Adrian Carton de Wiart’s autobiography is one of the most remarkable of military memoirs. He was intended for the law, but abandoned his studies at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1899 to serve as a trooper in the South African War. Carton de Wiart’s extraordinary military career embraced service with the Somaliland Camel Corps (1914-15), liaison officer with Polish forces (1939), membership of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia (1941), a period as a prisoner of war (1941-43), and three years as Churchill’s representative to Chiang Kai-shek (1943-46). (Churchill was a great admirer.) During the Great War, besides commanding the 8th Glosters, Carton de Wiart was GOC 12 Brigade (1917) and GOC 105 Brigade (April 1918). Both these commands were terminated by wounds. He was wounded eight times during the war (including the loss of an eye and a hand), won the VC during the Battle of the Somme, was mentioned in dispatches six times, and was the model for Brigadier Ben Ritchie Hook in the Sword of Honour trilogy of Evelyn Waugh.
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.
The generation that reached maturity in the inter war years had grown up in the shadow of the heroic age of Polar exploration and the sacrifices of a generation in the Great War. Their own adventures were to prove as astonishing and heroic as those of a previous generation. The members of the British Arctic air route expedition to Greenland, including Martin Lindsay, Quintin Riley and Freddie Spencer Chapman, were to pioneer the weather research methods necessary for Trans-Atlantic Flight. The university expeditions to Spitsbergen led by George Binney in the 1920s and Sandy Glen in the 1930s traversed and surveyed unexplored ground and contributed to developments in polar flight and radar. Glen's expeditions added to the knowledge of Arctic conditions by over-wintering. Other pre-war exploits of these adventurers included a voyage around the world the wrong way, and participation in the British Graham Land Antarctic expedition. Peter Fleming, brother to the creator of James Bond - Ian Fleming - spent the 1930s exploring Brazil, China and Tartary. Fleming's exploits are recounted in detail in this book. The character, skills and endurance obtained in these years set these adventurers and explorers apart as men who were to play a distinguished and heroic role in the Second World War. Their expertise in Arctic conditions, small boat handling, and exploring in all climatic conditions resulted in their participation in all aspects of warfare and arenas of battle, particularly as exponents of 'special operations', and as key members of Britain's first special forces. Their war service took them from the fjords of Norway and Spitsbergen to the jungles of Burma and Malaya and the beaches of Normandy and Italy. They were involved in blockade running, covert operations in Yugoslavia, Corsica and France and took part in major initiatives such as Ian Fleming's Intelligence gathering force, No 30 Assault unit, and the raid on St Nazaire. Most of these men had known each other before war came in 1939. In some cases they ended up serving alongside one another in wartime. The intertwined stories of these characters in peace and war are examples of how the spirit of adventure shown by men in the inter war years contributed to Britain's outstanding role in the Second World War. Linda Parker has written an important study that is equally relevant to both the history of British exploration and the genesis and early days of Britain's special forces 1939-45 - a quite unique and hitherto unexamined relationship. Linda Parker combines teaching History on a part time basis with her writing, and is currently completing a PhD at Birmingham University. Her main areas of interest are 20th Century Military History, Church History and the History of Polar exploration. She is a member of the Western Front Association. She was born and educated in Wales, but now lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and their dog. She enjoys walking and travelling, ideally together, and her ambition is to visit Antarctica. Her first book published by Helion was The Whole Armour of God: Anglican Army Chaplains in the Great War (2009).
The British campaign in Norway in 1940 was an ignominious and abject failure. It is perhaps best known as the fiasco which directly led to the fall of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his replacement by Winston Churchill. But what were the reasons for failure? Why did the decision makers, including Churchill, make such poor decisions and exercise such bad judgement? What other factors played a part? John Kiszely draws on his own experience of working at all levels in the military to assess the campaign as a whole, its context and evolution from strategic failures, intelligence blunders and German air superiority to the performance of the troops and the serious errors of judgement by those responsible for the higher direction of the war. The result helps us to understand not only the outcome of the Norwegian campaign but also why more recent military campaigns have found success so elusive.
En forholdsvis nyforsket redegørelse for det, som det, som anmelderne benævner den ødelæggende og inkompetente allierede kampagne, som franske og engelske styrker, støttet af nordmændene udførte til Norges forsvar i 1940. Der er fokus på politiske og militære fejl i kampagnen og dennes konsekvenser.