Wednesday 30 July 2014

July Book Roundup

The end of the month has come around quickly again and it's time for another review of the books (or in this case Book) I have read this month. Despite being home most of the month I haven't found the time or the inclination to read much this month, but the one book I did read was very good.

Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler
Author/s:   Philipp Von Boeselager
Format:     Hardback, 176 Pages
Publisher:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson 2009
Rating:      ★★★★☆

This was a very interesting read, but wasn't quite what I expected considering the title of the book. Philipp Von Boeselager was not an average German. His family home was a 300 year old moated castle surrounded by acres of land filled with game for hunting. Indeed a large portion of the early chapters are taken up with describing his and his elder brother Georg's love of of hunting. Also described at length was the religious and classical upbringing and education that he and his Brothers received. 

This background is important though because it shows that he grew up with a strong moral code. However it also shows the dangerous disdain for 'politics' that this strata of German society had. They felt themselves above such matters and as such were wilfully detached from the National Socialist movement which swept through German society at that time. Such political naivety amongst the landed classes made them blind to the cancer that began to grip their country in the mid 30's. Ultimately however this detachment, among what would later become the officer classes of the Wehrmacht, sowed the seeds of a resistance movement which had always been separate from a society permeated by Nazi ideology and fear. 

Philipp and Georg's evolution from apolitical gentry through loyal soldiers to members of a resistance was a long and subtle one. Both were Cavalry officers and severed closely through most of the war and their early years in the Army were typical for a landed officer class. At times it felt they were 'playing' at soldering with daily pursuits including equestrian and hunting activities. Their baptism in combat came during the invasion of France and the author didn't seem to be overly concerned with the moral legality of invading a neighbouring country, although some of his actions in combat (negotiating the uncontested withdrawal of a french unit from a town to minimise casualties on both sides) would have raised eyebrows with his superiors had it been reported.

The real test of the author and his brother came with the invasion of another neighbour, this time Russia during Operation Barbarossa. As the lightning advance slowed and stalled and as winter gripped the vast interior of Russian, both officers began to realise that the goals of their National Socialist leaders did not include the welfare of their men. Disillusionment began to set in and slowly they were drawn into a growing circle of plotters that would eventually become dedicated to the removal of Hitler and the 'liberation' of Germany from the Nazis. 

This is an interesting book and worth seeking out if you are interested in the German resistance movement. I have to say that reading this book I found it hard to empathise with a man whose upbringing and perspectives were so far from my own. I suspect the vast majority of readers not brought up in a Bavarian Castle will have an equally difficult time relating to the story of Philipp and Georg. But its still a fascinating tale and an intriguing insight into the minds of the officer classes within the German Army. Naturally Phillip writes extensively about the cavalry unit he commanded and I found this the most interesting aspect of this book. Most people think of WWII as a mechanised war but this book shows that the horse still had a vital role to play during this conflict. 

Saturday 26 July 2014

War and Peace - Pt 5 Other Stuff

Last up some are some modern equipment and some items that didn't neatly fit into the categories I have already posted (plus some things I missed!). Once again if you want to view all the pictures I shot then follow this link to the web album containing all my photo's. 

The Summer of 44 Airborne artillery - 75mm Pack Howitzer Field Guns

A Canadian GM Otter Lt Recon Vehicle (possibly a Mk 1)

The Buffel (Buffalo) is a South African mine-protected infantry mobility vehicle used by the during the South African Border War

Chieftain ARV known as 'Shrek'


The driver of the FV432 crushes his own car

British 3.5 inch Anti-Aircraft Gun

An Avro Lancaster nose section almost fully restored - You can climb inside and sit in the pilots seat

Alvis Stormer, rocket launching platform

A Vikers Centurion Mk5/2 - The first Centurion's entered service just after WWII ended, which is why I didn't include it in the WWII Allied Vehicles post earlier in the week. 
That's it, I'm done. If you still have the stamina for more you can view all my photo's, all 500 of them, in my Web Album here.

Friday 25 July 2014

War and Peace - Pt 4 WWII Axis Vehicles

Today I'm posting yet more pictures from the 2014 War and Peace show, this time focusing on WWII Axis tanks and other vehicles. Once again I must say that any mistakes in identification are entirely my own and almost inevitable given the number of pictures I took. If you see any errors let me know and I'll check and correct the errors as soon as possible. To see more pictures follow this link to the web album containing the full set.

Replica Stug built on a FV432 hull

A replica SdKfz251

Panzer III Auft N - Replica based on a 432 hull

A replica SdKfz222 based on a Land Rover chassis

Opel Blitz Truck

VW Kubelwagen c1944

A replica Sturmgeschutz

An original Ausf A Panther owned by Rex and Ron Cadman and part of the War and Peace Collection

German Pak40 (7.5cm Panzerabwehrkanone)

A Nebelweffer - Not sure of this is an original or a replica

A unique collection of German hardware in one location

Panzer IV Ausf. J - Part of the Rex & Rod Cadman collection

German 105mm howitzer leFH 18/40
A lot of original equipment has been lovingly restored and brought to this event but the replicas are also fascinating.

Tomorrow I'll wrap this series of posts up with a look at some of the modern equipment on display and some of the unusual items that are worth looking at.

Thursday 24 July 2014

War and Peace - Pt 3 WWII Allied Vehicles

Continuing my photo review of this years War and Peace show which I was lucky enough to be able to attend last week. Today I'm posting some pictures of Allied Second World War armour and other vehicles. I have picked one picture of each but if you want to see them all (nearly 500 of them!) then follow this link to view the Web Album.

Centaur Dozer from the Cadman Collection

Valentine IX DD Tank

One of many Universal (Bren) Carriers seen at this years event

This M10 Achilles was let out for a run quite a lot

Another Carrier in excellent condition and running order

And another...

And another...

In fact this was the largest gathering of Carriers in the UK since the vehicle was withdrawn from active service with the army. 

This is the only running example of a Grant Tank in the UK at present. It was a former range target and the current owner got it running and decided to leave its scarred hull alone. This is one tough tank. 

Leyland Comet A34
A Sherman Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle

Stuart M5A1 light tank

Stuart M5A1 light tank and the heavier M4A1 Sherman

International M9A1 Half Track built in 1942

The Ford GPA 'Seep' (from Seagoing Jeep), was an amphibious version of the WWII Ford GPW Jeep

A US amphibious vehicle, the Studebaker Weasel M29

And now for something a bit different...A fully working replica of a Polish TKS Tank
Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the German vehicles on display. Ironically there were more of these at the show this year, but most are replicas rather than originals. They are still interesting and have a role to play and of course new vehicles are being found and restored every year so maybe we will see more at future shows. 

Wednesday 23 July 2014

War and Peace - Pt 2 WWI Vehicles

Given that 2014 is the centenary of the commencement of WWI its not entirely surprising that there were some special guest vehicles and displays for the public to view. Here's a selection of those that I saw. I'm sure I missed some, but the site is just so huge its impossible to get around it all, even though we attended for two days.

A Ford Model T Ambulance. This vehicle was built during the inter-war period but some were produced during WWI

Where the Poppies Grow

Replica of a new Bronze Statue due to be erected in Folkestone, port of embarkation for returning war wounded during WWI. 

German field kit from WWI

A selection of British uniforms and equipment from WWI

An effective recruitment poster for the army

'Bertie' the Advancing Soldier - a new memorial statue erected at Folkestone Racecourse - formerly RAF Westenhanger - home of the War and Peace Revival Show. 

N17 is a replica British Mark IV from WWI. Like the Mk IV replica at Bovington this is a runner and is based on a tractor chassis.
Ray inside a replica WWI Trench

Another wartime recruitment poster

Understandably there are not that many WWI vehicles at shows like these and many of those seen are replicas. However with the centenary commemorations I am sure we will see more replicas being built and seen at this sort of event. 

I'll post some more pictures tomorrow (WWII vehicles I think) and a link to the Web Album where you can see all the photo's I took (if you have the stamina to look through 500!).