Military History Encyclopedia on the Web
27 December 2013
Waterloo 1815 - Captain Mercer's Journal, ed. W.H. Fitchett.
A fascinating account of the Waterloo campaign as seen by an officer in the horse-artillery, focusing almost entirely on events as they were known to Mercer at the time. As a result we get a real idea of the fog of war and just how little an participant in a major battle might know about the wider events of the day. [read full review
British Army Uniforms from 1751 to 1783, Carl Franklin.
A splendid visual guide to the uniforms of the British army during the period of the Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence, with a full page of colour illustrations for each infantry, cavalry and guard regiment. A super guide for the modeller or painter, making it effortless to visualise each of the hundreds of units covered. [read full review
23 December 2013
16 December 2013
Warsaw 1944 - An Insurgent's Journal of the Uprising, Zbigniew Czajkowski.
The wartime journal of a teenage Polish fighter who took part in the Warsaw uprising of 1944 and was one of only three in his ten-strong squad to survive the battle. Written just after the fighting it takes us down into the streets and sewers of Warsaw as the brave but doomed uprising struggled to hold off the Germans in the vain hope that the Soviets would liberate the city. [read full review
10 December 2013
The Napoleonic Art of Keith Rocco, Peter Harrington
. Looks at the paintings of a modern proponent of the historical painting genre, with high quality prints of a wide selection of his paintings, ranging from studies of individual soldiers to large scale battle scenes. Supported by a useful text that explains the historical context for the painting and the artist's methods and motivation. [read full review
The British Sailor of the Second World War, Angus Konstam.
A concise look at the life of the British sailor of the Second World War, looking at their training, daily life on the ships (with the difference between different types and sizes of particular interest), the activities of the Home Fleet, Mediterranean Fleet and various Far Eastern fleets and the eventual process of demobilisation. [read full review
4 December 2013
US Marine Infantry Combat Uniforms and Equipment 2000-12, J Kenneth Eward
. Looks at the equipment used by the US Marine Corps during a prolonged period of combat that forced the introduction of improved uniforms, protective equipment and weapons to deal with an unexpectedly dangerous battlefield. Behind the sea of acronyms (for which the author can't be blamed!) is a very valuable account of the way in which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the Marines into a rapid programme of re-equipment. [read full review
27 November 2013
Servants of Evil - Voices from Hitler's Army, Bob Carruthers.
A selection of first hands accounts of their experiences written by members of the German army, the U-boat arm of the navy and the Luftwaffe, tracing the rise and fall of the Nazi war machine. Fascinating both for the experiences of the writers and for its insight into their misconceptions and the impact Nazi propaganda had on them. [read full review
The Longbow, Mike Loades.
A super look at the longbow as a military weapon, covering the development of the bow, how it might have been used in battle (taking into account the number of arrows we know to have been available, physical stamina etc), and the way in which the multi-level armour of the period coped with the threat. An excellent guide to this iconic English weapon and its role in battle. [read full review
13 November 2013
Compared and Contrasted: Weapons of World War II, Michael E. Haskew.
Compares competing weapons systems using a series of generally well designed illustrations, allowing the reader to get an idea of how the different tanks, aircraft, guns and ships of particular periods compared to each other. A nice idea that makes it easier to visualise some of the reality behind the dry statistics that normally describe these weapon systems. [read full review
12 November 2013
Albert Kesselring, Pier Paolo Battistelli.
A short biography of Albert Kesselring, who began the Second World War as a senior Luftwaffe commander during the invasion of Poland and the battle of Britain but is best known for his role as commander-in-chief in Italy for most of the lengthy German defence of the Italian peninsula, where he played a major part in holding up the Allied advance for so long. [read full review
The Mareth Line 1943: The End in Africa, Ken Ford.
Looks at the final battles between Montgomery and Rommel, from the retreat after El Alamein, through the various short-lived delaying battles to the fight for the Mareth Line and the final collapse of the Axis position in North Africa, including the battle for the Mareth Line. Clearly written and well illustrated, this covers a period in North Africa that is often skipped over. [read full review
6 November 2013
30 October 2013
28 October 2013
The Great Event, B. Randolph Beynon.
A lengthy history of the American Civil War supported by a vast number of quotations - over 1,000 during the full length of the book, with a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar quotes from a wide range of figures on both sides, all connected by a good history of the war. [read full review
Unusual Footnotes to the Korean War, Paul Edwards
, a selection of 33 short articles on unusual aspects of the Korean War, covering most phases of the war and a wide range of interesting topics that help remove the normal image of this as a fairly monolithic war. A nice way of bringing together a collection of interesting stories, most of which wouldn't have supported an entire book of their own. [read full review
22 October 2013
A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne.
Based around the journal of Clarence Ahier, a Jersey man who served in the artillery during the First World War, fighting on the Somme in 1916 and Ypres in 1917 before ending up as part of the British garrison in India. The journal is supported by a useful framework that puts Ahier's experiences into context. A useful view of the Great War from the position of the guns rather than from the trenches. [read full review
21 October 2013
The Complete George Cross, Kevin Brazier.
A single volume history of the George Cross, with brief accounts of each award, both of the George Cross and of awards that were later exchanged for the GC, a total of 406 awards at the time of writing. The main focus is on brief accounts of the incidents which led to the award, with a sentence of two on earlier life or later fate. A good single volume reference work on the GC. [read full review
14 October 2013
Images of War: Royal Flying Corps, Alistair Smith.
Four photo albums showing aspects of live in the RFC, including training at Tangmere and in Canada and early seaplanes on the River Crouch. Includes some astounding pictures of aircraft destroyed in crashes or by bad weather, as well as a good selection illustrating daily life in the RFC away from the front line. [read full review
8 October 2013
Images of War: Stuka, Hitler's Lethal Dive Bomber, Alistair Smith.
A collection of photos from the album of Erich Heine, a Stuka gunner and radio operator who mainly fought on the Eastern Front. Includes a good selection from his training, portraits, group photos, some fascinating aerial shots and a set from Luftwaffe funerals that illustrate how dangerous the ground attack role could be. [read full review
The First Blitz, Andrew P Hyde.
Inspired by a family connection to one of the victims of a bomb that hit a London primary school in June 1917, this book looks at the development of the German aerial attacks on Britain, with a focus on the most successful period of Gotha raids, the unit that carried them out and the leader who briefly turned that unit into an effective weapon. [read full review
4 October 2013
26 September 2013
The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam, Andrew Wiest.
Inspired by a meeting with a veteran of the company, this followed Charlie Company from its formation in the US, through training and on to its original men's year-long tour of duty in Vietnam. A rather melancholy book, as the men we have followed begin to be killed or wounded without any sign that their efforts were having any impact in Vietnam, but a very valuable study of the impact of war. [read full review
20 September 2013
Bayonets - An Illustrated History, Martin J. Brayley
. A super guide for the collector or reference work for the historian, looking at the bayonets used in thirty-seven countries since 1650, covering over 300 different bayonets with historical details, design notes and excellent colour photos. Perhaps a bit too focused for the general reader, but a valuable reference work for the bayonet collector or military historian. [read full review
17 September 2013
| Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 2: Struggle for control: Wars in ancient Sicily. Focuses on the series of wars between Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and native Sicilians that turned Sicily into a battleground in the centuries before the eventual Roman conquest, with good coverage of the wars between the Greek and Punic settlers and the tyrants that ruled for so long. Also looks at Roman ownership marks, attempts to avoid service in the Legions and Alexander's victory at the Granicus. [read full review]
13 September 2013
2 September 2013
28 August 2013
The Birth of the Royal Marines 1664-1802, Britt Zerbe
. A study of the formation of the Royal Marines, focusing on the fifty years from 1755 when the current Marine Corps was formed. Organised thematically, looking at the formation, administration, manning and uses of the Marines, both as a police force (onboard ship and on shore) and as a military force. [read full review
Greece and Rome at War, Peter Connolly
. An excellent military history of Ancient Greece and Rome, including an outline of military events and a detailed examination of the organisation and equipment of the armies of the period, based on a mix of documentary evidence, art and archaeology, hands-on reconstructions and visits to the battlefields. [read full review
20 August 2013
Carve Her Name With Pride, R. J. Minney
. The classic biography of Violette Szabo, one of the most famous SOE operatives of the Second World War, tracing her life from her childhood in Britain and France to her brief tragic wartime marriage and her career in SOE, which saw her captured on her second mission, imprisoned, tortured and finally executed in the last days of the war. [read full review
15 August 2013
Walcheren 1809, Martin R. Howard
. A history of one of the great disasters of British military history, when a large army was sent to try and capture Antwerp but stalled at Walcheren where disease destroyed the army. A good study of a failed amphibious expedition and an example of how not to carry out a large scale expedition [read full review
Italian Rapier Combat: Capo Ferro's 'Gran Simalcro', ed. Jared Kirby
. A translation of a classic Italian manual on fighting with the rapier, complete with reproductions of a mix of illustrations from two early editions of this famous work. Most technical terms have been left in Italian, with clear explanations at the start, so the book is best suited to someone with an interest in fencing or authentic period fighting methods. [read full review
12 August 2013
The Waterloo Archive: Volume IV: British Sources, ed. Gareth Glover.
A splendid selection of sources, mainly letters written just before and after the battle of Waterloo, describing the campaign, the battle itself and its aftermath. Provides a mix of personal accounts of the fighting, rumours from the period before and after and the mundane concern of the soldiers in the field. A fantastic source for anyone interested in Waterloo or in Napoleonic warfare in general. [read full review
6 August 2013
Stalingrad The Infernal Cauldron, Stephen Walsh
. A good medium length of the battle of Stalingrad, covering the build-up to the German siege, the siege itself, the Soviet counterattack and German attempts to break through to the trapped Sixth Army. Well illustrated and supported by clear useful maps both of the fighting in the city itself and of the wider campaigns. [read full review
31 July 2013
British Paratroop vs Fallschirmjäger: Mediterranean 1942-43, David Greentree
. Focuses on three direct clashes between British and German paratroops in North Africa and Sicily, a period when the Germans were already battle hardened while their British opponents were learning their craft. Combines a brief history of both forces with more detailed examinations of the three clashes and an examination of the lessons both sides learnt from them. [read full review
26 July 2013
Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas
. A super collection of photos of the Panzer IV and related vehicles, tracing its evolution from the infantry support tank of 1939, to the king of the mid-war battlefield and on its use as the basis of a large number of related vehicles towards the end of the war. Lot of good pictures from different angles make this a useful book for the modeller. [read full review
17 July 2013
Bronze Age Military Equipment, Dan Howard
. A detailed survey of Bronze Age weapons, armour and shields, focusing mainly on the rare survivals and the textual evidence to try and reproduce the military equipment of the Near East, Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. A very valuable summary of the current state of knowledge on this early period in military history. [read full review
The Peninsular War: Wellington's Battlefields Revisited, Ian Fletcher
. A collection of beautifully taken colour photographs showing key elements of the British battlegrounds of the Peninsular War, from the early battles in Portugal, through Spain to the invasion of France. Gives a clear idea of the sort of landscapes faced by Wellington and his opponents and acts as useful supplement to any general history of the war. [read full review
16 July 2013
5 July 2013
A Reluctant Hero: The Life and Times of Robert Ryder VC, Richard Hopton.
A biography of the naval commander at the St Nazairre raid, who after a pre-war career dominated by sailing ships (he sailed home from China in a yacht built for the task and was the naval commander on the British Graham Land Expedition), he had a fairly distinguished wartime career, which included the raid on St. Nazairre, Dieppe and the D-Day Landings. [read full review
28 June 2013
Five Days that Shook the World, Nicholas Best
. A history of the last five days of the Second World War in Europe, from the death of Mussolini to the German surrender, focusing on the viewpoint and reactions of participants in those events, including soldiers, civilians, politicians and future celebrities. A fascinating read and an unusual view of these famous days. [read full review
27 June 2013
20 June 2013
Deceiving Hitler, Terry Crowdy.
Looks at the full range of methods used to deceive the Germans during the Second World War, from the earliest attempts to discourage a German invasion to the triumphant deception plans that surrounded the D-Day landings. Covers physical deception (models, false radio signals etc) and the famous double cross network of controlled German agents to paint a full picture of the British deception campaign. [read full review
A Splendid Little War, Derek Robinson.
The fourth entry in the author's RFC Quartet follows a British squadron fighting in southern Russia during the 'Intervention' of 1919, tracing the activities of a fictional squadron of volunteers fighting for Denikin and against the Bolsheviks. Combines a good grasp of the dark and wild humour of the often short-lived aircrews with a realistic feel for the human cost of the British intervention in a chaotic civil war. [read full review
19 June 2013
11 June 2013
Light Dragoons: The Making of a Regiment, Allan Mallinson
. A history of the four cavalry regiments that were eventually merged to form the current Light Dragoons regiment, following the four regiments from their formation in the Eighteenth century through almost all of Britain's wars since then, with chapters added to this edition to fill the gap between 1993 and 2006. [read full review
10 June 2013
4 June 2013
Retreat and Rearguard 1914: The BEF's Actions from Mons to the Marne, Jerry Murland.
A very detailed account of the days from the battle of Mons to the end of the retreat and the first steps towards victory on the Marne, a period dominated by a long retreat and a number of fierce rear-guard actions. Well supported by eyewitness accounts of the retreat, and with evidence from the British, French and German sides, this is a good addition to the literature on this well-studied period. [read full review
Tigers in Normandy, Wolfgang Schneider
. A detailed history of the role of the Tiger Tank during the Battle of Normandy, tracing the fate of most individual tanks as well as the role they played in the overall battle. Supported by a huge number of photos, most of which are tied to the text and by some excellent maps. [read full review
29 May 2013
The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, Martin Middlebrook
. A very detailed account of the costly American daylight raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt of 17 August 1943, a pair of maximum effort attacks that were meant to cripple parts of German industry but instead made it clear that even the heavily armed B-17 Flying Fortress couldn't operate without fighter escort. [read full review
Secrets of the Spitfire, Lance Cole
. A biography of Beverley Shenstone, a Canadian aeronautical engineer who played the leading role in designing the modified elliptical wing of the Spitfire. Looks at his entire career, from early days in Canada and Germany, through his time in Germany and on to his post-war career in civil aviation, but with a clear focus on that distinctive wing, the science behind it, and the reasons it was so effective. [read full review
24 May 2013
Kharkov 1942 - The Wehrmacht strikes back, Robert Forczyk.
Despite the subtitle this actually looks at two offensives in the Kharkov area in the spring of 1942 - an initially successful Soviet offensive that stretched the German lines and a pre-planned German blow that took advantage of the Soviet move to inflict a heavy defeat on Timoshenko's armies and weaken the Soviet southern armies in advance of the main German offensive of 1942. [read full review
17 May 2013
Adventurous Empires - The Story of the Short Empire Flying Boats, Phillip E. Sims
. A look at the history of the Short Empire Flying Boat, from the pioneering long-distance routes flow by Imperial Airways to their unglamorous but vital role as a long range passenger transport aircraft during the Second World War. An interesting account of the adventurous and rather more romantic early days of civil aviation, with a useful section of the wartime service of the Empire boats. [read full review
French Cruisers 1922-1956, John Jordan & Jean Moulin
. Split into technical and historical sections, so looks at the design of the cruisers class by class before turning to their peacetime and wartime experiences. The text is supported by very high quality accurately labelled plans of the ships and a good selection of photos. These were interesting ships, with some unusual features and that often had a very dramatic time during the Second World War. [read full review
13 May 2013
Hornet's Sting, Derek Robinson
. Second in the author's RFC Quartet, following a fictional RFC squadron during the harsh fighting of 1917. Characters come and go with brutal frequency, while on the ground the Third Battle of Ypres turns into the muddy fiasco of Passchendaele. The focus of the story is Hornet Squadron itself, and the desperate battles forced upon it by the RFC's policy of offensive flying. The result is a harsh but compelling look at life in the RFC during one of its hardest moments. [read full review
Salamanca 1812 - Wellington's Year of Victories, Peter Edwards
. A look at Wellington's campaigns of 1812, from the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz to the triumph at Salamanca, the failure at Burgos and the retreat back to Portugal at the end of a year that saw the French permanently forced out of large parts of Spain. A good account of this campaign, copiously illustrated with carefully used eyewitness accounts. [read full review
7 May 2013
War Story, Derek Robinson
. First in the author's RFC Quartet. We accompany a brash but inexperienced new pilot as he joins a fictional RFC squadron where he quickly makes himself unpopular and finds his experiences of a combat to be very different from his expectations. Life expectancy for a pilot is short, and characters disappear quite suddenly. The way in which the survivors deal with this stress is the main thrust of the book, and the contrast between the vigorous parties and the vicious fighting is at the heart of this excellent novel. [read full review
3 May 2013
The Battle East of Elsenborn and the Twin Villages, William C.C. Cavanagh.
A very detailed examination of ten day's of fighting on the American left during the Battle of the Bulge, looking at the battles that saw outnumbered and under strength American units delay the main thrust of the German offensive for long enough to allow the Americans to form a new defensive line on the Elsenborn ridge and stop the main German thrust before it made any real progress. [read full review
23 April 2013
British Cruisers of the Victorian Era, Norman Friedman.
Looks at the evolution of the British cruiser during a period of massive technological change. We start with ships that were effectively Napoleonic frigates but with auxiliary steam engines, and end with the fast turret armed turbine powered cruisers of the First World War (the last generation of ships before the battlecruisers). A splendid book that focuses on the design process as much as on the physical details of the ships, asking why a particular type of ship was built and looking at the many compromises that produced each design. [read full review
Images of War: Hitler's Boy Soldiers, The Hitlerjugend Story, Hans Seidler.
A photographic history of the Hitlerjugend's role in the German war machine, from pre-war training to the raising and virtual destruction of the 12.SS Panzer Division 'Hitlerjugend', finishing with the German use of Hitlerjugend as child soldiers in the last battles of the war. A good collection of interesting pictures, although with some flaws in the captions. [read full review
25 March 2013
The Light Dragoons, A Regimental History, Eric Hunt.
A history of the 13th, 15th, 18th and 19th Regiments of Light Dragoons and the modern Light Dragoons, the product of two sets of mergers between the earlier regiments. This history follows all four regiments from the early eighteenth century to the present day, tracing their involvement in the major and minor conflicts of the last three hundred years. [read full review
12 March 2013
Dictionary of British Naval Battles, John D. Grainger
. A sizable reference work that covers at least 4,000 naval engagements involving British warships over the last 1,500 years, ranging from the countless battles between individual ships up to major clashes such at Jutland or Trafalgar. A very valuable reference work for anyone interested in individual naval battles, but that also gives a good feel of the overall nature of British naval power [read full review
7 March 2013
Coastal Operations in the American Civil War, Kevin Dougherty
. Looks at the Federal efforts to close the Confederate coast by capturing or blocking every port on the Southern coast, a campaign that was designed at the start of the war by the Navy Board and that lasted until almost the end of the conflict. An interesting study of combined arms operations and the problems that could be caused when two services cooperated on operations without any firm rules in place. [read full review
25 February 2013
1812 - The Great Retreat, Paul Britten Austin.
The third part of a magnificent trilogy, this looks at the disastrous retreat from Moscow, where Napoleon's Grand Army melted away under attack from both the ever-present Cossacks and the bitter Russian winter. Based on eyewitness accounts of the disaster, this is a remarkable study of the horrors of war and the response of an army to a catastrophe. [read full review
20 February 2013
Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright.
A compelling and thoughtful eyewitness account of the war in Iraq written by an American officer who took part in just about every phase of the war, from the original invasion through the rising insurgency to the Surge and the slow improvement in conditions that followed, right through to the very last combat patrol in Iraq. Gives an informed view on what the US did right and wrong during the war and how the US military learnt from its early experiences. [read full review
4 February 2013
Vercors 1944 Resistance in the French Alps, Peter Lieb
. Looks at a disastrous attempt by the French Resistance to seize control of part of the French Alps in the period after the D-Day landings. The book examines how German paratroops and ground troops crushed the defenders of the Vercors after the Maquis launched an uprising without sufficient outside support, expected a less vigorous German response. [read full review
Aircraft of World War I - 1914-1918, Jack Herris and Bob Pearson
. Takes an unusual approach for a book on aircraft, organising its subject chronologically and by topic, thus bringing together all of the aircraft involved in a particular battle or campaign, and tracing how they developed. As a result the air war is better tied to the battles on the ground than in books organised aircraft-by-aircraft. [read full review
31 January 2013
1812 - The March on Moscow, Paul Britten Austin
. An account of Napoleon's invasion of Russia as seen by members of the French and Allied army. This first volume of three covers the advance on Moscow, including the battle of Borodino. A compelling vivid account of the first part of one of the most disastrous campaigns in history. [read full review
1812 - Napoleon in Moscow, Paul Britten Austin
. The second in Britten Austin's excellent trilogy on Napoleon's invasion of Russia, based around eyewitness accounts of the time spent in Moscow, from the fire that destroyed large parts of the city to the eventual decision to leave the city. Covers life in the occupied Russian capital, the failure of attempts to get in touch with the Tsar and the clashes between Ney's advance guard and the Russians as well as the slow isolation of the French as their lines of communication west were put under increasing pressure. [read full review
23 January 2013
Infantry Weapons of World War II, Jan Suermondt
. A photographic reference work on the infantry weapons used by the main combatant nations during the Second World War, based around a remarkable collection of photos of the weapons held by the Cobbaton Combat Collection in Devon. Contains 500 high quality pictures of 150 weapons, supported by some useful text. [read full review
8 January 2013
Casca 37: Roman Mercenary, Tony Roberts
. Set just after the Gothic sack of Rome in 410, this entry in the series sees Casca attempt to come to terms with the collapse of his world while taking part in a rescue mission in barbarian occupied Gaul, and dealing with mixed party of mercenaries and a hidden betrayal. [read full review
Bf 109 G/K, Nico Brass & Srecko Bradic
. A look at the last versions of the Bf 109, focusing on the numerically important G and the final version to be mass produced, the K, as well as other late versions and post-war derivatives produced outside Germany. Very well illustrated, including some plans from the Messerschmitt archives, and with some interesting material. [read full review