What are you reading at the moment?

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Gage, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    Aston Martin.JPG

    Had a bit of a break from Tobruk books and read ‘Aston Martin- Made in Britain’ by Ben Collins. It’s supposed to be a history of the marque but is a bit light on detail and actually doesn’t even mention a few cars that were important in the company’s history (anyone remember the Aston Martin Lagonda?). The author was the Stig from Top Gear, which, if you didn’t know from the sticker attached to front of the book, you find out pretty smartly as he describes numerous times that he spent doing stunts for the Bond movies or driving sports cars at Le Mans. I think it is aimed at the Top Gear audience and it gets a bit annoying.

    There is a chapter on WW2 which mainly deals with Ian Fleming’s experiences, however, it was interesting to read that Aston’s post-war engine designer, Tadek Marek, was a refugee from Poland early in the war. There is a story within the book which describes Marek borrowing a German diplomat’s car and identification papers for twenty four hours to drive back into Russian occupied Poland to rescue his wife. He did this because he apparently looked very similar to the diplomat.

    Not a great book and it drifts off topic at various times but a fairly entertaining read.

    Currently tossing up whether to start on Paul Carell’s ‘The Foxes of the Desert’ or Ken Ford’s ‘Run the Gauntlet- The Channel Dash 1942’. Anyone read these?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
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  2. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    Between Wendover and Aston Clinton, Nr Aylesbury, Bucks. there is a hill called Aston Hill, where a small commemorative stone stands. It was up this hill that Aston Martin tested their cars.I do have a photograph of this Stone / Plaque. The one shown I copied. 450px-The_Origin_of_the_Aston_Martin_Car_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_1262861.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
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  3. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Just finished this one from Greg Baughen which is the fourth book in his ongoing efforts to reappraise RAF strategy (the first covers WW1, the second the inter war years and the third deals with the battle of France/Britain). This is a rollercoaster of a book focusing on how the perception of the all powerful bomber dominated air ministry thinking despite how successful the Germans had been whilst using their Air Force in collaboration with their army. It’s a real eye opener describing the failures in Greece and the Western desert and the stubbornness of those in charge. Churchill comes off quite badly initially, but Portal is the main villain in the authors eyes whilst poor old Longmore seems to be have been very badly treated.
    I really enjoyed this but it’s a relentless read with a bit of repetition and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of what’s happening where as it’s split into subject areas (sensibly I reckon) rather than following a monthly timeline. It’s a 4/5 purely as I thought the previous book was better but I’ll be looking for the next instalment as it will certainly be interesting to find out Baughens views on the massive Bomber Command expansion that started in 1942.
     

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  4. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    [​IMG]

    Currently reading this as Volume Three is on its way to Canada so I need to be caught up.
    Also looking through the January 2021 issue of Journal of Military History. Zaloga has an article on the Funnies and Omaha Beach but my main interest this issue is Christian Henriot's article on the Battle of Shanghai, 1932. He's a good historian and is responsible for this website: Virtual Shanghai Project | Virtual Shanghai
     
  5. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target 25 pdrs 67th Field Regt Bou Ficha Tunisia 1943

    I have jut completed my first reading of The Plain Cook and the Great Showman.
    I will be reading it again to get a few things straight and will hopefully address your previous queries afterwards.

    The Plain Cook and the Great Showman
    It took me a while to get into the “rhythm of battle” as one of my own private letter sources referred to it.
    I now understand why so many people failed to publish their memoires on the subject of Tunisia in particular those who served in the 1st Army and why many more stepped back from speaking about it after the war.
    Montgomery’s Eighth Army was a huge undertaking it lived upon its reputation above all others. Many of the men coming home were asked the same question
    “So you were in Africa with the Eighth Army then.”
    Being 1st Army was an embarrassment.
    It seems that The Plain Cook and the Great Showman was originally intended to plug the gap but has failed to do so in so many ways ending in almost an apology.
    The stories are very well told and the efforts of those involved emotionally drawn.
    However the constant dodging between 1st and 8th Armies I find a bit irritating.
    The whole Torch undertaking was a learning curve for the Americans who needed battle experience and the Eighth Army who needed a boost.
    So many mistakes were made that would eventually become an embarrassment to very Senior Commanders that they condemned it to the file marked “B”.
    1st Army then ceased to be and its units dispersed.

    To rub salt in their wounds Montgomery robbed the 1st Division of their vehicles to replace those worn out by the 51st Highland Division leaving them marooned in Tunisia for six months and took away the 78th Division to use as his “Mountain Troops” no doubt acquiring their honours for his command.

    1st Division were then given Mountain Warfare Training in Tunisia which prepared them for their move to Italy.
    For four days at the end of 1943 the 1st Division came under the 8th Army but transferred to the American 5th Army in January 1944 ready for Anzio where 2 Infantry Brigade led the Assault onto the beaches.
     
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  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    The Moonlight War, by Terence O'Brien. This will be the second book I've read from this author, having previously read through, Out of the Blue. His books deal with the RAFs role in supplying and dropping clandestine personnel into the Burma theatre during WW2.

    345.jpeg
     
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  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Tunisia was a school for all the Allied armies. The 1st Army represented Home Forces, which had been out of action for more than three years. Two of 1st Army's divisions and many units in the other divisions had fought in 1940, but they were very rusty and Tunisia showed some faults in Home Forces training. The US Army, of course, had not fought since 1918 and had everything to learn. Everyone of course forgets about the French, but Tunisia was where they got back into the war in significant numbers. They had not fought since 1940 and they had a lot to prove. Eighth Army had much to learn too, such as that methods which worked in the Desert didn't necessarily work in the Tunisian djebels. And of course they all had to learn to work together. As for me, I think First Army learned fast and well and was fine by the end of the campaign. This was also true of US II Corps and the French, but I think Eighth Army's rather self-satisfied attitude hindered it both in Tunisia and later in Europe.
     
  8. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    You should enjoy this one, really well written. My favourite of his is ‘chasing after danger’ about his earlier ops.
     
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  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the heads up, I might go there next then. I enjoyed Out of the Blue very much, but that did deal with Chindit related ops in detail.
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    When I was a kid I had a Matchbox model of Bond's Aston Martin. The doors opened and everything. Waaaaay cool.
     
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  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I had one too. It was brill!!
    My wife bought me a special edition 1/24 scale model of the car a few years back, I think it was made by the Danbury Mint. I've kept it in the presentation box for safe keeping, as I do not have a glass cabinet to show it off from and also two large cats who are both excellent climbers.
     
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  14. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron

  15. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target 25 pdrs 67th Field Regt Bou Ficha Tunisia 1943

    The Plain Cook and the Great Showman
    I have begun to read the book again but decided against further comment.
    I dont feel qualified to criticise any of the characters mentioned or the person who wrote it.
    I had never heard of Tuker but am now up to speed albeit as a novice.
    I am highly impressed with the posting #4007 by TTH and cant see myself bettering it.
    It has been a difficult time for most people that I have met or corresponded with and I have found myself withdrawn into a dark period of our history, probably as I have not done more than walk my old Husky (13 years old) for a few miles each day often in appalling weather.
    I feel that I might have made a nuisance of myself on more than a few occasions so am attempting a tactical withdrawal.
    This site must be a godsend (which ever one that you choose) to those who are marooned indoors but we can all have too much of a good thing.
    I wish you adieu and will try to find an alternative pass time at least for a while.
    Our Hedgehog should be appearing soon, the trail cams are out, the fox has been back for a few nights and the sun is beginning to shine.
    More exciting is our granddaughter born last August and only seen "live" twice, is beginning to crawl so there are better prospects on the horizon.
     

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  16. 14/264

    14/264 Member

    Tail End Charlie by John Wainwright

    This is a very odd book. I have read a considerable number of books by ex-Bomber Command aircrew but nothing like this. The book is written in a rambling style and purports to describe Wainwright's service in 5 Group, Bomber Command, unfortunately Wainwright doesn't tell us the squadron he served on or it's location. Wainwright's service, and that of his fellow crew-members certainly appears to have been unusual. Some points from the book:
    • Wainwright appears to claim to have completed 73 operational flights (well, 72, but I'll come to that) without a break. He says that the crew were, after each tour, 'offered a breather', but, not wanting to break up the crew and fly another tour in another crew apparently elected to continue on operations. Not something I've ever come across in other memoirs, most aircrew were counting down the number of operations to the end of the tour.
    • Firestorm raids. Wainwright claims to have flown on both the Hamburg and Dresden firestorm raids. As these were carried out un July 1943 and February 1945 respectively, Wainwright and his crew were on operations for a minimum of nineteen months, again, not something I have ever come across before. Wainwright also maintains that both firestorms were deliberately planned for by the raid's planners.
    • The missing raid. Wainwright says his log-book shows 73 raids, but he only flew on 72. The missing raid occurred when, the aircraft being ready to take off, Wainwright realised he had left his coffee and sweets in the dispersal hut. He climbed out of his turret to retrieve them and returned to find the aircraft rolling down the runway on take-off. After waiting for the aircraft's return he found that no-one in the crew had noticed his absence. Presumably it was normal for an operational flight to take place without any contact from the rear gunner!
    • 'Wing-tipping' other aircraft. 'Whatever the cost - whoever else we pushed out of the sky - we were going to buy ourselves elbow room over the target......Whisper it gently, but we were not alone in this resolution; to a man, the 'old lags' lived by the same rule. That's why they were 'old lags/. A good pilot (and in the air Ian was an above-average pilot) could wing-tip another kite aside It was, needless to say, a last resort but, if the other guy couldn't regain control of his aeroplane that was too bad and R.I.P.' The crew apparently practiced for this by flying at very low level, flicking the top branches of trees, and looking for tell-tall scratches on the wing-tip to see if they had done it right.
    • Wainwright also says that 5 Group aircrew would only obey orders from 5 Group officers, and routinely appeared unshaven and with their tunic buttons unfastened, something I would have thought the SWO would not have approved of.
    There are lots more examples of this in the book, these are just the highlights, but I do have to wonder, truthful or a spectacular line-shoot?
     
  17. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    [​IMG]

    Found out about this book purely by accident. It's the English version of an Italian book published in 1996, released at the same time but in much smaller numbers.
    It seems that in 1943, an all colour photographic book was released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Regia Aeronautica's founding as a unique arm. Using this as a basis the authors then searched out other colour pictures of the RA held in private hands etc. They group the pictures by type and theatre. Some I have seen before, others were new to me. A really great book to have if you have any interest in the Regia Aeronautica.
     
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  18. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Hi, I’ve read plenty of memoirs as well but the above sounds like it’s stretching it a bit. There were a few crew members who did around a 100 ops so the number might not be out, but obviously unusual and surely not all as one complete crew? The wing tipping thing sounds like fantasy surely? I’m sure some of the experts on here will be able to drag up some more info on him!
     
  19. 14/264

    14/264 Member

    Yes, it's not the number of operations, but the fact that Wainwright appears to be claiming they were all carried on on one tour. My understanding is that the first tour was 30 operations, followed after a rest in a training unit, by a second tour of 20 operations. I also understand that aircrew could not be compelled to fly a third tour, but some obviously volunteered to do so. I'd certainly like to know more about Wainwright, all I do know is that after the war he was a police officer and turned to writing fiction, quite good thrillers, I have read some.

    It would be interesting, if I had the resources, to spend time at the National Archives (when they re-open!) looking through 5 Group squadron ORB's to see if he really did serve with them. Am I taking this too seriously???
     
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  20. Wobbler

    Wobbler Well-Known Member

    I had the Corgi Bond Bug, but I don’t think that’s quite the same is it.
     
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