Book Review Operation Diver: Guns, V1 Flying Bombs and Landscapes of Defence, 1944-45 by Colin Dobinson

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by ARPCDHG, Apr 9, 2019.


    ARPCDHG Member

    Operation Diver: Guns, V1 Flying Bombs and Landscapes of Defence, 1944-45 by Colin Dobinson, published by Methuen at £40 (although I bought mine from Books Etc online at £23.81!). 499 pages, profusely illustrated with photos and maps, plus two appendices and extensive endnotes, bibliography and source references.

    After a five-year publication delay, this, the fourth in the Historic England/Methuen's Monuments of War series, continues the excellent and much-needed research into Britain's wartime defences 1939-1945. Similar to the 1950s HMSO official histories of the war, but with far greater detail, these works have now become the standard reference work on their subjects.

    Because this was an operation that only really lasted a year and affected only several coastal areas, the author has been able to go into greater detail about the unit movements and personalities behind this AA operation than his previous works.

    As the AA defences were hurriedly erected and had to be mobile for the northerly direction the campaign went, there were very few fixed emplacements compared to the AA defences of 1939-1944. However, the author has explained what equipment was used and charts the development of the Diver Belt, Box, Strip and Fringe etc, with particularly good clear maps of various sectors, showing where their Diver batteries were.

    The appendices are useful: they list where all the Diver batteries were. However, compared to the previous books in the series, the appendices are more awkward to use: although map references are provided, even though there was available space, most place names have not been included, so you are left with columns of meaningless numbers: the author suggests readers buy historic Cassini maps from ebay! These place names could have been included for ease of reference.

    Also, according to the forward in the AA Command book (2001), the fourth in the series was meant to be about Civil Defence structures, not Operation Diver. Very little research has been published on these type of buildings, from all the different types of air raid shelters, wardens posts, decontamination buildings etc or their history. They are far rarer than pillboxes and have and are being destroyed at a far greater rate compared to anti-invasion defences, mainly due to urban development. Although it is a huge subject, arguably, civil defence needs to be more urgently covered than Operation Diver, which only lasted a year and was covered in Dobinson's AA Command (2001).

    However, the above observations do not detract from Dobinson's latest excellent book, which will now become the standard 'go-to' work and probably the last word on the subject. This is essential reading and reference for all those serious about WW2 archaeology and history. Thoroughly recommended.

    CL1 and dbf like this.

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