I am a Puffin children’s author and I’d like to tell you about my new children’s series, Wings which I hope will be of interest to aviation enthusiasts and their families associated with World War One Historical Association.
I wrote Wings with RAF Museums as their children’s writer in residence in the run-up to the RAF’s 100th anniversary in 2018. The Wings series is about four children at a football summer camp, who find themselves propelled back in time. If they can learn how to fly the great RAF planes – the Sopwith Camel, Spitfire and Typhoon, history will lead them on a flightpath home to the present.
“Tom is the RAF Museum’s Writer in Residence. His close relationship with the museums and his obsessive eye for detail mean that I was not at all surprised that his Wings books are both highly authentic and hugely exciting. These are Biggles books for the 21st century.” Phil Clayton, Education Office at RAF Museum
“Flyboy is like a cross between ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Alex Rider’. I liked the book because it was spooky. The main character is Jatinder and the story is about World War One. It’s a total page turner! I think it is an amazing book. It attaches you to it straight away on the first sentence. “ Kamran Mustfa aged 8
The Wings series feature:
· Hardit Singh Malik – the first Sikh Indian to fly into combat with the Royal Flying Corps
· flight simulators
· military museums
· female pilots
· making model aircrafts.
And each book comes with a simple model plane you can make yourself!
“Wings: Flyboy is a wonderful, warm tale. Stories highlighting the diversity of Britain’s troops during both world wars are rare and this one deserves a wide audience. It is a cracking read.” Bali Rai
There is more information here : http://tompalmer.co.uk/wings/.
The book details the first battle of the First World War, the first Allied victory and the massive military humiliations Austria-Hungary suffered at the hands of tiny Serbia, while discussing the oversized strategic role Serbia played for the Allies during 1914. Lyon challenges existing historiography that contends the Habsburg Army was ill-prepared for war and shows that the Dual Monarchy was in fact superior in manpower and technology to the Serbian army, thus laying blame on Austria-Hungary’s military leadership rather than on its state of readiness.
He is the founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage, which is working with the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina to digitize their endangered collections. www.fphh.org. He is also an associate researcher with the University of Graz in Austria.
A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawro (2014)
Reviewed by WW1HA President Sal Compagno
Geoffrey Wawro is professor of history in Texas and has written a painful study of the role
of the Austro-Hungarian military in the first six months of World War 1. He relates how in
these first months the empire of the Hapsburgs was doomed to extinction. Most emphatically, he emphasizes the deliberate intention of the Austrian government and military in starting
the war. Revenge for the killing of the heir apparent, Austria knew attacking Serbia, whom
they believed instigated the assassination, would draw Russia in. Blatantly unprepared for
war, her infantry had little or no training, she attacked Serbia, only to be thoroughly defeated
three times by an inferior but determined enemy. Conrad von Hotzendorf, a palace General,
enjoyed the reputation as the most incompetent supreme military leader. Gen. Potiorek,
whose military experience was minimal, led the disastrous Serbian ventures.
The Hungarians were described by Wawro as continually undermining all the Austrian efforts
before and during the war. They refused to fund or modernize their joint armies nor were
they willing to cooperate in battle! When both faced the Russian army in the east, they were
unable to achieve even the the most modicum of victory. Exhausted by heat, long marches,
little food, they died or surrendered in thousands. Losing enormous territory, they begged
assistance from the Germans, who reluctantly complied. The first winter in the Carpathian
mountains saw their Austrian-Hungarian troops frozen. Gross incompetence by their leadership led to over 800,000 casualties in six months! The end of the empire was guaranteed. Wawro has painted a sorrowful & agonizing portrait of a mad reckless nation.
Ring of Steel by Alexander Watson (2014)
Reviewed by WW1HA President Sal Compagno
British historian Alexander Watson has written a voluminous book on the history of Imperial Germany and the Empire of Austria-Hungary in the First World War. He offer no excuse for their culpability in starting the conflict and places clear blame on Austria-Hungary more than
Germany, whose backing sparked the war. His judgement is clear, both created and
convinced themselves the war was necessary and just. Nevertheless, the war was one
of total illusions. Austria-Hungary was totally unprepared for a modern war and her
reverses on the battlefield in the first six months devastated her martial ability through
unbelievable incompetence. The result was a decent into the collapse of her empire.
Germany, as he states, bit off more than it could chew. Even its military prowess was
incapable of confronting a two-theater war. Brilliant in tactics, her strategy guaranteed
What renders his study most fascinating is the effect of the war on the peoples in each
country. To the Germans, Russia was the real threat with deep feelings of being overrun
by a barbaric hoard. This fear galvanized the German people to support wholeheartedly
their military effort extending the support to the Western Front. But the price was phenomenal. The war was not even a year old when food shortages became evident in both empires and grew progressively worse as the war dragged on. Stubbornly, they persisted in the downward spiral to total exhaustion. The Austro-Hungarian army, short of every valuable resource, became totally dependent on Germany. Her internal disintegration undermined her resolve to be a competent ally.
Watson is very careful and detailed explaining how the lack of resources, especially food, became so critical in both areas. An urgent & vociferous cry to end the war became paramount and unstoppable. He emphasizes how the last desperate and most blundering act when Germany allows unrestricted submarine activity brings in the United States & its failure ended any possibility of victory. With over 118 pages of notes, Watson has created a formidable study how both in military and domestic areas intertwined in a catastrophic war.
“Dark Invasion” by Howard Blum
Review by WW!HA President Sal Compagno
What reads like a novel, but clearly rooted in historical research, is Howard Blum’s
study of German sabotage in the U.S. in 1914-15. Germany, a prisoner of geography,
found itself cut off from access to America’s resources due to the British naval blockade.
With the war becoming clearly a war of attrition, access to resources would determine
victory or defeat. America, as a neutral nation, gifted with vast resources, found itself
supplying the voracious appetite for war essentials largely to the Entente (France-Britain
etc) with Germany and her allies cut off. Neutrality was making America rich!!
Germany was keenly aware of America’s not–so–convincing neutrality and set up a
clandestine sabotage system, financed and promoted through its consulates but
largely leaving their embassy untouched. The east coast ports became the focus
of their actions. Cleverly developing a vast spy network on the east coast with
assistance from disgruntled Irish stevedores, delayed bombs were placed on
allied ships with devastating results. Their successes were crippling the Entente’s
Tom Tunney, a New York policeman, trained in dealing with gang warfare, set up a
team of experts who would infiltrate some of the collateral members of the German
plan, eventually closing down their objectives. When the press divulged the role these
saboteurs were attempting, the nation was outraged and demanded government
action. It too another two years before an Espionage Act was created. Luck and
chance opportunities with British intelligence finally ended the first phase of German
espionage in the U.S. Dark Invasion is a fascinating and highly engaging historical
study of desperate acts and an insight into America of the early 20th century.
“The First World War” by Michael Howard
Review by WW1HA President Sal Compagno
Now that we are in the 100th anniversary of The Great War— or World War I as it is
now more commonly expressed — a short introduction to the seminal event of the
20th and now 21st century, is available. Michal Howard, British historian, has offered
a short but inclusive introduction to that cataclysmic event. As he states in
the foreword of the book: “This book, as its title suggests, is intended
simply to introduce the vast subject of the First World War to those who know
little or nothing about it.” He does brilliantly. Merely 148 pages, he encapsulates
the key battles, effects and costs. A few photos, maps and etchings add a certain
relevance to his approach. Michael Howard has written a formidable and clear
understanding for those who wish to acquaint themselves with the most significant
event in our time.
“Wounded” by Emily Mayhew
Reviewed by WW1HA President Sal Compagno
In any war the term “casualty” includes many elements, e.g. killed, wounded, captured etc. Too often war historians concentrate on the “killed” to summarize battles, final outcome and costs. But in most modern wars, the wounded figure greater in number than killed. They are often marginalized and ignored in the total picture. Emily Mayhew, a British historian, found the neglected issue of the wounded not given enough focus by military or war historians. She set about researching the treatment of the British wounded in World War 1. This short, but fascinating study, enlightens a part of that war unseen nor
reported by the media and deliberately kept from the public. Her research took considerable time as documentation was not often accessible, but her perseverance revealed a broad effort to provide medical care to a war whose massive and brutal casualties overwhelmed the then medical capabilities.
Her approach was to take the whole medical spectrum through personal accounts and divides the book into chapters titled: Stretcher Bearers, Regimental Medical Officers, Surgeons etc. As the war progressed and the wounded approached enormous numbers, innovations such as mobile Xrays, proceeded accordingly — but not always with the success perceived.
Frustrations, delays, lack of supplies, plagued all medical units and she carefully categorizes the response. New and innovative procedures had to developed and some truly remarkable attempts to save lives were achieved. Mayhew has done a worthwhile investigation of a shadow element of the war.
Review by Sal Compagno
“A Shattered Peace” by David Andelman,
When the First World War ended the fighting on the Western Front on Nov. 11, 1918, a war-ravaged Europe stood facing the opportunity to remake the world for a lasting peace. David Andelman’s book, “A Shattered Peace,” provides a detailed account how the peace treaty of Versailles shaped the
modern world and whose creators deliberately made a lasting peace impossible. He spares no one and is especially critical of the famous “Big Four” who, grounded in the 19th-Century power-politics, would not bend or envision a different world. Andelman is particularly severe on Wilson’s self-determination goal for reshaping borders and his strident demand for a League of Nations.
To say that Versailles caused most of the modern global instability is the principal point. The author valiantly reveals how personality and individual misgivings governed decisions which had lasting effects to our own day. Take the Middle East’s current instability as an example. Sharply defined borders there became irrational and insecure due to greed and ignorance of local conditions. Ethnic, religious, social and economic elements were totally ignored! Thus, chaos and bloodshed were guaranteed. Oblivious to essential conditions in their judgements, in spite of expert testimony, the leaders in the “peace” making doggedly stuck to their selfish desires in all areas the war covered. Andelman has portrayed a dismal and tragic drama whose influence is still vividly being felt.