John McGrath & Mark Barton
An unusual book that manages to be more than simply a catalogue of cutlasses. Don't worry though, if you're after a book that covers the changing designs, patterns etc. of cutlasses, hangers and dirks as well as dating and identifying them it does that nicely without being too laborious. But it also tells how they were and are used, with the training for combat in Nelson's navy as well as more recent Naval fencing competitions, even listing Service awards, champions and trophies in the appendices. Seaforth Publishing, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2013
Luck of a Lancaster
Now this is an excellent book. It is ostensibly the career of one Lancaster bomber – W4964 J-Johnny – which managed to survive the war but in fact it is a testament to the life (and more often death) of the RAF heavy bomber crews. It introduces different crews who flew WS-J at different times for No.9 squadron and uses their particular missions and experiences as a vehicle for telling the story of all such crews. Including the shocking and saddening toll. While W4964 made it through, 103 of the 244 men who flew in her did not. The book covers the experience of downed aircrew escaping from France when some former ‘J’ crew are shot down in another bomber. It details the Battle of Berlin in 1943 when the RAF attempted to fight the Luftwaffe in cunning and technology to attempt to reach the target as well as with bombs (and quotes the German night-fighter pilots trying to shoot them down). It even covers the hunt for the Tirpitz that W4964 carried a Tallboy bomb in as well. Funny, thrilling, fascinating, shocking, sobering and above all, well written. Read this book. Pen and Sword Aviation, Barnsley, 2013
Short Sunderland - The 'Flying Porcupines' in the Second World War
A book chronicling the operations of the famous flying boat flown by the RAF during WW2. Written in a sometimes ‘squadron diary’ style with almost too much detail at times (after a while I had memorised several individual aircraft serial numbers) nevertheless it charts this incredibly robust and useful workhorse’s exploits in sometime staggering situations.
I can’t say I found it an easy read but it is certainly meticulous and for anyone interested in this often over-looked aircraft or in coastal/naval aviation generally this is a find.
Pen and Sword Aviation, Barnsley, 2012
The Spartan Way
Don't let the slightly strange dust-cover picture put you off this book if you're interested in a good introduction to ancient Greek soldiery. While naturally concentrating on the Spartan warrior, his training and history you also get a good grounding in the military and political environment as well as descriptions of some important battles a decent bibliography and well annotated notes. Also thoroughly readable with a well paced style. Pen & Sword Books Military, Barnsley, 2013
Pilot Cutters Under Sail
Not only an authorative review of the development of these special craft but a social history of a 'special' working group. There is plenty of well researched 'meat' for the specialist but it is so well written as to be accessible and to be enjoyed by the interested reader. Some previous knowledge of small boat sailing is helpful otherwise read the last two chapters first. Although it could be a 'coffee-table book' once started I found it difficult to put down. Seaforth Publishing, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2013
Salamanca 1812. Wellington's Year of Victories.
A high level of research is presented in a most readable way. The book has a pervading quality in its insights which can only come from an experienced 'military mind'. Throughout the author uses appropriate and varied selection of original text providing both colour and veracity. The maps are few and lacking in detail, in Further Reading the author recommends Ian Robertson's Atlas of the Peninsular War which I would have found most useful in this case. That said however this book is difficult to put down once started and thoroughly recommended. The Praetorian Press, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2013