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Forthcoming Books

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.

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

Air Transport Auxiliary at WarAir 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

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

Victoria Cross Winners of the Korean WarThis 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.

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: September 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.

St Nazaire 1942 – The Bravery of Men

St Nazaire Raid 1942The 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.

Battle of Itter Castle

In May 1945, American American and German troops join forces along with French prisoners who were being held in Itter Castle in Austria, who included former prime ministers, generals and a tennis player, in defending Itter Castle against an attacking force of SS soldiers from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division. The combined efforts of the defenders working together, managed to hold out until the American 142nd Infantry Regiment arrived. More than one hundred SS troops were captured and taken prisoner. A similar amount were killed. The defenders lost only one man.

Due for release date: TBA.

Allied assassination attempts on the life of Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel survived two British attempts during the Second World War, to kill or capture him. These were Operation Flipper, 17/18 November 1941, and Operation Gaff 25 July 1944.

There is a certain irony attached to the fact that the reason why Operation Gaff never went ahead was because he had been wounded when his staff car was straffed by allied aircraft in Normandy, in July 1944.

Despite his usefulness to Nazi Germany Rommel was forced to commit suicide by Adolf Hitler in October 1944, because of his involvement in the 20 July plot to assassinate him.

Due for release date: TBA.

Operation North Pole

“Operation North Pole.” It was a counter intelligence operation set up by the Abwehr, the German military intelligence, during the Second World War. Some 54 agents of Britain’s Special Operations Executive, most of whom were Dutch nationals, were parachuted in to Holland to undertake clandestine operations and assist the Dutch resistance movement. Each one of them was captured soon after they landed, then interrogated before being executed by members of the Gestapo. This went on unabated between August 1940 and April 1943.

Each time an agent was captured his radio transmitter set was utilised by the Abwehr, after they had established the agents’ individual codes. This then allowed them to transmit and receive messages form the SOE. Even though it was obvious by November 1942, that the Dutch agents, if they were still alive, were in German hands, more agents were still sent. The question is, why were they still being sent and knowingly sacrificed.

The fact that nobody appeared to have picked up on what was going on from either the Dutch or British sides, is just absolutely staggering. The operation was only shut down when the Abwehr’s Major Hermann Giskes sent a message to the SOE on 1 April 1944, playfully bemoaning the fact that there had been a distinct lack of agents arriving in Holland in recent times.

There is an argument that the Operation was set up intentionally by the SOE to make the Germans believe that any invasion of German occupied Europe, was going to take place in Holland and not on the beaches of Normandy.

The problem with this argument was that a similar scenario occurred in France, when a British agent with the code name of Prosper, also working for the Special Operations Executive, was captured on 24 June 1943, and executed, but not before the Gestapo had acquired his code and transmitted to the SOE pretending to be him. This led to the arrest of some 30 other SOE agents, who were either executed or met their deaths in concentration camps. This strongly suggests that this was down to poor operating procedures by the SOE rather than a pretence over the location of the intended invasion location of German occupied Europe.

An interesting story, and one which regardless of which version is correct, saw some 80 SOE agents sent to their deaths.

Due for release date: TBA.

History of Stalag Luft lll

Stalag Luft lll, doesn’t just focus on what history has recorded as the Great Escape it looks at the camps entire history from when it opened in March 1942 through to when it was liberated by Soviet forces in January 1945. This also includes visits paid to the camp by members of the Red Cross. The assistance the escapees were given by some of the camp guards. The camps two news papers, the Circuit and the Kriegie Times.

It also includes the full story of New Zealander, Group Captain Leonard Henry Trent VC, DFC, who for most authors is the forgotten man of the Great Escape despite being the seventy-seventh man to escape. The story looks at how close he came to being a posthumous recipient of the VC. His story is even more remarkable given that he was at the time of the escape unaware that he had been given the award.
I will look in detail at the man who came up with the plan, Squadron Leader Roger Bushell of the RAF, and Herbert Massey, the camps senior British officer, who authorised the escape. Group Captain Douglas Wilson, who was the man responsible for ensuring the British authorities were quickly made aware of the murder of 50 Allied prisoners of war. Bushell was one of those who escaped and who was of the 50 who were murdered

The book would also look at the previous escape in October 1943, when Eric Williams, Michael Codner and Oliver Philpot escaped from the camp and actually made it back to the UK.

There were many notable prisoners at Stalag Luft 111, which I will look at including, Czech pilot Josef Bryks, who escaped from 3 German POW camps, helped with the ‘Great Escape’ and ended the war a prisoner at Colditz Castle. He was awarded the British Empire Medal by the British Government for his war time exploits. Peter Stevens, by birth a German Jew, who had escaped Nazi Germany before the war, changing his name from George Franz Hein. He was awarded the Military Cross and managed to keep his true identity a secret from the Germans throughout the war. George Harsh of the Canadian Royal Air Force, and a member of the escape committee at Stalag Luft 111, but before the war he had been a medical student when was sent to prison in America for the murder of a grocer. Whilst in prison he saved the life of another prisoner by performing an emergency appendectomy on him. This resulted in him being pardoned by the Governor of Georgia. He returned to Canada where he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving as a rear gunner. He was shot down and captured in 1942.

All of the well known aspects of the escape will also be included, as well as looking at how realistic and accurate the 1963 film, the Great Escape was.

The book would not be complete without looking at Paul Brickhill, an Australian fighter pilot, who was a prisoner at the camp from 1943 until liberation, who in 1950 wrote the book that went on to become the 1963 film, the Great Escape.

Due for release date: TBA.

 

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