Over the coming years I will be writing a number of books that are all to do with military history, many of which will specifically coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of the First World War.
Most of them are local history books and cover towns in Essex, Kent, County Durham, City of London, Channel Islands and France. Watch this space for the dates when they will be available in the shops and on line via Amazon.
There will also be books on the Second World War, specifically on the City of London, and the county of Kent, the disaster at Slapton Sands, the Holocaust, the raid on Dieppe, the Holocaust, War time Spies, and many more. The full list of my forthcoming books is listed below. Take a look to see if there is something that takes your fancy.
Stalag 383 Hohenfels: Second World War POW’s in Bavaria
This is a book about an unusual prisoner of war camp from the Second World War, which was for British and Allied NCO’s who had refused to carry out any kind of work for their captors, Nazi Germany.
To keep the men who were prisoners of war at the camp in a positive frame of mind, both physically and mentally fit, there were numerous sports clubs and theatre groups for them to enrol in and become part of. There was even a “swimming pool” for the men to swim in or play water polo in. During the winter months when the water froze, it was used for ice skating and ice hockey.
Despite the exceptional conditions of the camp and the treatment of the POW’s, there were many escape attempts as well, some of which were successful, some of which were not.
The book is brought to life by a photograph Album that was put together by one of the camps prisoners, Clifford Stansfield. It contains numerous photographs, many of which have never previously been published, along with his personal comments and observations, along intimate details of the day to day workings of the camp. One of the other prisoners who the book looks at in some detail is Michael McCallen of the Royal Army Service Corps, who was the man to go to for those who wanted to make an escape bid. After the war he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his war time work at Stalag 383. Some of the back ground information about him came from the daughter (Helena Dugdale) of one of his close friends who he had known from before the war.
The book is unusual in that although its topic is the Second World War, it has a very positive feel to it and highlights how, despite being incarcerated for nearly five years, a group of men remained physically fit and mentally strong enough, to survive the long period of being held as prisoners of war.
City of London at War – 1939 – 1945
The book looks at the part played by the City of London during the Second World War, from the historical buildings that were lost, many during the 8 months of the Blitz, some of which had been built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London.
It also looks at the part played by civilians both workers and residence alike, whether as Auxiliary Firemen, nursing staff at hospitals such as St Barts, members of the Home Guard, ARP Wardens, the women of the WAAF, and the men and women who acted as Fire Watchers on the roofs of many of the City’s iconic buildings.
There is also the story of the war time execution of a German spy at the Tower of London. An extremely informative, interesting and enjoyable read.
Due for release date: March 2020.
Mystery of Flight F-BELV
This is the story about the only aircraft in the Vietnam war that went missing on a flight from Hanoi to Saigon on 18 October 1965, and which has never been discovered to this very day. The aircraft had Canadian and Indian military personnel on board and the crew were French. One of the Canadians who was on board the aircraft, was James Sylvester Byrne, a Sergeant in the Canadian Army. An extremely intriguing story.
Due for release date February 2020
Fighter Aces of the Great War
This book looks at the pilots from all sides, and their remarkable acts of bravery. In Britain pilots in the First World War had the somewhat ironic nickname of ‘the twenty minuters,’ this was the average length of time that they were expected to survive for once they had taken to the skies for the first time. Most flying fatalities of the First World War came about not through being shot down in aerial combat, but as a result of flying accidents.
Due for release date November 2019
Hitler’s Air Defence – Rare photographs from Wartime Archives
This is the second book I have written in the Images of War series, and comes about as the result of a personal photograph album of a German soldier who during the Second World War was part of a German Anti-Aircraft battery, who were situated in different theatres of war throughout Europe, including the defence of Germany. These are never before published photographs and are one mans memories of his war time experiences. With the old adage in mind that ‘a picture paints a thousand words,’ the 250 photographs that are included in this book, literally speak volumes.
Due for release date TBA
Japan – The rise and fall of an Empire
Times come and go and life changes accordingly, nowhere else has this been so vividly mirrored than with the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire, which more than seventy years after the end of the Second World War, has once again risen, but this time to become one of the strongest economies in the world. This book looks back over the years to a time when the Emperor of Japan was seen by the countries people, as a living God. It looks at how the country changed from been just a small country to a world power, and how that determination to control the entire Asian continent, eventually led to its very painful downfall. A situation which hung painfully round its neck for many years after the end of the Second World War. The crushing weight of its defeat having a devastating and lasting effect on a once proud nation, which has subsequently risen once again from the ashes like a proud phoenix.
Due for release date March 2020
Air Transport Auxiliary at War: 80th Anniversary of its formation
The Air Transport Auxiliary was a civilian organisation whose job it was to transport aircraft about all over the country. They would collect them from the manufacturer’s and deliver them to the locations that they were required at. These were brave individuals, who had been turned away by the different branches of the military, mostly because of physical ailments which made them unsuitable to undertake military training of any capacity. At least three of them only had one arm. These were individuals who still wanted to do their bit for their country during a time of war, in what ever way that they could.
There were 1,152 male pilots, 166 female pilots, 151 flight engineers, 19 radio operators and 2786 ground crew. By the end of the war 165 of their number would be dead, and between them they were awarded 87 decorations for service and bravery. One of these awards was for the George Medal. When its introduction was announced by the King in 1941, he said the following;
“In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution.”
An enjoyable and interesting read.
Due for release date April 2020
Churchill’s Flawed Decisions: Errors in Office of the Greatest Britain
Winston Churchill was undoubtedly one of the, if not the greatest Britain of all time. He served his country in both world wars, and it is hard to believe that without his steely and determined leadership that Great Britain would have come through the Second World War, victorious. This book is in no way an attempt at besmirching his good name and character, but to look at some of the possible reasons behind why some of his decisions which either turned out badly or were covered up at the time. With great power comes even greater responsibility and in a time of war decisions that are made, nearly always result in somebody dying, everybody understands and appreciates that, even those whose lives are being put at risk. Read the book and see what you think.
Due for release: June 2020.
Etaples – Britain’s notorious Infantry Base Depot – 1914 – 1919
Today Etaples-sur-Mere is better known as a fishing community in the Pas-de-Calais region of France, but during the First World War, it was an important location in the British and Allied war effort. It was a major Allied medical centre, with a plethora of different hospitals catering for the thousands of wounded men that were brought in on a daily basis. It was also a rest camp for British soldiers before they were sent up to the front lines. Mainly because of its many medical facilities, it also became one of the biggest commonwealth cemeteries in France, with some 11,000 graves of those who could not be saved. The town of Etaples was awarded the Cross de Guerre by the French government in 1920, for the part that it played during the First World War. It became the principal depot and transit camp for the British Expeditionary Force in France and also the point to which the wounded were transported. Among the atrocities of that war, the hospitals there were bombed and machine-gunned from the air several times during May 1918.
The military camp had a reputation for harshness and the treatment received by the men there led to the Étaples Mutiny, which came to a head on 9 September 1917 after the arrest of a British Soldier. This book looks at all aspects of Etaples and the 80,000 men who were there, for what ever reason, throughout the duration of the war.
Due for release date: June 2020.
Stalag XXA Thoron – Enforced march Across Europe.
The book looks at events in German occupied Poland 1945, late in the war when Germany was fast becoming a defeated and weary. The book is based on the diary by a man who took part in, and survived the march, making it all the way back home to his family in England. Leonard J Parker’s story of the enforced march, covers between when he left the camp on 19 January 1945 to when he arrived home on 21 April 1945. It makes for a truly interesting read. An insight to the pain and suffering that these men were forced into, as the Allied net closed in on a soon to be defeated Nazi ideology. The story also looks into the conditions in the camp at Thoron and how it came to be.
Due for release date: TBA
The Lancastria Tragedy – Sinking and cover up – 17 June 1940
On 17 June 1940 the HMT Lancastria a requisitioned pre-war Ocean going liner, was sunk off of the French coast near St Nazaire with a massive loss of life of both civilian and military personnel who had been evacuated from France, just a couple of weeks after the evacuations at Dunkirk. The book looks at the events of the sinking, but more importantly the aftermath, which involved an attempted cover up by the British Government to hide what had happened. It also includes first hand accounts of some of those who survived. A powerful story that needs to be told, despite official attempts to prevent this from happening.
Due for release date: June 2020.
Countering Hitler’s Spies: British Military Intelligence 1940 – 1945.
This book looks at Germany’s attempts at utilising a policy of espionage throughout Great Britain during the course of the Second World War. The Abwehr, or the German Military Intelligence Service, tried on many occasions to infiltrate its agents in to Great Britain, in an attempt at gaining any advantage that it could, but they were thwarted on every occasion. Many of the spies were captured almost immediately upon landing, whilst others simply gave themselves up. The story of these now distant days, also includes looking in detail at Latchmere House, the interrogation centre for captured German Agents. The Cage, an interrogation centre for captured senior German officers, and the Twenty Committee, Ml5’s brilliant system of turning captured German Agents, into Double Agents. A great insight in to the war that was fought from behind the desks in Whitehall and other similar locations, by men whose efforts had just as much impact on the war as any General on a battlefield did.
Due for release date: September 2020.
Top Ten Victoria Crosses of the Second World War
What a joy this book is going to be. I have been given carte blanche to look at all of the individuals who were awarded the Victoria Crosses during the Second World War, and determine who I believe were the top ten bravest of the brave. I won’t be writing it in a 1st to 10th order, just the ten who I believe were awarded it in the bravest of circumstances.
I will look at each award in detail and then come up with my top ten
A total of 181 men were awarded the Victoria Cross during the course of the War, every single one of them was merited and well deserved. My choice of a top ten is done purely on a personal and subjective level. You may or may not agree with my choices, but that to a large extent is the enjoyment and the idea of the book. Read it and see what you think.
Due for release date: December 2020.
The Shetland Bus
During the Second World War there was a clandestine special operations unit, nick named the Shetland Bus, which operating out of the Shetland Islands, off of Scotland. They opened up a route across the North Sea to occupied Norway.
It was set up by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Their headquarters was Flemington House, in Weisdale, and the base for their boats was at Lunna House on the peninsular of Lunna Ness in the Shetland Islands, which was also used as the accommodation for the boats crews. In the beginning, Flemmington was also used to train saboteurs and house British Agents who were waiting their turn to travel out to Norway.
The purpose of the Shetland Bus was to move military personnel, agents and equipment backwards and forwards between the Shetland Islands and Nazi occupied Norway. The first journey of the Shetland Bus, left Lunna Ness on 30 August 1941. The last journey of the group arrived in the harbour at Lyngoy near Bergen on 9 May 1945 in what by then was a German free Norway.
The initial transporting was done on a more adhoc basis, when the skippers of boats arriving in Shetland from Norway, were asked if they would then return to Norway with British Agents. In early 1941 this process was formalised with a group of dedicated men and boats being used to continue the operation. They used 14 fishing vessels of different sizes to start with for their operations, although later in the war they changed to using 3 submarine chasers which had a normal cruising speed of 17 knots, and they officially then became part of the Royal Norwegian Navy and were renamed the Royal Norwegian Naval Special Unit.
The two men put in charge of the group were British Army Officer, Major Leslie H Mitchell and his second in command, Lieutenant David Howarth of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Most of the men who sailed the boats were Norwegian fishermen and sailors, who not only knew the waters and had all of the local knowledge, but who could be trusted and who couldn’t once the vessels landed in Norway.
By the end of the war the group had made 198 trips to Norway, dropping of 192 agents and 383 tons of weapons and other supplies. They had brought out 73 agents and 373, mainly Norwegian, refugees. Forty-four of the members of the Shetland Bus were killed.
Other aspects of the book would be the numerous operations the group were involved in, some successful ones and some not so successful. On top of this, there are lots of individuals to write about.
Linked to the story is what was known as The North Sea Traffic. These were unconnected Norwegian civilians who took it upon themselves to use the same route to escape German occupied Norway. The trips began in April 1940. By the end of the war more than 3200 Norwegians had managed to escape in more than 300 different boats of different shapes and sizes. After 26 September 1941 to leave occupied Norway without German authorisation, was punishable by death. 51 individuals met their death after being caught trying to do this, and a further 137 Norwegians perished whilst trying to make the crossing.
Due for release date: March 2021.
Fatal Decisions of the Great War
This is an interesting book in so far as it allows me to somewhat re-write history to what it might have been if different decisions had been made at certain times of the war. It is a book written with the benefit of hindsight very much in mind. It allows me to use the ‘what if’ factor, but aimed more at how many more British lives could have been saved if only things had been done differently, or in some cases not done at all. From my perspective, and from a slightly selfish point of view, with this offering on the history of the First World War, I can comment on history with the help of 100 years of military advancements to argue my point. But don’t panic, this isn’t a pompously written book to try and paint the author out as a military genius, or an attempt at besmirching the names and characters of well intended individuals who did the best that they could at what were extremely difficult times, it is purely and simply a book written with ‘what if’ in mind. After all, history is about learning, no matter who we are. If we have the burning desire to move forward in a positive manner, we have to look back at history to show us the way.
Due for release date: June 2021.
The Blackout Ripper
The Blackout Ripper looks at the true story of a latter day version of Jack the Ripper meets the Yorkshire Ripper. In war time London in a four day period in February 1942, Gordon Fredrick Cummins, brutally murdered four women, three of whom were believed to have been prostitutes. He also attempted to murder two others in the same evening, bringing with it the similarities of the murders of Jack the Ripper in the smog filled streets of the East End of Victorian London. After his subsequent trial and execution, fingerprint evidence linked him to the murder of two other women whose mutilated bodies had been discovered in October 1941.
So what was it that brought an otherwise quiet, unassuming married man to commit such horrors. A man who had no criminal record and had never shown any propensity for such violence, and certainly not towards women. The book examines the possible reasons behind what drove him to commit such violent acts of brutality. It looks at the Court case and some of the characters who were responsible for bringing him to justice.
Due for release date: June 2021.
Victoria Cross Winners of the Korean War
This book looks at the stories of the four British soldiers who, as a result of their acts of gallantry and bravery, were all awarded Britain’s highest military award, the Victoria Cross. Two of the medals were awarded posthumously. The recipient of another died in 1996, whilst the holder of the 4th, Bill Speakman, is still alive and kicking, and is a resident at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, in London
Due for release date: July 2021.
Duelling Through The Ages
Duelling through the Ages looks at the how, when and where it all began. It will also look at the different versions of this age old way of determining perceived slants against an individuals honour. I will explore the different variations of duelling, whether that be by the use of swords or pistols. I will also look at duelling for both men and women, because it certainly wasn’t just a way of settling scores by men, women played their part as well. The book will also look at the wild west gun slingers to see if the myth, legend and truth actually add up, whilst drawing a comparison between the honour based European version with the American way of doing things, which appears to have been more about killing somebody without then been arrested for murder.
Due for release date: August 2021.
Dunkirk 1940: The Aftermath and clean up by the Germans
This is part of the Images of War series of books produced by Penn and Sword. Most of the photographs in this book come from one mans personal photograph album. The man in question, who served with the German Labour Corps, was an officer who had the job of helping to clear up the immediate area of Dunkirk after the evacuation of over 350,000 French, Belgium and British troops from Dunkirk in May 1940. There were so many vehicles, weapons, helmets and other equipment, that were left behind, strewn around the town of Dunkirk as well as on the beaches. There were also the bodies of those who were killed whilst trying to make good their escape, and sunken ships and boats that had fallen victim to the continuous Luftwaffe attacks.
Although the pictures tell their own story, the book also looks at the evacuation and the days leading up to it.
Due for release date: August 2021.
Jochen Peiper and the Nazis Atrocities of 1944
This book tells the story of the massacre at Malmedy in Belgium of American POW’s by elements of the German 1st Panzer Division.
The Malmedy massacre of 84 captured American soldiers from the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion took place on 17 December 1944. Those responsible were from the German 1st Panzer Division. Further massacres of American POW¹s and Belgium civilians, by this same unit took place on 17, 18, 19, 20, 21December 1944, at the nearby Belgium towns and villages of Bullingen. Stavelot, Cheneux, La Gleise and Stoumont. There was also the murder of 11 black American POW¹s that took place at the village of Wereth, also on 17 December 1945, and also by elements of the German 1st Panzer Division.
The man in charge of the unit responsible for these massacres was SS Sturmbannfuhrer Joachim Peiper.
The United States Senate Sub-committee conclude that a total of 362 American soldiers and 111 Belgium civilians were murdered, although other reports claim up to 749 American Pow¹s were murdered.
News of the killings spread quickly, and on New Years day 1945, 60 Wehrmacht prisoners of war were shot dead by American soldiers at the Belgium village of Chenogne. No American soldier was ever punished for the deaths of these men. A post war United States Government official history, stated, ³there is no evidence that American troops took advantage of orders, implicit or explicit, to kill their SS prisoners.² Those responsible for the Chenogne massacre were elements of B Company, the 21st Armoured Infantry Battalion, of the 11th Armoured Division.
On 21 December 1944, during the Battle of La Gleise Major Harold D McCown, an American officer in charge of one of the battalions of the 119th US Infantry Regiment, was captured with his men. Aware of the Malmedy massacre Major McCown, personally asked SS Sturmbannfuhrer Peiper, what was to happen to him and his men. Piper told him that neither he or his men were at any risk of such a fate, and that he was not in the habit of murdering prisoners under his control. McCown testified in Peipers defence at his subsequent trial at Dachauin 1946.
Peiper was tried along with 72 officers and men of his unit. Piper, and 42 others were found guilty and sentenced to death whilst a further 22 were given life sentences. 8 others received shorter prison sentences. All of the death sentences were commuted and the last of the prisoners to be released from prison was Peiper in December 1956, after having served just ten years in prison. On 6 July 1948, a further 10 members of Peipers unit were tried specifically for the murders of Belgium civilians at Stavelot. Two officers were sentenced to 12 and 15 years, whilst the remaining eight each received 10 year sentences.
Remarkably, after his release in 1956, Peiper decided to live in France. He moved to the village of Traves, which is situated in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region of eastern France, on 27 April 1972. His true
identity unknown to his neighbours, that was until 21 June 1976, when he was outed by elements of the French Communist Party. Not surprisingly he received death threats. He sent his family back to Germany, but he remained in Traves. On 14 July 1976 his charred remains were found dead at his burnt out home with a bullet wound to his chest. Those responsible were never identified, with the best guess being either ex members of the French Resistance or the French Communist Party.
Due for release date: December 2021.
Military Police in the Great War
This book looks at the role of the Military Police during the First World War. There had been Military Police in Britain since 1813. By the end of 1918, the numbers of men serving with the ‘Red Caps’ had reached the staggering figure of 25,000. They were split in to two distinct units. The Mounted Military Police and the Military Foot Police. By the time the two Units had merged in 1927, the numbers had dropped to just 508, showing just what a monumental task the First World War was for the Military Police and the numerous duties and roles they were expected to carry out at both at home, and abroad in the numerous theatres of war.
Due for release date: March 2022.
St Nazaire 1942 – The Bravery of Men
The raid on St Nazaire on 28 March 1942, by British Commandos, has gone down in the history of the Second World War, as one of the bravest and most daring acts, ever witnessed. It also saw the most Victoria Crosses awarded in one operation.
To recognise all of the acts of courage, bravery and daring, during the raid, required the awarding of 89 decorations. This total includes the five Victoria Crosses awarded to Lieutenant Commander Beattie, Lieutenant Colonel Newman and Commander Ryder, and posthumous awards to Sergeant Durrant and Able Seaman Savage. Four Distinguished Service Orders were awarded to Major William Copland, Captain Donald Roy, Lieutenant T Boyd and Lieutenant T D L Platt. Other decorations awarded were four Conspicuous Gallantry Medals, five Distinguished Conduct Medals, 17 Distinguished Service Crosses, 11 Military Crosses, 24 Distinguished Service Medals and 15 Military Medals. Four men were awarded the Croix de guerre by France, and another 51 were mentioned in despatches.
So impressed were the Germans by the bravery of the men who they confronted, that a German officer recommended one soldier be awarded the highest award for bravery. The man in question was duly awarded the Victoria Cross as a result of a recommendation made by the German officer.
Due for release date: March 2022.
Dieppe – 1942 – Operation Jubilee – A Learning Curve
This book looks at one of the most audacious Allied raids of the Second World War. On 19 August 1942, Allied troops made up of mainly Canadian infantry units and British Commandos, carried out a daring raid on the town of Dieppe, which is on the Northern coast of France. Of the some 6,000 troops who made it to land, nearly 3,500 of them were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner, which is a staggering amount of men, when taking in to account that from start to finish the operation only lasted for a total of 10 hours.
There has long since been a debate as to whether the operation, was a resounding success, in that lessons were learnt for the future landings in North Africa and Normandy, or was it a devastating defeat because of the amount of casualties, the loss to morale and the poor planning and execution of the operation.
Read it and decide for yourself.
Due for release date: June 2022.
HMS Turbulent – One of Britain’s best submarines of the Second World War
On 23 February 1943 Turbulent sailed from Algiers for a patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea. On 1 March she attacked and sank the Italian steam-ship Vincenz. On 11 March she is known to have attacked the mail ship Mafalda. The following morning the anti-submarine trawler Teti II sighted the periscope and conning tower of a submarine and attacked. Although the success of the attack is not sure, as a matter of fact Turbulent did not respond to any further messages and did not return when expected on 23 March. So, either Turbulent fell victim of the Teti II attack or of a mine off Maddalena, Sardinia.
Although she sank over 90,000 tons of enemy shipping and was depth charged on over 250 occasions by enemy forces hunting her, she had a secret. On 16 August 1942 Nino Bixio and another Italian cargo ship, Sestriere, embarked several thousand UK, Dominion and Allied prisoners of war from the North African Campaign at Benghazi in Libya.
At 16:33 on Monday 17 August HMS Turbulent fired a spread of four torpedoes at the two cargo ships, and then dived deep to evade counter-attack. One torpedo suffered a gyroscope fault and went in circles, passing above the submerged submarine three times.
Sestriere escaped unharmed, but three torpedoes hit Nino Bixio. One exploded in her No 1 hold and another in her engine room. The third did not explode but grazed her rudder badly enough to disable her steering. As a result of the attack, 336 Allied POW’s were killed.
Due for release date: July 2022.
History of the Police use of Firearms
This book looks at the history of the Police use of firearms from the inception of policing to the current day. The world has changed greatly in that time, where the image of the bobby on the beat, maybe holding a pistol that could fire six bullets, is now a combination of Rambo and Robocop. The story will look closely at some of the more high profile Police related shootings of modern times, as well as Police officers who have themselves been killed by gunmen. The author was himself a firearms officer for nearly nine years during his Police career, spending nearly eight years as part of a specialist firearms unit, that dealt with all kinds of firearms related incidents, allowing him to draw any many of those experiences, as well as those of his colleagues whom he worked with.
It makes for an interesting read, written by somebody who was involved in more than a hundred firearms incidents throughout the 1990’s. A first hand account of what it was like to be part of the thin blue line, when a split second decision could literarily mean the difference between life and death.
Due for release date: March 2024.