German Army and Aviation
THE KAISER’S MEMOIRS
Published By Naval & Military Press Ltdwww.naval-military-press.com
Often referred to by the British Tommy as “Kaiser Bill”, Wilhelm II was in fact the Grandson of Queen Victoria. He became 9th King of Prussia and 3rd Emperor of Germany in 1888 and “reigned” until he was forced to abdicate in November 1914. As a result of his strict upbringing and his military and academic education, he was very much an autocratic monarch, who was opposed to socialism and supported German imperialism in a very militaristic way. He actually ousted Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck from office and despite the late British Queen being his Grandmother, promoted anti-British foreign policy to the extent that he even supported South Africa during the Boer War.He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1908 and for the next few years stepped back and therefore played a less dominant role, however he continued to support imperialism and backed Tirpitz when he suggested building a fleet of ships to match that of the British Royal Navy. He encouraged Austro-Hungarian aggression after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and became Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces during the Great War. William was forced to abdicate in early November, 1918 and fled his beloved country with his family and lived in Holland for the remainder of his life until he died in 1941.
He actually wrote two volumes of autobiography – this title covering the period 1878-1918 (originally published in 1922) and My Early Life (Published in 1926).
I must admit that although this is not one of the first titles I would have purchased, I did find it provided me with very interesting reading, as it gave me a great insight into the thoughts of this famous man, who played an important role in Germany during the early part of the century and the Great War. It is very much a publication for the serious historian, however I would suggest that any Great War enthusiast or Battlefield Guide should read it as it will give them a much wider perspective of events during the crucial period of world history too.
THE GERMANS AT THIEPVAL (ISBN: 1 84415 4327)
THE GERMANS AT BEAUMONT-HAMEL ( ISBN: 1 84415 4432)
Author: Jack Sheldon
Pen & Sword Books Limited
The recent media coverage of the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme will I am sure renew existing interest or create interest for the first time in this, one of the bloodiest battles in our history. In the summer months there is usually a steady flow of visitors to this area, some travel in private cars and others in groups, what ever their reasons, most leave wanting to learn more of events at the time of the battle itself and therefore this excellent series of books will provide them with many answers they seek and a great deal of other useful information too. The two latest titles cover – Thiepval, now famous for the Lutyens’s massive memorial to the missing which bears the inscriptions of the names of over 72,000 British and Commonwealth troops who were killed and have no know graves. In the Autumn of 1918, this was the site of three months of bitter fighting, as British troops tried to capture this key area of the landscape which the Germans had turned into an impregnable fortress. Beaumont Hamel is another name which conjures up appalling visions too, as it was here on 1st July 1916 that thousands of men of VIII Corps, British Fourth Army, were killed or wounded for no gains whatsoever. This volume covers the actions there at that time and also the Old Front line from Redan Ridge to the Ancre.
These excellent handy sized publications are without a doubt ideal to use whilst on tour. They include many then and now photographs and make full use of original maps too. These coupled with other archive information and the excellent personal accounts of those who actually fought there, will take the reader stage by stage through the battles. They will therefore be beneficial to a wide range of readers from the expert military historians and family history researchers, through to the casual day tripper, who may be interested to learn that many of our now famous historians or the finest of battlefield guides actually kindled their interest in the Great War and distinguished careers from one of these short day trips to the Somme!
THROUGH GERMAN EYES
THE BRITISH ON THE SOMME 1916
Author: Christopher Duffy
Publisher: Wiedenfield & Nicholson
First Published in June 2006
Christopher Duffy is an acknowledged expert on the Austrian and German army between the 1800’s and 1945 and therefore readers can be sure that the content of this useful volume will be accurate, as it will be based on firm facts, a great deal of extensive research and a wealth of experience. It is sure to be an invaluable addition to any military historian’s or battlefield guide’s library and will be ideal for future reference especially when wanting to add a new and different perspective when leading Great War battlefield tours.
Anyone who has heard of the Battle of the Somme is aware that it was one of the key battles of the Great War and also learnt of the horrific waste of human life – especially on that fateful 1st July day, when no less than 58,000 British troops became casualties or were killed in action. This fact alone has left a lasting legacy of an image of British incompetency and brave “Tommies” being sent to their certain deaths by blundering generals, therefore branding the initial attack and following sequence of events a disaster.
Just as the title implies, this volume deals with the battle from the German perspective and will provide the reader with a very different view of the thought processes all those years ago. Contrary to modern British belief, the Germans did not believe the British troops were useless, in fact as the author’s research now reveals, they had a great and growing respect for the professionalism, performance and mentality of their enemy – especially as they were mostly volunteers.
The German view of the British and events at the time has only just come to light and therefore the contents of this volume will make fascinating reading. The author has drawn on previously inaccessible and obscure archive documents that include unpublished memoirs and records of interrogation with British prisoners-of-war, who at the time of their capture still believed Britain would win the war, thereby by fuelling concerns in German minds that they would be defeated!
Hindenburg and Ludendorff
Author: John Lee
Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson
Published in 2005
Telling the rare and fascinating story of the Germany’s Great War with emphasis on the men who actually ran the country, this superb book looks at famous battles from the German perspective and as seen through the eyes of the generals who actually fought against the allies. It is therefore quite unique and will, I am sure be invaluable to military both historians and Great War enthusiasts.
“The Warlords” - Paul Von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff were two of the most talented generals ever known and their successes in the Great War are now considered “legendary”. Jointly forming the Third Supreme Command when Falkenhayn resigned in 1916, they quickly rose to power. Along with a number of senior army officers and several leading industrialists, they later went on to effectively run Germany as a military dictatorship in the final years of the war. Their power in a country geared up to the war effort was immense, often meddling in affairs of state, they not only controlled the army, but industry too and were heavily involved in the distribution of food, together with the organisation and operation of transport systems as well - therefore having an influence on the overall economy of the country! There is no doubt that these remarkable men had an iron-grip on the nation, however it is thought their Prussian values may have actually led Germany towards starvation, which in turn resulted in strikes and civil unrest which perhaps unrealised at the time, actually laid the foundations for further global conflict some twenty years later.
The superb narrative is supported with many excellent photographs of the key personalities involved, together with troops in the trenches etc. A series of very useful maps is also included and therefore at just £16.99 is a very useful addition to any Great War collection.
NORTH WEST AIRCRAFT WRECKS
Author: Nick Wotherspoon
Publisher: Pen and Sword
ISBN: 1 84415 478 5
Published: November 2006
Aviation enthusiasts together with local and family history researchers with an interest in the North West of England will, I promise, find this handy sized volume fascinating.
Subtitled “New Insights Into Dramatic Last Flights” this splendid 18 chapter very readable publication provides the reader with a wealth of information, much of which was previously unpublished and obtained from a wide variety of sources, including official archives and statements from families, friends and eye witnesses to the crashes.
It describes an entirely new approach to aviation archeology as it explores aircraft crash sites in an area that covers Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and the North West. However having said that there are mentions of crashes in the Peak District, Northumbria and North Yorkshire too.
In the usual Pen and Sword style, it is packed to the hilt with many superb black and white photographs of personalities involved, their aircraft and many crash sites too. The excellent appendices detailing over 2000 aircraft crashes in the area during the period between 1917 and the late 1990’s makes it an invaluable source of reference and therefore a must for many bookshelves.
A GLINT IN THE SKY
Author: Martin Easdown with Thomas Genth
Publisher: Pen & Sword Local
ISBN: 1-84415 119 0
First Published in 2004
Due to its unique location, coupled with the excellent road, rail and ferry links, Kent is now considered by many, to be Britain’s “Gateway to Europe”. However, what are seen as the advantages of this closeness to the Continental mainland today, actually put this “ Garden of England” county, very much into the forefront, during both World Wars!
The dog fights and air raids over Kent during the Battle of Britain and World War 2, are still within living memory and are accurately documented on both paper and film, unfortunately, the events that took place during the Great War, were not so well recorded and therefore the details are generally quite sketchy and anyone visiting the bustling Kent ports of Dover and Sheerness or one of the nearby coastal towns of Ramsgate, Folkestone, Margate today, would find it difficult to believe, that these locations were once the sites of the first ever air raids on British soil by German bombers nearly ninety years ago!
The first attack, which took place on the evening of 25th May 1917, when a raid on Folkestone by German Gotha bombers, resulted in nearly 100 people being killed by one bomb alone, forms the main part of this excellent book. The author has carried out extensive and painstaking research and as a result, has produced a most fascinating volume, which is packed full of many excellent and previously un-published photographs. He provides full and accurate details of this raid, together with information on other devastating and horrific raids and events of the period. He includes extensive details of the casualties involved, therefore making this superb book a unique and invaluable reference tool for anyone interested in Kentish family, local or military history and of course the Great War.
The Aviation Pioneers
Author: Peter G. Cooksley
Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd.
It was on 17th December 1903 at Kittyhawk in the USA, that the Wright brothers made the first-ever manned powered flight! In today’s modern age, life without air transportation would be inconceivable, however the fact that this significant and historic event took place, just one hundred years ago, seems hard to believe too!
Anyone with even the slightest interest in early aviation, will enjoy reading this excellent book! The author has successfully covered man’s initial fascination with flight, the early lives of the Wright brothers, their initial experiments and trials, together with a section on other pioneering aviators of the time and so much more!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this excellent volume, it is packed with many superb photographs, fine drawings together with detailed plans and maps of great historical significance. In my opinion, it will prove to be a welcome addition to any aviation enthusiast’s library.
TAKING TO THE SKIES
Author: Graham Smith
Publisher: Countryside Books
ISBN: 1 85306 815 2
First Published: 2003
December 2003 heralded centenary celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic to commemorate the first manned, powered flight. To coincide with this, the pioneering event that was to change transportation for ever, numerous books covering a wide range of early aviation subjects were published. At the first glance, many of these volumes seem rather alike, as the photographs, illustrations and text follow similar patterns, however this publication stands out, as not only does it cover the early aviation trials, experiments and frustrations prior to that famous first flight, it continues further, to document the important development of military aircraft during the Great War as well as detailing the stiff competition for both military and civilian air supremacy during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Before finally leading the reader to aviation advances/developments as we entered the Second World War.
This handy sized and reasonably priced volume, from the same publishers of the excellent Airfields of the Second World War series, features many fascinating black and white photographs of aircraft and airfields together with pioneer aviators of the period. Anyone with an interest in early aviation will be sure to be delighted with this super publication.
VOICES IN FLIGHT
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
ISBN: 184415 3991
Yes, I agree that books containing recollections of events by veterans of campaigns fought many decades ago seem to be flowing from various publishers at a fair old rate these days, however rather than being critical of this, I for one am grateful for them as they normally bring to our homes a vast amount of fairly accurate first hand information that we, the average man in the street, have never had access to previously.
I have luckily been able to travel on battlefield tours, read many books and attend lectures led, written or given by experts, who certainly know their subject having often spent years of research, wading through reams of papers and official documents and read many books themselves, however despite this extensive study, they cannot provide the same unique eye witness accounts and insight into events at that time as these brave men now have.
Thankfully, this particular very important volume was written as the result of a visit to the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon some thirty years ago. Prompted by what they had seen, the authors decided to interview veterans of the Royal Flying Corp s and fledgling RAF. These brave pioneers of aviation - and there were still quite a few still living at that time, certainly had tales to tell. They were without a doubt heroes, as they had often taken to the air in the most vulnerable of aircraft, flying in all weathers, without the modern aids we have today and more often than not, they were barely more than teenagers too.
In this splendid volume, they tell their own unique and very special stories. The tales of dare devil dog-fights from pilots and recollections of hardships and extreme conditions from ground-crew will fascinate a multitude of readers from the most experienced military historian and family history researcher to the casual reader.
This fascinating book with over 40 photographs of aircraft, covers part of our heritage that many previous generations would have rather have forgotten about, however by writing it, the authors have in my humble opinion provided a lasting tribute to the memory of these men and a source of reference for our future.
It is a must buy for any Great War enthusiast!
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