Recommend me some wartime reading

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  • Recommend me some wartime reading
  • alanl
    Member

    Overlord, Max Hastings. D-Day onward, a really good book.
    D-Day, Anthony Beevor, though I think Max Hastings was better.
    Stalingrad by A. Beevor got great reviews when it was released, I didnt think it was a great read but it does go into detail about one of the pivotal battles.
    More recent – War. Sebastian Junger, about the US in Afghan, made into the film Restrepo(sp?.)
    Task Force Helmand, Doug Beattie, UK in Afghan.

    Premier Icon sandal100
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    Anthony Beevor – either Stalingrad, WW2 or Ardennes 1944. Another vote for Chickenhawk. Stephen E Ambrose books are quite good, he did Band of Brothers. The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer is a good read but apparently questionable on how factually correct it is.

    I also found Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes quite good. It’s a fiction book and the far east but the author served in Vietnam winning the Navy Cross which is one below the Medal of Honor so I’m guessing there’s a bit of fact in there amongst the story.

    gobuchul
    Member

    I know the OP wasn’t interested in the Far East, however, this is best personal war memoir I have ever read.

    Quartered Safe Out Here – George McDonald Fraser

    Regarding The Last Panther and D-Day German Eyes, I read them and really enjoyed them, but there are questions over their authenticity.

    Same goes for The Forgotten Soldier, which I have read at least 3 times.

    ^^ Completely agree ref GMF’s memoir.

    Clostermann’s The Big Show is highly recommended and IMO the best WW2 aviation memoir (although he was flying Tempests at the end of the war, not Typhoons). His Flames in the Sky is also superb as a collection of combat episodes although I believe the veracity of some of the events has been questioned subsequently.

    An exceptional WW1 aviation memoir is Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis.

    For something a bit different, I Flew for the Fuhrer by Heinz Knoke is excellent.

    Other WW2 flying memoirs I would recommend are:

    Flying Start by Hugh Dundas
    Tumult in the Clouds, James A Goodson
    Night Fighter, CF Rawnsley and Robert Wright (Rawnsley was John ‘Cat’s Eye’ Cunningham’s Nav/Radar operator)
    Fighter Pilot by Paul Ritchie – published during the war and surprisingly short on propaganda bull.
    And finally the classic The Last Enemy by Richard Hilary, a much more reflective account of Battle of Britain combat.

    Spies in the Sky by Taylor Downing is a good read about the aerial intelligence war.

    old donald
    Member

    2nd Quartered safe out here by George McDonald Faser – Yes its about the Burma campaign – but it is both sad and funny. In parts its written in Cumbrian dialect.

    For me its very personal – my mate both it for me – and I was astonished to find it describes the death of my great uncle – still moves me to tears. The book is dedicated to him

    There you go – off I go again

    Premier Icon mrwhyte
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    The Ben McIntyre books are very good. They are all about the the true stories of espionage during the Second World War. Mostly based around key events such as D-Day, invasion of Sicily etc.

    He weaves a very intricate story in an excellent and absorbing way, leaves you truly stunned, realising all the work that went in behind the scenes.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
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    RV Jones, Most Secret War.

    And for war bits amongst the fiction I loved Cryptonomicon…

    ninfan – Member
    The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monseratt.

    Truly humbling stuff. A novel but all based oh his service in the North Atlantic. The film is remarkable, the book will give you nightmares.

    +1

    My grandfather served on convoy escorts for a large chunk of the war (mostly in the Atlantic through the period the U-boat crews referred to as “The Happy Time” but also on several Arctic runs). He said that The Cruel Sea was the first book to come anywhere remotely close to the reality, more so even than some of the early post-war memoirs. The film adaptation is also brilliant if you’re into B&W war films.

    Escort: War at Sea by Denys Rayner (who my granddad served with on a few convoys) is also pretty good.

    The Shetland Bus by David Howarth is also an interesting book on a ballsy but largely forgotten campaign.

    big_n_daft
    Member

    Infantry Attacks, Rommel

    Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man etc , Sassoon

    Above All Courage, various

    18 Platoon

    flap_jack
    Member

    ‘Charlotte Gray’ should be on this list, to remind everyone that some of the boldest and bravest were women.

    b r
    Member

    Germany 1945

    Premier Icon Moe
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    Another recommendation for Operation Mincemeat.

    Achtung Swordfish – Stanley Brand, limited print but possibly available via FAA museum.

    They gave me a Seafire – R Mike Crossley.

    Somme by Lyn Macdonald – effectively been a pacifist since reading this. The awful futility and waste of war.

    jerrys
    Member

    I know it’s the far east, but

    Road of Bones – the Seige of Kohima by Fergal Keane (the news reporter bloke) is a good read. My grandfather in law was there.

    Aviation, closer to home but fiction – ‘Bomber’ by Len Deighton

    Premier Icon pondo
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    +1s on Sea Harrier Over The Falklands, No Mean Soldier and The Cruel Sea. I would add The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill (best wartime book ever, IMHO, covering 617’s whole war and brilliantly written – he wrote The Great Escape too, and that’s almost as good), The Quiet Soldier by Adam Ballinger on selection for the Territorial SAS, and if you’re ok with novels based on real events, Piece Of Cake by Derek Robinson. I like the idea of Das Boot more than the book – he don’t half rabbit on.

    matt10214
    Member

    Couple from me, Vietnam ones but brilliant reads, Chickenhawk and Matterhorn which have been mentioned. Also Dispatches by Michael Herr.

    Premier Icon slowoldgit
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    R A Bagnold – Sand, Wind and War – A chap interested in deserts and sand dunes became part of the LRDG, which grew up alongside the SAS.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
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    “Hitler’s U-Boat War” by Clay Blair. Two volumes, but full of detail.

    Read what happened to Convoy HX229, and then wonder if Churchill deliberately sent it out into the path of the U-boats for political purposes, ie get maximum carnage (no rescue ship on this convoy) to support his need to have more USA support.

    BTW the % death rate in the British Merchant Navy exceeded that of the other services, somewhere over 30%.

    Agree about the books by George Macdonald-Fraser and Cecil Lewis. Definitely must reads.

    JulianA
    Member

    Charlotte Gray should NOT be on this list as it was written by Sebastian Faulks.

    However, Between Silk and Cyanide should be on the list as it was written by Leo Marks.

    Enemy Coast Ahead was good as I recall. Also The Colditz Story and The Latter Days At Colditz (fascinating place to visit by the way). So many great books about bravery and suffering

    CFH, have you finished with my copy of I Flew For The Fuhrer? (Which should also be on the list).

    Ps The Tunnels Of Cu Chi is gripping.

    Premier Icon righog
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    JulianA – Member
    Charlotte Gray should NOT be on this list as it was written by Sebastian Faulks.

    I think you may be JulianB incognito

    noteeth
    Member

    Road of Bones – the Seige of Kohima

    Excellent book. My grandfather served in Burma with the Indian Army (artillery) – and it was a good insight into why he rarely talked about his experiences.

    Another vote for Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser (of Flashman fame).

    ninfan
    Member

    Enemy Coast Ahead was good as I recall.

    Great book, but the most moving thing for me was the introduction by Sir Arthur Harris – essentially warning that ‘some may disapprove of tales of drunkenness and revelry, but what do you expect, these young men were under intolerable strain, faced with near-certain death, no wonder they needed to let off a little steam, if you want to be offended at anything, be offended at those who failed to prevent another war’

    For a little escapism and ‘what might have been’ reading, I cannot recommend “Seelowe Nord” enough

    jimw
    Member

    “BTW the % death rate in the British Merchant Navy exceeded that of the other services, somewhere over 30%.”

    Bomber Command losses were over 44% killed. Not that I am belittling the Merchant Navy. One of my friends’s fathers was on a number of the arctic convoys. I rememder hearing his tales of the conditions, and that was before the enemy started shooting at them

    Premier Icon epicyclo
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    For a fictional book, but written by someone who did it “Bomber Stream Broke” by Chips* Campbell.

    *(may be John – only knew him as Chips)

    dragon
    Member

    I can’t recommend a specific book as it has been years since I read them but anything on the Chindits in Burma. What those guys went through is insane.

    Burma The Longest War by Louis Allen will give you more details on that campaign but it is huge and a long read.

    monkfish
    Member

    Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis. An excellent read a totally different world.

    JulianA
    Member

    righog – Member
    JulianA – Member
    Charlotte Gray should NOT be on this list as it was written by Sebastian Faulks.
    I think you may be JulianB i

    Que?

    Premier Icon Moe
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    Well into Agent Zig Zag at the moment, hell of a story (couldn’t make it up!), if you’re not into reading look it up on Youtube. Well worth a watch.

    Agent Zig Zag Timewatch Special

    I have managed to resist watching the whole thing, not to spoil the read.

    zigzag69
    Member

    Spike Milligan’s war memoirs, particularly the first three.

    Duffer
    Member

    I have managed to resist watching the whole thing, not to spoil the read.

    ***Spoiler alert***

    We won.

    😉

    oldschool
    Member

    Rifleman Greg

    Premier Icon turneround
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    Sorrow of war -bao ninh

    An alternative view of the Vietnam war.

    Premier Icon grey
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    The Rescue of Bat 21 by Darrel D.Whitcomb, far far better than the film
    and Beyond Endurance by Nick Barker the captain of the Endurance and it’s adventures during the Falklands campaign, a very interesting read.

    CountZero
    Member

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1846031400/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1457832953&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=Out+of+Nowhere%3A+A+History+of+the+Military+Sniper+%28General+Military%29&dpPl=1&dpID=51L6IgxpPjL&ref=plSrch
    A fascinating read about the history of the sniper in war.
    Operation Paraquat by Roger Perkins, about the battle for South Georgia, to bring things into more recent history, can be picked up fairly cheaply:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/ol/0948251131/ref=mw_dp_olp?ie=UTF8&condition=all
    I have to say I have a personal interest in this one; I designed it and did all of the page layouts and paste-up of the artwork, it somewhat predates Quarkxpress.

    Premier Icon stewartc
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    +1 Chickenhawk and the related Street without Joy, Spike Milligans war diaries are a slightly different take on the standard WW2 read but all the better for it.

    Todchester
    Member

    Any one suggested bomber by len deighton. A real pragmatic tale of the air war in www.
    Oh and agent zig zag. The latter will blow your mind based on a true story. And later days of Cold it’s. .

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
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    I’ve recently read these – highly recommended:

    Sea Wolves: The Extraordinary Story of Britain’s WW2 Submarines
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Wolves-Extraordinary-Britains-Submarines/dp/034912289X

    The Flowers of the Forest: Scotland and the First World War

    Premier Icon Moe
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    I read Rommel My part in his downfall years ago, I must look it up again! 🙂

    Premier Icon richardkennerley
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    Derek Robinson “Piece of cake” and the rest of the Hornet Squadron books.

    +1 for Geoff Wellum, essential read.

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