In the winter of 1812, Napoleon's army retreated from Moscow under appalling conditions, hunted by three separate Russian armies, its chances of survival apparently nil. By late November Napoleon had reached the banks of the River Berezina—the last natural obstacle between his army and the safety of the Polish frontier. But instead of finding the river frozen solid enough to march his men across, an unseasonable thaw had turned the Berezina into an icy torrent. Having already ordered the burning of his bridging equipment, Napoleon's predicament was serious enough: but with the army of Admiral Chichagov holding the opposite bank, and those of Kutusov and Wittgenstein closing fast, it was critical. Only a miracle could save him ... In a gripping narrative Alexander Mikaberidze describes how Napoleon rose from the pit of despair to the peak of his powers in order to achieve that miracle. Drawing on contemporary sources—letters, diaries, memoirs—he recreates one of the greatest escapes in military history—a story often half-told in general histories of the Russian campaign but never before fully explored.
Vincigliata Castle, a menacing medieval fortress set in the beautiful Tuscan hills, has become a very special prisoner of war camp on Benito Mussolini’s personal order. Within are some of the most senior officers of the Allied army, guarded by almost two hundred Italian soldiers and a vicious fascist commando who answers directly to “Il Duce” Mussolini himself. Their unbelievable escape, told by Mark Felton in Castle of the Eagles, is a little-known marvel of World War II. By March 1943, the plan is ready: this extraordinary assemblage of middle-aged POWs has crafted civilian clothes, forged identity papers, gathered rations, and even constructed dummies to place in their beds, all in preparation for the moment they step into the tunnel they have been digging for six months. How they got to this point and what happens after is a story that reads like fiction, supported by an eccentric cast of characters, but is nonetheless true to its core.
This is the second book in a series of two, covering the events at sea during the German invasion of Norway in 1940, the first modern campaign in which sea, air and ground forces interacted decisively.Part one covers the events at sea off southern and western Norway where Norwegian and British forces attempted to halt the German advance out of the invasion ports as well as the stream of supplies and reinforcements across the Skagerrak. The second part focuses on the British landings in Central Norway where the Royal Navy for the first time had its mastery challenged by air superiority from land-based aircraft. Part three covers the events in and around Narvik where Norwegian, British, French and Polish naval, air and land forces were engaged in the first combined amphibious landings of WW II. Part four sums up the events during the evacuation in June, in which the first carrier task force operations of the war, including the loss of the carrier Glorious, figure prominently. As in the first volume, the narration shifts continuously between the strategic and operational issues, and the experiences of the officers and ratings living through the events. Extensive research and use of primary sources reveals the many sides of this war, some of which remain controversial to this day.
In the late nineteenth century, the British Empire commanded the seas and possessed a vast Indian Empire, as well as other extensive dominions in South East Asia, Australasia, America and Africa.To secure the trade route to the glittering riches of the orient, the port of Berbera in Somaliland was taken from the feeble grasp of an Egyptian monarch, and to secure that port, treaties were concluded with the fierce and warlike nomad tribes who roamed the inhospitable wastes of the hinterland, unequivocally granting them 'the gracious favour and protection of the Queen'. But there arose in that wilderness a man of deep and unalterable convictions; the Sayyid, the 'Mad Mullah', who utilised his great poetic and oratorical gifts with merciless and unrelenting fury to convince his fellow nomads to follow him in an anti- Christian and anti-colonial crusade. At great expense, four Imperial expeditions were sent to crush him and to support his terrified opponents; four times the military genius of the Sayyid eluded them.It was at this point that the rising voice of Winston Churchill convinced his Liberal colleagues to abandon the expensive contest and retreat to the coast. By this betrayal, one third of the British 'protected' population perished.It wasn't until after the Great War that Churchill, now Minister for both War and Air, as well as a major influence in the rise of Air Power, was able to redeem this betrayal. The part he played in the destruction of the Sayyid's temporal power at this point was substantial, and the preservation of the Royal Air Force was also secured. By unleashing Sir Hugh Trenchard and giving his blessing to a lightning campaign, his original betrayal was considered to be redeemed in part and his honour belatedly and inexpensively restored.In this enthralling volume, Roy Irons brings to life this period of dynamic unrest, drawing together a number of historical accounts of the time as well as an evocative selection of illustrative materials, including maps and portraits of the main players at the forefront of the action. Personalities such as Carton de Wiart, Lord Ismay, and the much decorated Sir John 'Johnny' Gough, VC, KCB, CHG feature, as do the vaunted Camel Corps, in this eminently well-researched narrative account of this eventful and controversial episode of world history.As featured in Essence Magazine.
A valued adviser and trusted insider in the highest echelon of U.S. military and political leaders, General Walter Bedell Smith began his public service career of more than forty years at age sixteen, when he joined the Indiana National Guard. His bulldog tenacity earned him an opportunity to work with General George C. Marshall in 1941, playing an essential role in forming the offices of the Combined and Joint Chiefs of Staff; and after his appointment as chief of staff to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1942, Smith took a central part in planning and orchestrating the major Allied operations of World War II in Europe. Among his many duties, Smith negotiated and signed the surrenders of the Italian and German armed forces on May 7, 1945. Smith's postwar career included service as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and undersecretary of state. Despite his contributions to twentieth-century American military and diplomatic history, the life and work of Smith have largely gone unappreciated. In Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith, D. K. R. Crosswell offers the first full-length biography of the general, including insights into his close relationships with Marshall and Eisenhower. Meticulously researched and long overdue, Beetle sheds new light on Eisenhower as supreme commander and the campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and Europe . Beetle is the fascinating history of a soldier, diplomat, and intelligence chief who played a central role in many decisions that altered mid-twentieth-century American history.
In this pioneering and original book, Anthony Seldon and David Walsh study the impact that the public schools had on the conduct of the Great War, and vice versa. Drawing on fresh evidence from 200 leading public schools and other archives, they challenge the conventional wisdom that it was the public school ethos that caused needless suffering on the Western Front and elsewhere. They distinguish between the younger front-line officers with recent school experience and the older 'top brass' whose mental outlook was shaped more by military background than by memories of school.??The Authors argue that, in general, the young officers' public school education imbued them with idealism, stoicism and a sense of service. While this helped them care selflessly for the men under their command in conditions of extreme danger, it resulted in their death rate being nearly twice the national average.??This poignant and thought-provoking work covers not just those who made the final sacrifice, but also those who returned, and?whose lives were shattered as a result of their physical and psychological wounds. It contains a wealth of unpublished detail about public school life before and during the War, and how these establishments and the country at large coped with the devastating loss of so many of the brightest and best. Seldon and Walsh conclude that, 100 years on, public school values and character training, far from being concepts to be mocked, remain relevant and that the present generation would benefit from studying them and the example of their predecessors.??Those who read Public Schools and the Great War will have their prevailing assumptions about the role and image of public schools, as popularised in Blackadder, challenged and perhaps changed.
The career of the French general Maxime Weygand offers a fascinating glimpse into the perils and politics of military leadership and loyalty in the interwar years and after France’s defeat in 1940. Of obscure birth, Weygand had an outstanding career during WWI as chief of staff for Marshal Foch and served France after the war in Poland and Syria before returning home. Alarmed by Nazi Germany’s rearmament, Weygand locked horns with a political leadership skeptical of the growing military threat, leading to accusations that his desire for a strong army was anti-democratic. With German invaders again threatening Paris, Weygand argued for armistice rather than face certain military defeat. No friend of the newly-installed Vichy government, Weygand was soon shuffled off to North Africa, where he plotted the army’s return to the Allied cause. After the German entry into Unoccupied France, Weygand was imprisoned. Released at war’s end, he was rearrested on the orders of Charles de Gaulle and afterwards fought to restore his name. In this concise biography, Anthony Clayton traces the vertiginous changes in fortune of a soldier whose loyalty to France and to the French army was unwavering.