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What a cracking read, full of humour and it mentions the village getting through WW1.


Book Reviewer
Mrs S picked up in a charity shop the 1997 ppbk by Times Editions of broadcaster and journo Tim Bowden's 1984 'Changi Photographer', a selection of photos taken by George Aspinall as a FEPoW on the Burma Railway and elsewhere.

This is the sort of book one can't put down. Aspinall joined up in Australia in mid-1941 aged 17. With a folding Kodak as a going-away present he was sent to Singapore and managed, by helping a local Chinese photographer, to teach himself developing and printing. Scrounging X-ray film and chemicals, and hiding his camera in his waist belt, he succeeded in snapping away until in 1943 on his way back from the railway things got a bit hot and he broke up and got rid of the camera. Some of his photos were used in War Crimes trials at Rabaul. His accompanying narrative is bone dry but the more compelling for that; I reckon he survived starvation, disease and tropical sores absolutely by the skin of his teeth and because he was resourceful, tough and young. It took enormous nerve to take his pictures and he was also involved in setting up a couple of secret radios. If you didn't like the Japanese to start with, you'ld like them even less after reading this.
A couple of chapters in and I realised that I have read it before. However, as I can't remember what happens and because I like the author's writing style so much, I'm reading on. I read a line last night which amused me greatly; I'll add it to this post over the weekend.
This is not a light-hearted novel. Set in London during the blitz, people die. But the author can capture tragedy and human compassion. This made me smile:

'In the bathroom Kitty had settled into the bath and was soaping herself lazily, a hand gliding the length of one arm, cupping one breast , nipple up, lips pursed to blow bubbles off it and create one of the simplest pleasures known to man - soapy tits.'
This is not a light-hearted novel. Set in London during the blitz, people die. But the author can capture tragedy and human compassion. This made me smile:

'In the bathroom Kitty had settled into the bath and was soaping herself lazily, a hand gliding the length of one arm, cupping one breast , nipple up, lips pursed to blow bubbles off it and create one of the simplest pleasures known to man - soapy tits.'
Having finished 'Riptide' I fully intend reading more by this author. But I decided that it was time for something completely different so have made a good start on:


The author is a former officer in the Life Guards, so probably knows one end of a horse from the other. The book, the first in the series, 'recounts in very frank detail the life, loves and adventures of Jasper Speedicut, charmer, sexual libertine, reluctant hero and friend of Harry Flashman VC.'

I'm enjoying it, but be warned, Speedicut is bisexual . . .

As Dennis M. (Mike) Ridnouer writes in the foreword of his new oral history, The Vietnam Air War: First Person, over five million missions were flown in the Vietnam War. The many pilots, crew, and support personnel who risked their lives daily don't deserve to fade into obscurity. Unhappy with the lack of first-person retellings of the war, Ridnouer made it his new mission to preserve these men's tales of bravery and duty.

The result is more than one hundred stories from the front lines of the war. Air Force Fighter Pilots, Weapon Systems Operators (WSOs), and Electronic Warfare Officers (EWOs), recount their stories of air-to-air engagements, near misses, successes, and failures.

A pilot explains why he buys a drink for every tanker driver he meets. An airman explains what a Thud is. A veteran vividly describes his homecoming.

These stories and others provide a much different account of the war than those found in history books. The pages come alive with perilous missions and skilled maneuvers. Airmen from all walks of life were united during the war, and their tales include stirring accounts of friendship and comradery.

Very good.


Book Reviewer
£1, thumbed but clean PPBK of 'The Rise and Fall of the British Empire', Lawrence James 1997. Four centuries of Empire crammed into 600 odd pages plus long biblio. Even so, plenty of anecdote and well-argued and amazingly neutral although sometimes I thought I nearly sensed his inner Leftie mewling in the kennel. Enormously informative ( for me) background to what my forebears were up to all over the world, and to some extent why, with a high level explanation of the world in which they lived, closing with HK on the verge of handover. At the end the chapters about events where I had insignificant walk-on parts were interesting, particularly the background to Suez. In the round, a well-written tome and very informative. The Commonwealth is ace and we are all such chums. Anyway it was all costing too much which was the main driver to get out and let the locals rot - the Wind of Change was gusting 10 through the Treasury.

The odd bit of fine-grain naval detail got wrong but (wearily) one gets used to that. James' view of how naval officers saw the Wilson/Smith talks is ENTIRELY wrong but that didn't affect events.


Book Reviewer
I've just finished re-reading "Razor's Edge - The Unofficial History of the Falklands War", by Hugh Bicheno. I first read it in 2008 after receiving it as a birthday present from my wife. What impressed me most, then as now, was the very detailed history of what went on in Argentina that actually led up to Operation Corporate; something that I've not found in any other accounts of the war. There are also very detailed descriptions of the individual battles that took place, Goose Green, Wireless Ridge, etc, but they're accompanied by maps with the troop movements on either side and also photos of the locations, which helps enormously in envisaging what actually went on.

The author is a bit right-wing, but that shouldn't detract from his ability to make what happened at the time come very much alive. For those of a more left-wing inclination: don't be put off by the fact that there's a picture of Maggie Thatcher on the cover, who, by the way, comes in for a lot of (richly deserved) flack for the way she rushed into things. A highly recommendable book with some brilliant insights.

I popped into my local library a few weeks ago & found a copy Gordon Welchman's The Hut 6 Story. Its a book I've long wanted to read & never got round to.
This edition was published with his original Part 4 section of the book omitted as it was GW's comments on modern battlefield communications & the lessons of the Enigma/Ultra efforts applicable to the 80;s current situation. Its a worthwhile edit as its no longer relevant - the publishers instead added a paper that GW wrote in the mid 80's that corrects a few of his own errors in the original book as well as refutes (categorically imo) some points made in the official history of the intelligence services that was published after Hut 6 - it also refutes some rather arrogant comments made by some of the surviving Polish code breakers who were dismissive of British methods with Enigma claiming them as their own.

If i have one criticism to make of the book, it is that GW does seem to write with a certain personal chip on his shoulder with regard to recognition for his efforts - however its a very small chip & considering his contribution as evidenced by other research on Enigma at BP since GW''s death its a fair bloody point. Man was a genius.
This is my current 'non-fiction' read:

I finished Vol 1 of the Speedicut Papers last night and launched into Philip Kerr's third Bernie Gunther book:

Spike Milligan’s war memoirs.
Very funny in places. I’m a fan of Milligan’s humour anyway, so they’re a pleasure to read.
One thing though, would a Gunner or Bombardier be allowed to speak to officers like he claims they do? They all seem very friendly & jovial to one another.
Australia's Secret war by Hal G.P. Colebatch, an account of the disgraceful activities of militant unions in Australia during WW2. The book starts bye detailing eye witness accounts of munitions, material , supplies and personal items being stolen or destroyed on the wharfs of Australia by unionised dockworkers. The author the investigates strikes in munitions factories and coalfields during the war. What is most disturbing is the then labor government's total unwillingness to deal with the issues and subsequent attempts to deny they ever happened. A very interesting and disturbing read. i would recommend for any one interested in WW2 especially far east
Just finished The ghost ship of Brooklyn
Quite a good insight into British atrocity’s that stiffened the resolve of the rebels
With reduced rotting rations rotten water containing human detritus the meticulous record books were burnt to avoid the hulks Governors being brought to task.
Estimated around 11000 plus died from imprisonment compared to dying on the battlefield
Good read fir anyone yet to watch Turn.
Marines, book 1 of the Derelict saga.
Fifty years ago, Mira, humanity’s last hope to find new resources, exited the solar system bound for Proxima Centauri b. Seven years into her mission, all transmissions ceased without warning. Mira and her crew were presumed lost. Humanity, unified during her construction, splintered into insurgency and rebellion.

Now, an outpost orbiting Pluto has detected a distress call from an unpowered object entering Sol space: Mira has returned. When all attempts at communications fail, S&R Black, a Sol Federation Marine Corps search and rescue vessel, is dispatched from Trident Station to intercept, investigate, and tow the beleaguered Mira to Neptune.

As the marines prepare for the journey, uncertainty and conspiracy fomented by Trident Station’s governing AIs, begin to take their toll. Upon reaching Mira, they discover what they’ve found could spell the end of humanity.



Book Reviewer
£1, very battered ppbk of 'A Fighting Retreat', a 600pp resume of our often bloody retreat from Empire 1947-97 by the late Robin Neillands (1935-2006). The focus is on personal reminiscences from participants, most but not all are soldiers, backed by an informed editorial filling out the setting and the results. RN was the son of a soldier and served as a National Service RM corporal in 45 Cdo in Cyprus and the ME Which gives him insights denied to other authors. Coverage starts in India and goes on to Palestine, Cyprus, Kenya and the Mau Mau, Malaya and Confrontation, Aden, the Canal Zone, Suez, Falklands and NI. Too often our troops' efforts were undermined and denigrated at home, particularly by the BBC and by Labour politicians such as Bessie Braddock, Edith Summerskill and Barbara Castle, and abroad by America especially in the runup to Presidential elections. The Booties come out of it tops as they well deserve. For me, it was background to many of my naval travels and my family's various activities. For ARRSErs I think this would be a winner - cheap copies on Amazon I see, probably smarter than the one I have.
just got my hands on a copy of Evidence in Camera by Constance Babington Smith, the very intelligent, and might I say attractive young woman that is credited with identifying the V1 Rocket launch sites at Peenemunde. She worked alongside Churchills own daughter in the Air photo recce section, she didn't fly of course, it was her job to interpret the air photographs, she was far too valuable to risk on a dangerous mission.
She ended up getting the MBE for her war work, and I understand, she has put some cold war misinformation in the book, the little minx.
As I may have said before, I like a bit of fiction reading at night. Fiction at night, non-fiction by day.

I have finally got round to starting a book by an author I have had on my 'to read' list for a while, Colin Cotterill. Who is Colin Cotterill? I hear you ask. Let him tell you himself: New Home

I am reading the first in a series featuring Dr Siri, this is how Colin Cotterill introduces this character:

View attachment 338558

This is how the book starts:

Tran, Tran, and Hok broke through the heavy end-of-wet-season clouds. The warm night air rushed against their reluctant smiles and yanked their hair vertical. They fell in a neat formation, like sleet. There was no time for elegant floating or fancy aerobatics; they just followed the rusty bombshells that were tied to their feet with pink nylon string. Tran the elder led the charge. He was the heaviest of the three. By the time he reached the surface of Nam Ngum reservoir, he was already ahead by two seconds. If this had been the Olympics, he would have scored a 9.98 or thereabouts. There was barely a splash. Tran the younger and Hok-the-twice-dead pierced the water without so much as a pulse-beat between them. A quarter of a ton of unarmed ordnance dragged all three men quickly to the smooth muddy bottom of the lake and anchored them there. For two weeks, Tran, Tran, and Hok swayed gently back and forth in the current and entertained the fish and algae that fed on them like diners at a slow-moving noodle stall.
I've worked in Lao on-and-off for several years and these books reflect the overall humour of the population in the face of an outdated communist government. Well worth a read...:)
Just finished the Greatest Raid of All, by C.E. Lucas Phillips, about the St. Nazaire raid of 1942.
It was first published in 1958, it is a great read, the courage of these men is inspiring. If it was fiction it would be an exciting book, but to think that this operation was actually carried out is amazing.
I would imagine that most reading this thread are fully aware of Operation Chariot and have seen Jeremy Clarkson`s documentary, the book has plenty of detail not covered in the film.
I got the book from Amazon for a pound, money well spent.

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