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Fire for effect
Also arriving
in bookshops
THE latest in Osprey’s nicely-
illustrated New Vanguard series
– which focuses on the machinery
FOR ‘unpopular’ wars, Iraq and Afghanistan are
in particular. Dust. Smoke. Confusion. Explosions. Death. Tracer.
of war through the ages – looks at
proving increasingly popular with publishers.
Near-misses. Determination. Bravery.
the 20th Century RN.
British Submarines 1939-45
There has been a fl urry of books recently – Adrian Orchard’s
The Apache rescue of the body of L/Cpl Mathew Ford has
(ISBN 978-1-84603-007-9) and
impressive account of Harrier operations, Mike Rossiter’s lively
received – and receives here too – considerable coverage in books
British Battlecruisers 1914-18
retelling of the commandos’ role in Iraq, a spate of Apache-related
and in the media.
(ISBN 978-1-84603-008-6),
But there was much more to the battle than that daring
both £9.50, are good ‘entry level’
The red berets are enjoying a spell in the limelight thanks to the
books on their subjects.
Tar for the
excellent Patrick Bishop.
One RPG struck the ground and bounced harmlessly off a
And the men of 3 Commando Brigade can have no fi ner chronicler
Royal’s helmet. Small-arms fi re criss-crossed the compounds of
Colour plates and cutaway
than Falklands veteran, former Royal and historian Ewen Southby-
Jugroom, while grenades were tossed into rooms where Taleban
diagrams are a feature of the
fought to the last round.
series – and particularly striking
With the green berets grappling once again with the Taleban,
The clerk of Zulu Company fi red off 500 rounds alone that
is the artist’s impression of the
Southby-Tailyour fi xes his sights on the Royals’ 2006-07 tour of
morning. There was, as one green beret succinctly put it, “so much
wreck of HMS Invincible.
duty to Helmand – a tour of duty labeled “among the fi nest pieces
shit flt fl yi ying arng a ound”.
Blown up at Jutland, the battle-
of soldiering I have come across” by Chief of the General Stafneral Stafaff f
TheThe assault on Jugr a oom – Operation Glacier Two – was among cruiser split in two; nine decades
ROY and Lesley Adkins possess General Sir Richard Dannatt.
thethe fie fi erccest fi refi ghts of the six-month deployment. later only the forecastle and
that rare knack among historians: Such an exalted deployment deserves a fi rst-rate ate chchrronicle.
ThThe attack was assisted by a myriad of battlefi eld forward turret are recognisable –
merging the academic with the It gets one in 3 Commando Brigade: Helmand, Afghanistanfghannistan
tetechnology: Apache gunships, Nimrod spy planes, the rest of the ship is a mangled
narrative and providing a riveting (Ebury, £18.99 ISBN 978-0-09-192695-3), based on scoron scores
DDesert Hawk eye-in-the-sky drones. mess.
read which also casts light where of interviews and eyewitness accounts.
But the raw experiences of the men going into Doyen of U-boat historians
it is dark. Historians may wish to debate the whys and and
babbattle had changed little in six decades. When a mine Lawrence Paterson has focused
After excellent accounts of wherefores of our role in Afghanistan, argue over verr
ddetdetonated beneath C/Sgt Maj Marty Pelling’too s Viking, much of his recent efforts on
Trafalgar and the Napoleonic tactics and strategy, but as ever it all comes down to o
tththethe r rereeeaction of the troops was no different from troops the swansong of the German
Wars, the duo focus not on the men in the front line.
ttrtratrapped in Crppeed omwells and Shermans in the Normandy U-bootwaffe.
admirals and generals, but on the
And it is upon them that the author focuses his
bbocbocageagee: : “Please let the door open, don’t let me be Dönitz’s Last Gamble
ordinary fighting man – or rather
attention – he calls his book “a discrete snapshot of
ttratrapped.”pped..” (Seaforth, £25 ISBN 978-1-
extraordinary man – who was the
events seen through the eyes of some of those who
PelPelling filing fi na nally forced his way out of the crippled armoured 84415-714-3) concentrates on
took part”.
vvehvehicle and saw ricle andicleand ed liquid pouring on to the Helmand earth. It
backbone of the Royal Navy in
the German admiral’s efforts
Jack Tar: Life in Nelson’s Navy
Just to give you an idea of the challenge the commandos manndos
wwaswas hydraulic fl hydraul uid, not the blood of driver ‘Robbo’ Robertson, to find a new strategy after
face in Helmand, bear these facts in mind.
wwhowho tur turned cned calmly to Pelling: “Take a picture, Sarge. No-one will
(Little Brown, £20 ISBN 978-
the failure of the Battle of the
The province is “roughly half the size of England with a population op lti
bbelbelieve I didn’ieve I didn’tt get blown up in this.” Atlantic: U-boats lurking close to
What perhaps is surprising is
about the same as Devon”. Temperatures range from 45˚C in high
Such incidents invariably provoke some choice Anglo-Saxon.
the shores of the UK and striking
that although ‘Nelson’s navy’ pre-
summer to -15˚C in winter.
Southby-Tailyour pulls no punches, either with his choice of
seemingly at will against Allied
dates universal education by a
There were 54 separate or ongoing operations during 3
language or with his descriptions of combat. This is war, after all,
good three generations, Jack Tars
Commando’s deployment – 42 Commando alone was engaged on
not a game of cricket.
This ‘inshore’ campaign
were rather more erudite than
520 occasions by insurgents (and that’s not counting the mortar
And, above all, it is a lasting record of the Royals’ bravery and
perturbed the Admiralty who
you might expect.
and RPG attacks its bases were frequently subjected to).
achievements in Helmand, immortalised in print. As is the name
feared it would lose up to 90
They left copious accounts
If there is a stand-out action, then it is probably the
of one unfortunate green beret: Johnny Poo Tash, a strapping
ships every month.
of life in the days of sail. Some
raid on Jugroom Fort, a Taleban stronghold.
Irish fellow who for all his ability in battle simply couldn’t grow a
In a profusely-illustrated
were published at the time, some
The assault on the rambling fortifi cation near
work, Paterson looks at the
in later life, some posthumously.
Garmsir epitomises war – and war in Helmand
It was probably the least of his concerns in Helmand…
technological leaps made by
And some have lain in archives
the Kriegsmarine – and Allied
scattered across the globe.
attempts to counter them.
The authors have tapped this
And finally... if quirky is ‘your
myriad of sources – published
thing’ – or if you like dropping
or otherwise – to paint a
in facts at dinner parties, then
comprehensive picture of the
Donough O’Brien and Anthony
trials, tribulations and titilations
Weldon’s Numeroids (Bene
of the men who gave the Royal
Factum, £9.99 ISBN 978-1-
Navy an aura of invincibility.
903071-182) is a compendium
Jack Tar is often a stereotypical
of numerical facts... including a
figure: a press-ganged Jack the
good few nautical ones.
Lad who enjoys his grog, receives
Such as the number of trees
a few lashes for outspoken
felled to make HMS Victory
remarks, beds a girl in every port,
(3,400) or ships sunk during the
yet is resilient and professional
Dunkirk evacuation (200 out of
in battle.
Such stereotypes are heavily
And one to bow out with: ten
grounded in fact. But the authors
– the number of times larger the
dig deeper. They recount the
US defence budget is than the
training the men received, food
British one (a staggering $689bn
(and, of course, grog) aboard,
– £392bn).
describe the women of Plymouth
who threw themselves at the
sailors of HMS Temeraire on
pay day, dismiss the image of
jolly Jack singing shanties while
performing his daily duties
(silence was invariably the order
of the day), outline the privations
faced by RN prisoners held in
Verdun and the horrors of 19th-
Century surgery at sea.
The horrors of surgery
invariably followed the horrors
of battle. A century later, men
would be torn apart, decapitated
or hideously scarred by shrapnel
in the castles of steel at Jutland.
War in the wooden walls was no
less brutal, as James Scott found
when he boarded the French
ship Guerrière at the Battle of
the Nile.
“The blood-stained planks
of the quarterdeck bore ample HP BOOKFINDERS: Established
testimony to the accuracy of our professional service locating out
fire, but on descending to the
of print titles on all
main deck a scene of slaughter
subjects. No obligation or SAE
presented itself which converted
required. Contact: Mosslaird,
our feelings of triumph into
those of horror and dismay,” he
Brig O’ Turk, Callander, FK17 8HT
Telephone/Fax: (01877) 376377
“The disfigured and mangled
bodies of our gallant foes were
scattered in many a heap around.
The main deck was slippery with
NAVY LISTS. Unique compre-
blood and gore.”
hensive instant online research
Marines (later Royal Marines)
of 53,000 offi cers in 26 years’
were also at the heart of these
Navy Lists, retired offi cers alive
battles. They were volunteers, in 1982, and 13,300 deaths since
not pressed men, enticed by the 1971. £6 year unlimited access.
promise of “fortune in that highly
renowned Corps”. More than
anything money, not a sense of
ON 21 APRIL, 1943, the German
duty or even adventure, was the destroyer ZG 3 Hermes sank the RN
principal draw for red jackets submarine HMS Splendid south of
for, as one bill poster during the
Capri in the Mediterranean. We are
American Wars of Independence
looking for veterans or relatives of
proclaimed, “everyThing that
swims the Seas must be a
those who served on the Splendid.
Contact: Ward Carr.
Overall, this is as
Kaiser-Sigmund-Strasse 13.
● Fire for effect... Commandos fi re 81mm mortars at Taleban
comprehensive – and lively – an
positions near Garmsir
60320 Frankfurt, Germany.
account of the life of Jack Tar as Picture: PO(Phot) Sean Clee, RN Photographer of the Year (again) Tel: (49) 69-5600 5788.
you could hope to find. Email:
045_NN_Nov.indd 1 17/10/08 11:42:51
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