other recent works which cover the Cold War.

However, Tornado over the Tigris goes much further describing one man’s experience of the Cold War, in which he served on two Tornado squadrons in Germany, and what came afterwards when he returned to his first squadron as a flight commander deployed on operations in Iraq.

The author writes from the heart. This is no simple ‘Boys’ Own’ tale of ‘daring-do’ but a totally honest account of one man’s thoughts and feelings, his early lack of confidence, and concerns about a potential nuclear exchange, as he strove to become combat-ready. Very much a thinking airman, Napier offers his personal thoughts about attacking Saddam Hussein’s vile regime in the years between the Gulf wars. Shining through his account is a story of professionalism and adaptability of a service that remains second to none. Inevitably there is much poignancy too.

I very much enjoyed the richness of the narrative: the joy and excitement of fast jet flying coupled with evocative descriptions of terrain and of weather that took me back to long-forgotten places, with my fingers moving almost automatically through the ‘switchery’ as I desperately searched for the IP while looking for the ‘bounce’. It was all too easy to become totally immersed.

Whether you have done some of what the author describes or not, this is an important personal account of a service that was in transition. And it is great fun.

Highly recommended.
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Old 14th Aug 2015, 09:43
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Came across this little book - "From Lysander to Lightning", biography of Teddy Petter. [prose IMHO a little stilted but a VERY interesting read (again "IMHO"
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Old 14th Aug 2015, 10:30
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Autobiography of Sgt. William Lawrence who fought in the Peninsula and at Waterloo. One of the few literate rankers who wrote down his experiences, fascinating to read about the life of a 'grunt' rather than yet another tome about Wellington or Nay.

Mike Brooke's three books, A Bucket of Sunshine, Follow Me Through and Trials and Errors. Brooke was a pilot during the 60s on Canberras which is the subject of his first book, the second book is his experiences as an instructor and the third his life as a test pilot after ETPS. All written with a very easy and readable style and recommended.

War Beneath The Sea-Peter Padfield. The definitive history of submarine ops during WWII. brilliant and eye opening book. I never knew that U.S. torpedoes simply didn't work for the first part of the war.
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Old 14th Aug 2015, 11:40
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World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The story and diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF.

Jack McCleery was born in Belfast in 1898, the son of a mill owning family. He joined the RNAS in 1916 as a Probationary Flight Officer. During the next ten months he completed his training at Crystal Palace, Eastchurch, Cranwell, Frieston, Calshot and Isle of Grain, flying more than a dozen landplanes, seaplanes and flying boats, gaining his wings as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant. In July 1917 he was posted to the newly commissioning aircraft carrier HMS Furious, which would be based at Scapa Flow and Rosyth. He served in this ship until February 1919, flying Short 184 seaplanes and then Sopwith 1½ Strutters off the deck. He also flew a large number of other types during this time from shore stations at Turnhouse, East Fortune and Donibristle.

He served with important and well-known naval airmen including Dunning, Rutland (of Jutland) and Bell Davies VC. He witnessed Dunning’s first successful landing on a carrier flying a Sopwith Pup in 1917 and his tragic death a few days later. He also witnessed the Tondern raid in 1918, the world’s first carrier strike mission. He took part in more than a dozen sweeps into the North Sea by elements of the Grand Fleet and Battle Cruiser Fleet. He carried out reconnaissance missions off the coast of Denmark, landing in the sea to be picked up by waiting destroyers. He witnessed the surrender of the High Seas Fleet. Promoted to Captain, he acted as temporary CO of F Squadron for a time postwar.

A very interesting read from someone who was around at the inauguration
of the Aircraft Carrier age.
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Old 17th Aug 2015, 09:28
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While looking through Kindle for a book or two, I came across 'D-Day Through German Eyes. The two books which make up the volume (about £2.50) have profoundly affected my previous views of D-Day taken from historical tomes and the cinema. They have also answered a few questions about why the German's resisted such an overwhelming force. The bottom line is that the basic German soldier and junior officer were completely under the impression they were defending a 'United Europe'. The book is informative and strangely satisfying as the interviewer manages to capture the point when some of these veterans (ten years after the event) realise how misled they were. It is also truly horrifying to read of the slaughter caused by the initial shelling, bombing and rocket attacks of those inside the 'impenetrable' fortifications.
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Old 17th Aug 2015, 10:54
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If you are interested in the personal stories of those involved in WWII, then the BBC has archived a large number here:

BBC - WW2 People's War - About this site

The site is conceptually well organised: service, area, place etc., but they have scewed stuff up so badly that the internal references don't follow one after one. To make sense of it you may need to use a search engine ''site BBC....'' etc.

I was able to use this to make sense of my father's war record. RA anti-aircraft, London, North Africa, Italy.

Edit. Adding to Strake's comment above, this isn't all allied stuff. There are views from prisoners, and the other side too.
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Old 19th Aug 2015, 23:02
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Strake,

Got D-day through German eyes on your recommendation.
What a fascinating, horrifying, heart rending collection of memories.
So many brave young men on either side suffering such an ordeal.
Leaves me aghast.
Thanks for suggesting the books.
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