The General Perspective

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Charley Fortnum, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Greetings to everyone here.

    I've been lurking around, surreptitiously reading everyone's posts for several months now and have finally taken the plunge and signed up. I thought to post here first as I'm a book collector and one of my current areas of interest is the Second World War. It all started on holiday a few years back where I came upon a copy of Lord Alanbrooke's diaries in a bookshop in Faversham (I think) and proceeded to immerse myself utterly, spending every spare moment of a lovely few weeks in the midst of the 30s and 40s. From there I bought Monty's Memoirs and began cross-referencing various major events for another perspective; now, a few years down the line, I have assembled a little web of the varying viewpoints of the most prominent British commanders - mostly Major-Generals upwards. I have read a fair amount of the list I'll post (not all), but I'm always looking to add more to my hunting list and hoped that you chaps might be able to make some recommendations. Everything I have is a 'Very Good' to Fine First Edition (in a similar quality jacket) except where noted. I'm far less interested in modern historians' perspectives and look first for words from the protagonists and witnesses themselves; where I have bought biographies, they tend to be by biographers known well to their subjects. The numerous Pen & Sword publications seem to be a real mixed bag in terms of quality, and I'd planned to leave most of them until later. I'd be most grateful if you'd take a look at what I have and give me a nudge in a good direction. I have a shopping list of about twenty more books that I'm on the lookout for, but hoped you could tell me which other wartime generals produced memoirs or liaised with writers that I've missed so far?

    Major-General Sir Allan Adair:
    A Guard's General (Hamish Hamilton: London, 1986)

    Field-Marshal Lord Alanbrooke:
    War Diaries 1939-1945 (Weidenfeld & Nicholson: London, 2001) - Second Impression.

    Field-Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis:
    Memoirs 1940 : 1945 (Cassell: London, 1962)
    With Alex at War: From the Irrawaddy to the Po, 1941-1945 by Ruper Clarke (Leo Cooper: Barnsley, 2000)

    Field-Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck:
    A Critical Biography by John Connell (Cassell: London, 1959) - Signed and Inscribed to Margot Fonteyn (!)

    Major-General David Belchem:
    All In The Day's March (Collins: London, 1978)
    Victory In Normandy (Chatto & Windus: London, 1981) - Price Clipped

    Lt.-Gen. Sir Adrian Carton De Wiart:
    Happy Odyssey (jonathan Cape: London, 1950) - Second Impression - Price Clipped.

    Field-Marshal Lord Carver:
    Out Of Step: Memoirs Of A Field Marshal (Hutchinson: London, 1989)

    Cheshire VC:
    by Russell Braddon (Evans: London, 1954) - Price-Clipped

    Winston Churchill
    The Second World War (Not to hand)

    Admiral of the Fleet Vicount Cunningham of Hyndhope
    A Sailor's Odyssey (Hutchinson: London, 1951) - No Dust Jacket

    Major-General Sir Francis De Guingand:
    Operation Victory (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1947)
    Send For Freddie: The Story of Montgomery's Chief of Staff by General Sir Charles Richardson (Kimber: London, 1987)

    Lieutenant-General Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg:
    Freyberg VC: Soldier of Two Nations by Paul Freyberg (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1991) - Signed by Paul Freyberg (2001)

    Lieutenant-General Richard Gale:
    With the 6th Airborne Division in Normandy (Sampson Low, Marston & Co.: London, 1948) - Rebound in Half-Leather and Marble.

    Field-Marshal Harding of Petherton:
    A Biography by Michael Carver (Weidenfeld & Nicholson: London, 1978) - Inscribed by Harding.

    Sir Leslie Hollis:
    War at the Top by James Leasor (Michael Joseph: London, 1959)

    Lt.-Gen. Sir Brian Horrocks:
    A Full Life (Collins: London, 1960) - Inscribed by Horrocks to Hew Weldon with a signed letter from the Office of Black Rod.

    Field-Marshal Lord Ironside:
    Diaries 1937-1940 (Constable: London, 1962)

    General The Lord Ismay:
    Memoirs (Heinemann: London, 1960)

    Lieutenant General Sir Ian Jacob:
    From Churchill's Secret Circle to the BBC by Charles Richardson (Brasseys: London, 1991)

    Major-General Sir John Kennedy:
    The Business of War (Hutchinson: London, 1957)

    Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese:
    Oliver Leese by Rowland Ryder (Hamish Hamilton: London, 1987) - Price-Clipped.

    Lord Lovat:
    March Past (Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1978 [1979]) - Second Edition.

    Fitzroy Maclean:
    Eastern Approaches (Jonathan Cape: London, 1949)

    Carol Mather:
    When The Grass Stops Growing (Leo Cooper: London, 1997) - 2006 Ren & Sword Reprint (3rd Edition)

    Field-Marshal The Viscount Montgomery:
    Memoirs (Collins: London, 1958)
    Monty [3.Vols]: The Making of a General, 1887-1942; Master of the Battlefield, 1942-1944; The Field-Marshal, 1944-1976 (Hamish Hamilton: London, 1981, 1983, 1986) - Vols. 1 & 2 Price-Clipped.
    Watching Monty by Johnny Henderson with Jamie Douglas-Home (Sutton: Gloucestershire, 2005)

    General Sir Frank Messervy:
    Spearhead General by Henry Maule (Odhams: London, 1961)

    General Sir Richard O' Connor:
    The Forgotten Victor by John Baynes (Brassey's: London, 1989).

    Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Pownall:
    Chief of Staff: The Diaries of... (Leo Cooper: London, 1972, 1974) - 2 Vols.

    General Sir Harold Pyman:
    Call to Arms (Leo Cooper: London, 1971) - Price-Clipped.

    Marshal of the Royal Air Force Viscount Portal of Hungerford
    Portal of Hungerford by Denis Richards (Heinemann: London, 1978)

    The Countess of Ranfurly:
    To War With Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of... 1939-45 (Heinemann: London, 1994)

    General Sir Charles Richardson:
    Flashback: A Soldier's Story (Kimber: London, 1985)

    Major-General G. P. B. Roberts:
    From the Desert to the Baltic (Kimber: London, 1987)

    Cornelius Ryan:
    The Longest Day (Gollancz: London, 1960) - 2nd Impression Before Publication.

    Field-Marshall Sir William Slim:
    Defeat Into Victory (Cassell: London, 1956) - Second Edition

    Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Slessor:
    The Central Blue (Cassell: London, 1956)

    Field-Marshal Sir Gerald Templer:
    Tiger of Malaya by John Cloake (Harrap: London, 1985)

    Lieutenant-General Sir Francis Tuker
    Approach to Battle - A Commentary: Eighth Army, November 1941 to May 1943 (Cassel: London, 1963)

    Major-General R.E. Urquhart:
    Arnhem (Cassell: London, 1958)

    Field-Marshal Lord Wavell:
    Scholar & Soldier (To June 1941) by John Connell (Collins: London, 1964)

    General Sir Lashmer Whistler:
    Bolo Whistler by Sir John Smyth V.C. (Frederick Muller: London, 1967)

    Field-Marshal Lord Wilson of Libya:
    Eight Years Overseas 1939-1947 (Hutchinson: London, 1948] - Fourth Impression
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  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Can't suggest anymore books but Welcome to the forum.
  3. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Welcome and enjoy.!!!
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Welcome to the Forum
  5. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    You've missed Corps Commander by Horrocks. (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1977)

    Do you want to read these for the subject matter or simply 'collect'? I don't care whether or not the price is clipped - that suggests buying for investment rather than interest in the subjects/subject matter.

    Our best find (my other half is an ex-RAF reservist officer interested in RAF history) is an immediate post-war copy of "The Central Blue" found in the junk box of a dealer selling books at very overheated prices. It was an 'austerity' edition on cheap paper; the dust jacket was torn and very 'clipped' in comparable terms. But on the flyleaf it said "To Douggie - Enjoy. With Best Wishes Jock" Top right of flyleaf, signature DCS Evill. Sir Douglas Evill, Senior Air Staff Officer Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. Jock? Slessor. £2. Not for sale. Now or for a very long time if at all.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Frederick Morgan - Prelude to Overlord
    Sholto Douglas - Years of Command

    But you need to see the other side(s) of the Hill

    Neither Fear Nor Hope - v senger u Etterlin
    Panzer Leader - Heinz Guderian
    Achtung Panzer - Heinz Guderian
    Memoirs of FM Kesselring
    v manstein : Lost Victories
    Mungo Melvin Hitler's greatest General (v Manstein not Mungo!)
    The first and the Last Adolf Galland

    Command Decisions Lucian Truscott
    Crusade in Europe - Dwight d Eisenthower
    A soldier's Story - Omar Bradley

    Marchal Zhukov's Greatest victories
    Chuikov The Beginning of the Road: The Story of the Battle for Stalingrad
    John Erickson the Road to Stalingrad and the Road to Berlin
  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Thank you for the welcome messages and the suggestions. Staffsyeoman, I was aware of Corps Commander and planned to pick up a copy, but I must say the few reviews I saw online seemed rather to damn with faint praise - particularly in comparison to A Full Life. In answer to your question (in which I detect a crackle of reproach), I'm certainly a reader (I've read around 60% of that list and am currently on Carol Mather's book), but I don't exclusively read military books (Just starting the second of Paul Scott's Jewel in the Crown series). As to the collector's notes, I've no interest in selling anything, but I am a proper 'notebook and anorak' collector; the list is a copy of my personal one and the notes are there so that those unclipped jackets and later editions may one day be replaced by firsts in pristine covers! £2 for the Slessor book would be would be value even without the inscriptions. I got my copy on Ebay, but it's a little elusive nowadays.

    Sheldrake, you're quite right about representing the opposition (and the cousins) and I've noted your suggestions. Do you know how much, in terms of content, differs between Morgan's Prelude to Overlord and his later work, Peace and War: A Soldier's Life?

    More generally, I can't turn up anything from the South Africans or the Aussies although I know there are two books out there on Morshead but nothing by him.

    I once read a comment that although there's a healthy debate as to who fought the best war, the British wrote the best war. Bradley's book is ghost-written, which while it doesn't invalidate it, certainly makes it less interesting from my perspective. Worst read on my list so far, incidentally, Alexander's Memoirs: A real Frankenstein production that doesn't have any kind of cogent shape. First it's a battlefield revisit, then it's an overview of campaigns, then we're down in the dirt for a few pages and along the way we glean very little about the great man about whose life we'd hoped to hear. Was he short of money at the time?

    Finally, has anyone any thoughts on Geoffrey Evans' The Desert and the Jungle? One supposes he was in North Africa and Burma, but I don't know what he was doing in either place.
  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    In response to some requests for 'look-ups', I've made a half effort to catalogue this part of my collection. My objective, apart from the pleasure of collecting and collating, is to build up a micro-library that forms a portrait in mosaic of the collective general officer cadre of British (and later commonwealth) forces during the Second World War. Anorak that I am, I find it exciting to see two accounts by different men of the same events in which they were both involved--and that's where it all started for me, comparing Alanbrooke's take on the command strife in NWE with Monty's via their respective publications. Please don't hesitate to ask if you find yourself scratching your head as to who an author or subject was- or why I have a copy of a book that doesn't seem to relate to anybody you can think of. I think a few brigadiers or post-war generals have slipped in.

    What follows is roughly alphabetical by subject. Some books are omitted as they are not currently at hand--Churchill's, for instance. I currently have about fifty more books on my 'to find' list, but I'd welcome more suggestions.

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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Three more additions. Interestingly, the Bernard Fergusson book is signed and dedicated by him to his 'Old Conspirator', Bill Mather.

    I'm pretty sure that this is Carol Mather's older brother. Carol Mather was with No. 8 Commando, Phantom and the S.A.S. ('L Detachment' as it was) before becoming one of Monty's liaison officers (and much later an M.P.). Bill was with the Cheshire Yeomanry and then 2nd Armoured Brigade as a liaison officer before being wounded at Gazala and joining his younger brother at 8th Army HQ under Monty.

    I'm happy to be the new custodian of his old book. I wonder in what capacity he knew Fergusson? Must check his autobiography.

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  10. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    And here's a freebie: The Churchill Chronicles by Maj-Gen Thomas Bell. Lindsay Churchill, whose book Commando Crusade is shown above.

    There was, I believe, a physical publication of this text in 1986, but it must have been private as I can't find a copy anywhere. Anyway, most of it is family genealogy, but I have taken the liberty of excising Chapter Thirteen which covers the Second World War. He served as Chief of Staff to Brigadier Robert Laycock and fought in various places, notably Italy and Yugoslavia. His brother and fellow commando, Lieut-Col. Mad Jack Churchill also features, as does Evelyn Waugh.

    Jack Churchill - Wikipedia

    The extract is attached, the full book is here:

    Attached Files:

  11. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    I bought a second hand copy of "Off in Danger" The Life and Campaigns of General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, by Jonathan Riley.

    He joined the Glosters before volunteering for the Army Air Corps and went to North Africa, South France and Italy before going to Greece.

    In Greece, with 6 Para Battalion, he was commanding a company by the age of 20, as all of his bosses were either killed or injured at the hands of ELAS. He himself was shot twice and refused treatment until the objective was taken. He was awarded an immediate MC. His citation is one of the many missing at TNA but is detailed in full in this book.

    After Greece he went to Palestine. Then Korea, back with the Glosters, where he was captured andheld in a POW camp for 3 years.

    And that only covers the first half of the book! There's also postings to Cyprus, Jordan, Suez, Radfan, Borneo, MOD, NATO, Northern Ireland, Falklands War.

    "Farrah the Para" was a soldier for life and died in 2006.

    A very interesting read.

    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I have a signed copy of his book, The Edge of The Sword. In an act of somewhat artificial synchronicity I took it to the site of the Battle of the Imjin River where the Glosters made their epic stand (I live fairly nearby). There is now a small but immaculately kept memorial park there at the foot of the hill.

    I haven't had a look at the Riley biography, however, so thanks for the tip, Gus.
    gmyles likes this.
  13. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Not the tidiest book I own, but I've read it and it's engaging.

  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I recently bought the following in the hope that it would give me more information about 3 Inf Div on Cyprus (1951-52), but sadly it didn't really (there's a short-ish chapter about the division in Cyprus and the Canal Zone, but all the detail is on Egyptian soil).


    Gus, if you have a couple of minutes, could you take a look at that Farrar-Hockley biography (same author as this one) and let me know when he was in Cyprus and with what unit?
  15. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    December 1955, 16 Para Brigade (1 and 3 para btn). who were preparing to go to Jordan when they were ordered to Cyprus. These Battalions were in Cyprus by Jan 1956.

    TFH was DAA & QMG at Bde HQ. He got there in late April.

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  16. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    We had Churchill's Second World War in 6 volumes at one time. From husband's father.
    I wish we'd kept it now.
  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Christmas Additions to the General Collection.

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  18. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Would be interested to read of a close look at Gott. I was reading that he fared very poorly in the South African history of the war?
  19. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    A great many people got criticism from a great many people for their commands during the 'Gazala Gallop'.

    I can't speak of the South African perspective (although I've read that he and Piennar loathed each other), but he certainly generated some animosity for relieving Maj-Gen Rees (commanding 10th Indian Division), who had been assigned a pretty ghastly wicket and optimistically instructed to hold the Germans up for a few days. Considering his lauded command of 19th Ind Div in Burma, it's absurd in hindsight to imagine that his objection was born of a lack of determination (or however Gott phrased it); he just didn't see the logic in fighting a doomed battle for negligible gain.

    It sounds uncharitable, but being killed raised Gott's stock considerably and his charisma and merits overshadowed his flaws in hindsight; the post-war encomium is positively hagiographic in places.

    Edit: Quite a lot of a preview of the book here:
    Strafer Desert General
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  20. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Another brace. Both older books--one of which I'd never heard until last month.

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