Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Dambusters Raid 1943

The most famous raid of the Second World War and the subject of perhaps the greatest war movie ever made - the Dambusters.
This great raid of 1943 marked the pinnacle of precision bombing by the RAF during the war. The dropping of the bombs called for enormous skill and expertise by the aircrew on the raid, while getting to these targets deep inside Germany and back again required courage of the very highest order. The technical problems to be overcome were no less tricky. Dams are enormously strong structures, but tiny when seen from the air. How to place a bomb in the right place had defeated the finest brains of the world - until Barnes Wallis came along with his revolutionary idea for a bouncing bomb.
This is the story of the raid and of the meticulous planning that preceded it. Seen the film? Now read the true story.

Prelude - The Trouble with Inventer Chaps
Chapter 1 - The Dams
Chapter 2 - The Bouncing Bomb
Chapter 3 - The Squadron
Chapter 4 - The Raid
Chapter 5 - Aftermath

About the Author
Leonard James is an author of military books. He comes from a military family that has fought in every major war since at least the Crimean War, and probably before that. His forebears were mostly cavalrymen, though his father served in RAF Bombver Command during World War II.

Buy it HERE

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Suffragettes - a talk for your group

I am adding a new talk to my repertoire of speeches, talks and entertainments.

The Suffragettes - As we approach the centenary of women gaining the vote in Britain, this talk looks at the long history of women's suffrage disputes in this country. The talk highlights the tumultuous years of 1906-1918 when "Votes for Women" dominated politics and constitutional arguments. Includes display of Suffragette memorabilia.

Hitler's Forgotten Secret Weapon - After dinner speech

"Dear Rupert, I just want to pass on our thanks to you for delivering such an interesting and surprising presentation to us yesterday. I don't think any of the group saw the "twist" at the end coming - what a surprise! (I guess we should have known Hitler/Goering were so very cunning)."

Feedback on my talk "Hitler's Forgotten Secret Weapon". Want to know the surprise ending? Book me for your event.

Monday, 19 September 2016

RMS Titanic : The Rescue Mission

While the RMS Titanic was sinking more than a dozen ships were racing to the rescue. This is the story of the rescue mission, including the search for bodies that followed.
The story of the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic is well known, but less well known today are the frantic efforts made by more than a dozen ships to get to her to rescue her passengers and crew. Although the Cunard liner “Carpathia” was first on the scene, she was joined by three other ships within a couple of hours, and others were on their way.
We read about the Russian cook preparing vast gallons of vegetable soup for survivors, the rescue ship that nearly hit an iceberg itself and the confusion over the radio waves as messages were sent, lost or misinterpreted. Above all we read of the gallant efforts of hundreds of seamen desperate to obey the rules of the sea and go to the rescue.
Oliver Hayes has gone back to contemporary newspaper reports, personal letters and the official inquiries held on both sides of the Atlantic to research this book. The result is a meticulously researched volume detailing the exciting story of the rescue mission to save the Titanic.
The original painting “Carpathia to the Rescue” featured on the cover is available as a print signed by the artist.

Following Days
The Search for Bodies

About the Author
Oliver Hayes is an experienced writer of history with a large number of books and magazine articles to his name. He previously worked in local newspapers, but is now concentrating on writing books.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Heroes of the RAF - No.50 Squadron

Heroes of the RAF - No.50 Squadron Kindle Edition

Thrilling real Life Accounts of Fighting in the Air from 1916 to the Falklands. No.50 Squadron was a leading RAF bomber squadron in World War II and bombed the Falklands in 1982.

Formed as a fighter squadron in 1916 to counter the Zeppelin airships that were bombing British cities in World War I, No.50 Squadron built an enviable reputation as a crack fighter squadron under the command of one Arthur Harris - better known as “Bomber” Harris.

In 1937 the squadron was remustered as a bomber squadron, now under Harris as Group commander. It was in bombers that No.50 went to war in 1939. In the war torn skies over Europe, the men of No.50 were to win a Victoria Cross, 6 DSOs, 70 DFCs and 114 DFMs. The heroic determination of the squadron’s aircrews and their often terrifying encounters with the Third Reich’s Luftwaffe make for thrilling reading. In 1952 the squadron gained jet bombers, and it was in Vulcans that the squadron went to bomb the Falklands in 1982.

This book looks at the heroic men (and more recently women) who have fought with the squadron over the years. It details their exploits in battle, their life with the squadron and in many cases their subsequent careers in the RAF.

About the Author

Rupert Matthews has written over 150 books for different publishers, achieving significant sales in a variety of markets both in the UK and abroad. His works have been translated into 19 languages and have been shortlisted for a number of awards. Rupert’s father served in RAF Bomber Command during the war, being wounded in action.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Gogmagog: An Enigma in 4 Parts

Few figures in Celtic mythology and legend have become as controversial, muddled and problematic as Gogmagog. Academic careers have been ruined, hillsides excavated and artistic careers enhanced by this enigmatic giant.

If you read the standard reference works you will be assured that there is absolutely no truth in this story, that Gogmagog was an imaginative creation of a medieval charlatan and that the whole business is best forgotten. While it is true that much of the original material relating to Gogmagon is questionable, or at least of doubtful provenance, this does not mean that the figure can be dismissed out of hand.

In this book, historian Roddy O'Farrell sets out to show that Gogmagog has every bit as much claim to be taken seriously as a figure of genuine British folklore as better known characters such as Tuathal, Lancelot (see my book in this same series) or Robin Hood. The brutal, violant giant Gogmagog was, he shows, a genuine folkloric figure of Celtic legend who may, bizarrely, have had some sort of basis in fact.

By the ebook HERE

Friday, 9 September 2016

9 September - Anniversary of the Battle of Flodden

The Battle of Flodden or Flodden Field, was part of a conflict between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland. The battle was fought in the county of Northumberland in northern England on 9 September 1513, between an invading Scots army under King James IV and an English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey. It was a decisive English victory. In terms of troop numbers, it was the largest battle fought between the two Kingdoms. James IV was killed in the battle, becoming the last monarch from the British Isles to suffer such a death.

The battle actually took place near the village of Branxton, in the county of Northumberland, rather than at Flodden—hence the alternative name is Battle of Branxton. The Scots had previously been stationed at Flodden Edge, to the south of Branxton. The Earl of Surrey, writing at Wooler Haugh on Wednesday 7 September, compared this position to a fortress in his challenge sent to James IV by Thomas Hawley, the Rouge Croix Pursuivant. He complained that James had sent his Islay Herald agreeing that they would join in battle on Friday between 12.00 and 3.00 pm, and asked that James would face him on the plain at Milfield as appointed.

Next, Surrey moved to block off the Scots' route north and so James was forced to move his army and artillery two miles to Branxton Hill. The Scottish artillery, as described by an English source, included five great curtals, two great culverins, four sakers, and six great serpentines. The King's secretary, Patrick Paniter was in charge of these cannon. When the armies were within three miles of each other Surrey sent the Rouge Croix pursuivant to James, who answered that he would wait till noon. At 11 o'clock, Thomas, Lord Howard's vanguard and artillery crossed the Twizel Bridge. (Pitscottie says the King would not allow the Scots artillery to fire on the vulnerable English during this manoeuvre.) The Scots army was in good order in five formations, after the Almain (German) manner. On Friday afternoon the Scots host descended without speaking any word to meet the English.

The English army had formed two "battles" each with two wings. Lord Howard combined his "vanguard" with the soldiers of his father's "rearward" to meet the Scots. According to English report, the groups commanded by the Earls of Huntly and Crawford and Erroll, totalling 6000 men, engaged Lord Howard and were repulsed and mostly slain.

Then James IV himself leading a great force came on to Surrey and Lord Darcy's son who "bore all the brunt of the battle". Lennox and Argyll's commands were met by Sir Edward Stanley.

After the artillery fire ended, according to the English chronicler Edward Hall, "the battle was cruel, none spared other, and the King himself fought valiantly". James was killed within a spear length from Surrey and his body taken to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Hall says the King was fatally wounded by an arrow and a bill. Meanwhile, Lord Howard's brother, Edmund Howard, commanding men from Cheshire and Lancashire, fought the section of the Scottish army commanded by the Chamberlain of Scotland, Alexander, Lord Home, and Thomas, Lord Dacre's force, who had been fighting Huntley, came to assist him.

The Earl of Surrey captured the Scottish guns, including a group of culverins made in Edinburgh by Robert Borthwick called the "seven sisters", which were dragged to Etal Castle. The Bishop of Durham thought them the finest ever seen. The treasurer of the English army Sir Philip Tilney

valued seventeen captured guns as "well worth 1700 marks", and that 'the value of the getyng of thaym from Scotland is to the Kingis grace of muche more valew'.


Surrey's army lost 1,500 men killed in battle. There were various conflicting accounts of the Scottish loss. A contemporary account produced in French for the Royal Postmaster of England, in the immediate aftermath of the battle, states that about 10,000 Scots were killed, a claim repeated by Henry VIII on 16 September while he was still uncertain of the death of James IV. William Knight sent the news from Lille to Rome on 20 September, claiming 12,000 Scots had died with less than 500 English casualties. Italian newsletters put the Scottish losses at 18 or 20 thousand and the English at 5000. Brian Tuke, the English Clerk of the Signet, sent a newsletter stating 10,000 Scots killed and 10,000 escaped the field. Tuke reckoned the total Scottish invasion force to have been 60,000 and the English army at 40,000. George Buchanan wrote in his History of Scotland (published in 1582) that, according to the lists that were compiled throughout the counties of Scotland, there were about 5,000 killed. A plaque on the monument to the 2nd Duke of Norfolk (as the Earl of Surrey became in 1514) at Thetford put the figure at 17,000. Edward Hall, thirty years after, wrote in his Chronicle that "12,000 at the least of the best gentlemen and flower of Scotland" were slain.

As the nineteenth century antiquarian John Riddell supposed, nearly every noble family in Scotland would have lost a member at Flodden. The dead are remembered by the song (and pipe tune) "Flowers of the Forest":

        We'll hae nae mair lilting, at the yowe-milking,
        Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
        Sighing and moaning, on ilka green loaning,
        The flowers of the forest are all wede away.

Contemporary English ballads also recalled the tragedy of the Scottish losses:

        To tell you plaine, twelve thousand were slaine,
        that to the fight did stand;
        And many prisoners tooke that day,
        the best in all Scotland.

        That day made many a fatherlesse childe,
        and many a widow poore;
        And many a Scottish gay Lady,
        sate weeping in her bowre.

A legend grew that while the artillery was being prepared in Edinburgh before the battle, a demon called Plotcock had read out the names of those who would be killed at the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile. According to Pitscottie, a former Provost of Edinburgh, Richard Lawson, who lived nearby, threw a coin at the Cross to appeal against this summons and survived the battle.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Feudal England 1100-1300 - weapons, tactics & strategy Far more than knights in armour

Feudal England 1100-1300 - weapons, tactics & strategy Far more than knights in armour

The popular image of feudal armies is one of knights in armour with colourful banners, painted shields and couched lances. Such men were there, but there was a lot more to medieval warfare than dashing about on a horse.
This book takes an exciting new look at warfare during the years 1100-1300. It explains tactics and strategy, looks at weapons and training. The illustrations show the equipment, the text explains how it was used. This book explains the background to the battles and victories, showing how those victories were won.
The “Warriors of the Word” series is a continuing series of ebooks looking at fighting men from across the centuries, from the ancient world to the present day.

Chapter 1 - The Feudal System
Chapter 2 - Nobles and Mercenaries
Chapter 3 - Tactics
Chapter 4 - Key Battles

About the Author
Leonard James is an author of military books. He comes from a military family that has fought in every major war since at least the Crimean War, and probably before that. His forebears were mostly cavalrymen, though his father served in the RAF. Leonard has made a particular study of battlefields in Britain, walking over dozens of them to get an eye for ground. He has also handled genuine and replica weapons to better understand the use of pre-modern weapons and the men who wielded them.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Britty Brexit returns

Britty Brexit returns with Pierre von Euro, Ragnar, Brunhilda and the rest.