HMSO WW2 Paperbacks

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Bodston, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I've been doing some tidying up of my bookshelves today and it hadn't occurred to me that I had managed to amass so many of those HMSO paperbacks. Some will be very familiar with those of us who still frequent the military history sections of dusty old bookshops. Surely everyone has seen 'Bomber Command'. Usually priced between £3 and a fiver every second hand bookshop worth their salt has at least one!
    Very well produced for the time many are now showing their age, some of mine are beginning to crumble.
    They covered all aspects of the conflict on land, sea, air and on the home front. Some of them were mere pamphlets while others were more substantial paperback books. Most were illustrated with photographs and maps. I love them, I have seen them described as "the first draft of history", they never told any lies. Although they could be economical with the truth, bearing in mind that they were produced during wartime.
    Something like seventy titles were published, though not all had the nicely illustrated covers. Others were tied-in with a film release, such as 'One of our Aircraft is Missing' and 'The Silver Fleet'
    Some were re-produced recently as facsimile editions and quite quickly ended up in the remaindered shops.

    Does anyone else have a collection? Are there any really good ones? or any to be avoided.

    Here are some of mine.
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  2. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    Those are some great covers!
    (I might nick some for avatars, ta!)

    I only have the 8th Army one, am always on the look out
    for the Burma one. And I have a similar one, by the Eveing Standard
    called Hitler Passed This Way, showing before and afters of the Blitz
     
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Nicely presented layout there Bod, they are iconic of the British war (and bookshops) aren't they - nearly all familiar, and great design.
    A few of 'em were republished by the Stationary Office in Large format some years ago, I've a couple of those somewhere too.

    I see somebody's written a book about the books, anyone read it? :

    "Informing the people, Anthony James. 1996.
    This book examines 120 British Government wartime pamphlets (now often referred to as "WW2 HMSO paperbacks") written to inform the people on the war's progress.
    Title on cover: Informing the people: how the Government won hearts and minds to win World War 2: Information. v, 141 pp. ISBN 0 11 702014 1.
    Balogh Scientific Books, Stationery Office, England,British History, Travel, Scotland travel"

    120 of them!? Now there's a challenge...
     
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique MOD

    Nice one - some of them are getting hard to find, especially the two Indian Army ones you illustrated. Didn't realise there were 120 of them!
     
  5. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I see somebody's written a book about the books, anyone read it? :

    "Informing the people, Anthony James. 1996.
    This book examines 120 British Government wartime pamphlets (now often referred to as "WW2 HMSO paperbacks") written to inform the people on the war's progress.
    Title on cover: Informing the people: how the Government won hearts and minds to win World War 2: Information. v, 141 pp. ISBN 0 11 702014 1.
    Balogh Scientific Books, Stationery Office, England,British History, Travel, Scotland travel"

    120 of them!? Now there's a challenge...

    I've just read it. I must admit it did kick start my 'tidying up'..
    A very informative and interesting overview, with some background on the Ministry of Information processes, not too much detail. More of an expanded list.
     
  6. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    I've got all the ones relating to the home front, especially the rarer ones like The Post Office Went to War, ROF, and The BBC at War.
    I've got a book which lists the most common ones, but I can't remember if it's the same one as Adam's.
     
  7. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    PS - OOPS SORRY HADN'T REALISED SOMEONE ELSE HAD THIS ALREADY - MY APOLOGIES !!!...

    Still sorting out my library, but just realised this evening I am doing not bad in collecting copies of the WW2 HMSO paperbacks series - the short paperback/pamphlet books, most produced during the war, many by quite well known writers (although not always credited as such at the time), and published as information for the population and armed services. As a "first draft" of history, and allowing for a slight tinge of, cough, "propaganda", they are good to have and very evocative of the time.

    I have 20 of them, out of the (I believe) 120 or so identified in Anthony James' book, Informing the People, HMSO, 1996 (ISBN 0117020141), which I think is now out of print.

    Some are regularly found in secondhand shops, others less so - I have been lucky over the years to pick up some of the less common ones (although condition is not always wonderful, covers often go AWOL or get damaged - but then they are >60 years old). :rolleyes: It always pays to rummage...

    Anyone got more ???

    PS One I got recently, "Roof over Britain" on the AA defences of the UK, had an inscription from the owner (I assume - it's a lady and could well have been one of the lady AA gunners), thus :

    Anne E Simson
    192 AA Coy RASC Nov 40-Aug 41
    405/52 SL Regt (4/5 Royal Scots) Aug-Nov 41
    HQ 3 AA Division Nov 41-Sep 42
    HQ 47 AA Brigade Sep 42-Jan 43
    403/50 SL Regt (4th Bn Northamptonshire Regt) Jan 43-Jan 44
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    C-H, if you're interested, there's one more available online in it's entirety -

    Air Fronts: Theaters of Operation - MTO - HMSO: The Air Battle of Malta

    "The Air Battle Of Malta"

    Just recently I've been using it and checking it's contents in passing versus the "FDR Telegrams", and it's suprisingly accurate to the reports of events made by the Foreign Office to the White House within 24 hours of them happening.
     
  9. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Just the one Graham .... on British Submarines , they come up on "the God eBay" now and again.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    PR - cheers for that, will add it to the bookmarks !

    James - ah haven't got that one. Most of mine come from 2H shops and the like, prefer the fun of finding stray gems in real shops to the stress of bidding (usually !).
     
  11. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Anyone got more ???


    Nice collection mate. The 'Land at War' seems to very expensive due to the essay by Laurie Lee. That's the one I'm constantly looking for a cheap copy of.
    Since my first post I've picked up copies of 'Battle of Britain', 'Eighth Army' and a couple of copies of 'By Air To Battle', one a very nice leather bound ex library copy courtesy of Newport reference library.
     
  12. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    :) Thanks

    Yeah I know re 'Land at War", I paid 20 quid for it...not paid, given condition.

    There are several on Abebooks right now at around 10 quid...
     
  13. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Still not 'seen' a nice copy of Land at War for a decent price. The hunt continues.
    I have bought a few more though.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  14. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Bodston - a couple of questions...

    1/ does the "Campaign in Greece and Crete" one cover the resistance at all?

    2/ does the "Transport goes to war" one cover the strange story of a Southern loco being blown off the South Coast Line by a V1?
     
  15. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Bodston - a couple of questions...

    1/ does the "Campaign in Greece and Crete" one cover the resistance at all?

    2/ does the "Transport goes to war" one cover the strange story of a Southern loco being blown off the South Coast Line by a V1?

    1/ No, nothing. Regular forces only. Plenty on the Anzacs, and the fighting retreat of the forlorn hope.

    2/ No, published in 1942, so too early.
     
  16. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Back from Beltring with a large wad of 65 year old paper..

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  17. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    ..and the last of my grand shopping spree..

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    I got a few of the large format ones too, Egypt, Tunisia and Ocean Front, but they don't fit on the scanner.
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I didn't realise you'd bought so many mate. A fine theme to follow I reckon.
     
  19. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I've bought a few more, some local and some from the god eBay. A few rare late ones, and a nice cheap copy of 'Land at War'.

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  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    sol likes this.

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