28 July 2016

The 1st Household Cavalry 1943-44: in the Shadow of Monte Amaro

The mettle of the famous First Household Cavalry Regiment was tested to the maximum in action in the mountains of Italy in 1943–44. This book explores a largely undervalued and forgotten part of a costly and complex struggle. We directly experience what it was like to be there through the words of those who were.

In late 1943 1st HCR was sent to Syria to patrol the Turko-Syrian border, it being feared that Turkey would join the Axis powers. In April 1944, 1st HCR was shipped to Italy. The Italian campaign was at that time well underway. During the summer of 1944, 1st HCR were in action near Arezzo and in the advance to Florence in a reconnaissance role, probing enemy positions, patrolling constantly. The Regiment finally took part in dismounted actions in the Gothic Line – the German defensive system in Northern Italy.

Based upon interviews with the few survivors still with us and several unpublished diaries, there are many revelations that will entertain – and some that will shock. The 1st Household Cavalry 1943–44 is published on the 70th anniversary of the actions described, as a tribute to the fighting force made up from the two most senior regiments of the British Army and, in the words of His Grace the Duke of Wellington who has kindly provided the foreword, ‘to gain insight into why such a war should never be fought again’.

Available from:
The History Press

18 July 2016

You Never Know Your Luck - Battle of Britain to the Great Escape: The Extraordinary Life of Keith 'Skeets' Ogilvie DFC

When the Royal Canadian Air Force wouldn't accept him as a pilot in the summer of 1939, Keith ‘Skeets' Ogilvie walked across the street in Ottawa and joined the Royal Air Force. A week later he was on a boat to England and a future he could not have imagined.

Some unusual luck won him a transfer as a Spitfire pilot to No. 609 (White Rose) Squadron, just as the Battle of Britain was being joined. Over the next months he firmly established his credentials with six confirmed victories and two probables, along with several enemy aircraft damaged. Shot down over France the following July, he was fortunate to be treated for grievous injuries by top German surgeons. Skeets' home for the balance of the war was Stalag Luft III prison camp. He was the second last man out of the ‘Great Escape' tunnel but was recaptured three days later. For reasons he never understood, Skeets was one of 23 escapees who were spared from being murdered by the Gestapo. 50 of his fellows were not so lucky.

In London on a night off from flying duties, Skeets had been introduced to a fellow Canadian expatriate, Irene Lockwood. While he was testing the limits of his luck, his future wife was experiencing her own adventures in London, living through the daily stress of the Luftwaffe bombing campaign and working with MI12, and later as a wartime photographer with the RCAF.

You Never Know Your Luck is the story of two modest people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and who rose to the occasion like so many of their contemporaries. Skeets' and Irene's own words and memories are the foundations on which the experience of wartime unfolds. A unique perspective from individuals who never failed to wonder at their own fortune.

Battle of Britain London Monument - further information on P/O  Keith Ogilvie 

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17 July 2016

A Spitfire Pilot's Story - Pat Hughes: Battle of Britain Top Gun

Pat Hughes is today perhaps the greatest unsung hero of the Battle of Britain. Ranked sixth in the ‘ace of aces’ of the aerial campaign of summer 1940, he shot down at least fourteen enemy aircraft, mostly the Spitfire’s closely matched rival the Messerschmitt Me 109.

As a flight commander in 234 Squadron he advocated bold, close-in tactics and during July 1940 scored the squadron’s first victories of the epic battle for air supremacy. The burden of command fell on his shoulders before the squadron transferred to the heart of the Battle in the south-east of England, where he endured the heaviest and most sustained period of fighting of the Battle of Britain.

Revered by his fellow pilots, Hughes began a shooting spree on 15 August that only ended when he was killed during the first huge daylight attack on London on 7 September. In his last three days alone he contributed at least six kills. His death in mysterious circumstances left Kathleen, his bride of just six weeks, a war widow. This volume is illustrated with over forty photographs, including many from his family that have never before been published.

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