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France
Finland
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Books - Second World War - By Country

France

Agent Michael Trotobas and SOE in Northern France, Steward Kent & Nick Nicholas. A compelling account of the creation of one of the more successful SOE circuits in northern France, the death of its charismatic leader and creator, and its activities after his death. Includes a satisfying large amount of information about the ‘Farmer’ circuit’s operations, as well as the events that led to Trotobas’s death. Also provides an insight into the problems that can be caused by placing unsuitable agents into the field, where everyone had to trust each other, often under intense pressure(Read Full Review)
Setting France Ablaze - the SOE in France during WWII, Peter JacobsSetting France Ablaze - the SOE in France during WWII, Peter Jacobs. Looks at the activities of SOE in the organisation’s main theatre of operations, tracing the slow and often costly expansion of SOE’s activities, which finally paid off in 1944, when the organisation’s networks helped to delay and distract the Germans at key moments, slowing down the arrival of reinforcements in Normandy and forcing the Germans to leave troops in less important areas. Perhaps has a little too much focus on the failures and the loss of so many agents, but otherwise a good account of the organisation’s activities(Read Full Review)
Traditional Enemies - Britain's War with Vichy France 1940-1942, John D Grainger. Looks at the series of battles between Vichy France and Britain between the fall of France in 1940 and Operation Torch at the end of 1942. Politically well balanced, acknowledging the genuine motives behind each British attack and the difficult balancing act the Vichy government was attempting but failing to pull off, and with good accounts of the military actions. [read full review]
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The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-39, Robert A. Doughty. Looks at the problems faced by the French army between the wars, the doctrine of the methodical battle that was developed in an attempt to solve those problems, the structure of the French high command, and the debate over the correct use of tanks. A surprisingly interesting book that looks at the perfectly understandable reasons why the French army adopted the plans that led to disaster in 1940. [read full review]
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Finland

Hitler's Arctic War - The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940-1945, Chris Mann and Christer Jörgensen. Covers the fighting in Norway and Finland and the far north of the Soviet Union, from the Winter War to the victorious Soviet campaign that forced the Finns to change sides, as well as the battles around the Arctic Convoys, portrayed here as one of the great ‘missed chances’ of the German war effort. An interesting attempt to cover a wide range of topics loosely connected by their geographical location(Read Full Review)
Hitler's Nordic Ally? Finland and the Total War 1939-1945, Claes Johansen. A wide ranging examination of Finland's two wars with the Soviet Union, the period leading up to the Winter War, the uneasy peace, and the aftermath of the wars, looking at the political debate within Finland, the fighting, and the wider impact of the war in the other Nordic countries. Especially interesting for the light it shines on the rather murky period between the two wars, where parts of the Finnish government entered into a de-facto alliance with Germany without the authority to do so, and on the varying Soviet aims. [read full review]
Finland's War of Choice - The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II, Henrik O. Lunde. A history of the Finnish 'Continuation War', which found the Finns fighting alongside the Germans in the Soviet Union, a democracy fighting alongside a dictatorship in perhaps the most brutal conflict in history. Looks at the background to Finnish entry into the war, their confused war aims, the course of the fighting and the eventual Finnish attempts to exit the war and survive as an independent nation. [read full review]
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Germany

The Third Reich is Listening – Inside German codebreaking 1939-45, Christian Jennings. An excellent study of the largely successful German codebreaking efforts of the Second World War, which in many ways equalled the achievements of their more famous Allied opponents. Gives us a good history of German codebreaking, its wartime structures (with ten different agencies involved!), how the Allied and neutral codes worked and how they were broken into, and how the results of all of this work were used (or squandered) by the German military. Goes a long way to rebalancing a picture dominated by the Allied codebreakers (Read Full Review)
Blood and Soil – the Memoir of a Third Reich Brandenburger, Sepp de Giampietro. Looks at the wartime career of a German from the South Tyrol who ended up leaving Italy to join the Bradenburgers, Germany’s most famous Special Forces unit of the Second World War. Heprovides interesting accounts of his role in Greece and the Soviet Union, almost entirely ignores his year fighting partisans in the Balkans, and finishes with a fascinating account of his escape from American captivity and return home. Combines an interesting account of German special operations with an examination of how the author’s attitude to the war changed over time.(Read Full Review)
Hitler’s Eastern Legions 1942-45, Nigel Thomas. Looks at the units raised by the Germans in the far eastern part of the conquests – the Caucasus, Turkestan, Volga and Crimea, with lots of information on their uniforms, organisation, locations, insignia etc squeezed into the space, but apparently no room to discuss any war crimes committed by these units.(Read Full Review)
SS: Roll of Infamy - A Biographical Guide to Leading Members of the SS, Christopher Ailsby. Brings together biographies of SS members from every branch of that vast, appalling organisation, from the staff of the extermination camps to the many war criminals of the Waffen-SS. Demonstrates the dreadful scale of the atrocities committed by the SS, from the extermination camps to the murder of civilians across occupied Europe or of POWs on every front (Read Full Review)
Hitler's Last Levy in East Prussia, Bruno Just. A difficult combination of a useful war diary and a troublesome introduction. The diary covers the struggles of a Volkssturm unit fighting in East Prussia, and rings true, but the introduction is appalling biased, distorting the nature of the war, exaggerating Soviet war crimes and ignoring the far worse German crimes. Worthwhile for Just’s account of the last few months of the war and the heavy cost paid by the Volkssturm for Hitler’s determination to fight to the last man, and his harsh criticism of the Nazi party and its leadership(Read Full Review)
Escaping Hitler - A Jewish Boy's Quest for Freedom and his Future, Phyllida Scrivens. The fascinating story of Gunter Stern, a Jewish boy from the rural Rhineland to came to Britain on one of the ‘kindertransports’, where he became Joe Stirling, served in the Army and later became a Labour Politian, and a very successful businessman, Sheriff of Norwich and charity fundraiser with the Lions Clubs. You’ll struggle to find a better case for the benefits of immigration!(Read Full Review)
Kleinkrieg - The German Experience with Guerrilla Warfare, from Clausewitz to Hitler, Charles D. Melson. An examination of the German attitude to Guerrilla Warfare during the Second World War, centred on a reprint of two original documents – Kleinkrieg of 1935 and the wartime ‘Fighting the Guerrilla Bands’ of 1944. Both give an insight into the German techniques of anti-guerrilla warfare, the first giving some idea of the pre-war attitudes, the second the practical methods used(Read Full Review)
Professor Porsche’s Wars, Karl Ludvigsen. A study of the military aspects of Fredinand Porsche’s career, spanning a wide range of activities from First World War artillery tractors to the vast Maus tank, and including his most successful military design, the Beetle based Kubelwagen. A well balanced account of a long and active career that actually produced a surprisingly small number of militarily significant products.(Read Full Review)
German Military Vehicles of World War II, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Main focus is on soft skinned, unarmed vehicles - trucks, cars, bikes etc, but also covers half tracks and armoured cars. For me the soft skinned section is a useful reference, if a bit dry, while the half track and armoured car section is more interesting, covering some of the more famous combat vehicles of the Second World War as well as their less successful contemporaries (Read Full Review)
The Third Reich Bravery and Merit Decoration for Eastern Peoples, Rolf Michaelis. A short book that looks at an award originally designed for eastern volunteers not qualified to receive standard German awards, with a brief history of the award (including tracing its development into an award available to German troops serving with Eastern units) and a plates selection that includes pictures of the award, soldiers wearing the reward and the paperwork associated with it (Read Full Review)
The Lions of Carentan: Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6, 1943-1945, Volker Griesser. A unit history that perhaps tells you more about the paratroops saw themselves than the reality of their war, although the eyewitness accounts are often more honest, reflecting the often desperate fighting that saw the unit pushed back from Normandy into the heart of Germany, suffering massive casualties on the way. Covers the German seizure of Rome, D-Day and the fighting in Normandy, the attacks on the land corridor leading to Arnhem and the final defensive battles in Germany (Read Full Review)
The Gestapo - A History of Hitler's Secret Police, 1933-45, Rupert Butler . More of a general history of Nazi repression than a focused study of the Gestapo, with a tendency to focus on the major events - the Röhn Purge, the career of Heydrich, the attempts to assassinate Hitler and not on the day-to-day activities of the Gestapo. Good on the areas it covers, and does include a fair amount of material on the Gestapo, but could have been better focused [read full review]
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SS-Leibstandarte: The History of the First SS Division, 1933-45, Rupert Butler. Looks at the history of the Leibstandarte, Hitler's bodyguard and later the first SS Division. The Leibstandarte gained an impressive military reputation (after a ropey start), but also committed war crimes on almost every front it served, including mass murder in the east, the murder of British and French POWs in 1940 and US POWs in 1944, and of villagers in Italy [read full review]
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Hitler's Swedes, A History of the Swedish Volunteers in the Waffen-SS, Lars T. Larsson. A detailed study of the motives and experiences of the comparatively small number of Swedes who volunteered for service with the Waffen SS during the Second World War, a group of just under 200 men, most of whom ended up fighting on the Eastern Front. Covers the stories of 144 of them in some detail, providing both a snapshot of the experiences of the SS on the Eastern Front, and an insight into why anyone from a safely neutral country would volunteer for the SS [read full review]
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Victory was Beyond Their Grasp, Douglas E. Nash. A history of the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division, based around the company records of Fusilier Company 272, and tracing the unit from its formation, through the bitter fighting in the Hürtgen Forest, and on to the brief defence of the Rhine and the final chaotic retreat into the heart of Germany. An excellent history of a division that suffered a huge number of casualties, with the Fusilier Company alone suffered over 200% casualties [read full review]
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Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes, James Pontolillo . A very valuable study of the many crimes committed by almost every unit of the Waffen-SS, demonstrating that the original 'classic' German units were by far the worst offenders, and that the Waffen-SS committed war crimes in every theatre of the war, and in every year of the conflict. Finishes with an examination of the reasons for these crimes and the various excuses used by various apologists and deniers. [read full review]
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Death of the Leaping Horseman: The 24th Panzer Division in Stalingrad, Jason D. Marks. A day by day history of the 24th Panzer Division taking it from the approaches to Stalingrad to the day that the Russian offensive that trapped the Germans in the city began. Rather too one sided, but does go a good job of tracing the first part of the destruction of this unit. A shame that it finishes before the battle is completely over [read full review]
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Leaders of the Storm Troops: Vol I, Michael D. Miller & Andreas Schulz. Looks at the senior leadership of the SA, covering the ten men who served as head of the organisation and the first half of the Obergruppenführers, the equivalent of lieutenant-generals within the organisation. Paints a picture of a very varied group, with members ranging from major war criminals to members of the German resistance. The first part of a very useful reference work on this key group within the Nazi hierarchy [read full review]
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SS: Hitler's Foreign Divisions - Foreign Volunteers in the Waffen-SS, 1940-45, Chris Bishop. Looks at the surprisingly large number of foreign troops who fought with the SS during the Second World War, starting with a country-by-country examination of the motivation, scale and organisation of recruitment, and then turning to a unit by unit account of their often rather unimpressive combat record. Covers a mix of units, including a handful of high qualify front line divisions but far more vicious anti-partisan units with dreadful records and late war units thrown together as the Nazi empire crumbled. [read full review]
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The Combat History of 21. Panzer Division, Werner Kortenhaus. Looks at the history of the 'new' 21. Panzer Division and its battles in Normandy, against the Americans in Alsace and Lorraine and on the Eastern Front. Written by a veteran of the division, initially just after the war and then revised in 1989-90, this is an absolutely excellent unit history, covering these events from the German point of view, but without the sort of bias so often present in this sort of book. [read full review]
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Germany's Secret Masterplan, Chris McNab. . Looks at how the Nazis came to power, what they did to German society once in power, and what they did and planned to do in the conquered territories. Covering the pre-war and wartime periods, with some material on the Nazi plans for a post-victory world. Also has sections on rearmament and on some of the more advanced weapons planned or produced in the Third Reich. [read full review]
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Hitler's Alpine Headquarters, James Wilson. Fascinating reproductions of German postcards marred by a rather annoying text that is far too impressed with the Nazis and their 'achievements' in the Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden areas. If the text is taken as an example of the sort of propaganda that the German people were subjected at the time then the postcards themselves can be appreciated for their historical value. [read full review]
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The German Fallschirmtruppe 1936-41- Its Genesis and Employment in the First Campaigns of the Wehrmacht, Karl-Heinz Golla. A hugely detailed account of the combat deployment of the German paratroops from Poland to Crete, covering their successes and the flaws and failures of their campaigns. Suffers from a tendency to repeat some wartime German propaganda, but still a very useful research tool. [read full review]
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The Scourge of the Swastika - A Short History of Nazi War Crimes, Lord Russell of Liverpool. Somewhat controversial when it was first published in the 1950s, this now serves as a very clear and accurate account of the German war crimes written by a legal expert who was involved in the war crime trials. A very good answer to anyone who tries to defend the crimes of the German war machine during the Second World War. [read full review]
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Kill Hitler - Operation Valkyrie 1944, Neil Short. An interesting approach to the 1944 attempt to kill Hitler, looking at the entire coup attempt, from the initial planning, through the assassination attempt and on to the bodged coup in Berlin. Benefits greatly from the decision to focus more on the coup than the bombing, which means it covers some less familiar ground. [read full review]
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Spying for the Führer: Hitler's Espionage Machine, Christer Jörgensen. Looks at the full range of German intelligence agencies of the Second World War, their successes and failures and the vicious infighting that helped reduce their efficiency around the world. Includes the familiar stories of Allied double agents and successes, but also the less well known German successes, especially early in the war and around the world. [read full review]
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Servants of Evil - Voices from Hitler's Army, Bob Carruthers. A selection of first hands accounts of their experiences written by members of the German army, the U-boat arm of the navy and the Luftwaffe, tracing the rise and fall of the Nazi war machine. Fascinating both for the experiences of the writers and for its insight into their misconceptions and the impact Nazi propaganda had on them. [read full review]
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Secret Weapons: Death Rays, Doodlebugs and Churchill's Golden Goose, Brian J. Ford. A good popular history of the secret weapons of the Second World War, the scientific research behind them, their effect on the war (if any) and their impact on the post-war world. Covers a wide range of projects from all of the major combatants, includes good sections on the code breakers, rocketry and the nuclear bomb. [read full review]
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The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror, Gordon Williamson. Looks at the full history of the SS, including its formation, the Waffen SS fighting units and the many other sections of the organisation, including the SD, the Gestapo, the concentration camps and the vast industrial empires it controlled. [read full review]
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Images of War: Hitler's Boy Soldiers, The Hitlerjugend Story, Hans Seidler. A photographic history of the Hitlerjugend's role in the German war machine, from pre-war training to the raising and virtual destruction of the 12.SS Panzer Division 'Hitlerjugend', finishing with the German use of Hitlerjugend as child soldiers in the last battles of the war. A good collection of interesting pictures, although with some flaws in the captions. [read full review]
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Elite Panzer Strike Force: Germany's Lehr Division in World War II, Franz Kurowski. A history of the Panzer Lehr Division in Normandy, on the Westwall and during the Battle of the Bulge, a period when Germany was on the back foot, and the Panzers were almost always used in a defensive role. Mixes a good narrative with some interesting personal memories. [read full review]
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Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume 2 1942-45, Bernd Hartmann. Part two of a history of the oldest panzer regiment in the German Army, following it to destruction in North Africa in 1942-43 and its partial revival in 1943 and deployment (and destruction) on the Eastern Front and its second revival and use in both Eastern and Western Fronts. [read full review]
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Images of War: Hitler's Headquarters 1939-1945, Ian Baxter. A photographic history of the many different headquarters used by Hitler during the Second World War, supported by a useful text explaining the construction of each HQ and the periods in which they were used. Also includes a set of photographs from a recent visit to the most famous of those headquarters, the site of the 1944 assassination attempt. [read full review]
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Winter Uniforms of the German Army and Luftwaffe in World War II, Vincent Slegers. A very detailed and meticulously researched examination of the winter uniforms of the German Army and the Luftwaffe, looking at items ranging in size from the bulky greatcoats down to rank badges and labels. All supported by a huge selection of photographs, many in colour. [read full review]
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Hitler's Army, Chris McNab. Ten times larger than many Ospreys, this book looks at the development of the Germany army from the triumphs of 1939-40 to its eventual defeat in 1944-45. Covers a wide range of topics, from the overall organisation of the army to the evolution of different parts of the uniform, all supported by illustrations, photos and maps from Osprey's archives. A very useful and readable reference work. [read full review]
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"Fallschirmjager": Elite German Paratroops in World War II , Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell. This is a visually fascinating book consisting of the personal photo album of a German paratrooper sergeant in World War II. The photos roughly in chronological order follow the Elite German paratroopers through the Balkans and Greece and during the massive airborne assault on Crete. The book concludes with photos of the Russian front but these tend to be less interesting. A brief but interesting text places the photos in context and for most part explains what is shown in them. As the book is mostly photographs it makes for a quick read but the non professional and mostly non posed photographs give a poignant insight of the reality of war for these legendary elite infantry. [read full review]
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Kommando, Hitler's Special Forces in the Second World War, Charles Whiting. An account of some of the main missions carried out by the Brandenburgers and later SS Commandos, supported by valuable eye witness accounts from some of the participants. Dominated by the very different figures of Canaris and Skorzeny this is an interesting look at the varied activities of some notorious units and individuals. [read full review]
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Unconditional Surrender, Walter Lüdde-Neurath. An account of the final days of the Third Reich as seen by Dönitz's adjutant during the last year of the war, a period that ended with Dönitz briefly succeeding Hitler as ruler of what was left of Nazi Germany. Lüdde-Neurath thus gives us an invaluable insider's view of the last days of the Third Reich. [read full review]
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German Special Forces of World War II, Gordon Williamson. A useful look at the development and combat record of Germany's Special Forces, from the Brandenburgers, who under Abwehr control were the only German special forces in 1939, through the increasing number of SS, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine special units formed as the war turned against Germany. [read full review]
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Germany's Secret Weapons in World War II, Roger Ford. A fascinating look at the huge number of secret weapons that were developed in Germany during the Second World War, amongst them the massive Maus tank, the V-1 and V-2 vengeance weapons and a wide range of increasingly exotic aircraft [see more]
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Knights cross with diamonds Knight's Cross with Diamonds Recipients, Gordon Williamson. Osprey, 2006. This book looks at the twenty seven men who won Germany's highest award for bravery during the Second World War. [SEE MORE]
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Fallen Eagle , Cross, R., Michael O’Mara Books, London, 1995.
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In the Ruins of the Reich , Botting, D., Grafton, London, 1986.
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The Last Thirty Days: The War Diary of the German Armed Forces High Command from April to May 1945 , Schultz-Nauman, J., Madison Books, London, 1991.
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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich , William Shirer. One of the most outstanding histories of Nazi Germany, written by an American journalist who was present in Berlin through many of the events described, allowing him to give eyewitness reports of some of Hitlers great speeches. On top of that, Shirer added a well researched and detailed history of the war, based on the documents of all sides, but especially the German.
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Greece

Greece 1941 – The Death Throes of Blitzkrieg, Jeffrey Plowman. Looks at the German conquest of Greece and the failed British and Commonwealth attempt to stop it, which began with some diplomatic deception to convince the Commonwealth commanders to agree to it and ended with another of the evacuations that punctuated the early British war effort. Concludes with an argument that the Greek campaign demonstrated the limits of Blitzkrieg, although how much the German problems were down to the mountainous terrain and limited routes is up for debate. (Read Full Review)
SAS Combat Vehicles 1942-91, Gavin Mortimer. Focuses as much one the uses made of the vehicles as the vehicles themselves, although does have plenty of details on the Willys Jeep and the other vehicles used by the SAS. A good way to approach the missions of the SAS, which were so often dependent on their vehicles for success. Also good that it covers more than just the familiar actions in North Africa, but follows the SAS to Italy, France and into Germany, as well as into the post-war Land Rover period. (Read Full Review)
The Balkans 1940-41 (1) – Mussolini’s Fatal Blunder in the Greco-Italian War, Pier Paolo Battistelli. Looks at the disastrous Italian invasion of Greece in 1940, which ended with the Italian attack firmly repulsed and the Greeks advancing into Albania, where they became the first power to liberate a city occupied by an Axis power, then repelled another Italian offensive early in 1941. Looks at the background to the campaign, the poor state of the Italian army (and in particular its officer corps), the inept Italian plan and the impressive Greek response. A useful account of a key campaign that is over brushed over as a prelude to the German invasion of Greece. (Read Full Review)

Great Britain

Opposition to the Second World War – Conscience, Resistance & Service in Britain, 1933-45, John Broom. A wide ranging study that looks at pre-war objections to war, both on political and grounds of conscience, the way in which conscientious objectors were treated during the war, the types of service objectors were willing to do, objections to the way the war was being conducted, and the post war impact of the pacifist movements. A fascinating look at a very varied group, most of whom were highly principled, although often rather naïve, and who faced fairly random looking treatment, although generally better than that faced by their First World War predecessors (Read Full Review)
Tynedale at War 1939-1945, Brian Tilley. Looks at the impact of the Second World War on the rural valley of Tynedale and its largest town of Hexham, an area that wasn’t the target of German bombing, but saw many of its inhabitants heading off to war, and life in the area changed in many ways, as well as being the home of an RAF station and POW camps (Read Full Review)
Cumbria at War 1939-45, Ruth Mansergh. Contains a large amount of details on how the Second World War impacted on Cumbria, from the Barrow Blitz to the large scale relocation of industry to the area, the use of airfields around the edges of the country (and the many crashes as aircraft flew into the fells in poor weather). Might have benefited from a more thematic structure, but does provide a great deal of interesting information from all around this large county (Read Full Review)
Yorkshire Women at War - Story of the Women's Land Army Hostels, Marion Jefferies. Looks at the accommodation hostels used by the Women’s Land Army in Yorkshire, the experiences of the Land Girls living in them and the problems encountered running them. An interesting study of an aspect of the Land Army that I didn’t even realise existed, but that played a major role in the life of many of the women who served in it during its ten years. Includes memories from the Land Girls, and a set of reports from the chief organiser for North Yorkshire and post-war Yorkshire to give a good idea of the pleasures and perils of life in these hostels (Read Full Review)
No Moon as Witness, - Missions of the SOE and OSS in World War II, James Stejskal. A nice mix of a history of the SOE and OSS, allowing to compare these two fairly similar British and American organisations, and see how they interacted, as well as looking at their individual histories, training systems and operations. Greatly benefits from covering both organisations, and from selecting a number of less familiar agents and operations, so we get a broader picture of the two organisation’s operations than is often the case(Read Full Review)
SOE: Churchill's Secret Agents, Terry Crowdy. A short history of SOE, starting with a look at its formation, organisation, the famous training regime, before spending the second half looking at SOE’s actual operations. A good introduction to the work of SOE, with a nice mix of familiar and unfamiliar operations, along with a big enough introduction to get a feel for the nature of the organisation. Good for the casual reader who doesn’t have any real prior knowledge of SOE and its operations(Read Full Review)
Animals in the Second World War, Neil R. Storey. Looks at the full range of animal involvement in the war, from the practical use of horses, mules and dogs to the dreadful impact on domestic pets of the outbreak of war. Horse and mules, dogs and pigeons each get their own chapter, reflecting their wide-spread use, while other animals are covered topic by topic. Fairly short, but with lots of interesting material (Read Full Review)
Setting the Med Ablaze – Churchill’s Secret North African Base, Peter Dixon . A fascinating book looking at SOE’s secret HQ in North Africa, code named Massingham, from where the organisation ran operations across the Mediterranean – on Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, mainland Italy and France. The focus of this book isn’t on the individual missions themselves, but rather on the organisation behind them and their overall objectives (Read Full Review)
The Secret South - A Tale of Operation Tabarin 1943-46, Ivan Mackenzie Lamb. A first hand account of a wartime expedition to Antartica, launched to counter an Argentinian claim to the area, but that turned into an impressive voyage of discovery. Written by a truly extraordinary person, this book tells an utterly fascinating tale, almost entirely divorced from the war that triggered it! (Read Full Review)
Churchill's Last Wartime Secret – the 1943 German Raid Airbrushed from History, Adrian Searle. Although I’m not convinced by the author’s case for a German raid on the Isle of Wight, his historical methods are sound, and he prevents the evidence for and against the story, and includes a detailed examination and debunking of similar stories from elsewhere around the coast. The idea of a raid on a radar base in 1943 is at best unproven, but the case is presented fairly, with much more balance than is often the case in this sort of book(Read Full Review)
Stopping Hitler - An Official Account of How Britain Planned to Defend itself in the Second World War, Captain G.C. Wynne. Starts with an official account of Britain’s defensive plans from 1933 to 1945, produced in 1948, followed by a series of wartime documents that provide the concrete details of the plans. A fascinating look at how the British military perceived the threat from Germany, how that changed over time, and how the various types of invasions were expected to be defeated(Read Full Review)
Gunfire! British Artillery in World War II, Stig H. Moberg. A very detailed examination of how British artillery operated during the Second World War, focusing on how the guns were actually used, looking at the ballistics of the artillery, how individual guns were aimed and how batteries were combined and controlled to produce the flexible, devastating firepower that made the Royal Artillery the most effective part of the British army during the Second World War, and a genuine battle winning weapon (Read Full Review)
British Commando 1940-45, Angus Konstam. A overview of the British Commandos, focusing on what made them different to the regular army, the sort of skills they were required to have, the training that made sure they gained them, and the wide range of equipment that they carried into combat. Also includes a good ‘On Campaign’ section that gives an overview of the sort of experiences the Commandos underwent in combat, but focuses mainly on their training and skills(Read Full Review)
RAF and the SOE - Special Duty Operations in Europe During WW2, An Official History. The official history of the RAF’s role in SOE operations, with valuables sections on problems such as navigation, what sort of supply containers to use, how reception committees worked or the dangerous landing operations. Not always terribly readable, due to its origin as an official report, but always valuable, providing a detailed examination of the aerial operations that made almost all of SOE’s operations possible.(Read Full Review)
Hard Fighting - A History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry 1900-1946, Jonathan Hunt. Part two of this unit history looks at the Sherwood Rangers' time as a active combat unit, as cavalry in the Boer War and First World War and as an armoured unit during the Second World War. Starts a little dry, but becomes increasingly interesting as it goes on, and especially during the Second World War, where the unit fought at El Alamein, operated DD tanks on D-Day and fought alongside US troops during Operation Market Garden (Read Full Review)
Secret Days - Code Breaking in Bletchley Park, Asa Briggs. The wartime memoirs of Lord Asa Briggs, one of post-war Britain's most distinguished historians, recounting his experiences at Bletchley Park, where he worked in Hut Six, playing a part in decoding the Enigma codes. A valuable mix of personal recollections of Bletchley Park and wider explanations of the role and background of Brigg's colleagues, and the links between BP and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge [read full review]
In the Mind's Eye - The Blinded Veterans of St Dunstan's, David Castleton. A history of a charity formed to help the blinded servicemen of the First World War and that went on to help develop a much more positive attitude to the blind across society by developing ways to allow the veterans to live increasingly independent lives. [read full review]
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The Last Ditch - Britain's Secret Resistance and the Nazi Invasion Plans, David Lampe. Looks at the German plans for occupied Britain and the British plans for a stay-behind resistance movement, mainly aimed at disrupting the Germans during an active battle for the country. Originally published in 1968, contains much information I've recently seen described as 'new'! [read full review]
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Women Wartime Spies, Ann Kramer. A study of mainly Allied women spies during the two World Wars (plus Mata Hari), with interesting material on the La Dame Blanche spy network that operated in Belgium during the First World War and the role of women in British Intelligence in both wars (including the famous SOE operatives and the less glamorous but just as important work back in Britain). [read full review]
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In Search of the Real Dad's Army, Stephen M. Cullen. A wide ranging history of the Home Guard, covering topics from the weapons it was equipped with to the competing political theories that developed around it. Also covers the less familiar Northern Irish and Isle of Man Home Guards and has some fascinating sections on the later development of the Home Guard after the real danger of invasion had passed. [read full review]
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SAS Trooper - Charlie Radford's Operations in Enemy Occupied France and Italy, Charlie Radford, ed. Francis Mackay. Follows the military career of a pre-war army apprentice through his time as a sapper and in the SAS, where he fought behind German lines in France and took part in Operation Cold Comfort, one of the less successful SAS missions in Italy. [read full review]
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The British Pacific Fleet: The Royal Navy's Most Powerful Strike Force, David Hobbs. A history of the most powerful fleet in British naval history, tracing its rapid development from shaky early days in the Indian ocean to its involvement in the invasion of Okinawa and operations alongside the Americans off the coast of Japan. [read full review]
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Missing, Believed Killed: Casualty Policy and the Missing Research and Enquiry Service 1939-1952, Stuart Hadaway. A history of the effort to track down every member of the RAF lost in combat during the Second World War, one of the largest detective missions ever undertaken, including a large number of example cases. [read full review]
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Scottish Lion on Patrol: 15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment, W. Kemsley, M.R. Riesco and T. Chamberlain. Originally written in 1950 and updated in 2010 this book tells the tale of a wartime reconnaissance regiment from its formation, through the D-Day landings and on to the end of the war. [read full review]
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Hobart's 79th Armoured Division at War: Invention, Innovation and Inspiration, Richard Doherty. Combines a biography of General Percy Hobart and a history of the 79th Armoured Division and Hobart's 'funnies', the special purpose tanks that became famous on D-Day. Follows the division from D-Day, though the fighting in Holland and on to the crossing of the Rhine and the end of the war. [read full review]
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Air Raid Shelters of the Second World War, Family Stories of Survival in the Blitz, Stephen Wade. Looks at the physical construction of the shelters, tales of life within the shelters and the many tragedies caused by direct hits. Avoids the overly nostalgic tone of some similar books to give a better idea of the dangers as well as the small pleasures of life in the shelters. [read full review]
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When shall their Glory Fade? The Stories of the Thirty-Eight Battle Honours of the Army Commandos, James Dunning. Examines those Commando operations that were considered significant enough to be recognised as a battle honour, including some large scale single actions (St. Nazaire or Dieppe) and some longer campaigns and their individual actions (Italy, North Africa, Burma). Written by a former Army Commando who took part in some of the earlier raids before becoming an instructor. [read full review]
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Wild Strawberries, Derek Smith. The memoirs of an evacuee who was moved from Birmingham into the Staffordshire countryside, close to the village of Yoxall, before illness took him into the wartime health system. Well written and involving, and covers a different part of the evacuee experience to most memoirs. [read full review]
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2Women in the Second World War, Collette Drifte. A collection of personal reminiscences from Women who served in the armed forces, industry or farming during the Second World War, looking at the ATS, WAAF, WRNS, the Land Army, the Timber Corps, the Voluntary Aid Detachment, Queen Alexandra's Nurses, the Fire Service, the NAAFI and finishing with the stories of three famous SOE operatives. [read full review]
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Commando Tactics: The Second World War, Stephen Bull. A study of the way in which the Commandos were selected, trained and used during their brief existence and how that changed during the course of the Second World War. The author traces the way in which during their short life the Commandos became increasingly proficient, and expanded dramatically in size, and the early small scale raiding was replaced by larger scale operations. [read full review]
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Commuter City: How the Railways Shaped London, David Wragg. A history of the development in and impact of the railways on London, from the earliest short lines up to the current high speed routes. Includes chapters on the railway in both World Wars, focusing on troop transport in the First and with a wider range of topics during the Second World War, including bomb damage to the line, the use of the tube as a bomb shelter and the impact the war had on the overall condition of the railways. [read full review]
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The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division, Patrick Delaforce.  A narrative history of the role played by 11th Armoured Division in Normandy, northern France, Belgium, Holland and northern Germany, written by a professional historian and member of the division who took part in the events he describes. Well supported by eyewitness accounts, and with some interesting material on less familiar aspects of the fighting. [read full review]
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Churchill's Spearhead: The Development of Britain's Airborne Forces during World War II, John Greenacre. This is an analytic study of the development of Britain's parachute and glider borne forces during the Second World War, looking at the reasons they were created, the way they were equipped and led, and the way in which a doctrine for the deployment developed over time. [read full review]
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The Great German Escape: Uprising of Hitler's Nazis in Britain's POW Camps, Charles Whiting. A book with two themes - the first a daring plan by German POWs to break out of their camps late in 1944 and march on London, the second the fate of Baron Freiherr von der Heydte, a German paratrooper commander whose exploits in the Ardennes helped give the plot much of its credibility. [read full review]

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Wartime Childhood, Mike Brown. A look at the impact of the Second World War on Britain's children, from rationing and schooling to evacuation and bombing raids. The text is supported by a huge number of pictures (over eighty in fifty six pages), illustrating just about every point made in the text. This is a useful book for teachers, covering an area that is part of the English National Curriculum. [see more]
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The British Soldier of the Second World War, Peter Doyle. A look at the experiences of the British soldier during the Second World War aimed at the family historian. Brief outlines of the main campaigns of the war are followed by sections on the uniforms, weapons and equipment used by the soldiers, supported by just over ninety photographs, most in colour. A short but well focused book that would indeed be of interest to the family historian looking to understand their ancestors' time in the army. [see more]
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RAF Coastal Command in Action, 1939-45, Roy C. Nesbit. This is an excellent photographic history of Coastal Command during the Second World War. The book is split into six chapters, one for each year of the war. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to the events of the year, and the aircraft that equipped the command before moving on to the photos. Each chapter contains a mix of pictures of the aircraft used by the command and pictures taken by the command. [see more]
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The Fleet Air Arm Handbook 1939-45, David Wragg. This is an excellent book on the Fleet Air Arm, combining a well written history of British Naval Aviation during the Second World War with a detailed reference section on the squadrons and ships of the Fleet Air Arm [see more]
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Survivors: British Merchant Seamen in the Second World War, G. H. and R. Bennett. This fascinating book looks at the fate of those Merchant Seamen whose ships were sunk by enemy action during the Second World War. It follows the survivors of those sinkings from the moment their ship was first hit to their final rescue. Each stage of the process is illustrated in the survivor's own words [see more]
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 The War at Sea, 1939-1945, Volume I: The Defensive, S. W. Roskill. This first volume in the British official history of the war at sea covers the period from the outbreak of the war through to the first British disasters in the Pacific in December 1941. Amongst other topics it covers the Norwegian campaign, the evacuation from Dunkirk and the first two years of the Battle of the Atlantic. The text is meticulously researched, and is rooted in a detailed study of wartime records, both British and German. [see more]
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Ireland

In the Ranks of Death: The Irish in the Second World War, Richard Doherty. Doherty looks at the scale of the Irish contribution to the British war effort during the Second World War, as well as the numbers of Irish men and women involved in key actions of the war, and individual acts of heroism. Covers both Northern Island and the Irish Republic. [read full review]
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Malta

Ladies of Lascaris – Christina Ratcliffe and the Forgotten Heroes of Malta’s War, Paul McDonald. Looks at the experiences of the women who served in the RAF’s control room at Lascaris on Malta during the Italian and German aerial assault on the island, with a focus on the life of Christina Radcliffe, who came to the island before the war to work as a dancer, and ended up trapped by the war. However the many Maltese who served in the control room are also give due credit, and the book tells the tale of a remarkable group of women who carried out essential high pressure work, while living under direct attack for most of the time (Read Full Review)

Netherlands

The Dutch Resistance 1940-45 – World War II Resistance and Collaboration in the Netherlands, Michel Wenting LLM and Klass Castelein. Starts with a look at the pre-war Dutch Fascist movements, the German occupation forces, and the German and collaborationist security services, before moving on to the various Dutch resistance forces, looking at how resistance started with a strike and ended with an open uprising against the Germans and with many Resistance members serving with the Allied armies in a more conventional role (Read Full Review)

 

Norway

Gold Run - The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, April 1940, Robert Pearson. Looks at the successful attempt to save the last batch of Norwegian gold still in the country when the Germans invaded, a lengthy journey that saw the gold taken off in British warships from different ports, with some reaching Tromso in the far north of Norway before being evacuated! A tale of dedication to duty in very difficult circumstances (Read Full Review)
The Norway Campaign: and the Rise of Churchill 1940, Anthony Dix. A good single volume history of the Norway campaign, looking at the land, sea and air aspects of the campaign, from Norwegian, British and German points of view. Particularly useful for its account of the Norwegian resistance to invasion, which is often skipped over in accounts of the British intervention. [read full review]
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The Battle of Norway: April-June 1940, Geirr H. Haarr. Following on from the same authors German Invasion of Norway, this volume looks at the battles that followed, with an emphasis of the naval aspects of the fighting, and on the cooperation between Norwegian, British and French forces. Brilliantly researched and very detailed, this will become the definitive work on this subject. [read full review]
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The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940, Geirr H Haarr. This is a monumental, hugely detailed and very impressive account of the early stages of the German invasion of Norway, focusing on the build-up to war, the initial German attack and the naval campaigns that followed, and with much more attention paid to the Norwegian point of view than is often the case. A definitive history of the naval aspects of the campaign, and highly recommended. [read full review]
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Poland

Operation Fall Weiss - German Paratroopers in the Poland Campaign 1939, Stephan Janzyk. Mainly built around a sizable collection of photographs showing the German paratroopers, with a mix of pictures from Poland and portraits of some of the individual involved, combined with a detailed combat history of a group of units that didn’t actually do anything significant during the Polish campaign. Good for the completist with an interest in the German airborne forces, perhaps of less interest to more general readers (Read Full Review)
Trail of Hope - The Anders Army, an Odyssey across Three Continents, Norman Davies. Looks at the epic journey of the Poles who formed the 'Anders Army', a journey that began with brutal exile inside the Soviet Union, the formation of Polish military units after the German attack on the Soviet Union, the move out of Russia and into British hands, the eventual commitment to combat in Poland and the crushing disappointment at the end of the war. [read full review]
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Images of War: Blitzkrieg Poland, Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell. Contains three photo albums belonging to German soldiers who took part in the invasion or occupation of Poland in 1939. Each picture is accompanied by an informative caption, discussing either the details of the picture or the wider situation in the fighting. [read full review]
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The Forgotten Few: The Polish Air Force in World War II, Adam Zamoyski. A complete history of the Polish Air Force during the Second World War, taking is from the campaign in Poland in 1939, to the Fall of France and the Battle of Britain in 1940 and on through the long years of war to the tragic fate of Poland in 1945 and the post-war struggles of so many members of the Air Force. [read full review]

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United States

The 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion – Fighting on Both Fronts, Samuel de Korte. Looks at the experiences of one of three tank destroyer battalions manned by black soldiers to see combat during the First World War, and the first black army unit to win the Distinguised Unit Citation during the Second World War. Looks at the problems faced by a black unit in the segregated US Army of the time, and the 614th’s experience in battle, which saw it come up against the Germans during their last offensives in the West, then take part in the advance into Austria and finally towards Italy. An excellent unit history, well illustrated with the men’s own words, and also a valuable piece of social history (Read Full Review)
50th at Bay - The Years of Defeat: A History of the 50th Northumbrian Division 1939 to September 1942, B.S. Barnes. A compelling history of the 50th Division’s experiences in the first few years of the Second World War, a period that saw it caught up in the defeat in France in 1940 and the resulting evacuation from Dunkirk, then sent to Africa in time to take part in the battle of Gazala, where its 150th Brigade was destroyed. Built around an impressive array of eyewitness accounts, which give us a real feel for the struggles of the division during some of the darkest hours of the Second World War (Read Full Review)
To War with the 4th, Martin King, Michael Collins and Jason Nulton. A history of the US 4th Infantry Division, focusing on the First and Second World Wars, where the division fought in some of the most important American battles in Europe, with material on the Vietnam War and War on Terror. A good split between a clear narrative of the fighting and eyewitness accounts that gives both a clear history of the division’s role in the fighting, and a good feel for the nature of the battles (Read Full Review)
America's Commandos: U.S. Special Operations Forces of World War II and Korea, Leroy Thompson. Starts with a brief overview of the creation and use of American special force units during the Second World War and in Korea, before moving onto a good but not well organised selection of photographs. Does its job of illustrating the uniforms and equipment of these units, but needs chapter headings! (Read Full Review)
Images of War: US Infantry Weapons of the Second World War, Michael Green. Covers a wide range of infantry and infantry support weapons, from the pistol and rifle, through machine guns and mortars and up to infantry guns and light tanks! Each chapter starts with a good sized piece of text examining the weapons in that section, followed by the individual pictures, each with a useful caption. A good photographic guide to the weapons used by the US Infantry during the Second World War (Read Full Review)
GI Stories 1942-45, Henry-Paul Enjames. Looks at the wartime careers of more than fifty US service personnel fighting in North Africa and Europe, tracing them from their pre-war lives in the US, through training and into combat. Tends to provide more individual details before their units entered active combat, then focus on the unit history until the subject of the chapter was wounded, captured, killed or the fighting ended, when we then get more personal details. Each entry is supported by a wide selection of photos of memorabilia, mainly closely related to the individual (Read Full Review)
World War II US Army Combat Equipments, Gordon L. Rottman. At first glance this is a rather unpromising topic, but it actually gives you an interesting insight into the daily life of the US soldier of the Second World War, looking at the kit they carried with themselves every day, cooked with and camped in, as well as the various ammo holders and pouches. The result is a surprisingly interesting book (Read Full Review)
American Knights - The Untold Story of the Men of the Legendary 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, Victor Failmezger. Tells the story of the first Tank Destroyer battalion to be formed in the US army, from its original creation in the United States, through its wartime service in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Heavily based on the recollections of a core group of members of the battalion (all of whom survived), this gives us an insiders view of the use of one of the more controversial weapons in the US armoury during the Second World War [read full review]
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No Victory in Valhalla: The untold story of Third Battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment from Bastogne to Berchtesgaden, Ian Gardner. The third part of a history of the Third Battalion, 506 PIR, covering the period from the battle of the Bulge to the end of the Second World War and the immediate post-war period. A good example of the genre, with a careful balance between eyewitness accounts and an overall narrative. Also includes interesting sections on the occupation of Berchtesgaden and the fate of the battalion's POWs. [read full review]
Ghosts of the ETO - American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theatre, 1944-1945, Jonathan Gawne. Mainly looks at the tactical deception unit committed to the fighting in north-western Europe in 1944-45, with a brief look at the second unit sent to Greece. Includes detailed accounts of each of their missions, with an analysis of the lessons learned and the possible impact on the Germans. [read full review]
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US Combat Engineer 1941-45, Gordon Rottman. A look at the impressively large US Army Corps of Engineers - the selection of its men, their training and equipment and the role its combat engineer battalions played in the successful Allied campaigns in North Africa and Europe. [read full review]
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Yugoslavia

Yugoslav Armies 1941-45, Nigel Thomas. A useful account of the four different Yugoslavian armies that fought against the Germans (for at least some of the time) during the Second World War – the pre-war Yugoslav Army, the Royal Yugoslav army in exile, the Chetniks and the Partisans (who also fought a vicious civil war against each other). Includes a useful summary of each armies combat record, as well as the normal structure and uniform sections (Read Full Review)

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