Sunday, March 31, 2019

Operation Barbarossa 1941 - Hitler against Stalin, Christer Bergström

A splendid account of Operation Barbarossa that clears away many of the misrepresentations that have often distorted our picture of this massive campaign. Takes advantage of the opening of Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union to provide a balance to the more readily available German sources, and relies more on working documents and contemporary reports than on the often badly biased post-war memoirs. Gives a clear idea of how the Germans won their early victories, the surprise of their collapse outside Moscow at the end of the year, and of the importance of both German and Soviet aviation in the eventual result of the conflict
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Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem, Stanley Lane-Poole

Originally published in 1898, but relying mainly on Arabic sources written by Saladin’s contemporaries, supported by accounts of the Third Crusade for the later part of the book. Provides a very readable account of Saladin’s career, from his unexpected promotion to ruler of Egypt, through his conquest of Syria and on to the defeat of the Crusaders at Hattin, the conquest of Jerusalem and the successful defence of the city against the forces of the Third Crusade. Generally favourable towards Saladin, although without becoming overly biased, and largely accurate due to the reliance on the main contemporary sources
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Cruiser Birmingham - detailed in the original builder’s plans, Conrad Waters

Fascinating study of the cruiser, built around the builder’s plans from 1937, the wartime refit of 1943 and the major reconstruction of 1952. These are impressively well drawn, colourful documents, that contain a wealth of detailed information on the layout of these cruisers, allowing us both to appreciate the care and attention required to produce these powerful weapons of war, and their second nature as a large floating village, complete with band, workshops, kitchens, and eventually a cinema
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Thursday, March 28, 2019

USS Parrott (DD-218)

USS Parrott (DD-218) was a Clemson class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean and Black Sea in 1922-25 and with the Asiatic Fleet from 1925 onwards. She survived the disastrous attempt to defend the Malay Barrier early in 1942, and returned to the US, from where she carried out escort duties and took part in anti-submarine hunter killer operations, before being decommissioned after she was badly damaged in a collision in 1944.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

HMS Bat (1896)

HMS Bat (1896) was a C class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean in 1902-5 and in home waters for the rest of her career. During the First World War she was attached to the Grand Fleet from 1914-1917, mainly serving with the Cromarty Patrol. In 1917 she formed part of the East Coast Convoys organisation, before joining the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in 1918

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Operation Second Wind (5-19 April 1945)

Operation Second Wind (5-19 April 1945) was a diversionary attack on the far left of the Allied front line in Italy that saw the US 92nd Division capture the town of Massa, forcing the Germans to move precious reinforcements west to try and hold their line.

Monday, March 25, 2019

HMS Whiting (1896)

HMS Whiting (1896) was a C class destroyer that was allocated to the China Station soon after being commissioned, and that spent the rest of her career in eastern waters, remaining on active duty throughout the First World War.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

14in Gun on Railway Mount Model E

The 14in Gun on Railway Mount Model E was a coastal defence weapon that was being designed before the US entry into the First World War, and that could be used either as a sliding type gun or from a fixed firing emplacement.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

HMS Star (1896)

HMS Star (1896) was a C class destroyer that was part of the Shetlands Patrol at the start of the First World War, served with the Cromarty Patrol from 1915-1917 and then with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in 1918.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

USS Whipple (DD-217)

USS Whipple (DD-217) was a Clemson class destroyer that served in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea in 1920-21, with the Asiatic Fleet in 1921-25 and again from 1929. She survived the disasterous battles in the Dutch East Indies early in 1942, and escaped to Australian waters. She was then withdraw to the United States, where she was converted into an escort. She spent the rest of the war on a mix of convoy escort and anti-submarine duties, playing a part in the sinking of U-544.

Monday, March 18, 2019

HMS Otter (1986)

HMS Otter (1986) was a C class destroyer that spent most of her career on the China station, briefly returning to active service after the outbreak of the First World War, before being sold off in 1916.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Operation Grapeshot, or the Allied Spring Offensive in Italy (9 April-2 May 1945)

Operation Grapeshot, or the Allied Spring Offensive in Italy (9 April-2 May 1945) saw the Allied armies in Italy finally break their German opponents, leading to the first large scale German capitulation in Europe, signed only 20 days after the start of the offensive.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Operation Encore (19 February-5 March 1945)

Operation Encore (19 February-5 March 1945) was a limited offensive carried out by the US Fifth Army in an attempt to improve its position in the Apennines and prepare for the upcoming spring offensive.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

HMS Avon (1896)

HMS Avon (1896) was a C class destroyer that served with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in 1914-1917, before moving to the North Channel Patrol at the northern entrance to the Irish Sea in 1918. However she was soon ‘borrowed’ by the Senior Naval Officer at Liverpool, where she spent most of 1918

Monday, March 11, 2019

12in Howitzer on Railway Mount

The 12in Howitzer on Railway Mount was one of the more advanced designs of railway artillery produced for the US Army, but like most American designs didn’t arrive in time to see service in the First World War.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Greek and Macedonian Land Battles of the 4th Century BC, Fred Eugene Ray Jr

Looks at 187 battles fought during one of the most dramatic centuries of Ancient History, a period that started with Sparta the dominant power of Greece and ended with the successors of Alexander the Great squabbling over the ruins of his Empire. An interesting study of a period in which Greek warfare evolved dramatically, ending the dominance of the simple Hoplite army and seeing the rise of cavalry as a battle winning weapon
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Battles on the Seven Seas - German Cruiser Battles 1914-1918, Gary Staff

Looks at the activities of German cruisers during the First World War, covering the major naval battles in the North Sea, the exploits of the surface raiders early in the war, the role of the two German cruisers in Turkish service and the limited fighting in the Baltic. A useful counter to the tendency to see these events from the British point of view, made possible by the author’s impressive use of German sources
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Augustus at War - the struggle for the Pax Augusta, Lindsay Powell

A year-by-year study of all of the wars fought during Augustus’s reign, covering a suprising amount of offensive wars, in which Augustus and his generals doubled the size of the Roman Empire. Looks at both the central role of Augustus and his family and the part played by other Roman aristocrats, who were still willing to struggle for glory during this period, buying in to the idea that the Republic still existed under Augustus
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Friday, March 08, 2019

HMS Bittern (1897)

HMS Bittern (1897) was a C class destroyer that served in home waters for her entire career. She was part of the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla in 1914-1918, and was lost with her entire crew after she collided with SS Kenilworth in thick fog on 4 April 1918.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Gridley class destroyers

The Gridley class destroyers marked a victory for those in the US Navy who saw the destroyer as primarily an offensive ship, and the torpedo as its main weapon.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

‘C Class destroyer’

‘C Class destroyer’ was the designation given to those pre-First World War 30-knot destroyers that had three funnels in the general reorganisation of destroyer classes in 1912.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Operation Tombola (4 March-24 April 1945)

Operation Tombola (4 March-24 April 1945) was a successful SAS operation in northern Italy that saw them form a battle group along with Italian partisans and escaped Russian POWS, causing a great deal of disruption before the start of the Allied spring offensive of 1945.

Monday, March 04, 2019

HMS Arab (1901)

HMS Arab (1901) was the third of three 33-knot ‘specials’ that all failed to reach their target speed. She became a standard B class destroyer, and served with the Seventh Flotilla on the Humber in 1914, the Scapa Patrol in 1915-17 before returning to the Seventh Flotilla in 1918.