- Gwilym Roberts
- ARRSE Rating
- 4.5 Mushroom Heads
Whilst living in Liverpool, Britain's second most heavily bombed city during World War II, the author experienced at first-hand the terrible effects of the war on the civilian population then when studying at Cambridge he witnessed the American heavy bombers and their fighter escorts flying to attack targets in Germany and occupied Europe. Serving as an engineering officer in the Royal Navy in HMS Sheffield provided first-hand realisation of the importance of engineering and emphasised that victories achieved in the Battle of Britain and other campaigns were made possible by newly-developed machines, equipment or techniques. These innovations gave the Allied forces a significant advantage and helped ensure eventual victory.
Engineering Hitler's Downfall features numerous inventions such as the decoding machines developed at Bletchley Park; the hand-held mine detectors that cleared pathways through enemy minefields, firstly at the Battle of el Alamein but also in most subsequent actions; the newly-located factories and tanks that enabled the Russians to repulse the German invasion; the escort carriers and long range aircraft that enabled U-boats to be attacked in the mid-Atlantic; the 4000 plus Bailey bridges that allowed narrow ravines and rivers as wide as the Rhine to be crossed; the Mulberry harbours through which the D-Day bridgehead was reinforced and supplied and the pipelines under the ocean (PLUTO) that supplied fuel for invading troops. These and many other examples illustrate what was achieved under such immense pressure. The book includes timelines to set it all in context with respect to the course of the war.
I have, to be honest, become a little bit fed up with WW2 books and Hitler in general . That was until this wee gem of a book arrived. How could I not like a book with a chapter entitled " God ,Churchill and Engineers" ? The book nas 200 odd pages of stand alone or dip into facts and information regarding the Engineers from Barnes Wallace to Sir William Tennant KCB CBE MVO DL. Each chapter takes a phase of the war provides a mini profile of an Engineer say Sir Percy Hobart, describes the person and the equipment invented etc. The description of the the invention is put before you in good layman's terms to make the whole book much more interesting . Did you know that The inventors of the Bailey bridge, Jet engine and Radar received bounties from the government ? or that in the beginning no one wanted to be bothered with RADAR, which seems bizarre now considering the effect it had on the conduct of the second world war.
I rate this book very highly for bringing to us the science of war engineering in such a clear and enjoyable way, every time you pick it up you will learn something new which will make you able to throw interesting facts to your Forces buddies when certain subjects turn up. Definitely a keeper and will go into my library under "read here for fantastic facts" - worth every one of the four and a half mushroom heads, a great read.