What are you reading at the moment?

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

  1. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    One of Churchill's Own - John Greenwood.

    This has some less than complimentary reviews on Amazon, so I approached it with a bit of caution. It starts off well, service in France where he had some success, but his Battle of Britain experience is where his complaints start as he felt his squadron was poorly lead, and suffered many casualties leadership wise. A couple of trans Atlantic trips as a Hurricat pilot followed, then stints in India and the Far East. John clearly had a lot of problems with authority, although he is also very quick to mention pilots he admired such as Frank Carey and Tom Gleave. From about halfway through, the flying descriptions pretty much stop and he mentions all the many drunken antics he was involved in that would eventually see him court martialled. He freely admits at the close that alcohol was his downfall as he didn't pass out, but would turn violent and vandalize things.

    All in all, it's just a bit of a boring memoir really. He could have elaborated far more on the flying/tactics side of his experiences, but over half the book is a pretty endless routine of 'posted, went to the bar, fell out with the CO, set fire to something, posted'.
    Waddell likes this.
  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I've just picked up The Wooden Horse (Eric Williams) from off of my bookshelf. I read one or two chapters before, but I didn't remember them well so I decided to reread it from the beginning. I'm about 1/3 of the way through now. :)
    BFBSM likes this.
  3. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Cracking stuff Chris. Get a copy of Oliver Philpotts - Stolen Journey if you can as well. Overshadowed by Williams book naturally but a must read, especially for the experiences from the actual escape to reaching neutral territory.
    Chris C likes this.
  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Somehow I got to looking at the wikipedia article about Philpotts last night. Not sure if I can get a reading copy or not. The Wooden Horse was one of those nice little bookstore finds - I didn't go looking for it but it was there.
    Waddell likes this.
  5. 14/264

    14/264 Active Member

    Out of interest, which edition of The Wooden Horse is it? The original published version had the rather odd episode where 'Peter Howard' killed a German sentry during their escape. Eric Williams later said he regretted publishing this version and the later edition did not have this. He says, in the revised and expanded edition 'II was concerned that the book was being read as straight autobiography and not as a novel. Nevertheless it seemed carping ;and pedantic, then, to point out how much of the story was fact and how much fiction. Now I am not so sure. I believe that one's sense of how to behave is shaped largely by one's childhood dreading. Not only does the type of hero, or non-hero, of contemporary literature reflect the thinking of that generation of adults, it shapes the thinking of generations to follow. Over the thirty years since the publication of The Wooden Horse I have regretted that children have grown up believing that an escaping British P.O.W. - who had been honourably treated by his captors - had crept up on a German sentry from behind and murdered him in cold blood. When a children's edition was published in 1956 I did modify this act of mayhem. In this thirtieth anniversary edition I have set the record straight.'

    Have you read Williams' first book, 'Goon In The Block' originally published in 1945? I had a copy some years ago, it was very similar to 'The Wooden Horse', but all details of the means of escape were omitted.

    I completely agree with Markyboy's opinion of 'Stolen Journey', it's an outstanding read, Philpott's escape must be the classic example of how to do it, I enjoyed the book more than 'The Wooden Horse'.

    Also worth a read is 'The True Story Of The Wooden Horse' by Robert J Laplander, which gives a lot more information on the individuals and the escape. One incident regarding the making of ;the film of the book occurs when Williams, who was acting as advisor, pointed out that the tunnel in the film was much bigger than the actual tunnel. He apparently went out and spent one night digging a true reproduction of the tunnel. He turned ;up at breakfast, covered in sand, and invited the cast and crew to go a look at his work. Sadly no one, cast or crew, bothered.
    Chris C likes this.
  6. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Funny story about that: the bookstore had two copies and I picked one of them without thinking enough about it. Then I discovered I'd bought the version for children. I was able to exchange it the next day, though. In any case: I have the 10th impression from Fontana, 1968. I haven't read about any sentries being killed yet... I will just skip that then. Thanks.

    I think it would have been incredibly difficult to film the tunnelling using an authentic "replica" of the tunnel. It was so incredibly narrow!
  7. 14/264

    14/264 Active Member

    Oops, sorry about that, me and my big mouth ‍♂️ Well, at least now you know it didn't happen!
  8. riter

    riter Member

    Another person who liked the M-1 Carbine was Lt. John George who fought on Guadacanal and in Burma. A target shooter, he did head shots on attacking Japanese. Book is Shots Fired in Anger.

    Post-war Shore was also Sgt. Harry Furness' commanding officer.
    14/264 likes this.
  9. 14/264

    14/264 Active Member

    Thanks for the heads up on 'Shots Fired In Anger', checked on Amazon and it is £0.71 on Kindle! Bought it and look forward to reading it.
    Chris C likes this.
  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Cambrai - pending a visit next May to the former battlefield of Cambrai I added the following titles to my reading list:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I'm still looking for the book below, "Following the tanks" by Jean-Luc Gibot and Philippe Gorczynski, but thusfar to no avail.

    Can anybody be of assistance? (the edition in French also is no problem)

    Chris C and BFBSM like this.
  11. 14/264

    14/264 Active Member

    I've just finished 'Moving Tent' by Richard Passmore, the sequel to 'Blenheim Boy' and which covers the years Passmore spent as a prisoner of war. An excellent read, as was 'Blenheim Boy', it is interesting to read how Passmore's Christian faith sustained him during his imprisonment. One incident occurs when the prisoners request the use of a storeroom as a church and are refused by the German camp commander. Their reaction is to pray and put the problem before God. The camp commander changes his mind, they are given the room, and materials and paint are provided.by the Germans. The power of prayer..
  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    That does not seem to be at ALL easy. Worldcat doesn't even show any copies in libraries near you but maybe there are Dutch libraries not in the system? (I'm thinking that inter-library loan might be possible if you could locate a copy.)

    I checked the French version of the website looking for the original French title of the book but I didn't have any luck. However this page here: www.tank-cambrai.com has a dead link to what I think were instructions for a walking tour for the tanks. ("Hike of 7.5 km lasting 2 hours developed by the Departmental Committee of Tourism North.") While the link is dead, you might want to contact the website or the tourism website. Maybe you can get this for your trip!
    stolpi likes this.
  13. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Mid-way through Captain Tom's biog...

    ..and I absolutely love it.
    The war in Europe has just ended, and Tom is not happy that people seem to have forgotten that his mates are still fighting the Japs in Burma!

    Its written in a nice, simple conversational style.
    I will be sorry to reach the end!
    Chris C and Orwell1984 like this.
  14. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Funnily enough I'm also a fan of both of those books, but can't remember them being particularly religious in content. Clearly Passmore struck a chord with his writing and managed a universal appeal!
  15. riter

    riter Member

    hans Hoeller's D-Day Tank Hunter.

    A newly minted soldier, Hans Hoeller is sent to join the Afrika Korps and sees action there until his dysentary got so bad he is returned to Germany for treatment. He is trained as an officer and returns to Africa as a leutnant. He's wounded in his first action and evacuated again for medical care; thus spared the fate of being surrendered there.

    After returning from Africa, Hoeller served in the same division but different regiment than Hans von Luck (Panzer Commander). As the 21st Panzer was whittled down, he finally came under von Luck's command. Hoeller commands a platoon of three self-propelled anti-tank guns built on the chassis of captured French Somua halftracks. Unfortunately, they are not radio equipped so it's all hand signals or runners for communications. If you enjoyed von Luck's book, you should read this one to provide corroboration of the events in Normandy and Falaise.

    Leutnant Hans Hoeller survived the Normandy battles and the Falaise Gap only to be captured by the American equipped French Army. Being a member of the 21st Panzer Div., he had skulls on his uniform and was almost shot by his captor who had shoved a 1911 into his face. He was saved when a French officer spotted the "Afrika" cuff on his sleeve and asked him about his Africa service. Unhesitantly Hoeller mentioned the areas he fought in as well as a few towns in Tunisia along with the barracks (Marshal Foch) that he stayed at when redeployed to Africa following a bout with dystentary. This convinced the officer that he was not SS and his life was spared. Several times though angry French soldiers wanted to kill him and other German prisoners but a French speaking German PoW pleaded with them and their French guard (a NCO) to spare them. They survived. Hoeller went to Oklahoma and sat out the war there.

    Hoeller mentions an incident in Normandy where one distraut NCO who had orders to execute a French civilian who was possibly a member of the Resistance. Hoeller told the NCO to take him behind a building and send him on the way. The NCO was visibly relieved.

    Along with other PoWs, Hoeller boarded a Liberty ship going to America. When their voyage was almost over, they saw the American sailors tossing boxes of supplies overboard. This puzzled the Germans and they asked why. The sailors told them that when they got to port, they would receive fresh supplies. The PoWs then realized that unlike Germany, America enjoyed abundance and knew that America could not be defeated.

    Post-war Hoeller returns to his native Austria where he reunites with his entire family and joyously marries his sweatheart.
    Orwell1984 likes this.
  16. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    Just stumbled across this today online and it looked interesting. Think it'll go on a wishlist now. Thanks for the review
  17. 14/264

    14/264 Active Member

    Passmore didn't make a big thing about his religious beliefs, but it is a thread running through 'Moving Tent'. He does say the following: 'From my own pint of view, there were anodynes. First, of course, came my faith: Communion each Sunday, prayers in the church each morning, my personal prayers each night.'
  18. riter

    riter Member

    Faye Schulman's A Partisan's Memoirs. A Polish Jew, she was the sole survivor of a pogom that wiped out her family.
  19. riter

    riter Member

    His brother Otto was a Panzer IV commander before being transferred to Tiger Battalion 7. The fought in the east and per Andreas Hartinger (who helped prepare the manuscript) Otto detroyed his tank and walked west. He avoided the Soviets (and therefore the gulag) and returned home. I wish Otto's story was covered more. Andreas is contacting Hoeller to see if he knows Otto's turret #.
  20. vestingjager

    vestingjager Well-Known Member

    I just started reading in 'The Necessary War' by Tim Cook. One of two parts about the Canadian Army in WW2. Good read.

    Chris C likes this.

Share This Page