(This review appeared in the WFA’s Stand To! journal in late 2021.) German Prisoners of the Great War is the first English translation of the 1920 book Kriegsgefangen in Skipton, an edited volume of German officers’ experiences as prisoners of war (POW) during the Great War at Raikeswood Camp (as it was known locally) in […]
This book is the diary turned memoir of Gunter Koschorrek who served on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. From October 1942 until August 1944, he served in the 1st Battalion, 21st Panzergrenadier Regiment, 24 Panzer Division, seeing action at Stalingrad, the Nikopol Bridgehead and in Romania. After that, he served with a […]
Book Review – Andreas Hartinger (ed), Until the Eyes Shut [memoir of Hans Kahr] (Warsaw, Poland: Amazon, 2019)
This book is the recollection of Han Kahr during his service as a machine gunner in the 138th Mountain Regiment, 3rd Mountain Division, between late 1943 to the end of the war. Kahr was born in 1925 in Eastern Styria in Austria into an agricultural community where his father was a peasant farmer. He enlisted […]
Henry Metelmann’s memoir of his service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War is one of the best accounts I have read. Metelmann served as a driver in the 22nd Panzer Division and saw action in the Crimea, Russia and Ukraine from the winter of 1941/2 until 1944 when he was injured. After that, […]
War Diary is Ernst Kern’s memoir of his service in the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1944. He served as an infantryman and medical orderly with the 12 Company, 91st Mountain Regiment, 4th Mountain Division, and saw action in the Caucasus, Ukraine and Romania. The narrative was compiled during 1945 while Kern […]
Book review – Konrad Jarausch (ed), Reluctant Accomplice [the letters of Konrad Jarausch] (Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011)
This book is an edited collection of around 350 letters sent by German NCO Konrad Jarausch during his active service. They cover the time from 1939 until his death of typhoid fever in Russia on 27 January 1942. In September 1939, Jarausch was mobilised from the reserves to serve with the V/XI battalion of the […]
Since February 2017 to end of July 2021, 220 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast and 413,890 downloads achieved. The average number of downloads per programme is 1,881. The activity over the last four years is shown below. The number of downloads per show is set out below in decending order of popularity. Episode […]
Five Years, Four Fronts is Georg Grossjohann’s memoir that covers his service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. Grossjohann served with the 21st Infantry Division in Poland, 161st Division during the invasion of France, the 332nd Division during the time between the end of the French campaign and start of Operation Barbarossa […]
Book Review – George Raugh, Unlikely Warrior A Jewish Soldier in Hitler’s Army (New York: Macmillan, 2015)
George Raugh served as a telegraphist in the communications section of the 2nd Battalion,158th Infantry Regiment, 282nd Division of the Wehrmacht. He saw service in western Ukraine and Romania from December 1943 until his capture by the Russians in August 1944. His story is remarkable as he was one-quarter Jewish and under German race laws […]
The Outermost Frontier is a transcription of series of letters sent by Helmut Pabst during his service in the 129th Infantry Division on the Eastern Front from the start of Operation Barbarossa to his death on 6th September 1943. Pabst was born in 1911 and before the war was a law student. He started the […]
Book Review: Gottlob Bidermann, In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier’s Memoir of the Eastern Front (Kansas: University of Kansas, 2000)
Reading the marketing blurb on the flap copy for this book, it appeared to promise little more than a Sven Hassle action novel. The first paragraph tells that ‘in the hell that was World War II, the Eastern Front was its heart of fire and ice. Gottlob Herbert Bidermann served in that lethal theater from […]
Flying from Malone is Guy Warner’s history of Belfast’s first airport that operated from 1924-25. The aerodrome was located in the south of the city off the Malone Road on the site now occupied by the Taughsmonagh housing estate. The land for the site was purchased by the council in the early 1920s and flights […]
Sniper Ace is Bruno Sutkus’ account of his time as a German sniper in the 68th Infantry Division in the on the Eastern Front. During his six months service from May 1944 to early 1945, he was credited with 209 ‘kills’, making him a top sniper in the Wehrmacht. Sutkus was born in 1924, […]
Book Review – Susan B. Cunningham, Sir Crawford McCullagh, Belfast’s Dick Whittington (Donaghadee, NI: Ballyhay, 2016)
The book Sir Crawford McCullagh, Belfast’s Dick Whittington, is a biography of The Rt Hon Sir Crawford McCullagh, 1st Baronet (1868-1948) who was a draper, unionist councillor on Belfast City Council and held the position of Lord Mayor for a record 17 times. McCullagh came from humble origins. He grew up in County Armagh, the fifth […]
Book Review – Brian M. Walker, A History of St George’s Church (Belfast: Ulster History Foundation, 2016)
Brian M. Walker’s book is an excellent chronological institutional history of St George’s church located on High Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was written to mark the church’s 200th anniversary in 2016. The book starts by considering the previous structures which stood on the site before St George’s was constructed in the early 19th century. […]
Since February 2017 to end of December 2020, 202 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast. Between the launch of the podcast on 13 February, 2017 and the end of March 2021, podcast episodes have been downloaded 373, 897 times. The average number of downloads per programme is 1,851. The activity over the last four […]
Book Review – John Killen, A History of the Linen Hall Library 1788-1988 (Belfast: Linen Hall Library, 1990)
John Killen’s A History of the Linen Hall Library 1788-1988 is a solid and worthy chronological narrative of the first two centuries of the Linen Hall Library (LHL). He starts by setting out how the library came of the intellectual ideas of the enlightenment and the social movement amongst literate and wealthy middle-class people to […]
Book Review – Lyn Gallagher, The Albert Memorial Clock (Belfast: The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2004)
Lyn Gallagher’s The Albert Memorial Clock is a short pamphlet on the design, building and restoration of the building after which her publication is named. It was written to mark the completion of restoration work on the Albert Memorial Clock (AMC) in 2002. The original structure was completed in 1869 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s late […]
Book Review – Francis Higgins, Religion, Riots and Rebels, The Incredible History of Brown’s Square Belfast (Belfast: Belfast Lad, 2020)
Francis Higgins’ book, Religion, Riots and Rebels, examines the social and economic history of Brown Square and its residents from its establishment in the late eighteenth century to the present day. Today, this area is located in the centre of Belfast. It stands west of the City’s Cathedral quarter, its cultural and tourist hub, and […]
Distant Thunder Issue 6 is now out. This is the journal of the Irish branches of The Western Front Association.
J.C. Beckett’s Belfast, The Making of a City is an anthology of 12 essays by different historians on the social, political, economic and cultural development of Belfast during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The nineteenth-century marked the period when the town of Belfast developed from a provincial market town of 20,000 in 1800 to an […]
Book Review – Friedrich Reiner Nieman, Feldpost [Denis Havel (Ed.)] (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Fonthill, 2016)
Feldpost is a collection of letters from Friedrich Reiner Niemann who served with the 58th Infantry Regiment that was part of the German 6th Infantry Division during the Second World War. The correspondence covers his life and front line experiences on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1945. Niemann came from a well to do […]
Historian Rob Thompson talks about how the British army supplied logistics and material for the Messines/Third Ypres Campaign of 1917.
Helmut Altner’s memoir covers his period as a 17-year-old conscript soldier fighting in the defence of Berlin from his enlistment on 29 March 1945 to his capture by Soviet forces on 3 May. He initially joined the Grenadier and Training Replacement Battalion 309 that was part of the 309th ‘Berlin’ Infantry Division formed in February […]
Book Review – Martin Poppel, Heaven & Hell, The War Diary of a German Paratrooper (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 1988)
Martin Poppel’s Heaven and Hell is his account of his service in the German Fallschirmjaeger (Parachute hunters) during the Second World War. He enlisted in 1938 as a recruit in the 1st Parachute Division and saw action in Poland, Norway and Holland before being promoted to Second Lieutenant in December 1941. Until October 1943, […]
Herman Schmidt’s Diary of a German Soldier 1939-1945 is more a memoir rather than a diary; the title is misleading. Schmidt was drafted into the German army in September 1939 at the age of 39. The majority of his service was in various menial roles around the horse supply unit for the 18th Army in […]
John Stieber’s account covers his time as a private in the Herman Goring Division, fighting on the Eastern Front July in late 1944 and 1945. He was born in 1926 of Czech-Austrian parents and grew up in England and Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s as his father ran various sugar refineries. In 1939, aged […]
This is the chronological memoir of William Lubbeck who served throughout the Second World War as a ranker and officer in the German 58th Infantry Division. He served as a forward observer for the heavy weapons support company (13th Company) of the 154th Infantry Regiment and he went onto command that formation. He saw service […]
Since February 2017 to end of December 2020, 189 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast. Between the launch of the podcast on 13 February, 2017 and the end of December 2020, podcast episodes have been downloaded 346,741 times. To date (31 December 2020), we have had 129,330 complete downloads and 217,411 partial downloads. […]
Book review: Armin Scheiderbauer, Adventures in My Youth: A German Soldier on the Eastern Front, 1941-1945 (Solihull: Helion, 2003)
Armim Scheiderbauer was born in 1924 in Styria, south-east Austria, his father being a Protestant minister. In August 1941, Scheiderbauer was drafted into the German Army and became an officer cadet. From summer 1942, he served for all his time in uniform as an infantry officer with the 252nd Infantry Division where he was a […]
I have established a new podcast titled the Combat Morale Podcast. It aims to explore what makes combatants fight (or not) in armed conflict. The podcast has a very broad remit covering all conflicts, asymmetric and conventional and seeks to be multidisciplinary hosting interviews with experts drawn from psychology, sociology, history policy and the armed […]
A ‘mere six weeks’? A comparative study re-examining the longevity of infantry officers’ frontline service during the Great War
My latest article in War in History examines the length of time officers actually served in infantry units during the Great War Veteran testimony after the Great War and current popular legend states that regimental officers in frontline infantry battalions during the Great War served around six weeks before death or injury ended their service. […]
Uwe Timm’s book explores the life of his brother Franz-Heinz, a member of the Waffen SS and the impact Franz-Heinz’s death had on his parents and Uwe’s relationship with them in post-war West Germany. Born in 1940, Uwe was the youngest of three siblings in a middle-class Hamburg family. Franz-Heinz was Uwe’s senior by […]
Issue 5 of Distant Thunder Issue 5 is now out. This is the journal of the Irish branches of The Western Front Association.
This book is the memoir of Austrian Alfred Novotny that covers his service in the Wehrmacht from 1942 to 1945 and subsequent time as a post-war Soviet captive. Novotny was born in Vienna on 1 April 1924. His father was a truck driver for a diary and also an active Social Democrat. Before the war, […]
Book Review – Hans Heinz Rehfeldt, Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front Vols 1 &2 (Barnsley: Greenhill, 2019)
Hans Heinz Rehfeldt served on the eastern front during World War II. He joined the Reinforced Infantry Battalion Grossdeutschland in November 1941 and remained with this formation when it was expanded into a full division until the end of the war when he was captured by the Americans in May 1945. He initially joined a […]
This is the copy I prepared for an article in The Courier, based in Dundee. On Thursday 14 October 1915, a 15-year-old teenager witnessed the deaths of two airmen in a flying accident in the grounds of Glamis Castle, Angus. This girl was Elizabeth Angela Marguerite, who would be queen to King George VI and […]
Hans Schäufler was a signals officer and second lieutenant in 35th Panzer Regiment, 4th Panzer Division, on the Eastern Front. His account covers his experience of the war from January to May, 1945. He took part in the German retreat from Latvia to East Prussia and was trapped in Danzig when the city fell to […]
Since February 2017 to end of September 2020, 178 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast. The podcast is available on a range of Apple and Android platforms through apps such as iTunes, Acast, Spotify, Castbox. Stitcher and TuneIn. Between the launch of the podcast on 13 February, 2017 and the end of September 2020, […]
Book Review Christine Alexander & Mason Kunze, Eastern Inferno, The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-1943 [Hans Roth] (Oxford: Casement, 2010)
Hans Roth was a private and corporal in the anti-tank battalion of the 299th Division and served with them from the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 to his death in June 1944. During his service, he fought with Sixth Army that was part of Army Group South and took part in operations to […]
Book Review – Willy Peter Reese, A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War, 1941-1944 (New York, USA: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)
A Stranger to Myself is the manuscript that German soldier Willy Peter Reese compiled on his service on the Eastern Front. It is a memoir that he wrote on his last home leave to Germany in early 1944 before he returned to the front where he subsequently disappeared and was presumed killed. He subtitled […]
Book Review: Horst Fuchs Richardson (Ed.), Your Loyal and Loving Son: The Letters of Tank Gunner Karl Fuchs, 1937-41. (Washington: Brassey’s, 2003)
The letters of Karl Fuchs present a different view of the German soldier in the Second World War than is frequently portrayed in the crude caricatures represented in British popular culture. There are three types of German serviceman that occupy this genre and all are demonstrated in the 1963 film, The Great Escape that portrays […]
A Berliner’s Luck is the memoir of Fred Simon’s service in the Wehrmacht during the Great War. Simon was born in Berlin in 1922, into a working-class family where his father was a tool and die maker. His family had Jewish routes and emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1927. They returned five years […]
Oskar Scheja’s account covers his time as a German soldier and Soviet POW during the Second World war. He rode with German forces into Russia in June 1941 as part of the 5th Company, 2nd Battalion, 525 Infantry Brigade, 298th Infantry Division. In October 1942, he was transferred to the 164th Infantry Division after being […]
Armin Bottger was a radio operator in the German Army during the Second World fighting in Panzer IV tanks. He served as a private in the 12th Squadron, 24th Panzer Regiment that was part of the 24th Panzer Division that saw action in France, Italy and Eastern Front from 1943 until the summer of 1944. […]
Bruno Friesen’s memoir covers his time as a gunner in Wehrmacht during the Second World War. He saw action with the 8th Company of the 25th Panzer Regiment from July 1944 until he was wounded in March 1945. Throughout his time with the unit, he served as part of the 7th Panzer Division and saw […]
Book Review – David Garden & Kenneth Andrew (Eds), The War Diaries of a Panzer Soldier, Erich Hager with the 17th Panzer Division on the Russian Front, 1941-1945 (Atglen PA/USA: Schiffer Military History, 2010)
David Garden and Kenneth Andrew have done a sterling effort to present, translate and present the diaries that German soldier Erich Hager kept for most of his service on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. Hager served as a ranker and Unteroffizier [Lance Sergeant] in 39th Panzer Regiment, 17th Panzer Division, throughout the […]
Since February 2017 to the end of June 2020, 168 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast. The podcast is available on a range of Apple and Android platforms through apps such as iTunes, Acast, Spotify, Castbox. Stitcher and TuneIn. Between the launch of the podcast on 13 February, 2017 and the end of June […]
Since February 2017 to end of March 2020, 154 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast. The podcast is available on a range of Apple and Android platforms through apps such as including iTunes, Acast and Castbox. Stitcher and TuneIn. Between the launch of the podcast on 13 February, 2017 and the end of March […]
I wrote a short article in the latest edition of Distant Thunder Issue 3.
Since February 2017 to end of September 2019, 131 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast. The podcast is available on a range of Apple and Android platforms through apps such as including iTunes, Acast and Castbox. Stitcher and TuneIn. Between the launch of the podcast on 13 February 2017 and the end […]
The diary of Gerald Achilles Burgoyne is a fascinating perspective of a pre-war regular officer serving in the early months of the Great War. He served as a company commander in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, and his diary covers his service with the unit around Ypres from November 1914 to May 1915. He […]
Book review: K.W. Noe, Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861 (Chapel Hill, 2010)
Kenneth Noe’s book examines those Confederate volunteers who were so-called ‘late enlisters’, those who joined the southern army after the rage militare of 1861 had died down. He estimates that 180,000 joined up after 1861 and this group of men are neglected by historians and stereotyped as hesitant non-slave owning farmers. His book aims to […]
Book Review: G. Hamilton, McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War (Infinity Publishing, 2015)
Gregory Hamilton’s revealing book examines the Project 100,000 personnel selection policy introduced by Secretary of State of Defense Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War. The programme formally accepted men into the army who were previous ‘disqualified for military service under previous mental [and physical] standards’ by lowering ‘test score[s] and educational standards’ required for service. […]
Book Review – George Lepre, Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers in Vietnam (Lubbock, Tx, 2011)
George Lepre’s excellent book is the first academic study into the Vietnam War phenomenon known as ‘fragging’, where US servicemen sought to murder other American soldiers using fragmentation grenades. He estimates there were up to 1,000 attacks that resulted in at least 57 deaths. His publication examines why soldiers perpetrated these crimes and how the […]
An article I wrote published in the WFA’s Bulletin 112 on the Wolverhampton Conference at which I gave a paper. Article in WFA’s Bulletin 112.
My latest article in the above magazine on ‘To volunteer or not: explaining Leicestershire’s recruitment crisis, 1914-1915’ which can be read here.
This was an article from the WFA website on the Western Front Association Service of Commemoration at the Cenotaph 11 November 2017
Tony Ashworth’s book was published over 30 years ago and is still relevant today.
Book Review – J. Smithson, A Taste of Success, The First Battle of the Scarpe (Helion: Solihull, 2017)
Jim Smithson’s excellent book brings new understanding to the opening phase of the April 1917 Battle of Arras.
Paul O’Brien’s excellent new book examines the role of the para-military Auxiliary Division in the 1920-21 British counter-insurgency campaign against the IRA during the Irish War of Independence.
Here is the text of an article I drafted for the Old Campellians’ Society as part of the project I’m doing at CCB. This was posted on their website.
Book Review: A.L. George, The Chinese Communist Army in Action: The Korean War and its Aftermath (New York, 1967)
Dr Alexander George’s book is a fascinating insight into how the newly created Chinese communist state in the late 1940’s sought to direct, sustain and shape small group relations in their People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and how this system functioned under the stresses of combat in during the Chinese intervention in Korea during 1950-51.
Omer Bartov’s book on the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front during the Second World War remains a classic on the role of ideology in combat motivation.
Stephen Miles’ book examines how tourism to the Western Front has developed over the last century.
Nick Lloyd’s new book covers the controversial Third Ypres campaign giving a valuable and unique insight into the both the allied and Germans experiences.
John Hockey’s book is a ground breaking insight into the life, culture and experience of the British Army infantry private in the late 20th Century.
In his admirable 2011 book, Jonathan Fennell argues that the morale of the British Eighth Army during the summer of 1942 reached a ‘crisis’ but recovered to be the most decisive factor in the allied victory over Axis forces at the Second Battle of El Alamein.
Book Review: J.A. Frank & G.A. Reaves, “Seeing the Elephant”: Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh (Westport, Conn., 1989)
This excellent book examines the morale, attitudes and experience of Confederate and Union soldiers who fought at the Battle of Shiloh. It follows their journey from enlistment and training in 1861 at the start of the US Civil War, to their first experience of combat, ‘seeing the elephant’, at Shiloh in April 1862.
Book review – J. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades, Why Men Fought in the Civil War (Baton Rouge, Lo., 1994)
Professor James McPherson makes a convincing case on the importance of ideology and political belief in the explaining why 3 million Americans enlisted, fought and endured in the US Civil War.
Vanda Wilcox’s book is an important contribution to the understanding of the Italian army in the Great War and also to explaining how morale functions in human conflict.
Book Review – S. Rabalais, General Fox Conner, Pershing’s Chief of Operations and Eisenhower’s Mentor (Havertown, Pa., 2016)
Steven Rabalais’ fascinating biography is the first to cover the life of US army officer Fox Conner (1874-1951). Connor served as ‘Black’ Jack Pershing’s Chief of Operations in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during the Great War and in the 1920’s became a close confidant, mentor and friend to Dwight Eisenhower.
Historian Robert Engen’s book convincingly explains what motivated Canadian soldiers to fight and endure during the Second World War campaigns of Sicily, Italy, Normandy and North West Europe in the face of intense combat, heavy casualties and adversity.
In Lydbury North’s parish church, there is an amazing publication titled ‘War Record’, produced by the parish after the Great War that sets out the military service of parishioners and the ‘war work’ local patriotic villagers undertook to support the war effort.
Book Review: D. Bird, The Spirit of the Troops is Excellent, The 6th (Morayshire) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in the Great War 1914 – 1919 (Moray, 2008)
Derek Bird’s chronological account of the 1/6th (Morayshire) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, in the Great War is a solid unit history.
Book Review: G. Book Review: G. Sheffield, Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and Realities (London, 2001)
Gary Sheffield’s Forgotten Victory still remains mandatory reading for those seeking to understand the First World War and Britain’s role in that conflict.
Book Review: S. Sandford, Neither Unionist or Nationalist, the 10th Irish Division in the Great War (Irish Academic Press, 2015)
Stephen Sandford’s excellent book on the 10th (Irish) Division is an in-depth study of the unit’s formation, its social composition, leadership and its service in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Great War.
This paper examines the effect combat experience, gained on the Somme, had on the military effectiveness of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) for the remainder of the war.
Holy Trinity church in Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, has a striking war memorial to its 43 parishioners who fought and fell during the Great War. They were predominantly residents of the local area and were mainly drawn from the wealthier professional middle classes or minor aristocracy who lived in the South Kensington area […]
On 10th November I attended the commemoration of the Unknown Warrior at Victoria Station. The service opened with a short narration and was followed by a minute’s silence to mark the arrival of the Unknown Warrior at Platform 8, Victoria Station in London, after he had been transported by train from Dover. The exhortation followed […]
This year’s remembrance commemoration saw the usual round of well-worn media debates on whether people should wear a poppy, what colour it should be : red or white or purple (for animals in war), and from what date it should be worn, the 23rd October or 1st November. The media event which caused the most […]