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Category: World War 2 Page 1 of 3

Non-fiction World War 2 book coming in 2019!

It is with incredible pride (and more than a little astonishment) that I announce having signed with Helion Books to write a book on a long-ignored campaign of World War 2! The book is due for the market in 2019.

More details will be coming later, but for now here’s a link to their website: http://www.helion.co.uk/

But be careful! They have so many amazing books you’ll end up buying something!


Check off #10

If anybody is following my writer’s checklist that I posted last week, I can now check off item #10, the book proposal for my World War Two book.

I finished it today when a friend on facebook gave me the winning formula to put the page numbers where I wanted them using Word 2007. All of the procedures on google were wrong, including those by Microsoft themselves.


So the book proposal is off to Helion Books, a publisher who has supported my research over the years with encouragement. I don’t honestly think it’s the sort of book they would like, but I owed it to start with them.

So now that #10 is finished, it’s on to the next one! As Stan Lee would say, Excelsior!


ww2_v15_i3Bill’s lifetime study of World War II led him to write what is still the top reference for The Battle of Velikiye Luki in 1942-43. This little known action mirrors the much more famous Stalingrad and reflects the numerous vicious combats on the Eastern Front.



In the wet snows of late November 1942, the Soviet army struck at the thinly manned German front lines north and south of the city on the river, surrounding the vital supply center and trapping its garrison while threatening to cut off and encircle an entire German army group.

Adolf Hitler forbade a breakout and ordered that the surrounded troops be supplied by air. Relief attacks never quite had the necessary strength to break through the encircling Russians, and by late January 1943 the city was again in Russian hands, the German defenders either dead or taken prisoner.

For all you conspiracy theorists out there…

…and you know who you are, here’s a brand new ‘Hitler got away’ story to chew on. I thought we were done with these many years ago, but fortunately the authors of a brand new book have brought back one of our favorite conspiracy theories. Shades of the Twilight Zone!


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According to the book by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, Adolf Hitler escaped

Monday October 17,2011

By Adrian Lee

AS Russian tanks closed in on Berlin in 1945, two figures slipped away from the devastated Reich Chancellery through a secret tunnel.

Despite the shells bombarding the German capital the roads were still clear and sufficiently wide for a transport aircraft to land.

Soon the middle ­aged couple were safely on board a plane and captain Peter Baumgart began taxiing away.

Although he was an experienced pilot and the take­off was routine, the pilot was ashen­faced and sweating.

Perhaps, however, he summoned the courage to sneak a glance over his shoulder at his cargo. On board were Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun.

This sensational claim that the Nazi leader and his mistress fled Berlin at the end of the second World War to begin a new life in Argentina is made in the new book Grey Wolf: The Escape Of Adolf Hitler.

The authors claim they have “compelling evidence” that there was a carefully orchestrated plot to spirit Hitler out of Germany once it became clear that the tide of war was turning against the Nazis.

According to the book by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, Adolf Hitler escaped

On April 27, three days before he is officially said to have committed suicide, the Führer agreed a body double to take his place. an unknown actress stepped in for Eva.

According to the book by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams the genuine Nazi leader and his mistress were first flown to Tonder in Denmark, where the party took a second flight to the Luftwaffe base at Travemunde.

Changing planes again they boarded a Long­range Ju 252 and flew to the Spanish military base at Reus, south of Barcelona.

From here General Franco supplied a further aircraft in Spanish markings to fly Hitler to Fuerteventura on the Canary islands.


A day later he and Eva boarded a U-­boat, which was the signal for their doubles in Berlin to be executed.

Under heavy Russian gunfire their remains were incinerated in the garden.

By the time the Russians reached Hitler’s bunker and found the fakes their real prey was deep beneath the atlantic Ocean.

The most audacious ruse in history was complete and it is claimed that Hitler spent his remaining 17 years living peacefully in a Nazi enclave in Argentina.

A fortune in looted gold and jewellery, loaded on to the submarine during the escape, ensured that he wanted for nothing.

Gerrard Williams, a journalist and film director, says: “There is no forensic evidence that Hitler died in the bunker. The Nazi high command had been making plans since 1943 to get out of Germany and to set up a Fourth Reich, mainly in South America, so they had no need to die in Germany. There was a very effective route out of the country.

“We never wanted this story to be true but the horrifying reality is, we believe, that at the end of the war the most evil man in the world escaped from Germany and lived out his life in Argentina.”

It is known that Argentina was sympathetic to the Hitler regime – even supplying fake paperwork to help them escape from Europe – and became a haven for many prominent nazis after the war, evil men such as Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichmann and Klaus Barbie.

The entire plan is claimed to have been masterminded by Hitler’s private secretary Martin Bormann and “Grey Wolf” was the codename for the Nazi leader.

The soviets always gave conflicting information about the discovery of the bodies in the Führerbunker and what happened in the chaos of the end of the war.

The remains were said to have been buried but later exhumed and moved to different locations, apparently to avoid Hitler’s grave becoming a shrine.

However it later emerged that the Russians kept a piece of his skull with a distinctive bullet hole. The fragment was always said to be incontrovertible proof that Hitler had indeed died by his own hand in 1945.

Then two years ago archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni concluded that the skull really belonged to a woman aged under 40 and not Hitler, who was 56 when he supposedly died.

Bellantoni also dis­ counted the possibility that the skull was that of Braun because she was said in reports from the bunker to have killed herself by taking cyanide and would therefore not have suffered a bullet wound.

Intriguingly, declassified FBi files from the late Forties also contain a reference to Hitler having escaped Berlin and begun a new life in South America.

For almost 30 years J Edgar Hoover and his FBI maintained a detailed dossier on the Nazi leader and investigated any report that indicated he still was alive, including dispatching agents to Argentina on several occasions.

When US president Harry S Truman asked Joseph Stalin in 1945 whether Hitler was dead, the Soviet leader is said to have replied bluntly, “No”.

As late as the Fifties US president Dwight D Eisenhower declared: “We have been unable to unearth one bit of tangible evidence of Hitler’s death.”

At the end of the war the death of Hitler was a neat conclusion. It was not surprising that the world lapped up the stories of his suicide without asking too many searching questions.

Williams, who spent five years researching the book and made numerous visits to Argentina, says: “Everyone wanted to close the chapter very quickly because the Cold War was just starting. It’s only now Argentina is once more a thriving democracy that the real stories are coming out. The more files and reports we looked at, the more we realised the death in the bunker was a fiction.”

The book includes testimony from the pilot who “flew Hitler and Eva Braun out of Berlin” and a dozen other witnesses.

According to the book 53 days after leaving Spain by submarine the couple arrived off the Argentine coast, south of Mar Del Plata. The Führer and his mistress were quietly but enthusiastically welcomed.

Hitler would live there in a village in the foothill of the Andes until 1962, planning the rebirth of the Nazis. It is claimed that he and Eva did marry but separated in 1953 when she moved to Nequén.

The book also contains the testimony of bodyguards, cooks and doctors who claim to have worked for Hitler. The authors say they have evidence that pinpoints the exact house where he lived in Patagonia. A rather grand wooden chalet-style building, it must have reminded Hitler of the Bavarian Alps.

The Führer is claimed to have died on February 13, 1962 at 3pm. He was said to be demented but still clinging to his dream of Nazi domination.

There is a chilling postscript revealed in the new book. Before they separated Adolf and Eva are claimed to have had two daughters. According to the authors both are still alive in South America.

If this account is to be taken seriously Hitler’s bloodline survives with them.


Hitler’s Rocket Soldiers

Here’s a history that doesn’t have much history for you bookies. Not much has been written about the men and organization of the German rocket warfare units of World War II. The rockets themselves? Yes. The scientists, such as Werner von Braun? Yes. But the men who did the actual deploying and firing? No.

For the WW2 buffs and those who love them, this is a site to bookmark.

Hitler’s Rocket Soldiers


The Men who fired the V2s against England
Murray R. Barber and Michael Keuer

Buy Online

‘We V2 soldiers fulfilled our tasks with the knowledge that every firing meant innocent people lost their lives…’

This substantial book provides an invaluable contribution to the operational history of the A4 (V2) rocket. Little has been written about the secret activities of the special troops whose role was to protect and fire the operational A4 (V2) rocket under field conditions in World War Two. Carefully researched, the book goes a long way to filling this void. As the result of many years tracking down the few remaining veterans the authors have complied eleven individual biographies of rocket troops whose pre-combat occupations included a scientist, chemist, engineer, toolmaker and builder. The text is written clearly and concisely and is well referenced.
The book provides a fascinating insight into the day-to-day lives of the rocket troops including their personal combat experiences, attitudes, humour and interpersonal relations. Particularly intriguing are their interactions with such Peenemünde notables as Dr. Wernher von Braun and Major General Walter Dornberger. Light is also thrown on the establishment of the field units and the training of the troops. The fact that several of the veterans interviewed have subsequently passed away highlights the urgency and importance of collecting such historical material. The scholarly work is highly recommended to any one with an interest in the history of Hitler’s rocket troops and the field deployment of the world’s first long-range rocket.

Brett Gooden author of Projekt Natter – Last of the Wonder Weapons and Spaceport Australia

In the final, desperate months of World War Two, at a time when the German war machine was considered by the Allies to be an almost spent force, Adolf Hitler unleashed a new weapon against England and western Europe that fell from the silence of the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the edge of space. It was a weapon that struck fear into the hearts and minds of wartime civilians; it came without warning and defence was impossible. This was an unseen threat that fell at supersonic speeds, levelling suburban streets to dust in seconds, terrorising the residents of London and Antwerp – this was the V2 Rocket.

The V2 – ‘Vergeltungswaffen Zwei’ (Vengeance Weapon 2), designed by the rocket scientist and engineer, Wernher von Braun, and his colleagues at the secret Nazi research centre at Peenemünde, was the most sophisticated weapon developed in Europe during the war. Following the end of hostilities, von Braun and many in his team transferred their allegiance to the United States and subsequently went on to design the mighty Saturn V that took the Americans to the moon. The experiences of von Braun’s rocket team are well documented, but somewhat surprisingly, some aspects of the V2 story remain largely uncovered. This is priebeespecially true from the German perspective and more specifically, the view of the men who formed the firing teams for this formidable weapon that embraced supersonic technology. From September 1944 to early 1945, V2 launch teams fired more than 3,000 rockets, each with a high-explosive one-ton warhead, at targets in England, France, Belgium, Holland and even within Germany itself. Many rockets were fired from mobile launch sites in The Hague and from concealed wooded areas hidden from Allied aircraft, using fleets of modern, purpose-built transporters and trailers with sophisticated ancillary and support vehicles.

For the first time, this book tells the story of the V2 through the eyes and experiences not only of the men who fired the missiles at targets such as London, Norwich, Antwerp and Paris, but also of some of the military scientists and technicians involved in its development. The authors have spent many years tracking down and interviewing the few surviving veterans of these little-known and secretive units and have unearthed new and rare information from first-hand accounts. These are the unique recollections of the ‘Rocket Soldiers’ who have spoken candidly to the authors about their wartime duties.

The accounts show that, mostly, they were not stereotypical and ideologically indoctrinated ‘Aryan warriors’, but very ordinary soldiers and technicians living through extraordinary times, handling the most sophisticated weapon ever developed in pre-nuclear Europe. The book also describes the development of German rocketry following the end of the First World War and the technology embodied within the V2. The veterans tell of their first encounters with the awesome new rocket and how, having survived the devastating RAF raid on Peenemünde, training was dispersed to test sites in Poland. They recall the move to forward firing positions, gun battles with the Resistance and the start of the rocket offensive. In truth, the more battle-experienced veterans knew that the V2 was a waste of valuable human and matériel resources – a last-ditch hope to save a desperate regime. Conversely, the book illustrates how inexperienced troops drafted directly to the V2 units from basic training, vainly hoped and believed that the fortunes of war would turn in Germany’s favour. The veterans tell of their desperate experiences when the inevitable defeat came, as they were rushed to the east to defend Berlin where so many Rocket Soldiers lost their lives. Yet while some V2 troops ended the war with tears of regret for a robbed youth, others shed tears of frustration, knowing that they would never live through such extraordinary times again.

Hitler’s Rocket Soldiers forms an important new contribution to our understanding of the German war machine and its technology. Using never-before tapped resources, this book will be a revelation and valuable resource to all military historians and those with an interest in rocket development.

The Authors

peenemunde 2010 pictures 022 adj

Murray R. Barber F.R.A.S., was born in 1956 and is married with two children. He lives in Devon, England where he pursues several business interests that are related to astronomy. He has developed and written curriculum support information for the teaching of astronomy as well as the history of ancient Egypt, which is in use in planetariums worldwide. Since his schooldays he has always been interested in the history of World War Two and in particular its aviation. The V2 rocket represents a cross-over of his two main interests – the V2 being the very first man-made object to enter space and which was to lead, ultimately, to vehicles travelling beyond Pluto. Through the International V2 Research Group he met Michael Keuer and, following visits to see the remains of the former Peenemünde research and development establishment on the Baltic coast, they decided to study, together, the history of the V2 rocket. It was to fill the void of first-hand accounts of the operational use of the weapon, that the idea for this book was born. Murray is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Michael Keuer was born in 1959 in Hannover, Germany and is a senior software developer in a veterinarian pharmaceutical supply company. He has always held a keen interest in historical technical developments and the personalities behind scientific advancement. Following the reunification of Germany, he was able to visit the previously restricted area of Peenemünde to see the remains of the development works from where the V2 rocket was created and launched. During World War Two his grandfather worked as a technical skilled worker at Peenemünde and, indeed, Michael’s father was born just 32 kilometres away from the cradle of modern space science. As his interest grew, he met Murray Barber and the two decided to research the reminiscences of the last few surviving men involved in the military development and employment of this extraordinary weapon of war.


The Architect of Kokoda

A bright good morning to you, bookies! It’s cool and bright in West Tennessee today. I have neglected those of you who either are World War two buffs, or know someone who is, so let’s rectify that by linking up to a few reviews of recent books. The scholarship on World War Two never stops, and someone who is writing just such a book can tell you, and book sales are better than ever. So, without further ado, the review, this one from the Coolum News of Coolum Beach, Australia.

Michael Roser | 22nd September 2011

Tags book review, the architect of kokoda

THE name of Bert Kienzle rates an almost fleeting mention in many of the books written about the famous Kokoda campaign in New Guinea in the Second World War.

Bert Kienzle is the “man who made the Kokoda Track”.


Author: Robyn Kienzle

Publisher: Hachette Australia

RRP: $35

THE name of Bert Kienzle rates an almost fleeting mention in many of the excellent books written about the famous Kokoda campaign in New Guinea in the Second World War.

The famous battles which raged over the Kokoda Track are credited with turning the tide of the Japanese advances through the Pacific and saving Australia from possible invasion.

The Japanese were stopped by fierce Australian defence, poor supply lines and the efforts by men like Bert who pioneered the trail and then organised vast numbers of native carriers to carry food and ammunition to the troops and evacuate the wounded.

Crucially, he found areas high in the mountains where supplies could be air-dropped to exhausted troops needing lots of help against a determined enemy.

His knowledge of Papua-New Guinea was crucial in helping Australia’s rattled army, firstly retreat in the face of fierce opposition and then turn and attack with such ferocity that the Japanese were eventually forced out of the territory.

This is why Bert’s daughter-in-law Robyn Kienzle has described Bert as the “man who made the Kokoda Track”.

This excellent book describes his progression from a young boy in Fiji, to his family’s internment in the First World War as German sympathisers, to his early work in New Guinea and then development of plantations and gold mines in the Kokoda area in the north of the country.

His life reads like a Boys Own manual of adventures in a unique time in history.

This is an excellent book, well written and incredibly interesting.

Robyn Kienzle has done much to fill in a gap in the Kokoda story and give Bert Kienzle the recognition he justly deserves.

She quotes Peter FitzSimons, author of the best-seller Kokoda, as saying of Bert, “In my humble opinion, Bert Kienzle did more than another single man to make Australian victory possible.”


Erich von Manstein

Groan…good morning bookies. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller is feeling his age today after taking all 4 of his dogs to a farm yesterday to let them run free. Of course, said bookseller had to make sure they didn’t go off chasing a random deer or something, so he wound up walking and running about as much as they did. And today he’s paying the price.

As many of you know, I recently bought a massive collection of graphic novels, which all tend to have a certain flavor to them. Sort of punk-combat. Anyway, the name Erich von Manstein would serve perfectly as the name of a hero (or villain) in such a book, wouldn’t it?’ Erich von Manstein and His Morningstar of Death’, or some such. Of course, the real Manstein was a German general during WW2, one of the best of a rather illustrious pantheon of military masters. If this sounds like I am elevating Nazis, I’m not. But I’m a WW2 historian and making evaluations is part of the gig. The Germans had the best generals of the war and that’s just how it was. And Manstein was in the top 3.

So it’s surprising that he hasn’t had a major biography, a situation that has now been rectified with Retired British General Mungo Melvins’ new “Manstein: Hitler’s Greatest General.” The reviewer shows the general ineptitude you find among such people, criticizing the book for precisely what would make it interesting, an in-depth look at Manstein’s military maneuvers. If the reviewer does not like such stuff then what qualifies him to review the book? He eats up the coverage and inferences of Manstein’s involvement in the Holocaust, however, which is de rigeur for reviewers these days. Military history of Germany now has to include something about the persecution of minorities within the Third Reich.

Frankly, that’s not why I would read a book about ‘Hitler’s Greatest General.’ I want to know what made him great. I already knew that the German generals were complicit in the Holocaust. I’ve studied the Holocaust in minute detail, and if I want to continue my research in that direction, I will. But there are far too few strictly military books being published these days, and this one appears to have missed a great opportunity to fill in that gap. So maybe I’ll get the book and read just the first half, about the military matters. Or, after reading Nagorski’s review, maybe I won’t read the book at all.

Ghost Train From Hiroshima

Good morning bookies! It cloudy and grey and 35 degrees in West Tennessee. Nothing like weatherman’s spring, eh?

Charles Pellegrino’s Last Train From Hiroshima was widely acclaimed, won awards, was optioned for a movie by no less a personage than James Cameron and generally was accepted as great historical writing. Books implying that America was wrong for using the A-bomb are nothing new, of course, or telling pitiful stories of Japanese civilians who were there when hell came to Earth, or any one of about a thousand other agendas that seem to get wrapped around any controversial subject. And few subjects are as controversial as the sole use of atomic weapons.

The big problem with Pellegrino’s book is that, well, some of it didn’t happen. Indeed, it would appear that a lot of it was made up out of whole cloth. For political reasons? I don’t know. Did Pellegrino get duped? Maybe. Or was this nothing more than greed from an author who has known controversy before? I don’t know. Whatever the reasons, Pellegrino’s publisher has pulled the book, which means they can no longer stand by it.

To be clear, however: I am damned glad we dropped those bombs. Not that I enjoy the thought of civilians being incinerated, but that was already happening. The Tokyo fire raids killed at least as many civilians as the Hiroshima attack, but you never hear about those. Because the Japanese were willing to accept such losses to keep the war going. If the two atom bombs had not worked the only alternative was to invade Japan.

I had 4 uncles serving in the military at the time, 3 in the Army, 1 in the Seabees. All 4 were scheduled to have been included in the invasion of Japan, an invasion that would have cost more than 1 million US casualties, based on what happened at Okinawa. Chances are good I would have lost at least one of my uncles, and one was too many.


Watch on the Rhine

Hiya Bookies! Sorry for the delay in blogging, life happens.

65 years ago today, December 16, 1944, the Germans launched Operation Watch on the Rhine, known to them as the Ardennes Offensive and to the Allies as the Battle of the Bulge. There have been literally hundreds of books written about this battle, from both perspectives, and in my experience many of them would make a fine gift for the World War II buff. In particular I like Charles MacDonald’s A Time For Trumpets. He was a company commander for the US during the battle, his prose is clean and clear.

But for those in the US, especially, it is necessary to put the Bulge into context. At the time most US generals panicked when the attack came. The German plan was to attack a weak spot in the American lines, break through and cross the Meuse River, then swing north and re-take Antwerp, thus cutting off all US, British and Canadian troops to their north and east. In short, to re-create their crushing victory of 1940. The problem was that the Germans simply didn’t have the manpower to pull it off, and the German General Staff knew it. The only person wholly in favor of throwing in the very last of Germany’s offensive striking power, not to mention her last troops reserves and every drop of gasoline they could siphon out of the pipeline, was Adolf Hitler. And anything less than total victory would be a defeat, making the subsequent Allied counter-attack all the more successful as fewer Germans would be around to stop it.

And that’s more or less what happened. The Germans attacked but never had the weight necessary to even cross the Meuse River, much less attack Antwerp. They inflicted a lot of casualties but suffered more than twice as many as they caused. Patton knew right away that is was a huge mistake and took advantage. Hitler made things worse by not allowing the attack to be called off even when it had clearly failed. When the Allies finally did counter-attack later in 1945, there were tens of thousands fewer Germans left to defend their homeland, and more than 1,000 irreplaceable tanks no longer on hand to help.

But just because we can see this clearly now doesn’t mean it was so clear then, nor does it alleviate the suffering our troops went through in one of the coldest winters on record. When you see the aged veteran who suffered through this ordeal, throw him a salute and remind him how thankful we are for his service. Sitting in a foxhole covered with ice and snow as German tanks were heading for you would not have been any easier if you knew that it was a huge strategic mistake. It would have been just as terrifying as if you were fighting to hold the Germans out of Washington, DC. It would have been just as cold as winter is anywhere, and if the Germans shot you it would not have mattered how much faster their foolish attack might end the war.

The dangers of re-reading a book

Good morning bookies!

Bright sunshine today in West Tennessee, but cold, high 30’s, which to me might as well be Antarctica.

No link today, just a passing thought. I guess you all know I’m researching a book dealing with World War II. Whether or not the book ever actually gets written, I don’t know, but I research it daily. Last night about 11:30 I was re-reading (for the umpteenth time) The Last 100 Days by John Toland, a book I probably could repeat large swatches off by heart. And what did I suddenly find that I had never found before? A major error. How could I have missed it? Moreover, how could his editors have missed it, not to mention the historian himself?

On page 205 he mentions that Sepp Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army had lost 30% of its tanks and AFVs attempting to relieve Budapest.

Ummm…no, it didn’t. Budapest fell on February 11-12, with breakouts continuing for a few more days by small groups. The three relief attempts in January and February were all carried out by Sixth Army, commanded by Hermann Balck, not Sixth Panzer Army commanded by Sepp Dietrich. Sixth Panzer Army wasn’t even fully in Hungary yet and did not actually fight in that area until the offensive on the Gran River later in the month. How had I never noticed this before? And how many other errors have I overlooked in this book?

It just goes to show you that re-reading a favorite book isn’t always a good thing.

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