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War and Militaria 39

au pair to the Odette family. Even though Europe hovered on the brink of war, her only concern was her limited French - in fact, she had almost gone to Germany for that very reason, and then how much different would things have been! Her arrival home, three years later, made front-page news. What happened in between these times is the unputdownable narrative of this book. France fell quickly, and she was so far from England that a successful escape across such a vast distance in occupied territory was unlikely. But that did not stop her trying. She was eventually caught and placed in a women’s internment camp. Conditions, though primitive, were not terrible and, as she remarks, the privations of an English boarding school education had armoured her against the horrors of camp life! This, however, did not dent her will to escape, which she duly did, and what followed was a perilous trek over the Pyrenees to war- ravaged Spain, then through neutral Ireland and back to London. A thrilling tale, it is told with quintessentially English humour, sharp, wry observation, common sense and bravery, and is beautifully complemented by priceless and irreplaceable photos, drawings, telegrams and documents which lend her story even more immediacy and excitement. 256pp with 16 pages of colour and b/w illus. £17.99 NOW £5

69148 LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO CRY: The Compelling Story of a Battle of Britain

Ace by Tim Vigors DFC Tim Vigors was born in Hatfield, raised at Tullamaine, the family castle in County Tipperary and educated at Eton and Cranwell, but in 1940 the threat of German invasion meant that young men of each and every background fought together, shoulder to shoulder. 1940

found Tim Vigors flying Spitfires over Dunkirk in support of the evacuations and the following year in the Battle of Britain, during which he became an ace. As Hitler shelved his immediate invasion plans, Vigors was transferred to the Far East theatre. Now a Flight Commander, on 10 December 1941 he led his squadron of Brewster Buffalos to defend the men of the stricken Prince of Wales and Repulse off Malaya, who were coming under intense Japanese fire. The Japanese Army 97 aircraft were nowhere near as advanced as the Luftwaffe fighters he had been dealing with, and he thought it would be a piece of cake. Pride, as we know, comes before a fall, and he soon found out how misplaced his arrogance was - and how far it was to fall - as the enemy promptly blew his fuel tank out from under him. Miraculously surviving his ejection, chaotic fall and landing, not to mention his injuries, he was rescued and transported to hospital by two Malay civilians, which is where his diary ended. Here are his

memories of his inter-war early years and schooldays, but the majority of the book comprises his diaries of his service in the RAF. 320pp with b/w photos. £12.99 NOW £6

69071 I AM SOLDIER: War Stories from the

Ancient World to the 20th Century edited by Professor Robert O’Neill Researched and written by experts, with an introduction by Richard Holmes, this book uses soldiers’ own words to portray the changing realities of war and the evolution of warfare. It brings together the profiles of 70 soldiers whose lives span 2,500 years, offering a unique perspective from the battlefields of history. Each tale covers the soldiers’ earlier lives and training, and how the experience of battle affected them. Here are Aristodemos, who survived Thermopylae, and Konstantin Mihailovic, a Serbian who fought as a janissary for the Ottomans against Vlad Dracula of Wallachia. Here, too, are John Young, an infantry squad leader with the 9th Division during the Vietnam War, whose experiences in the Mekong Delta left him with PTSD, and Deneys Reitz, who was shocked by the indignity of death in the Boer War. Unforgettable. 224 softback pages with many colour and b/w photos. £14.99 NOW £6


NORMANDY by John Mercer

The author was called up in 1944 and, after nine months of square- bashing, vehicle training, Morse code and line laying, he became a gunner and was sent to Normandy. The next year saw him skirmishing in Belgium and suffering in waterlogged Holland. He would spend hundreds of hours glued to

the radio, waiting for a signal to fire. During the assault on Le Havre, he was taken prisoner by the Germans.

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After transferring to the 7th Division, he was one of the first British troops to enter Berlin and the Reich Chancellery. His letters to his widowed mother, together with extracts from the official War Diaries, tell his gripping story. This moving volume is all about life in wartime, the trauma, the uncertainty and perhaps, above all, the will to return home. 121 pages with b/w archive photos. £20 NOW £8

69082 PERILOUS ROAD TO ROME AND BEYOND: The Memoirs of a Gordon Highlander

by Edward Grace MC

This splendid combination of memoir and regimental history results in an exceptional account that is both fresh and authentic. Expanded from its original publication, it now covers the progress of the 6th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders in World

War II during the campaigns of the 1st Army in Tunisia and Italy and right up to the end of hostilities. As a young platoon commander the author and his men were in the forefront of the action. Matters came to a head during the desperate fighting on the Anzio beach-head.


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Severely wounded, the commander was evacuated and, once sufficiently recovered, he wrote notes of all that had happened in exact detail. He also describes in a moving and humble way his own post-conflict experiences and convalescence and pays tribute to those men who fought on without him. With a foreword by Lieutenant-General Sir Peter Graham KCB CBE. 199 pages illustrated in b/w with maps. £19.99 NOW £8


THE EASTERN FRONT: Fighting With Hitler’s Latvian SS by Mintauts Blosfelds and Lisa Blosfelds

Personal accounts of war from the German perspective are rare, and those of one who fought with the SS in Russia infinitely more so. This book provides a unique insight into the horrors of war from the other side. Following the conquest of his

native Latvia by the Nazis, the author was given the stark choice between service in the SS or forced labour in a slave camp. So, he volunteered to fight for the Nazis. In this candid and courageous memoir he describes his training and how he became an instructor, before being

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