Thursday 26 May 2016

Wartime Booklets

While I was at the Temple at War living history event a couple of weekends ago I had a look around some of the traders stalls. I don't normally bother with these too much as many of the items they sell are way out of my price range (I leave those sort of purchases to my Brother-in-Law) however this time I stumbled upon a few wartime publications about various aspects of the War in North Africa and couldn't resist buying them.

Destruction of an Army - The First Campaign in Libya Sept 1940-Feb 1941 was published by HMSO in 1941. Its 64 Pages are printed on good quality paper and contain many excellent illustrations and pictures that I haven't seen elsewhere. Its unclear who the intended audience was but given it was published mid-war I guess it was for a domestic audience. I have seen copies or this booklet advertised by different sellers online so there are probably lots of copies still in circulation over 70 years after it was first produced. 

Inside cover of Destruction of an Army

One of the many illustrations in this booklet.
The second publication I bought was a Post War booklet entitled RAF Middle East. This was published by HMSO in 1945 and as with the previous booklet copies are still available from traders on-line. Again the booklets 144 pages are crammed full of interesting pictures and illustrations.

Inside RAF Middle East

Useful graphics illustrate the importance of North Africa for control of the Mediterranean. 

The last booklet I bought, The Conquest of North Africa, isn't a HMSO publication and I think it probably dates to 1945 because it is part of the "victory library" series. The 78 pages cover the whole of the North Africa campaign in some detail. 

Some of the pictures are unique examples of the war photography and others are clearly recreations for propaganda purposes. 

The booklet also contains some nice maps. 

So far I have only skimmed through these but I look forward to reading them in detail over coming weeks. It'll be interesting to see how the authors portray events that for them were still contemporary and how their analysis compares to modern works on the same period.


  1. They look a good buy Lee. Were they expensive?

  2. Looks like some really good literature.

  3. I agree - they do look good.


  4. Very interesting. But remember some of the facts may be based on propaganda either during the war or straight afterwards to try to help boost a post war morale. But I would imagine excellent source material non the less.

    1. Oh absolutely...which makes them all the more interesting. Being contemporary to the events they describe I'm not expecting the sort of analytical detachment you would expect in a modern history of the period. But from a social history point of view it's fascinating.


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