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A very good military read

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A very good military read

Old 1st Dec 2016, 01:00
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I can thoroughly commend "Trafalgar" by Roy Adkins. Many accounts from the matelots and bootnecks who fought, conveyed to the reader via their written letters home.
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Old 1st Dec 2016, 20:41
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How many of the general public today know (or even care) about British involvement in Finland 1939-41? Luckily Justin Brooke wrote 'The Volunteers' before he died a few years ago. It covers the Army, Air Force, Ambulance Service and Firemen. It was my pleasure to be his friend.
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Old 2nd Dec 2016, 07:10
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"The Freedom Line" by Peter Eisner is a gripping account of the activities of the Comet Line - a British-funded, Belgian-run evasion network that was set up in 1941 to repatriate shot down Allied airmen. By the war's end, some 800 airmen had been returned to the UK. Well worth a read.
If anyone wants to know more, then google "CometePaysBasque".
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Old 2nd Dec 2016, 09:05
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" The Scramble for Africa", Thomas Pakenham. Not strictly a war book but plenty of war in it at every level, from the grand strategic, as European powers balanced their Treasury outlay with risk and reward; to the desperate survival against enemy and elements. It details the role of trade, alliances, host nation support and local resources. My favourite was the alliance of the British with the Gungo, a fierce tribe of cannibals who ate their way through the battlefield.

A good book, but I preferred Pakenham's "The Boer War", which is one of the best written history books that I have read.
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Old 2nd Dec 2016, 09:07
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"The Freedom Line" by Peter Eisner is a gripping account of the activities of the Comet Line - a British-funded, Belgian-run evasion network that was set up in 1941 to repatriate shot down Allied airmen. By the war's end, some 800 airmen had been returned to the UK. Well worth a read.
If anyone wants to know more, then google "CometePaysBasque".

Hello Sidevalve. Could I add that it is now safe to come out of hiding in SW France as the War finished a few years ago.
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Old 3rd Dec 2016, 02:27
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I had a quick flick through the preceding pages and haven't spotted this, so apologies if it's been done before.

I've just received my copy of "The Buccaneer Boys" by Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork and I am looking forward to reading it. Stories by the crew who flew "the last all-British bomber", all I need now is somewhere where I won't be pestered.....

https://www.amazon.com/Buccaneer-Boy.../dp/1909166111
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 21:57
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"Their Greatest Disgrace". A truly excellent book about the campaign to clear the pilots of ZD576 (Mull of Kintyre) by David Hill, a long-serving civilian engineer working in MoD. The author pulls no punches, names names, exposes the deceit and lies. Depressingly it appears that nothing has changed. The book was self published as no publisher would touch it, fearing MoD's response. All proceeds from the sale to Medecins Sans Frontieres. 15 reviews on Amazon....all 5 stars.
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 22:15
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Coincidentally this afternoon saw The Buccaneer Boys in The Works at 4. Also paperback editions of John Masters' Bugles and a Tiger and The Road Past Mandalay, recommended in this thread. Thought they were out of print.
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 22:36
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I got 'Lightning Boys' and 'Buccaneer Boys' in The Works also. Hoping they will have more of the series. Just need some sunshine in my conservatory for some serious reading now.
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Old 13th Jan 2017, 08:15
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Currently reading "Born of the Desert" by Malcolm James Pleydell MD MC (first MO of the newly formed SAS) first published in 1945, reprinted 2001 (which I think is when he passed away?).

Quite possibly the best autobiography I have ever read, and one that has been much quoted in many other books written about the formation of The Regiment.

Clearly a highly intelligent, perceptive and insightful bloke, his style is very contemporary and his reflections on the mindset of the guys are extremely revealing.
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Old 16th Jan 2017, 13:56
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A quick search for something else brought forth this, which looks like a little gem...

Looking down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage Over East Germany and Berlin, 1945-1990
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Old 16th Jan 2017, 16:22
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That is a fascinating book. To put it into context one should also read this (which I think has already been recommended in this thread):
Live and Let Spy: BRIXMIS: The Last Cold War Mission by Steve Gibson.

The "Reflections" section in later editions, added by the author many years (around 2011, I think) after initial publication is absolutely fascinating and a very good precis analysis of the state of the World then and today; it goes far beyond discussing BRIXMIS.
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Old 16th Jan 2017, 17:29
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Thanks to Kindle, most of the above books I have downloaded, inevitably knowing some of the authors personally. Gibson (with whom I am unfamiliar)'s BRIXMIS book I found a bit perplexing. For a "BRIX's" operator he seemed to me to be particularly out of touch regarding essential SA system familiarity at the time, notably SA-8 and SA-10. This is in total contrast to the sterling efforts of Pete Jefferies ( and Kevin Wright) who succeeded in getting MoD to agree to the release of details of a U.K. mission which was classified SECRET , platform TOP SECRET at the time in :
Looking down the Corridors: Allied Aerial Espionage Over East Germany and Berlin, 1945-1990.
(Which I gather is soon to be available in paperback).

Last edited by Haraka; 16th Jan 2017 at 17:43.
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Old 16th Jan 2017, 20:40
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Haraka
The "tourers" on BRIXMIS comprised both Army and RAF, with the odd mysterious matelot. All, regardless of uniform, were trained to recognise, in detail, both ground and air-related kit, to the extent that we should be able to recognise differences that might indicate a new mark or model. However, tasking of each "tour" (between 2 and 5 days in the GDR), tended to concentrate on the natural differences ie the RAF covered mostly aircraft, airfields, fixed-site radars and SAMs and EW generally. Inevitably, we ran into ground targets such as tanks and AFVs, mobile SAMs, SSMs etc, and ground (Army) tours would see aircraft and helicopters. Steve Gibson, as an Army tourer, would have been tasked against SA-8 and 10 vehicles, but would not necessarily have been over-familiar with the tables of organisation.
As an aside, we all suffered from surprise items, sometimes ones that were not new. In 1986, the Soviets suddenly sprang a new Permanent Restricted Area (PRA) map on us which opened up the GDR Baltic coast for the first time in many years. This included the harbours containing the East German Navy. Until we got our first recognition docs on naval vessels, first reports from tourers around Peenemunde referred to "Medium-size grey ships" and "small grey ships" with side numbers! Total professionalism!
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Old 16th Jan 2017, 20:58
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Where's 'The Shadow' when you need him?
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Old 17th Jan 2017, 11:04
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You are probably thinking of the French liaison officer - Capitaine le Chadeau - rarely seen but very efficient.
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Old 17th Jan 2017, 15:22
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Learned contributors,
Many thanks for an awesome thread. I have booked marked several, and all ready have many of them on my shelves.
However I find there is a serious dirth of books by "Warsaw Pact" pilots who flew in the 'cold war'. Didn't realistically expect too many ex soviet pilots rushing forth into print, but I thought some of the East German, Polish , Hungarian crews might have come forward along with representatives from the Baltic nations.
Any suggestions folks. Some of my suggestions to follow, in a latter post
Be lucky
David ( the avgasdinosaur )

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Old 17th Jan 2017, 16:28
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I thoroughly enjoyed 'Beyond the Front Line' - including your contributions, Old Bricks!

One of my colleagues was ex-BRIXMIS and would occasionally have us rolling about in hysterics with some of his tales...

On concerned the time when the spooks had provided him with a device with which to measure the thickness of armour on some new Sovietski tanksi - they were instructed to press it against the armour, press the button and take a reading... So one dark night on tour they found one and crept up to it and pressed the button as briefed...

But what they spooks hadn't told him was that the device used some sonic technique. As they pressed the button, there was an almighty and quite deafening 'BOING' which echoed through the night, so they bravely rushed into hiding. A few seconds later, the hatch flew open and some poor Soviet grunt appeared with his hands over his ears, who then peered around his tank wondering what the hell had caused the noise which had so rudely interrupted his slumbers. My colleague said that the hardest part was trying to stifle their laughter.
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Old 17th Jan 2017, 17:21
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AvgasDinosaur
You might like to try "Thinking the Unthinkable - The lives of Royal Air Force and East German Fast-jet Pilots in the Cold War" by Gp Capt Nigel Walpole, published 2012 by Astonbridge Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9537933-2-7.
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Old 21st Jan 2017, 10:02
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Reading the posts about Area 51 / Soviet types reminded me of a book I read recently about an F-14 WSO who worked at Top Gun, Miramar and was involved in the filming of Top Gun (the movie).

Topgun Days: Dogfighting, Cheating Death, and Hollywood Glory as One of America's Best Fighter Jocks

It's all written by the one chap and concentrates on his journey from junior back seater to instructor at NFWS - heavy on technical detail and an interesting view of the place.
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