In the summer of 1942, the Germans launched Case Blue, a strategic offensive into the Caucasus, a region rich in oil, birthplace of Stalin, and gateway to Iran and the Middle East, where the Germans could obtain more oil, cut off a vital corridor for Lend-Lease supplies to the Soviets, threaten the British Empire, and even perhaps link up with the Japanese (then advancing in Burma toward India). It was a pivotal moment of World War II, which history remembers primarily for the titanic clash at Stalingrad during the fall and early winter of 1942-43, but less well understood is the series of summer operations that led to and shaped that turning-point battle.
In Prelude to Stalingrad, Igor Sdvizhkov reconstructs the fighting in the northern sector of the Case Blue offensive, near the city of Voronezh. Using German documents as well as previously classified Soviet sources, Sdvizhkov zooms in on the nine days of see-saw fighting-involving tens of thousands of men and hundreds of tanks and guns on both sides-that threatened to derail the German offensive north of Stalingrad. In response to the withdrawals and mass surrenders on the Eastern Front during the war's early months a year before, Stalin ordered that no ground be given up, that his armies fight instead of pulling back, ensuring that the fighting would be brutal. Ultimately unsuccessful in denying the Germans a bridgehead on the Don River, the Red Army inflicted heavy losses, eroding the Wehrmacht's fighting power before it even reached Stalingrad.
From an expert in the Pacific theater of World War II comes the tragic story of the pilots who fought the last fight of the war during the first hour of peaceWhen Billy Hobbs and his fellow Hellcat aviators from Air Group 88 lifted off from the venerable Navy carrier USS Yorktown early on the morning of August 15, 1945, they had no idea they were about to carry out the final air mission of World War II. Two hours later, Yorktown received word from Admiral Nimitz that the war had ended and that all offensive operations should cease. As they were turning back, twenty Japanese planes suddenly dove from the sky above them and began a ferocious attack. Four American pilots never returned--men who had lifted off from the carrier in wartime but were shot down during peacetime.Drawing on participant letters, diaries, and interviews, newspaper and radio accounts, and previously untapped archival records, historian and prolific author of acclaimed Pacific theater books, including Tin Can Titans and Hell from the Heavens, John Wukovits tells the story of Air Group 88's pilots and crew through their eyes. Dogfight over Tokyo is written in the same riveting, edge-of-your-seat style that has made Wukovits's previous books so successful. This is a stirring, one-of-a-kind tale of naval encounters and the last dogfight of the war--a story that is both inspirational and tragic.
This book examines the Avar siege of Constantinople in 626, one of the most significant events of the seventh century, and the impact and repercussions this had on the political, military, economic and religious structures of the Byzantine Empire. The siege put an end to the power politics and hegemony of the Avars in South East Europe and was the first attempt to destroy Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Besides the far-reaching military factors, the siege had deeper ideological effects on the mentality of the inhabitants of the Empire, and it helped establish Constantinople as the spiritual centre of eastern Christianity protected by God and his Mother. Martin Hurbanic discusses, from a chronological and thematic perspective, the process through which the historical siege was transformed into a timeless myth, and examines the various aspects which make the event a unique historical moment in the history of mankind - a moment in which the modern story overlaps with the legend with far-reaching effects, not only in the Byzantine Empire but also in other European countries.
The Home Guard was formed in 1940 to fight an uncompromising and essentially suicidal campaign that was to buy a few hours grace for the regular forces to re-group after a German invasion. But the Dad's Army TV series has led to a serious distortion in the perception of the Home Guard and, as Malcolm Atkin reveals in this thought-provoking and meticulously researched book, its image was manipulated from its earliest days.
Using official documents, contemporary histories, stories, artwork and poetry, and comparing these with post-war films and histories, he takes a unique perspective. He explores how the myths of the Home Guard arose and were exploited by official propaganda and the wartime and post-war media. He also shows how the strong sense of gallows-humour amongst its volunteers - which fits in with a long tradition of self-deprecating humour in the British army - was taken out of context and became the basis of the TV series.
To the Last Man strips back the myths and forensically analyses how the modern perception has evolved. The result is a new, gritty, sometimes shocking, appreciation of the role that the Home Guard was expected to play in the Second World War.
What is the nature of courage, how and when should it be recognized, and how has our appreciation of it changed? These are among the questions Granville Allen Mawer seeks to answer in this absorbing study of the history of the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the British honours system for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. His is the first analytical account of the institution of the Victoria Cross, and it is a fascinating study of the ethics of rewarding bravery. It explores in dispassionate detail the thinking behind the creation of the award, the reasons why individual awards were given and how, over the last 160 years, the system has developed and changed.
Using vivid and carefully selected examples, he compares individual actions that led to a Victoria Cross and considers the circumstances in which they took place and the reasons given for making the award. So many factors were involved - the character of the individual concerned, the severity of the danger he faced, the situation of the British forces, whether his conduct was seen and recorded, and the interpretation of the criteria for making an award at the time.
This unconventional treatment of the Victoria Cross may be controversial, but it should stimulate a deeper understanding of the history of the medal and of the heroism of those to whom it has been awarded.
Oswald Boelcke was Germanys first ace in World War One with a total of forty victories. His character, inspirational leadership, organisational genius, development of air-to-air tactics and impact on aerial doctrine are all reasons why Boelcke remains an important figure in the history of air warfare. Paving the way for modern air forces across the world with his pioneering tactics, Boelcke had a dramatic effect on his contemporaries. The fact that he was the Red Barons mentor, instructor, squadron commander and friend demonstrates the influence he had upon the German air force. He was one of the first pilots to be awarded the famous Pour le Merite commonly recognised as the Blue Max. All of this was achieved after overcoming medical obstacles in his childhood and later life with a willpower and determination. Boelcke even gained the admiration of his enemies. After his tragic death in a midair collision, the Royal Flying Corps dropped a wreath on his funeral, and several of his victims sent another wreath from their German prison camp. His name and legacy of leadership and inspiration live on, as seen in the Luftwaffes designation of the Tactical Air Force Wing 31 Boelcke. In this definitive biography RG Head explores why Oswald Boelcke deserves consideration as the most important fighter pilot of the 20th century and beyond; but also for setting the standard in military aviation flying. This book will appeal to enthusiasts of the German air force, military aviation in general and World War One in particular.
Famous for Calvados apple brandy and Camembert cheese, Normandy is a green and pleasant land now dotted with thousands of British-owned second homes. Its coastline is also dotted with thousands of indestructible reinforced-concrete bunkers and gun emplacements that formed part of the Atlantic Wall of Hitler's Fortress Europe.
Tourists passing through the ferry ports like Boulogne, Cherbourg and Dunkirk may wonder why there are so few old buildings. Few know that the demolition which preceded the extensive urban renewal of the ancient town centres was effected by British bombs during four years of hell for the people living there. Before its belated liberation three ghastly months after D-Day, the sirens in Le Havre wailed 1,060 times to warn of approaching British and American bombers. After one single Allied raid, over 3,000 dead civilians were recovered from the city's ruins, without counting the thousands of injured, maimed and traumatised survivors.
So, whom did the Normans regard as the enemy: the German occupiers who shot a few hundred civilians or the Allied airmen who killed as many neutral citizens of northern France as died in Britain from German bombs during the whole war?
Told largely in the words of French, German and Allied eyewitnesses - including the moving last letters of executed hostages - this is the story of Normandy's nightmare war.
What can we learn from the stunning rise and mysterious death of the ancient world's greatest conqueror? An acclaimed biographer reconstructs the life of Alexander the Great in this magisterial revisionist portrait. More than two millennia have passed since Alexander the Great built an empire that stretched to every corner of the ancient world, from the backwater kingdom of Macedonia to the Hellenic world, Persia, and ultimately to India--all before his untimely death at age thirty-three. Alexander believed that his empire would stop only when he reached the Pacific Ocean. But stories of both real and legendary events from his life have kept him evergreen in our imaginations with a legacy that has meant something different to every era: in the Middle Ages he became an exemplar of knightly chivalry, he was a star of Renaissance paintings, and by the early twentieth century he'd even come to resemble an English gentleman. But who was he in his own time? In Alexander the Great, Anthony Everitt judges Alexander's life against the criteria of his own age and considers all his contradictions. We meet the Macedonian prince who was naturally inquisitive and fascinated by science and exploration, as well as the man who enjoyed the arts and used Homer's great epic the Iliad as a bible. As his empire grew, Alexander exhibited respect for the traditions of his new subjects and careful judgment in administering rule over his vast territory. But his career also had a dark side. An inveterate conqueror who in his short life built the largest empire up to that point in history, Alexander glorified war and was known to commit acts of remarkable cruelty. As debate continues about the meaning of his life, Alexander's death remains a mystery. Did he die of natural causes--felled by a fever--or did his marshals, angered by his tyrannical behavior, kill him? An explanation of his death can lie only in what we know of his life, and Everitt ventures to solve that puzzle, offering an ending to Alexander's story that has eluded so many for so long. Advance praise for Alexander the Great "Reads as easily as a novel . . . Everitt has a wealth of anecdotes and two millennia of histories to work with, and he delivers and interprets them flawlessly. Nearly unparalleled insight into the period and the man make this a story for everyone." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Under the Lend-Lease agreement with the US during WWII, the Soviet Union received large quantities of war materiel, including many aircraft; the Bell P-39 Airacobra takes a special place among them. The P-39 was dismissed as hardly suitable for combat both by the US and England, who turned it over in large numbers to the USSR. Soviet pilots had different views, though, and achieved excellent results while flying the type; more than twenty Soviet aces flew the P-39. As air combat over the Russian front was conducted mostly at low altitudes, the P-39 came into its own. Innovative tactics and motivation, coupled with the P-39's sturdy construction and adequate firepower, proved successful for the Soviets. The P-39 was in Soviet service since 1942; nearly 5,000 were supplied and used on the Soviet-German front, along with 2,400 P-63 Kingcobras, which saw only limited action against Japan at the close of the war. This detailed, illustrated history features many color side views and previously unpublished photographs.