Monday, July 31, 2017

Siege of Asculum (90-89 BC)

The siege of Asculum (90-89 BC) was one of the longest sieges of the Social War, and eventually saw Pompeius Strabo capture the city, after a siege that may have lasted for over a year.

Siege of Herculaneum (probably to 11 June 89 BC)

The siege of Herculaneum (probably to 11 June 89 BC) is one of the more obscure incidents of the Social War, and saw a Roman army recapture the town after it fell to the Samnites in 90 BC.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith.

Looks at the contribution made by the army of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Wellington's victory in the Waterloo campaign, where it made up one third of his army. Makes good use of Dutch and Belgian sources to produce a useful account of the role that this newly formed army played in Wellington's victory, although sometimes exaggerates the bias against this army in English language histories
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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
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Cataphracts - Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires, Erich B. Anderson

Looks at the heavily armoured horsemen found in armies across the Ancient Middle East, most famously in the armies of Parthia, Persia and the Byzantines. Traces the development of heavily armoured troops, their use in battle, the variants in use with different powers, and their eventual decline during the Byzantine period. A useful single volume history of the heaviest cavalry type of the ancient world.
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Friday, July 28, 2017

Operation Strike (5-13 May 1943)

Operation Strike (5-13 May 1943) was the final Allied offensive in North Africa, and ended with the surrender of all Axis troops in Tunisia and the capture of around 275,000 prisoners of war.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Consolidated PT-8

The Consolidated PT-8 was an experimental version of the PT-3/ O-17 family powered by a Packard diesel engine.

Consolidated XPT-5

The Consolidated XPT-5 was a version of the PT-3 that used a Curtiss Challenger engine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

USS Lea (DD-118)

USS Lea (DD-118) was a Wickes class destroyer that saw service very late in the First World War, before operating on convoy escort damage in the Atlantic for most of the Second World War.

USS Dorsey (DD-117/ DMS-1)

USS Dorsey (DD-117/ DMS-1) was a Wickes class destroyer that entered service just in time for service in the last months of the First World War, but that saw more extensive service as a high speed mine sweeper during the First World War before being badly damaged in a typhoon off Okinawa just after the end of the war.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Combat of Bischofswerda (22 September 1813)

The combat of Bischofswerda (22 September 1813) was a minor French success that saw Napoleon push Blücher back from a threatening position between Bautzen and Dresden.

Combat of Dolnitz (17 September 1813)

The combat of Dolnitz (17 September 1813) saw the French briefly descend onto the plains south of Bohemian mountains, but after some limited fighting Napoleon decided to withdraw to Saxony, rather than risk fighting with a mountain range separating his army.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Battle of Lake Fucinus (89 BC)

The battle of Lake Fucinus (89 BC) was a Roman defeat at the hands of the Marsians, which came after the Roman commander Lucius Porcius Cato was killed (Italian Social War).

Siege of Firmum (90 BC)

The siege of Firmum (90 BC) saw Pompey Strabo besieged in the city after suffering a defeat at Mount Falernus, delaying his attempt to besiege Asculum (Italian Social War).

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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.
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The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, Hilda Ellis Davidson

One of the first serious studies of the Anglo-Saxon sword, comparing the literary and archaeological records, examining the physical nature of the swords and their accessories in some detail, and including an early example of experimental archaeology, a successful attempt to recreate the pattern welded swords of the period, a lost technique until then. Does a really good job of linking the surviving swords to their literary cousins, suggesting that the language used to describe swords was accurate
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'The Devil's to Pay' John Buford at Gettysburg, a History and Walking Tour, Eric J. Wittenberg.

Focuses on the role played by John Buford's cavalry brigade on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, where it held up the Confederate advance, and allowed the Union infantry to take up the defensive positions that were held on the second and third days of the battle. Includes a wide range of detailed maps and good material on the Confederate side of the battle and the activities of Buford later in the battle
[read full review]

Friday, July 21, 2017

Consolidated XPT-4

The Consolidated XPT-4 was a version of the PT-3 that used an experimental Fairchild-Caminez engine in place of the 220hp Wright J-5 (R-790) Whirlwind nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine.

Consolidated PT-3 'Husky

The Consolidated PT-3 'Husky' was an updated version of the PT-1 trainer that used the same Wright J-5 engine as the Navy's Consolidated NY trainers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

USS Dent (DD-116/ APD-9)

USS Dent (DD-116/ APD-9) was a Wickes class destroyer that entered service just in time to escort one convoy across the Atlantic during the First World War, but that saw more service as a fast transport in the Pacific during the Second World War.

USS Waters (DD-115/ APD-8)

USS Waters (DD-115/ APD-8) was a Wickes class destroyer that entered service just in time to escort three convoys across the Atlantic during the First World War, and that had a much more active career as a fast transport during the Second World War.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Action of Göhrde (16 September 1813)

The action of Göhrde (16 September 1813) saw the Allies intercept a column sent out of Hamburg by Marshal Davout and force it to retreat back into the city after suffering heavy losses.

Combat of Peterswalde (16 September 1813)

The combat of Peterswalde (16 September 1813) was the second step in a French counterattack that forced the Allies back into Bohemia, and briefly gave Napoleon a chance to operate on the southern side of the Bohemian mountains.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Operation Vulcan (22-28 April 1943)

Operation Vulcan (22-28 April 1943) was the first stage of the final Allied attack in Tunisia, and involved a series of attacks all around the Axis bridgehead that pushed the defenders back from most of their best defensive positions, but didn’t quite break through into the open ground around Bizerte and Tunis

Battle of Enfidaville (19-21 April 1943)

The battle of Enfidaville (19-21 April 1943) was the Eighth Army's last significant battle in North Africa, and saw them fail to break through unexpectedly tough Axis resistance in the mountainous terrain around Enfidaville.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Battle of Mount Falernus (90 BC)

The battle of Mount Falernus (90 BC) was a victory for the Italians over a Roman force under Pompey Strabo that was moving to besiege Asculum (Social War).

Battle of Teanum Sidicinum (90 BC)

The battle of Teanum Sidicinum (90 BC) saw the Roman consul Lucius Julius Caesar suffer a defeat at the hands of the Samnite leader Marius Egnatius (Social War), probably during an attempt to lift the siege of either Aesernia or Acerrae.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cherbourg 1944: The first Allied victory in Normandy, Steven J. Zaloga.

Looks at the entire Cotentin campaign, from the first battles to expand the D-Day beach head, through the advance west across the Peninsula, the attack on Cherbourg itself and the final mopping operations west of the port. A good account of this campaign, supported by a series of high quality campaign maps and well illustrated, and telling the story from both sides.
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Storming Monte La Difensa: The First Special Service Force at the Winter line, Italy 1943, Bret Werner.

Covers two unusual topics - an attack on an Italian mountain other than Monte Cassino, and a joint US-Canadian Special Forces unit. This was the only time the First Special Service Force was used in a truly Special Forces role, and it performed brilliantly, successfully climbing a cliff behind the German position and attacking them from above, in an attack that resembles many later war movies! [read full review]

Givenchy in the Great War - A Village on the Front Line 1914-1918, Phil Tomaselli

Traces the fighting that took part on the Givenchy sector of the Western Front during the First World War, following the village through the major battles of 1914-15 and 1918 and the quieter spells of 1916-17. Covers the fighting above ground and the massive mining campaign that went on under the front. An interesting idea that gives us a snapshot of the fighting on the Western Front as it affected a single heavily fought over location
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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Nachtjagd Defenders of the Reich, Martin W. Bowman.

A series of eyewitness accounts of the battle between German night fighters and British bombers between the start of the bombing campaign in 1940 and the battle of Berlin at the end of 1943. A bit repetitive in places, due to the vast number of accounts included, but as a result a useful source of information on the attitudes and achievements of the German night fighter forces
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In Pursuit of the Essex - Heroism and Hubris on the High Seas in the War of 1812, Ben Hughes

Follows two main participants in one of the more unusual naval duals of the War of 1812, the clash between the Essex and the Phoebe at Valparaiso on the coast of Chile. Follows both of the main participants on their long voyages from home ports into the Pacific, their attempts to find each other, the standoff after they met at Valparaiso and the eventual battle, triggered by an unsuccessful attempt by Porter to escape out to sea
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Fighters over the Fleet – Naval Air Defence from Biplanes to the Cold War, Norman Friedman.

A history of naval air defence from the First World War to the present day, looking at the systems used to control air defence, and the aircraft and weapons involved. Gets a bit bogged down in post-war aircraft design, but otherwise a detailed but readable account of a remarkably complex topic that has dominated fleet design since the Second World War, covering an impressive wide range of topics over a century of naval aviation.
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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Battle of Gabes or Wadi Akarit (6-7 April 1943)

The battle of Gabes or Wadi Akarit (6-7 April 1943) saw the Eighth Army quickly force their way past an improved defensive line occupied by the Axis forces after their retreat from the Mareth Line.

Operation Wop (16-23 March 1943)

Operation Wop (16-23 March 1943) was an American attack carried out in order to help Montgomery's attack on the Mareth Line, the key Axis defensive position in southern Tunisia.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Boulton Paul P.131

The Boulton Paul P.131 was a design for a jet trainer, designed in response to Specification O.R.AIR/37, but that didn’t enter production.

Boulton Paul P.125

The Boulton Paul P.125 was a jet version of the P.108 Balliol, designed to replace the Percival Provost, but that didn't enter production.

Boulton Paul P.124

The Boulton Paul P.124 was a jet trainer designed to replace the Percival Provost, but that didn't enter production.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

USS Talbot (DD-114/APD-7)

USS Talbot (DD-114/APD-7) was a Wickes class destroyer that served briefly towards the end of the First World War, but that was much more active as a fast transport in the Pacific during the Second World War.

USS Rathburne (DD-113/ APD-25)

USS Rathburne (DD-113/ APD-25) was a Wickes class destroyer that performed convoy escort duties during the First World War and served as a fast transport during the Second World War, serving in the Philippines and at Okinawa.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Combat of Berggiesshübel (15 September 1813)

The combat of Berggiesshübel (15 September 1813) was the first step in a French counterattack that restored their position after an Allied attack on 14 September, and ended with some fighting on the southern side of the Bohemian mountains.

Combat of Nollemdorf (14 September 1813)

The combat of Nollemdorf (14 September 1813) was an Allied counterattack that forced the French out of their most advanced positions in Bohemia, and triggered a brief French offensive that ended with Napoleon's troops briefly fighting south of the mountains.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Early Iron Age Greek Warrior 1100-700 BC, Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti

Looks at the period between the heroic warriors of Homer and the rise of the Hoplite, a fairly obscure period where the bulk of the evidence comes from contemporary artworks or archaeological remains (and which only contains one certain major war, the First Messenian War). As a result the book focuses largely on reconstructing the changes in military equipment over this 400 year period, which ended with the first evidence of the hoplites
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Hitler's Russian & Cossack Allies 1941-1945, Nigel Thomas

Provides an overview of the organisation of six of the nine categories of Russian and Cossack troops who fought for the Germans during the Second World War, a total of around half a million men, who helped make up for some of the huge losses suffered by the Germans and their allies on the Eastern Front. Focuses on the origins, structure and organisation of these units rather than their combat record, which wouldn't fit in a book of this size.
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Holding the Home Front - The Women's Land Army in the First World War, Caroline Scott

Looks at the effort that went into getting women accepted on farms during the First World War, starting with a variety of voluntary bodies, leading up to the formation of the Women's Land Army early in 1917. Tells a similar tale to that of the more famous Land Army of the Second World War, but with more emphasis on volunteering and voluntary organisations for most of the war, and as a result a wider variety of experiences
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