- By Pete Moore
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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
Life In The War
The trouble with most multiple disc sets of DVDs is that they have to be bought as a complete set. This four-disc history from Timereel is different with each title being available as a separate disc. This allows one to buy either the title which is of interest to the viewer or to build up the set in one’s own time as they can afford it, not that they are overly-priced for the material these fi lms contain.
Each title is self-explanatory in its content and between them the four titles take the viewer from the years of tension leading up to the outbreak of war through to VE Day. Original footage, some previously unreleased because it was deemed too sensitive at the time and censored, is intermixed with eyewitness accounts. These take the form of civilians who went through the Blitz or were evacuees, emergency service workers and most unusual the aspects from crew of German bomber aircraft. Black and white footage was the common format for cinemas of the period but here the producers have included colour footage which is very rare. The pre-war preparations Britain put in place is very interesting. For example; did you know London taxis were used by the fi re brigade? The narrator explains the change in peoples’ attitude from one of cynical mockery towards to Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) before the Blitz to one of deep gratitude when the bombing started. The fi lms cover the casualties caused when bombs hit air raid shelters as well as the more cheerful ‘…we can take it…’ image for the cinema newsreels at the time.
The fact that the discs can be bought as individual fi lms is a great idea, but once one title in the series has been viewed you will want to see the rest. As points of reference for re-enactors portraying Home Front this is great research material and students studying WW II will do well to watch these important fi lms, also.
Einheitsfeldmutze; A Pictorial Study Of The German
If you want to get ahead, get a hat, so goes the old saying. Well, if you want to collect German army headdress of WW II you had better equip yourself with this book which is set to become the defi nitive work for collecting the fi eld cap. The previous work by Daniel Fisher covered the uniforms and headdress of the Afrika Korps 1940- 1943, here he is joined by fellow militaria collector, Oliver Lock, to produce a most handsomely illustrated work.
There are hundreds of illustrations showing the ‘einheitsfeldmutze’ in all its forms, including army, navy and air force, along with police, SS and other branches of service. The original wartime photographs show how the cap was worn in regulation style and informally at a ‘jaunty’ angle. The full-size images of the caps which fi ll a whole plate look as though they could be lifted from the page and worn. There are rarities such as the reversible camouflage pattern SS version and the so-called ‘Dachau’ type. Collectors using this as a reference work, with its highly detailed close-up photography, will be able to compare exactly the stitching, badges, the weave of the cloth and the cut to identify precisely the style of the headdress and evaluate the authenticity. If you thought there was just a basic standard cap this will make you think again and reconsider the whole German army headdress. Full of personal accounts and helpful hints this is an encyclopaedic work covering an otherwise overlooked point of German army uniform. Reliable information and at a reasonable price too.
the Browning Automatic Rifle
When is a machine gun not a machine gun? Answer; when it is the Browning Automatic Rifle. The eponymous weapon of the book title is well-known to a wide range of re-enactors, weapon collectors and enthusiasts alike and really requires no introduction. It is one of those rare weapons which became a legend in its service life. Referred to familiarly by the troops simply as the ‘BAR’ it has been used since the First World War and through to the Vietnam War. However, its greatest notoriety was when used by American gangsters during the inter-war period, such as Bonnie and Clyde along with John Dillinger. The author takes the reader through all these episodes in the BAR’s history and even includes its fi lmography such as Saving Private Ryan and Kelly’s Heroes. He treats the subject respectfully and sensibly giving the reader a work which demands to be read from cover to cover. The photographs are very good, especially the combat images, even if some are obviously posed. The cut-away artwork is instructional and more should have been made of this, unlike the full plate artwork which in this volume is below standard compared to other titles in the Weapon series.
New books which are of direct interest to the widest possible readership is always welcome news, especially if the subject is a versatile one such as this title from Haynes. The latest title in the company’s series of ‘”Owners’ Workshop Manuals”, is “Sherman Tank” sub-titled ‘1941 onwards (all M4 variants) will have an appeal to modellers and at the end of the spectrum the vehicle owners themselves. The author is well-known to vehicle owners and his opinions are highly respected. The book covers all versions of the Sherman including the M11 ‘Achilles’ tank destroyer, Canadian Ram or Kangaroo, and the various types developed for the D-Day landings in June 1944 such as the Duplex Drive or ‘DD’ tanks which could swim ashore. The illustrations are very informative and the line drawings from the original manuals are a great idea for maintenance reference. Aspects of the Sherman, such as the suspension which is normally not visible, are shown clearly in this manual along with other interior shots. The Sherman continued in service long after the war, the Israeli army used them in their wars in 1967 and again in 1973. Maintenance manuals for the Sherman are available, either original or reprinted versions, but this reference work provides details of contacts points on the Internet to obtain spare parts or even complete Sherman tanks. For owners this is an invaluable reference work and for anyone looking to buy a Sherman this is an essential starting point.