Books - Sicily

 

Churchill's Spearhead by John Greenacre

Pegasus Archive review: This book describes the development of Britain's airborne forces throughout the Second World War, detailing the political squabbling which both hindered and assisted the movement, and the cumulative progress made in terms of equipment, training, and command of these forces. John Greenacre does well to form a relatively cohesive narrative of these most difficult and varied subjects, and the result, though probably beyond the interest of the casual reader, is a very thorough account of the untold, behind-the-scenes story of how Britain's airborne forces came to be. As this book stands alone amongst a vast library of airborne literature which have glossed over these issues, it is compelling reading for the enthusiast and uncovers much that has not been published previously. Price: 19.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2506

 

General 'Boy': The Life of Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning by Richard Mead

Pegasus Archive review: This fascinating biography follows the life of "Boy" Browning through his days at Eton and into the Grenadier Guards, with whom he served as a junior officer in the First World War, and on to his aspiring inter-war career, culminating in his part in laying the foundations of the British Airborne Forces during the Second World War, and, later, serving as Chief of Staff to Mountbatten in South-East Asia. Browning was respected throughout the Army as a highly capable officer who inspired the highest standards in his subordinates, but Richard Mead also exposes the warmer, more personal side of his character that only a select few were allowed to witness. He also chronicles Browning's enduring, but troubled marriage to Daphne du Maurier, and his last tragic years, which, as a consequence of a lifetime of unceasing work, were defined by a series of ailments, both mental and physical. Lieutenant-General Browning has become one of the most maligned figures in the history of the Airborne Forces movement, and so it is most refreshing, not merely to read an account which considers matters from his perspective and attempts to answer the criticisms, but one which acknowledges that Operation Market Garden consumed but a single month in the life of a man whose long career in the military, before and beyond September 1944, was as distinguished as it was highly regarded. Price: 20.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2604

 

Glider Pilots in Sicily by Mike Peters

Pegasus Archive review: The Glider Pilot Regiment was one of the most remarkable formations to emerge from the Second World War. Their primary role was to pilot the gliders which delivered additional men and heavy equipment to the British airborne divisions, but once on the ground they became a highly trained and adaptable infantry reserve which was frequently called upon to carry out a variety of specialist tasks. Their first major operations, sadly neglected in the story of the British Airborne Forces, were in Sicily where the fledgling Regiment, lacking experience and training, was called upon to fly Waco gliders, with which they had no previous experience, in conditions which would prove to be an exacting test for even the most skilled of pilots. The opening assault on the Ponte Grande Bridge by the 1st Airlanding Brigade went horribly awry with more than half of the force ditching in the Mediterranean, yet those few who gained land went about their business with great skill and aggression, doing more than their numbers should have allowed to try to salvage a success from the initial disaster. Mike Peters presents an extremely thorough history of the Glider Pilot Regiment throughout this period, with his impeccably researched narrative and numerous veterans accounts describing not only their part in this ill-fated operation, but also the subsequent attack of the 1st Parachute Brigade on Primosole Bridge. He also covers their arrival in North Africa, the period of training which followed, and the efforts of the Regiment to fly Horsa gliders over the previously unparalleled distances from Britain to Tunisia; an epic in its own right. A superb book, thoroughly deserving of a place on the bookshelf of anyone with an interest in the Airborne Forces. Price: 20.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Glider-Pilots-in-Sicily/p/3586/

 

The Happy Warrior: Maj Gen G.F. Hopkinson OBE MC 1895-1943 by Asher Pirt

This is a biography of George Frederick Hopkinson who was commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment during the First World War and served with distinction throughout his service until his death in battle as commander of 1 Airborne Division. Price: 6.99. Copies may be purchased from http://www.lulu.com/shop/asher-pirt/the-happy-warrior-maj-gen-g-f-hopkinson-obe-mc-1895-1943/paperback/product-20979429.html

 

History of the Glider Pilot Regiment by Claude Smith

Pegasus Archive review: An excellent account of this most unique of Regiments by one of its former members. Despite a seemingly small number of pages, the book contains a great wealth of detail which follows the evolution of the glider element of the British Airborne Forces from its early experimental days to its peak in 1944/45, and then the post-war years where the increasingly obsolete concept was ultimately disbanded. Smith remains focused solely upon the Regiment's activities and does not wander off, as others have done, into the familiar and well-worn story of the wider events of the time, and though he does not dwell too much on the individual recollections of glider pilots, what he presents is a thorough account of the operations in which they were involved, including some which are not widely known even amongst experts in the field. Price: 12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/History-of-the-Glider-Pilot-Regiment/p/1540/

 

The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943 by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani

This superbly researched book gives a complete account of the war in Mediterranean on, above and beneath the sea up until Italy's armistice in September 1943. Written with full access to Italian sources, it not only provides a detailed and fascinating narrative of the entire naval war, but also sets the individual actions fully in their strategic context for both the Axis and the Allies. Topics include the complex and distrustful relationship between the Italians and their German allies, which culminated in open conflict after the Italian armistice in 1943, the battle for Malta, and that island's vital strategic role threatening Axis supply lines to North Africa, the exploits of the Italian 'human torpedoes' of the X MAS flotilla, which threatened to change the balance of power in the Mediterranean. This book is essential reading for all those interested in one of the major naval theatres of the Second World War. Price: 13.59. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Naval-War-in-the-Mediterranean/p/3104/

 

Nothing is Impossible: A Glider Pilot's Story of Sicily, Arnhem and the Rhine Crossing by Victor Miller

Pegasus Archive review: Victor Miller was a member of "G" Squadron, The Glider Pilot Regiment, and he describes his experiences with this unique force from the early days of its formation and his training as a pilot, through to the invasion of Sicily, the Battle of Arnhem and the Rhine Crossing. It is a pity that Miller did not participate in the Normandy landings, as his book would then have been a complete study of all the major Airborne operations in Western Europe. There have been many memoirs, including a few classics, which had been written about the Airborne Forces, but what sets this extremely readable account apart is the sheer depth of Miller's narrative and his considerable skill as a writer. Arnhem, spanning almost half of the book, is clearly the centre piece, and he provides a most vivid account of the desperate fighting which took place as the exhausted and depleted remnants of the 1st Airborne Division struggled to hold a bridgehead across the Rhine. Highly recommended. Price 20.00. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Nothing-is-Impossible-Hardback/p/10835

 

Without Tradition: 2 Para 1941 - 1945 by Robert Peatling

Pegasus Archive review: This history of the most famous of all the wartime parachute battalions has been compiled by one of its former members. The background to the formation of the 2nd Parachute Battalion, and its operations at Bruneval, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Arnhem, are described through a mixture of the author's narrative, war diaries and official reports, but the greater part of the volume consists of rich and colourful recollections by numerous veterans, and it is in these that Without Tradition truly comes to life. In comparison to the impressive treatment of Bruneval, Oudna and Arnhem, the recollections of the latter phases of the North African campaign and Sicily are perhaps a little sparse, yet this remains a very fine account of what was one of the finest battalions in the British Army. Price: 12.99. Copies may be purchased from Amazon or http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Without-Tradition/p/753/