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.
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 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
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 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: TBA.
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: TBA.
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.
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.
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.
The Battle for Crete
The book looks at the Massacre of Kondomari, where male civilians from the village of Kondomari were executed. On 20 May 1942 German paratroopers landed at 3 different locations on the island, one being Kondomari. During the subsequent fighting, 400 out of 600 paratroopers were killed by local civilians. The exact number of Creatians who were murdered varies between 23 and 60.
There were further massacres at the village of Alikianos and Kandanos.
The man in charge of the Xl Fliegerkorps paratroopers, who carried out these atrocities was General Kurt Student, who amazingly was not charged with these murders at the post war Nuremberg trials.
The book also looks at the overall battle for Crete.
Due for release date: TBA.