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Latest Issue: December 2014 - Issue 92

FEATURES

RAY’S DRIFT
The daring but ultimately futile assault on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula began on 25 April 1915 and saw heavy losses among the regiments of the British 29th Division. One Private survived the bullets, shells and the surf to tell his story whilst convalescing in hospital. Written so soon after these dreadful events, the account brings the battle to life in startling fashion.

LEFT BEHIND
With the withdrawal from Dunkirk in May 1940 vast quantities of materiel were left behind in France, including numbers of shot down or wrecked RAF aircraft. These included unserviceable aircraft abandoned on former RAF airfields, many having been set alight before the withdrawal. When the Germans occupied the territory and found these wrecked aircraft they often became attractive subjects to photograph.

HE MUST HAVE GOT OUT!
A Spitfire pilot shot down at the end of the Battle of Britain in 1940 had already had to bale-out and crash-land on two previous occasions. Then, he had been lucky to survive. However, over East Sussex on the penultimate day of the battle there was no such fortunate outcome when he was once again shot down. His close friend on the squadron was distraught at his loss, but set out to avenge his pal’s death and to honour the pact they had both made in the event of the other being killed.

SNOW AND STEEL
While the Battle of The Bulge is generally thought of as solely involving elements of the US Army pitted against the counterattacking Germans, it is a relatively little known or ignored fact that there was actually a significant British presence and involvement. On the anniversary of that battle, a leading military historian reveals just how much those forces played a part and suggests why the bold German offensive was always doomed to fail.

A CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD
When municipal civil engineering works began in a small French town during 2009 the workmen made a startling discovery: the bodies of British soldiers who had been missing since the First World War. Painstaking research work, and DNA testing, allowed for 11 of the men to be identified and all have now been accorded a burial with full military honours, almost exactly 100 years after they fell in battle.

GARDEN OF EDEN
Reputedly built on the site of the Garden of Eden, Qurna in 1914 was a very long way from paradise. In fact, it became a hell on earth. A key battleground in the struggle to secure Britain’s Middle East oil interests, and in a region not unfamiliar to allied fighting troops in more recent years, the battle was ugly and determined and also saw remarkable bravery by three Indian sappers who, with a length of heavy wire cable, swam to the rescue and secured the means by which the battle could have a successful outcome.

“THE LUCKIEST DAY OF MY LIFE”
When it seemed certain that nothing would stop the Japanese overwhelming the troops defending Singapore, it was decided that RAF personnel, certain civilians and members of the Australian Army Nursing Service should be evacuated on the MV Empire Star. Yet if they thought that they had escaped danger, the passengers were mistaken, as one of the evacuees on board later recorded. His harrowing story includes an account of the actions of a nurse who would later be awarded the George Medal.

“THEIR LORDSHIPS’ SEVERE DISPLEASURE”
HMS Sturdy was a First World War-vintage ‘S’ Class destroyer of the Royal Navy and a valuable asset to the Home Fleet. Despite her age, she performed sterling service escorting Channel Convoys during the summer 1940 and then on convoy escort work out in the Atlantic and on the Western Approaches. However, on a fateful dark night during late October 1940 the Captain and crew had become unsure of their position and HMS Sturdy ran aground to be wrecked on the Isle of Tiree. It was an event which invoked the ire of the Sea Lords and the compassion and selflessness of the islanders.

BRITAIN UNDER THE JACKBOOT
On 30 June 1940 a Luftwaffe aircraft landed at Guernsey’s airfield and quickly established that there were no defences. The scene was thus set for the invasion of the Channel Islands in ‘Operation Green Arrow’ which marked the beginning of five long and exceptionally hard years of occupation.

REGULARS

BRIEFING ROOM
News, Restorations, Discoveries and Events from around the world. FIELDPOST
Your letters.

GREAT WAR GALLANTRY
As the First World War entered its fourth month, the announcements of British and Commonwealth gallantry awards began to increase in The London Gazette. We examine some of the acts of bravery in December 1914. Lord Ashcroft also selects his ‘Hero of The Month’.

RAF ON THE AIR: ‘DOG-FIGHTS OVER ENGLAND’
Douglas Bader was arguably the best-known of all RAF Battle of Britain fighter pilots. He gave an enlightening broadcast on the BBC during 1940 in which he heaped praise on a number of the Canadian pilots under his command and detailed some of their combat successes.

DATES THAT SHAPED WORLD WAR TWO
December 1944 recalled.

IMAGE OF WAR
A Lancaster bomber is placed on display in London’s Trafalgar Square during ‘Wings For Victory Week’ in 1943. FIRST

WORLD WAR DIARY
We chart some of the principal events of the First World War as they happened one hundred years ago, on a monthly basis.

RECONNAISSANCE REPORT
A look at new books and products.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN OBJECTS
The Princess Mary Christmas Gift Tin is this month’s iconic object from the 1914-1918 conflict.

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