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Bill Todd & Zoe Todd-Martell
This slim book is sub-titled “The Story of Sgt Leslie Todd & the 90th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in World War II” but it not so much the story but the trail of Leslie Todd as his unit takes on the Germans from Normandy to Germany. These are diary entries, both personal and unit war diary and are very personal and informative.

Leslie Todd was a Sergeant in the 90th HAA Regiment, a TA unit, having joined just prior to the outbreak of WW2. 90th HAA was mobilised from their annual camp in August 1939 and spent the first part of the war on UK Air Defence duties. Sgt Todd’s story really starts from the landing of 90th HAA in Normandy early in July 1944.

The book is basically in two parts, Sgt Todd’s diary entries and the Unit War Diary with some additional history of the unit. Throughout the book it is lavishly illustrated with photographs and documents, although some of these have not come out as clearly as one would have hoped. It might have been better to have produced a written bit for the documents to make them easier to read and understand their role in the story. The photographs alone are a great bit of social history of life just prior to and during WW2.

The entries from Leslie’s diary show the humour that is about in any military scenrtaio but also with the sadness surrounding the loss of comrades. The end of the book lists those that lost their lives while serving with 90th HAA.

This book is different in that it is clipped and does not expand much on the diary entries, but it gives an excellent overview of a life on the move both under fire and returning the favour. For instance the Unit War Diary notes that when the German cease fire was announced, the CO requested that a rum ration be issued to all ranks in celebration – this was knocked back by Brigade!

The unit was used both in their normal role of anti-aircraft but also in the ground role supporting troops both in defence and attack. During the Battle of the Bulge, in January 1945 in one 10 day period, the Regiment fired over 15,000 rounds in the ground support role.

A very interesting account of one man’s time in North West Europe and while not a stand alone history, it would make an excellent ‘period piece’ for those who are interested in this phase of WW2. It is interesting to read how the army kept people busy after the cease fire, with education, sport, entertainment and generally preparing and reskilling people for demob.

Leslie Todd was demobbed in November 1945 returning to civil life like so many of his countrymen.

3 Mr MRHs for a good worthwhile history of one man’s war.
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