Author Archive

The book I read to research this post was Clean Sweep by Tony Spooner which is a very good book that I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. This is a biography of Air Marshall Sir Ivor Broom and he was also a hero bomber pilot from World War 2 among other things. He was born in Wales in 1920 and on leaving school pased the entrance exam and gained employment in the civil service. When war broke out in 1939 there was initially what we call the phoney war when not a lot in terms of bombing and fighting happened. This changed when the Nazi’s invaded Norway, the Low Countries and France. During the phoney war they made preparations for war. Things like increasing armament production and setting up the home guard. Britain apparently had considered invading Norway herself to keep the important seaways especially to the Arctic open. Later they did invade Iceland for that purpose although invasion is probably too strong a word as it was only to keep it out of German hands. Sir Ivor applied to be a pilot officer in the RAF which initally meant he flew Blenheim bombers out of Malta. His crew was one of only 3 of the original ones to survive when it came time to station them elsewhere. He did later fly Mosquitoes which were revolutionary because they had a wooden frame for lightness and could do over 400 mph. They had no armament because they depended on their speed and lightness to get them out of trouble. They could deliver bombs and several where used for light freight use and there was even one adapted to take a passenger prone position in what was the bomb bay area. Sir Ivor went on to fly lots of different aircraft and in the pilots only had to fly a certain number of missions when it was thought they could retire with dignity but he carried on flying. He was one of the most decorated pilots of the war. He did go on to fly like the Lightning the fast fighter jet capable of mach 2. He became boss of the Red Arrows display team and when he retired after 37 years service was the Air Marshall. The author is also an ex RAF pilot so that does add a lot of insight into the story. This book is around 280 pages so is a reasonable length. I very much enjoyed this book and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was On The Settle & Carlisle Route by TG Flinders which is a very good book that I bought from a secondhand bookstore. This book was published in 1981 so it’s probably not something you are likely to see for sale and it is around 110 pages so quite short. It takes you on a trip from Settle to Carlisle on this railway and there is a brief history. Most of the book is photos and these generally are quite impressive. This railway was initially one of the lines from Carlisle into Scotland but was closed in the early 60’s then later restored and reopened as a steam railway. Going from Settle you reach the Ribblehead Viaduct which is 165 ft high and has an impressive 24 arches. British Rail did consider filling in some of the arches to avoid vandalism. It is an impressive structure. The line climbs to 800 ft and for barely 2 minutes you have probably the best views on any railway in Britain. There used to be quite a lot of stations on this line built of the local stone and many of these have been closed as stations but are used for other purposes like storage. They sometimes have steam specials that start from far flung places like London and travel along this route as a one off. Of course this line goes on to Carlisle which at one time vied with York for best railway station for train spotters. It was probably the best place to see Duchess Class trains. This is an enjoyable book and I do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Solomon’s Island by Matthew Fishbane which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. This book is about a search for the lost temple of Solomon on the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific by a journalist. He was American and received by e-mail a couple of YouTube links about a lost tribe of Israel who went to what was Lake Tangyanyka area in Africa and from there the Solomon Islands. There was apparently a lost temple built there too. He did find what he thought was a VHS video about it but when he sent it to an agency to convert it to DVD presumably received a phone call saying the tape appeared to be blank. This book is part of the kindle singles section where they have low cost e-books often under 100 pages. They are also often on niche subjects like this book. Those of a Jewish descent make up a large proportion of these islanders. It is the closest area to paradise but these islands have been mismanaged to the extent that they have one of the lowest average incomes in the world per worker. Cocanut trees grow faster than just about anywhere else in the world. They speak pidjin english a kind of phonetic version of english taught by missionaries. The islands were part of the British Empire and remain in the Commonwealth. Israel at a time when they were being pressured into leaving the West Bank and Gaza did make the most of the fact there were people here of Jewish descent and cultivate ties. It tried to do this with a lot of other countries too to get votes and support at the UN if any resolutions were voted on. In the case of these islands they were fairly unsuccessful in this respects with being voted against a number of times. It did however bring Jewish businessmen here to do business. This is an interesting book more interesting about the country than the temple. I do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Panzer The Armoured Force Of The Third Reich by Matthew Cooper which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book gives analysis of several of the campaigns undertaken by the German Tank Regiments during World War 2. One of the biggest problems was Hitler was the supreme head of all the armed forces under the Nazis. That job should have left with the military. Prior to that during his military career Hitler had only ever reached the rank of Corporal. They did overcome a mighty Polish Army in just 19 days which was a huge achievement. They did also have the Tiger tank which given its time period was one of the best tanks ever developed. The earliest German tanks had merely machine guns attached to them. In the Russian campaign Hitler split is forces in 3 one to take Leningrad, one Moscow and one the Caucasus which was a fatal mistake. He should have sent all of it to capture Moscow. The Caucasus contained oil fields but they didn’t capture it long enough to take advantage. The battles of Stalingrad and Kursk also shattered the German army. When they tried to take Moscow it was autumn a time of rain and snow which resulted in many cases in German troops being upto their waists in mud and impassable for tanks. The supply lines were also grossly inadequate. Also the 2 key men in charge of the Panzer Regiments had to step down over disagreements with Hitler about policy. They would have made a big difference if left in place. This book is around 150 pages so a reasonable length. I did enjoy this book and definitely recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was A Social History Of Engineering by WHG Armytage which is an excellent book that I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. This book is around 360 pages so is a decent length. It looks at the history of engineering and inventions in the way they affected society. It starts at around 3,000 BC at a time when fire and the wheel had been invented. Man had also learned how to domesticate animals and pottery and simple smelting was being used. The bulk of the book looks at developments in the twentieth century when most technological progress at an ever increasing rate has taken place. It also looks at some of the future progress likely to happen. There is talk of them building super dams in places like Lake Chad creating a huge artificial sea. There is also various tunnels like linking Baku to a nearby city under the Caspian Sea. They could also link Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan, Gibraltar with Africa and also Siberia with Alaska under the Bering Strait. There is also talk of them creating a huge artificial ocean current movement using atomic motors that would help to warm up the climate in Siberia and nearby parts of Asia. Population in the world is growing at such a rate that one in seven who have ever existed are still alive. At current rates the population is expected to double every 50 years. This book was published in 1976 so some of this might be a little dated. Certainly in the future governments are likely to focus more and more on having an educated workforce. There is likely to be more and more emphasis on technology. I did enjoy this book and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Tiger Tracks: Classic Panzer Memoir which is a very good book that I bought from kindle.This book is around 150 pages so is a reasonable. It is quite an unusual account in that it is an autobiographical work about someone’s experiences on the Russian front as part of a Tiger tank crew fighting for the Germans. It does seem quite authentic and is quite shocking in places and apparently people who served in a role have said yes it was like that. The gearboxes on the Tigers were a bit dodgy and theirs lasted 1,000 km before needing to be replaced. This was quite worrying considering how far they were from home. The worst thing that could happen to you was being captured by the Russians and sent to a Siberian gulag. People in that situation envied those who had died in battle. The Tiger had very wide tracks which was good for traction but the tracks could disintegrate for the least little rendering the tank useless. Those who had to overhaul the tracks had a rather unenviable task as there was often the left overs of human remains enmeshed in these. If someone died there would be a rush to claim their equipment and clothes especially as it was probably better than the worn out stuff someone had. If a tank was hit invariably the shells and ammunition on board would explode leading to an unpleasant death for the crew. The Russians often threatened and forced civilians to sit padlocked in a badly damaged tank with the gun barely working and make them take part in a suicide mission where they had to do as much damage to Germans as possible before being taken out. They often threatened to send those close to that person to a gulag to elicit their co-operation. I did enjoy this book and do definitely recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Anglo Saxon Britain by Grant Allen which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. This book is about the intervening years between the Roman Occupation and the Norman Conquest of Britain. In this time various groups invaded Britain including the Angles and Saxon. It is known at around this time there were two types of people and one would die out, a type left over from prehistoric times with a long skull as the book puts it. Celts were mostly killed or enslaved by the invading groups. There was numerous incursions by the Vikings with many settling in the North and Midlands. Alfred would build a navy and fight the Vikings on almost equal terms. He was very much influenced by a trip to Rome as a child and he had a civilised outlook despite being king over a barbaric people. In many raids non-combatants weren’t killed but what might count as a combatant might be monks praying against them. Of course some of the invading tribes were among the most barbaric people that ever existed. Books around this time did start being written in what we would call Old English and Latin declined. If there was a bloody battle and the invaders lost a lot of men you could guarantee there would be a massacre afterwards. An example of this happened at Chester. This book is around 150 pages so is a reasonable length. I did enjoy reading it and especially with it being a free book I do recommend it.