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Review: World War II a very short introduction by G Weinberg

Small but perfectly written!

The Second World War in 125 pages may seem an idea akin to the Reduced Shakespeare Company  but Gerhard L Weinberg has produced a first class overview of the war. Given its publisher (Oxford University Press) this should come as no great surprise Read more ›


Review Frontline Medic by Michael Lucas

Frontline Medic: Gallipoli, Somme, Ypres, The Diary of Capt. George Pirie, RAMC 1914-17: Michael Lucas

This is interestingly the first time this book has been in print. Michael Lucas has written a previous book on the 9th East Surrey Regiment, to whom Captain Pirie was attached for some time. He has taken and edited the two diaries into a quite reasonable read. Read more ›


Review: War on the Eastern Front by James Lucas

This is the third publishing of this book – so it has to be worth reading. I first read it in about 1980 when my interest in the campaign was growing due to lectures I had been to.

 Rather than being an account of the operations in Russia by the German Army 1941-1945, it is really a collection of essays on specific topics. Somewhat strangely it starts at the end, with an account of tank destroyer personnel in Brandenburg in 1945, but this does not affect the value of the reminiscences and commentaries Lucas has assembled.  Read more ›


Review: Far East Air Operations 1942 – 1945: John Grehan and Martin Mace

This book is one of a series of books published by Pen and Sword reproducing despatches from the varying theatres of war. This volume covers Far East air operations from 1942 to 1945. There are four despatches in all. Air Vice Marshal Stevenson’s despatch covers Burma and the Bay of Bengal from January to May 1942, while Air Chief Marshal Pierse’s covers operations in South East Asia from November 1943 to May 1944. The final pair of despatches is from Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park and continues the South East Asia story up until the end of the war.

 The outbreak of any war has been described as a ‘come as you are party’ and Stevenson’s despatch about operations in Burma and Rangoon is an excellent example of this. (The associated ground campaign is memorably described in Slim’s “Defeat into Victory”). Only appointed on 1st January 1942, Stevenson had only days to get to grips with the geography and logistic constrains of the theatre before he was heavily engaged against the Japanese.

Read more ›


Montane Prism Jacket

As some of you maybe aware, I was lucky enough to blag a free Montane Prism jacket on the Spine Race a couple of weeks back.  In the wider interests of Arrse and because the more reviews I do, the more cool free shit people send me, here are my thoughts on it.

Firstly you may be wondering why this review is in the Military Clothing & Boots forum, it is after all bright blue with a luminous green lining. There is absolutely nothing tactical or military about this jacket whatsoever.  While this maybe true of my one, Montane have thoughtfully produced an olive green version, with the reflective patches removed.montane_prism_jacket_og

Jolly good.

“Used and abused by Mountain Rescue Teams” is the tag line they’ve gone with here and it’s a fair shout, a few lads from my local MRT often drink in the pub after training and they have this jacket in red.

So what’s it like?

When I first opened the packet I was surprised at its lack of weight, worried in fact. It is not a thick jacket by any means and I seriously doubted whether it would be warm enough.

Of course this is not meant to compete with a big down jacket, it’s nowhere near as warm as that, or a Buffalo Mountain Shirt/Snugpak Softie for example. However what it does offer is fantastic packability and very little weight. As part of a good layering system you can’t really go wrong.

I’ve spent the past few days wearing it in the snow and while its not great for long periods of standing around, it’s absolutely spot on when you’re on the move. The Primaloft filling really does seem to do its job.

The jacket deals with rain reasonably well. I wouldn’t want to wear it in a torrential downpour, but in your average Cumbrian drizzle, it holds out nicely. Today I walked about 3 miles in fairly shitty weather and no moisture got in. That was probably about its limit though.


List Price: £99.99 GBP
New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

At this point I’ll mention the hood, which is by far my favourite bit. Usually I’m a bit funny with hoods and find they restrict my head movement or obscure my vision. A combo of a wire peak and 3 adjustment toggles allows you to tailor the fit perfectly and it’s probably the best designed hood on any jacket I’ve ever seen.

Another point of interest is the pockets, they’re placed a bit high for sticking your hands in. This isn’t the sort of jacket you can mill about in with your mits in your pockets. On the plus side they are a decent size. I’ve spent the past week wandering around work with 2 A5 notepads in them.

Quality wise it’s exactly what you’d expect from Montane and at 100 quid, it’s hardly cheap. Flashes of nice soft material around the collar add to the high end feeling as well as good quality stitching and reflective flashes. Of course there is extensive Montane and Primaloft branding all over the place so everyone will know you’ve bought a Gucci piece of kit.

So to conclude; this is an absolutely spot on jacket for all but the very coldest conditions. This will become my jacket of choice for hill walking now. While it does come in green, I’d be wary of using it for military stuff in really cold weather. For a 2am stag in December I’d prefer a bit more warmth. Having said that, if you layer up it’ll be good and for UK Spring, Summer and Autumn it’ll be fine.


REVIEW: Missing Microbes by Martin Blaser

It seems that global warning may not after all be the biggest threat to human life.

But don’t reach for the champagne yet – there is a larger one, which is the adverse effect of the over use of antibiotics. This threat does not arise from antibiotic resistant “superbugs” like MRSA, ) although they are scary enough), but from the latent effects of altering the microbiology of our bodies. This is probably causing the massive increase in diabetes, food allergies, bowel problems and possibly autism. The problem is described in a book, “Missing Microbes” by Martin Blaser, published last year.

Read more ›


Review: Brothers Armed by Ruslan Pukhov and Colby Howard

Brothers Armed: Military Aspects of the Crisis in Ukraine” does what it says in the title, almost. It’s an expert review of the state of the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces leading up to early 2014, and how that rendered Russia’s seizure of Crimea the pushover it was. The book was written on the fly in mid-2014, and what’s included reflects that: there is little mention of activities in Eastern Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea. But for a detailed look at the military aspects of both sides in the confrontation, and how from near-identical beginnings Russia and Ukraine arrived at such an extraordinary mismatch of capability and motivation, this is hard to beat.

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HAIX French Army Boots

Time to bang up my thoughts on the second pair of boots I managed to proff on my Germany trip a few months back

These are the new French Army issue Chaussers de Combat Centre Europe, or CdCCEs for short. You’ll notice these are brown, which means that you could potentially start seeing a few brits and others wearing them too. The frogs have ordered an initial 180,000 pairs, plus a further 50,000 to be delivered later on.

I had a look around the HAIX factory on my Germany visit and even spoke to the Chairman of the company. The approach they’ve gone for here is a multi purpose boot that will suit most people’s needs. Save for the most extreme winter conditions or blistering deserts, these should see you right in most conditions.

Looks wise I think they’re tidier than any of the UK issue boots on offer. Flashes of carbon fibre, chunky rubber padding on the ankles and an interesting, but well thought out lacing system, all add to the feeling that these are a bit more than your average run of the mill Army boot.

In an earlier thread some people criticised the carbon look and lacing, but these are an attempt to make the boots more appealing to the younger generation of soldiers. They look ally so people will be happy wearing them.

Personally, I like them a lot.

 

haix2

Of course Gore Tex features heavily and these are completely waterproof as well as breathable. Just the right amount of insulation means they’re OK in proper winter stuff or European summer. Of course you can just wear thicker socks if you need more warmth. Indeed that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this past week in the snow and they’ve been spot on. One side of the boots is a canvas/mesh type material for additional breathability.

Comfort wise they’re very good, the lacing system has been designed so that you can tailor the fit nicely, with lock offs halfway up. You tighten them up with a toggle and tuck the excess into a little pocket on the side of the ankle. It’s different but it works. You’ll never have loose laces flapping around and crucially they won’t provide wicking for water to get inside the boot, a problem with standard lacing where everyone tucks the excess inside the boot. There is a bit of a knack to undo the lock offs when you’re taking them off, but once you’ve worked this out getting them on and off is a breeze and considerably quicker than traditional lacing systems.

If I must find a criticism in terms of the comfort, it’s that they feel a little heavy, but by no means mountain boot heavy. Just a bit more than the old patrol boots for example. No biggy though, the weight makes them feel supportive and gives a feeling that your feet and ankles are well protected. Driving is a little bit more of a chore than usual but is still doable. Running isn’t too bad once they’re worn in a bit.

haix3

On the subject of protection, you’ll notice rubber pads on the ankles (as seen on the HAIX desert boots I reviewed a month or two back: http://www.arrse.co.uk/haix-black-eagle-athletic-desert-boots/ ) and reinforcements around the toes and heels. The instep has the carbon bit which adds enough protection for fast roping or just kicking stuff. To save weight (and presumably manufacturing costs) protection on the outsides is only provided by leather, where you are less likely to need it.

Again the reiterates that a lot of thought and design has gone into these.

Soles are good thick Vibram affairs with plenty of grip. Like I said, I’ve been wearing these in the snow for the past week and they’re sound, no slipping or sliding about. When I took them on the hills they were the same.

The leather itself is a bit ‘suedy’ for want of a better word. i.e. it’s not completely smooth and flat. I’m yet to attempt to polish them and I’ll keep you updated on how these take to being smothered in Kiwi. In the meantime, soapy water has kept them looking tip top. I wore them very briefly on the motorbike a few weeks back and the toe on the left boot has a slight scuff from changing gear. This was through my own stupidity though. Still, don’t use them on the bike!

So all in, a cracking pair of boots. If you can get hold of some, they’d be a great alternative to any of the UK issue brown boots.

I like.


Review: The White Van by Patrick Hoffman

At a dive bar in San Francisco’s edgy Tenderloin district, Emiliy Rosario is drinking whiskey and looking for an escape. When she is approached by a mysterious and wealthy Russian she thinks she has found an exit from her drifter lifestyle and druggie boyfriend. A week later she finds herself drugged, disoriented and wanted for robbery.

On the other side of town, cop Leo Elias is broke, alcoholic and desperate. When he hears about an unsolved bank robbery, the stolen money proves too strong a temptation, Elias takes the case hoping to find the money and Emily before anyone else does .

Read more ›


Review:Disastrous fall and triumphant rise of the FAA by Henry Adlam

Henry Adlam takes us on a journey that is sometimes his own story and sometimes an account of the formative years of the Fleet Air Arm.  With his prior service he has a passion, an understanding and a story to tell. The style of writing is passionate but at times is confusing and difficult to follow, in fact I only made it 3/4s of the way through and gave up.  Mr Adlam tries to weave the history of the Fleet Air with his stories, but never quite gives us the best of both.

Unfortunately the authors personal agenda comes through and the lack of research sees misconception and misunderstanding told as fact.  A revisionist look back, with 20/20 hindsight, does not lay out both sides of the story.

Read more ›


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