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Second World War

Books - Second World War - Memoirs and Biography

Germany - New Zealand - Poland - Soviet Union - United Kingdom - United States

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)
Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front Vol I: From the Moscow Winter Offensive to Operation Zitadelle, Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt. The first part of a two part diary written by a soldier in the Grossdeutschland regiment then division, covering the period from his arrival at the front outside Moscow in the winter of 1941, through the battles of 1942 and on to the  failure of Operation Citadel in 1943. Paints a vivid picture of the life of a front line soldier during a period after the initial rush of success on the Soviet Union, but when it could still win victories as well as suffering defeats over both winters (Read Full Review)
Erich Raeder - Admiral of the Third Reich, Keith W. Bird. Looks at the full career of the first commander-in-chief of Hitler’s navy, a man who was often overshadowed by his successor Donitz and his U-boat war, but who played a major part in shaping the Kriegsmarine, both physically and politically. Undermines his claims to have been a non-political leader, and shows how close he was to the Nazi leadership, before eventually their different views of Germany’s war aims, and Hitler’s rather unrealistic expectations of the Navy forced his resignation(Read Full Review)
Hitler's Last Witness, the Memoirs of Hitler's Bodyguard, Rochus Misch. The autobiography of a member of Hitler's bodyguard, who ended up operating the telephone exchange in the Berlin Bunker. More interesting as an account of daily life on the fringes of Hitler's private circle than for its insight into the conduct of the war, partly because Misch chose not to be very curious, a trait that ran the risk of seeing you dispatched to the front. Provides more details of the final days of the war, and is thus a valuable witness to the last moments in the bunker [read full review]
Two Fronts, One War, Charles W. Sasser.. Contains some unusual eyewitness accounts of the fighting during the Second World War, including life in an all-black armoured unit in Patton's army, combat in the cold in the Aleutians, the attitude of Japanese prisoners after the end of the fighting and an unusual view of the Nuremburg trials. [read full review]
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Reign of Terror - The Budapest Memoirs of Valdemar Langlet, 1944-1945, Valdemar Langlet. The memoirs of the leader of the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary, recounting his efforts to save as many people as possible during the chaotic rule of the last pro-German governments, including the vicious 'Arrow Cross' regime. His 'Letters of Protection' saved thousands of lives during this period, and his memoirs discuss how this came about, his other work, and describes life in Hungary under the last pro-German governments and during the start of the Soviet occupation. [read full review]
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Germany

Heinrich Himmler, The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo, Heinrich Fraenkel & Roger Manvell. One of the first post-war biographies of Himmler, originally published in 1965, but still a valuable look at the life of one of the most evil men in the Nazi regime. Gives us a valuable portrait of a basically petty man, dangerous because of his combination of vile opinions and almost unrestricted power within the Third Reich. A little dated (originally published in 1965), but otherwise sound. (Read Full Review)
Rommel in his own words, ed. Dr John Pimlott. Starts with his inter-war account of his First World War experiences, then moves on to the Second World War, with some material on the 1940 campaign and the defence of France, but with the largest section covering his famous campaigns in the desert of North Africa. Includes private letters, official reports and published works, giving us a range of Rommel’s public and private views(Read Full Review)
Canaris - the Life and Death of Hitler's Spymaster, Michael Mueller. A biography of one of the most intriguing and mysterious figures in the German hierarchy during the Second World War,  at the same time head of Hitler's military intelligence service and an early plotter against the Fuhrer, a man of uncertain loyalties and motives who had a distinguished naval career during the First World War, before getting drawn into the murky world of the far right in post-war Germany. Gives us a good idea of what Canaris actually did, but as the author admits, the why will probably remain a mystery [read full review]
Flakhelfer to Grenadier - Memoir of a Boy Soldier, 1943-1945, Karl Heinz Schlesier. Follows a young German during his time serving on anti-aircraft batteries, first close to his home town and later defending a hidden factory, then through a short period of army training and an even shorter time on the front line as a grenadier, finishing with his time as a POW. A thought-provoking account of life at the receiving end of the Allied bombing campaign. [read full review]
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Für Volk and Führer - The Memoir of a Veteran of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Erwin Bartmann. Gives a good feel for the chaos of combat on the Eastern Front and in the last days of the Reich in 1945, as well as the seductive nature of the Nazi regime for someone growing up in the 1930s. Falls firmly into the 'Waffen SS' as a normal fighting force school of writing, hardly surprising from a veteran of the unit. [read full review]
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I Was Hitler's Pilot, Lieutenant-General Hans Baur. As Hitler's pilot Baur was part of his inner circle, close to him from the early election campaigns where he first won Hitler's trust, to the last days in the bunker in Berlin. His memoirs provide a rare 'behind the scenes' view of Hitler's regime written by someone who was close to him for over a decade and survived the last days of the war in Berlin. Baur provides a useful view of Hitler the skilful boss, able to win the long term devotion of so many. [read full review]
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Albert Kesselring, Pier Paolo Battistelli. A short biography of Albert Kesselring, who began the Second World War as a senior Luftwaffe commander during the invasion of Poland and the battle of Britain but is best known for his role as commander-in-chief in Italy for most of the lengthy German defence of the Italian peninsula, where he played a major part in holding up the Allied advance for so long. [read full review]
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The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge, Werner Otto Müller-Hill. A diary recording the last year of the Second World War as seen by a German military judge with a hostile view of the Nazi regime and a surprising amount of knowledge of the darker secrets of the holocaust. A fascinating read, and a valuable source for a study of the last year of the Third Reich. [read full review]
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Camp Z - How British Intelligence Broke Hitler's Deputy, Stephen McGinty. Looks at the year Hess spent at Mytchett Place near Aldershot being examined by British Intelligence in the hope that he might provide some insight into Hitler's plans or any other valuable information. [read full review]
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Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front, Günter K. Koschorrek. Based on diaries and notes taken during the war, these memoirs tell the story of one German soldier during the long years of retreat that began at Stalingrad and ended in this case on the Baltic front. Gives a ground level view of the brutal nature of the fighting on the Eastern Front [read full review]
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Panzers on the Eastern Front, Erhard Raus, ed. Peter Tsouras. A series of accounts of German successes on the Eastern Front written for the US military by General Erhard Raus during the 1950s. A very valuable historical source, well presented by the editor, and of great value for anyone with an interest in the fighting on the Eastern Front. [read full review]
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Hitler: Dictator or Puppet? Andrew Norman. An attempt to analyse Hitler's mental health using the evidence of his actions, known beliefs, quotes and eyewitness accounts of his behaviour. Includes some good material on the sources of Hitler's ideas, and the way they were put into effect during the Second World War. [read full review]
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Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader, Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel. A very high quality biography of Hermann Goering, the 'second man' of the Third Reich. Best known as head of the Luftwaffe, Goering played a wider role in the rise of the Nazis to power and was a major figure in Nazi Germany until the failures of the Luftwaffe to protect against Allied bombers undermined his position. [read full review]
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Erich von Manstein - Hitler's Master Strategist, Benoit Lemay. Focuses on Manstein's wartime career, from the planning for the invasions on Poland and France to his time on the Eastern Front. This is an objective account, acknowledging both Manstein's great ability as a general and his involvement in the massive war crimes committed in Russia, with his knowledge, and on occasion encouragement. [read full review]
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Eastern Inferno, The Journals of a German Panzerjäger on the Eastern Front, 1941-1943, Hans Roth. The remarkable journals of Hans Roth, who fought with an anti-tank unit attached to a German infantry division on the Eastern Front from 1941 until his death some time in 1944. Roth took part in the initial invasion, the battle for Kiev and the shattering retreat from Stalingrad, before disappearing during the destruction of Army Group Centre in 1944. [read full review]
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Doctor Goebbels, Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel. A detailed biography of the infamous Nazi propagandist stripping away the layers of mythology he created around his own life when he was in power to produce a portrait of a capable, hard working monster, who held views as extreme as any of his Nazi colleagues, and played a major part in ensuring that they were put into action. [read full review]
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I was Hitler's Chauffeur, Erich Kempka. One of a series of memoirs written by Hitler's domestic staff, this account focuses on the last days of the Third Reich, and the descent into chaos and delusion in the Berlin bunker, ending with Kempka's role in the disposal of Hitler's corpse. Despite some flaws this is an invaluable eyewitness account from the heart of power in the Third Reich, and as such is of great value. [read full review]
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Escape, Evasion and Revenge, Marc H. Stevens. The remarkable story of a young Jewish refugee from Germany, Georg Franz Hein, who in September 1939 took the identity of a dead class mate and joined the RAF, becoming a bomber pilot. As Peter Stevens he was shot down over Germany, and spent four years in POW camps, knowing that if the Germans discovered his true identity he would almost certainly be shot. Despite this he made several attempts to escape, succeeding twice for short periods. [read full review]
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New Zealand

From Battle of Britain Airman to POW Escapee - The Story of Ian Walker, RAF, Angela Walker. Tells the story of a New Zealander who volunteered to join the Air Force at the outbreak of war, arrived in the UK just in time to fight in the battle of Britain then moved to Bomber Command, eventually being shot down and captured. Written from the point of view of his daughter Angela, who discovered his wartime diaries after his death, so we also get the story of she uncovered more about his wartime experiences and how that altered her attitude to the conflict (Read Full Review)

Poland

Freely I Served, Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski . The fascinating autobiography of the commander of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade, one of the units caught up in the Allied defeat at Arnhem. Traces his career from his early service in the Austro-Hungarian Army, through the German invasion of Poland and on to his time in exile, the formation of his Parachute Brigade, arguments about its use and its eventually deployment at Arnhem. [read full review]
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Warsaw 1944 - An Insurgent's Journal of the Uprising, Zbigniew Czajkowski. The wartime journal of a teenage Polish fighter who took part in the Warsaw uprising of 1944 and was one of only three in his ten-strong squad to survive the battle. Written just after the fighting it takes us down into the streets and sewers of Warsaw as the brave but doomed uprising struggled to hold off the Germans in the vain hope that the Soviets would liberate the city. [read full review]
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The Secret Army: The Memoirs of General Bor-Komorowski, Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski. The memoirs of the commander of the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. An invaluable source for this heroic but tragic attempt to liberate Warsaw from the Nazis as the Soviet armies approached from the east and for the earlier efforts of the Polish Resistance. [read full review]
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Soviet Union

Panzer Destroyer - Memoirs of a Red Army Tank Commander, Vasiliy Krysov. The memoirs of a Soviet tank and self-propelled gun commander who fought at Stalingrad, Kursk and during the long Soviet offensives that followed, ending the war in East Prussia, and who was lucky to survive for so long, losing his crew and his commanding officer, and being wounded four times. Provides a memorable picture of life in the Red Army during some of the titanic battles on the Eastern Front. [read full review]
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Guns against the Reich - Memoirs of an Artillery Officer on the Eastern Front, Petr Mikhin. The autobiography of a Soviet artillery officer who fought in front of Moscow, at Stalingrad and Kursk, and on the long advance into central Europe. This is an excellent account of life on the front line on the Eastern Front, and a valuable contribution to our understanding of life in the Red Army. [read full review]
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United Kingdom

Code Breaker Girls – A Secret Life at Bletchley Park, Jan Slimming. A fascinating combination of a biography of Daisy Lawrence, the author’s mother, and a more general account of life for the works at Bletchley Park. Also covers Daisy’s efforts to find out what had happened to her fiancé Stan, who was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore and spent the rest of the war as a POW, and the impact of keeping her wartime role secret on Daisy’s mental health (Read Full Review)
The Gestapo’s Most Improbable Hostage, Hugh Mallory Falconer . Follows the wartime experiences of an officer in SOE who effectively bluffed his way onto the Gestapo’s list of valuable hostages after being captured in Tunisia, then spent 22 months in Sachsenhausen, where he witnessed some of the worst of the Nazi atrocities, before being moved to the Southern Redoubt where the whole hostage plan unravelled, and his party was rescued from the Gestapo, first by a unit of the Wehrmacht and then by the Americans (Read Full Review)
Johnnie Johnson’s Great Adventure – The Spitire Ace of Ace’s Last Look Back, Dilip Sarker MBE. The fascinating thoughts of Britain’s most successful Spitfire pilot on the second half of his career, when he was serving as a wing commander, first in the campaign of ‘leaning over the Channel’, then in support of the D-Day invasion and the campaign in north-western Europe. Valuable both for the insights into his own combat career and for his views on the wider air campaign and the senior officers who shaped it (Read Full Review)
A Spitfire Girl - One of the World's Greatest Female ATA Ferry Pilots tells her Story, Mary Ellis. The remarkable life story of a ferry pilot with the ATA who flew four hundred different Spitfires and seventy-six different types of aircraft during her flying career, including the jet powered Meteor, then went on to run Sandown airport on the Isle of Wight, probably making her the only female airport manager in Europe at the time! Mary comes across as a remarkable person, with a real desire for speed – as well as her time in Spitfires she was also a successful rally car driver, winning several events (Read Full Review)
Escaping has ceased to be a sport - A Soldier’s memoir of Captivy and Escape in Italy and Germany, Frank Unwin MBE. A compelling account of the author’s experiences as a POW in Italy, then as an escapee sheltering in the mountains of Tuscany, and finally as a POW in Germany (after a failed attempt to reach the Allied lines in southern Italy). Covers three fairly unfamiliar aspects of the POW experience, most notably his time outside captivity in northern Italy and the period of forced labour in Germany (Read Full Review)
Happy Odyssey, Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart. The autobiography of one of the most unusual British generals of the Second World War, born in Belgium but educated in Britain, fighting in the Boer War and First World War before spending the interwar years on a hunting estate he was given in Poland, he returned for the Second World War, fighting in Norway, spending severel years as a POW in Italy, then ending the war as Churchill’s personal envoy to China! This is an engaging autobiography of one of the most adventurous officers in the British Army, and one whose unusual life means it differs greatly from the majority of memoirs (Read Full Review)
Dambuster-in-Chief – The Life of Air Chief Marshal Sir Ralph Cochrane, Richard Mead. A fascinating biography of an officer best know as the commander of 5 Group in Bomber Command for much of the Second World War, turning it into a semi-independent force, as well as helping with the formation of 617 Squadron. Demonstrates how he earned his reputation as one of the most original thinkers in the higher ranks of the wartime RAF, in the process turning 5 Group into a devastating precision weapon. (Read Full Review)
Sniper of the Skies- The Story of George Frederick 'Screwball' Beurling DSO DFC DFM*, Nick Thomas. Looks at the career of the Canadian fighter ace George Beurling, who made his name during the desperate battles over Malta. Traces his early life, with his great enthusiasm for flying, his determination to join the RAF, but then problems fitting in, before he finally found his place in Malta. Most unusually his career actually ended before the war was over, and sadly he never seems to have adapted to life after the excitement of Malta (Read Full Review)
Commando General - The Life of Major General Sir Robert Laycock KCMG CB DSO, Richard Mead. A biography of one of the key figures in the formation of the British Commandos, and the head of Combined Operations during the D-Day landings. Tells the story of a leader who was successful despite limited combat experience, and a general lack of support from the higher ranks of the home army (Read Full Review)
With the Royal Navy in War and Peace, O’er the Dark Blue Sea, Vice Admiral B.B. Schofield. An autobiography of a senior British naval officer of the Second World War, covering his time as naval attaché in France and Holland in 1939-40, with the key Trade Division and sharing Eisenhower’s HQ before D-Day, as well as his time commanding several warships including two of Britain’s last battleships(Read Full Review)
How Churchill Waged War - The Most Challenging Decisions of the Second World War, Allen Packwood. Looks at how Churchill operated as a war leader, the reasons behind many of his key decisions, the limits on his power and how he dealt with, and his changing level of influence as the war developed. Finishes with a look at his disasterous 1945 election campaign. Looks at his methods of working, and how he interacted with his military and political colleagues and international Allies to make the key decisions (Read Full Review)
In Action with the Destroyers 1939-1945 - The Wartime memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN, ed. Anthony Cumming. A very engaging autobiography, covering the author’s wartime experiences in destroyers, and in particular his time on the Griffin, a modern destroyer, but with limited AA capability. Dennis’s wartime career included the Malta convoys, the Arctic convoys, anti-invasion duties in 1940, the D-Day landings of 1944, a brief foray into the Indian Ocean at the height of the threat from Japan, the evacuation from Crete and an impressively wide range of other battles and theatres(Read Full Review)
Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole - Captain John Hannaford, one of the last Bomb Disposal Officers of WWII, Pat Strickson. A biography of one of the longest surviving Bomb Disposal Officers, inspired by the discovery of one of his post-war paints on sale in a local shop soon after his death, tracing his route into bomb disposal, his experiences in the field, as well as focusing on the author’s motivation for writing the book, and the progress of their research efforts. A compelling and often poignant story of a very brave man, thrust into one of the most dangerous jobs of the entire war(Read Full Review)
March by Moonlight - A Bomber Command Story of Ops and Evasion, Captivity and Friendship, Jack Love & Barry Love. A fascinating autobiography focusing on the co-author’s initial evasion attempts after his aircraft crash landed in France, and then his time in a series of POW camps, including the famous Stalag Luft III. Includes a compelling tale of an almost successful attempt to evade capture after the crash, followed by Jack’s time in the camps, and his observations on the life of the average POW, not involved in the constant efforts to escape(Read Full Review)
Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
Anders Lassen VC, MC of the SAS, Mike Langley. A biography of one of the most remarkable men to serve with the SAS and SBS during the Second World War, an exiled Dane who went on to win the MC and two bars and the Victoria Cross, looking at his military career and his character, and producing a picture of a more complex than expected man, who inflicted a great deal of damage on the Germans, especially in the Aegean (Read Full Review)
Armoured Horsemen: With the Bays and Eight Army in North Africa and Italy, Peter Willett. Looks at the experiences of a British armoured unit during the key battles in North Africa and the last year of the Italian campaign, with a focus on the desert war. Gives us an interesting view into a generally well led but Public School dominated regiment, as well as the author's own experiences of the nature of armoured warfare. Also covers his post-war career in racing, to complete the picture (Read Full Review)
Thunder Bird in Bomber Command, Sean Feast. A biography of Lionel Anderson, the brother of Gerry Anderson, covering his all too brief career in the RAF during the Second World War, and built around the lively letters he sent home while training in the United States, covering his flying training, descriptions of the local area and adventures while on leave. Concludes with a look at his period of active service, which tragically ended on his first mission on the de Havilland Mosquito. The result is a very entertaining biography that covers an unusual area of the RAF experience of the war [read full review]
Battles of a Gunner Officer: Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy and the Long Road to Germany, John Philip Jones & Major Peter Pettit. The edited diaries of an officer in the Artillery, tracing his progress from Tunisia to northern Germany via Sicily, Normandy and north-western Europe. Demonstrates how dangerous life in the Artillery could be, with many of his colleagues killed in combat, as well as giving us a valuable picture of how the very efficient British artillery operated during the Second World War. [read full review]
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Escape from the Japanese - The Amazing Story of a PoW's Journey from Hong Kong to Freedom, Lt. Cmdr Ralph Burton Goodwin. Compelling story of a rare successful escape from Japanese captivity, followed by a journey across war-torn China. The author was captured at the fall of Hong Kong. After two and a half years he escaped, and made his way across very difficult terrain into Chinese-held territory. We then trace his journey across wartime China, from the Communist held area around Hong Kong to the Nationalist capital at Kunming, so the fascinating escape story is followed by a very valuable insight into conditions within China. [read full review]
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The Men behind Monty, Richard Mead. Looks at the men who made Monty's distinctive command style possible, including his invaluable Chief of Staff Freddie de Guingand, the liaison officers who kept him in touch with the units under his command and the less famous staff officers who ran his three separate headquarters. Also examines the successes and failures of Monty's system, which had its critics then and now. [read full review]
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Covert Radar and Signals Interception - The Secret Career of Eric Ackermann, Peter Jackson & David Haysom . Looks at the long career of a scientist who served with an honorary commission in the RAF, won the George Medal during the Second World War and went on to have a long career in the first part of the Cold War. [read full review]
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Over the Wire - A Pow's Escape Story from the Second World War, Philip Newman . An excellent account of a military doctor's experiences before the evacuation from Dunkirk, time in German captivity, escape from the camp and most valuably his escape to safety from occupied France. Highly recommended for its view of the entire process from camp to safety. [read full review]
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The Wooden Horse, Eric WilliamThe Wooden Horse, Eric Williams. One of the classic prisoner-of-war tales, told in a semi-fictionalised account to bypass wartime secrecy laws. The escape itself, using a wooden horse to hide the entrance to a tunnel, takes up the first part of the book, and is followed by a fascinating section on the escape from occupied Europe into neutral Sweden, achieved with a great deal of help from conscripted French workers and Danish sailors. [read full review]
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Special Forces Commander, Michael Scott. Looks at the military career of Peter Wand-Tetley, who served as a Commando, in the SAS, with SOE in Greece, in post-war Indonesia and with the Colonial Service in the last years of the British Empire in Africa, combined with the story of each of his organisations and the campaigns they took part in. The result is an excellent picture of the work of British Special Forces in the Mediterranean theatre as well as Wand-Tetley's contribution. [read full review]
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They Have Their Exits, Airey Neave. One of the great escape stories of the Second World War. Airey Neave was captured in 1940 and made a series of attempts to escape, before finally managing to walk out of Colditz dressed as a German officer. An excellent account of Neave's own escape efforts, tied in to his time with the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal. [read full review]
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Orde Wingate, Jon Diamond. A biography of Wingate that really does focus on his life and avoids the temptation to become a history of the Chindits. Covers his early career in Palestine and Ethiopian in just as much detail as the time in Burma. Provides a good brief biography of this controversial figure, who still divides opinion seventy years after his death. [read full review]
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Fighting with the Desert Rats, Major H.P. Samwell MC. The memoirs of an infantry officer in the Desert Rats, written during the war and left unmodified after the author's death in combat in 1945. Gives a good idea of the chaos at the front and the very different atmosphere behind the lines. Also stands out for the author's interest in the views of other nationalities, and his interviews with representatives of the many different communities of North Africa. [read full review]
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Carve Her Name With Pride, R. J. Minney. The classic biography of Violette Szabo, one of the most famous SOE operatives of the Second World War, tracing her life from her childhood in Britain and France to her brief tragic wartime marriage and her career in SOE, which saw her captured on her second mission, imprisoned, tortured and finally executed in the last days of the war. [read full review]
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Anti-Tank: The Story of a Desert Gunner in the Second World War, Mark Carter. The real life adventures of the commander of a 25pdr gun crew in North Africa, through the period of rapid advances and retreats and on to the final Allied advance after El Alamein. Focuses on the more dramatic episodes of Carter's career, producing an exciting account of his life during the ever-changing desert war. [read full review]
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A Reluctant Hero: The Life and Times of Robert Ryder VC, Richard Hopton. A biography of the naval commander at the St Nazairre raid, who after a pre-war career dominated by sailing ships (he sailed home from China in a yacht built for the task and was the naval commander on the British Graham Land Expedition), he had a fairly distinguished wartime career, which included the raid on St. Nazairre, Dieppe and the D-Day Landings. [read full review]
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He Who Dared and Died: The Life and Death of an SAS Original, Sergeant Chris O'Dowd MM, Gearóid O'Dowd. The story of an Irish volunteer in the British Army who became an early member of the SAS and fought with them in North Africa and on Sicily before being killed during the invasion of Italy. [read full review]
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Who Goes Where?, Stella Rutter. A family history of the Broughton and Towler families combined with the autobiography of Stella Rutter, a member of the Supermarine drawing staff during the Second World War. Finishes with a collection of wartime memories from friends and colleagues. [read full review]
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Fighting Through from Dunkirk to Hamburg, Bill Cheall. The Memoirs of a Green Howard who was called up in 1939, moved to France just before the German invasion, was evacuated from Dunkirk, fought in the desert and Sicily, took part in the D-Day landings before being wounded on D+30. A down-to-earth account of momentous events and an interesting view of the development of the British army. [read full review]
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Return Flights in War and Peace, the Flying Memoirs of Squadron Leader John Rowland, DSO, DFC. The memoirs of an RAF pilot who started with war in Army Co-Operation before joining Bomber Command, where he flew 50 missions, ending the war as a flight leader. Covers the experiences of a Bomber Command pilot in the second half of the war, when targets became rather more varied than earlier [read full review]
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Armoured Guardsmen:  A War Diary, June 1944-April 1945, Robert Boscawen. The diary of a tank commander and squadron commander, written during the campaign in north-western Europe in 1944-1945, with later comments also provided by the same author. A compelling read that mixes moments of great humour with accounts of some very fierce combat, and the casualties that went with it. [read full review]
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Fighting Brigadier: The Life of Brigadier James Hill DSO MC, Peter Harcerode. Partly a biography of Hill (an important figure in the creation of the Parachute Regiment) and partly a history of the units he commanded in North Africa, Normandy, during the Battle of the Bulge, in the crossing of the Rhine and finally in the advance to the Baltic. [read full review]
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Six of Monty's Men, Adrian Steward. Six short biographies of six of Montgomery's key subordinates in North Africa, Italy and Normandy (Harding, Leese, de Guingand, Horrocks, Richardson and Roberts), which between them tell the story of all three campaigns, as well as casting an interesting light on Montgomery's abilities and character.  [read full review]
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The Alexander Memoirs, 1940-1945, Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis. The memoir's of Britain's most experienced commander of the Second World War, a man who led troops at Dunkirk, in North Africa, Burma, Sicily and Italy. 'Alex' is almost too modest, focusing much more on his subordinate's achievements than on his own, but his memoirs are still an invaluable source for some of the most important campaigns of the war. [read full review]
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Donald Dean VC, the Memoirs of a Volunteer and Territorial from Two World Wars, ed. Terry Crowdy. The memoirs of a very impressive man, a Victoria Cross winning soldier during the First World War and a senior commander with the Pioneers during the Second World War. The account of the second part of his career is of particular interest, partly because it covers part of the army that is rarely mentioned but that played a crucial part in the Allied victory and partly because of Dean's own attitude to the multi-racial and multi-cultural units under his command. [read full review]
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'A Very Fine Commander': The Memoirs of General Sir Horatius Murray, ed. John Donovan. Interesting autobiography of a lesser known British general of the Second World War, tracing his career as he moved from staff posts at home to combat in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Italy and Austria and his post-war career that saw him serve in Palestine and Korea and rise to high rank within NATO. [read full review]
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Wavell - Soldier and Statesman, Victoria Schofield. A major biography of a heavy-weight figure, Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East in 1940-41, in the Far East during the early Japanese victories, and Viceroy of India at a crucial period in the run-up to independence. Schofield paints a picture of a hard working, capable but modest commander, who often did a good job with very limited resources, but who was never really appreciated by Churchill. [read full review]
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Monty and Patton: Two Paths to Victory, Michael Reynolds. Twin biographies of two of the best known Allied generals of the Second World War, looking at how their early careers moulded their later commands, the difficult relationship between the two men and their individual styles of command.  [read full review]
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Orde Wingate, A Man of Genius, Trevor Royle. A well balanced biography of one of the most fascinating but exasperating British military leaders of the Second World War, tracing his career from his inter-war days in the Sudan, through the formation of the Special Night Squads in Palestine in 1938 to the wartime conquest of Abyssinia and the famous Chindit raids in Burma. [read full review]
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Memories of The Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers WWII, Sylvester Till. A short but very readable memoir of one of the millions of soldiers whose lives were disrupted by the Second World War. Till spent most of his war in Iraq, serving with one of the essential support units that kept the army working. As a result we see more of the daily life of the soldier overseas. [see more]
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Darkness before the Dawn, Sgt. J.N. Farrow. This is the wartime diary of Sgt. J.N. Farrow, a prisoner of war in Changi for four years from the fall of Singapore to the end of the war. The book in provides an invaluable insight into the life of a P.O.W. in the Far East. [see more]
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Popski's Private Army, Vladimir Peniakoff. A fascinating autobiography from the commander of one of the more successful of the small "private armies" that evolved during the fighting in North Africa. After operating behind enemy lines in the desert, Popski took his men to Italy, and we follow them all the way from the first landings at Taranto to his triumphal entry into Venice. [see more]
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Love and Sand, Howard M. Layton. The autobiography of a RAF Navigator who took part in the campaign in East Africa and the evacuation from Greece, flew on the Trans-Africa ferry route and fought in the El Alamein campaign. Layton weaves his military experiences into the wider story of his life, taking us from pre-war Coventry, through North Africa, and on to his post-war life in America [see more]
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Churchill's Wit, The Definitive Collection, ed. Richard M. Langworth. A wide ranging collection of Churchill's wittiest comments, including extracts from his speeches and published works, as well as impromptu quips, all fully referenced and if required set in context. Also included is a good selection of quotes often incorrectly attributed to Churchill, with the correct attribution. [read full review]

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The Art of Leadership, Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. This is a revised edition of Monty's classic work on leadership including a chapter comparing Churchill and Eisenhower that was excluded from the original work. Of interest both for Montgomery's thoughts on what made a good leader and for the insight it gives us into his attitudes towards some of his wartime contemporaries. [read full review]

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Diving Stations - The Story of Captain George Hunt and The Ultor, Peter Dornan. Follows the wartime career of Captain George Hunt, commander of a U-class submarine in the Mediterranean theatre where he sank more enemy ships than any other British submarine. A fascinating insight into life on a small submarine, carrying only eight torpedoes and with a tiny crew, operating in difficult waters. [read full review]
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Surgeon at Arms: Parachuting into Arnhem with the First Airborne, Lipmann Kessel. The memoirs of a surgeon who parachuted into Arnhem, operated in a hospital that was soon occupied by the Germans, and who then escaped from captivity and spent weeks with the Dutch underground making a series of attempts to cross the front line. [read full review]
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Sea Flight: The Wartime Memoirs of a Fleet Air Arm Pilot, Hugh Popham. First published in 1954 this was the first memoir produced by a fighter pilot from the Fleet Air Arm, and captures the feel of the times while the nine year delay means that Popham had time to put his experiences into a wider context, both personally and within the framework of the war. [read full review]
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Alone I Fly - A Wellington Pilot's Desert War, Bill Bailey. Wider ranging than the title would suggest, Bailey served as a Wellington pilot in North Africa and from Malta, an airfield controller on Malta and as an instructor in the UK, all after surviving a fairly disastrous first mission in the desert. An engaging and wide ranging autobiography that gives an unusual view of the RAF at war. [read full review]
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Prisoner of the Gestapo: A Memoir of Survival and Captivity in Wartime Poland, Tom Firth. A tale of survival in wartime Poland in which the author saw in the early Russian occupation of eastern Poland, occupied Warsaw, the inside of a Gestapo prison, the front line in 1944 and the paranoid workings of the Soviet state at the end of the war. An enthralling tale of the best and worst of humanity [read full review]
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Escape from Arnhem: A Glider Pilot's Story, Godfrey Freeman. The story of two escapes - the first from German captivity, the second from enemy-held territory, both with the help of the Dutch resistances. Freeman also produces some interesting views on the nature of bravery - as is so often the case he underplays his own actions and saw the most bravery in the Dutch civilians who helped so many men to escape from Arnhem.   [read full review]
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Night Fighter Navigator: Beaufighters and Mosquitoes in World War II, Dennis Gosling DFC. The autobiography of a radar operator who took part in some of the most important spells of night-fighting during the Second World War, including the early days of radar interception and the desperate defence of Malta. [read full review]
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Periscope View, George Simpson. Autobiography written by the commander of the 10th Submarine Flotilla from 1941-43, focusing on his time in command of a unit that sank or damaged over one millions tons of Axis shipping in the Mediterranean but at a very heavy cost, losing half of its submarines [read full review]
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One Pilot's War - The Battle of Britain and Beyond, W.A. Wilkinson. The very readable autobiography of a pre-war RAF volunteer, tracing his progress from the workshops at Cranwell to the cockpit of a Hurricane during the battle of France and the battle of Britain, long patrols over the Irish Sea and finally a career as an instructor. [read full review]
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Devotion to a Calling: Far-east flying and survival with 62 Squadron, RAF, Group Captain Harley Boxall and Joe Bamford. A mix of autobiography and biography tracing the career of Group Captain Harley Boxall from his pre-war training, to the Far East in 1939, through the chaotic events of the Japanese invasion of Malaya and on to his later career in the RAF [read full review]
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United States

Rebel to Reels – A biography of Combat Cameraman Daniel A. McGovern USAF, Joseph McCabe. Looks at the fascinating life of Daniel A. McGovern, who went from being under IRA siege in post First World War Ireland to serving as a Combat Cameraman in the USAAF, documenting the 8th Air Force’s bombing raids over Germany and the aftermath of the Atomic Bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where he filmed the devastation of Japan and the first tentative signs of post-war renewal (Read Full Review)
You Can't Get Much Closer Than This, A.Z. Adkins Jr and Andrew Z Adkins, III. The often moving diaries of Captain A. Z. Adkins, an officer in the 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, tracing his experiences as he fought his way from Normandy to the end of the war, serving with a heavy weapons company and then with 81mm mortars. A vivid picture of what it was like to be under fire at the front line, the painful nature of the Allied progress across Europe, and the sudden change as German resistance finally broke in the last days of the war (Read Full Review)
Eisenhower, Steven J. Zaloga. A short biography of Eisenhower, focusing on his time as a senior Allied commander, from North Africa to D-Day and the campaign in North-West Europe, and looking at the reasons he was chosen for such high command and what made him such a successful coalition commander. [read full review]
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Letters from my Son: A Texas Boy's Journey to the RAF, Dolcie Suggs Ehlinger & Karen Guelfo Ehlinger. Biography of Early Willson Jr, an American volunteer in the RAF, told through his letters to his parents stretching over a fifteen year period, and ending just before his tragic death in a flying accident in Wales in 1941. [read full review]

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Monty and Patton: Two Paths to Victory, Michael Reynolds. Twin biographies of two of the best known Allied generals of the Second World War, looking at how their early careers moulded their later commands, the difficult relationship between the two men and their individual styles of command.  [read full review]
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Dear Miss Em: General Eichelberger's War in the Pacific, 1942-45. A collection of the wartime letters sent by General Eichenberger to his wife, edited by Jay Luvaas, and which provides an invaluable insight into the workings of the high command in the south west Pacific, and a revealing look at General MacArthur from someone who worked closely with him.
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