Book Review Round Up
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- Last updated: 08/11/2023
No history of the Burma campaign would be complete without mention of the Imphal and Kohima battles, which the author covers and relates the importance of air support given to the British during the fighting. Apart from the well-planned and coordinated ‘Operation Capital’, he includes many other operations launched during the campaign, including ‘Character’, an all-arms campaign with aircraft and naval support given to the armies, such as that provided to the amphibious landings of the Indian 26th Division. Another less familiar operation mentioned is the on-off-on again ‘Operation Dracula’, which was finally launched on 2 May 1945 and involved Gurkha parachute forces landing around Rangoon. To highlight the intensity of the fighting, the author features how Lt. Knowland won the Victoria Cross during the Arakan phase, in January 1945. This is a riveting and absorbing work that will satisfy anyone with an interest in the Far East theatre of operations in WWII.
So many books have been written on the Blitz, which may make readers wonder if there’s anything new left to say. In the case of this work, the way in which it is presented gives this chapter of the war a freshness to engage the reader from the start, and it works well. Germany entered the war with an entirely new air force, which had gained experience during the Spanish Civil War. The RAF posed a more determined adversary supported by an infrastructure of air defences. The aircraft of both sides are examined, and British defences are described in depth, as well as the technicalities developed to defeat Germany’s electronic warfare devices, including the Knickebein and X-Great systems. This is a good solid read, well supported with maps showing areas of London and the number of times they were attacked. Other cities attacked are not forgotten, nor is the small role played by the Italian air force.
As the likelihood of war approached, Britain began to make preparations, which included raising the Women’s Land Army in April 1939 to help farmers when men went to war. Between 1939 and 1945, some 80,000 women from all walks of life served in the role, which helped feed the country. Never as glamorous as the ATS, WRNS, or WAAF, it nevertheless had an appeal about it. The hours were long, but the friendships forged between members of this largely unsung movement lasted a lifetime. Told by the women who were involved, relating conditions and their experiences, this is a revealing work. The WLA has never been forgotten, but it is not as well recognised as branches of the armed forces. Despite that, it has a following among re-enactment groups and collectors who will welcome this new work as reference material and a very fine read.
Even before America entered WWI in 1917, it had been examining designs for armoured cars, so by the time the US Army went to war, some troops had experience with armoured vehicles. During the inter-war period, the US Army lost interest in them until the mid-1930s, when potential designs were examined. These aspects are used as an introduction to the main theme of this well-illustrated work, which is the M8 Armoured Car and its variants. The vehicle is one of the most recognised of WWII and even today enthusiasts know it well, with many in private ownership. This is almost a technical manual for owners, discussing development, main armament and ammunition types, mechanical aspects, and operational roles. All supported with official photographs. A fine reference work for vehicle enthusiasts, and there is sufficient material for modellers who will enjoy this book on one of the most popular vehicles of WWII.