After the fall of France in May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force was miraculously evacuated from Dunkirk. Britain now stood alone to face Hitler’s inevitable invasion attempt. For the German army to land across the channel, Hitler needed mastery of the skies - the Royal Air Force would have to be broken. So every day throughout the summer, German bombers pounded the RAF air bases in the southern counties.
In 1960, the Imperial War Museum began a momentous task. A team of academics, archivists and volunteers set about tracing ordinary men and women who had lived through one of the most harrowing periods of modern history, the First World War. Veterans were interviewed in details about their day-to-day experiences, on and off the front. The project has since grown to be the most important archive of its kind in the world, and provides a unique account of life during the Great War.
From the author of the best-selling Forgotten Voices of the Great War comes a final look at the last 21 living British veterans of the First World War. These interviews, conducted in 2004, will never be repeated, as the youngest was 106 years old, and most are now gone. These first-person accounts follow the young soldiers from their homes throughout Britain to the raging battles while in the service of the Royal Field Artillery, Black Watch, Royal Navy, and others.
After the fall of France in May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force was miraculously evacuated from Dunkirk. Britain now stood alone to face Hitler’s inevitable invasion attempt. For the German Army to be landed across the Channel, Hitler needed mastery of the skies – the RAF would have to be broken – so every day, throughout the summer, German bombers pounded the RAF air bases in the southern counties.
During the dreadful Battle at Verdun, the French command urged the British to ease the pressure and launch their planned offensive on the Somme. The battle started on July 1st 1916, and in September the British used tanks for the first time.
On 6 June, 1944, Britain woke up to a profound silence. Overnight, 160,000 Allied troops had vanished and an eerie emptiness settled over the country. The majority of those men would never return. This is the story of that extraordinary 24 hours. Using a wealth of first-person testimonies, renowned historian Max Arthur recounts a remarkable new oral history of D-Day, beginning with the two years leading up to the silent day that saw the UK transformed by the arrival of thousands of American and Canadian troops.
"More Than A Window Into the Past"
The 1942 raid on Dieppe was an attempt to test the enemy readiness, and take some pressure off the Russian front. It was a costly disaster, but lessons learned there were of the utmost importance to the D-Day planning. After a massive build up of men and materials, the D-Day landings finally took place in Normandy on June 6th, 1944. Despite vicious battles and stubborn resistance, within 12 weeks the Allied forces invaded Paris.
The first British major success of World War II was when the Royal Navy forced the preying pocket battleship, Graf Spee, to scuttle at sea. Hitler had ordered a blockade of the British Isles and for some months German U-boats and warships caused havoc among allied merchant shipping carrying vital supplies.
"Absolutely a MUST listen too"
Following the second battle of Ypres, furious fighting continued on all fronts. Casualties were high, conditions dreadful, and life expectancy short. The only break the men had was a brief home leave, or a few days away from the trenches.
Published in time for Remembrance Day 2008, the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, We Will Remember Them commemorates the veterans who are no longer among us. With an introduction by Henry Allingham, 110, only survivor of the Battle of the Somme and Britain's oldest living man, Max Arthur's new book expands the circle of contributors by interviewing the families of First World War veterans.
During the warm mid-summer of 1914 few people suspected that, by August, Europe would be plunged into the bloodiest conflict known to mankind. Patriotic fervour, often misplaced, swept through the participating countries, but the troops dispatched to the battle fronts soon realised that the popular view: "it will all be over by Christmas", was just an optimistic dream.
The horrific third battle of Ypres finally ended at Passchendale on November 10, 1917. Ten days later, at Cambrai, the British launched the first massed tank assault in history. But they faced determined German resistance and within three days only 92 tanks out of the original 378 remained operational. After facing a savage counter-attack by the Germans using aircraft, gas, and storm troops, the British fell back to form a defensive line.
In 1939 Britain and her allies were completely unprepared for total war. In the spring of 1940, after months of inactivity, the powerful and highly trained German army smashed it's way through neutral Holland and Belgium and into northern France. The Allies had no choice but to retreat to the costal areas, where the 'Miracle of Dunkirk' took place. Half a million men were finally evacuated to England.
When the Italian dictator Mussolini saw that Hitler was conquering Europe, he decided that he too would have a share of the plunder. He declared war on the Allies, vowed to control the Mediterranean, and with his 300,000 troops stationed in Libya, take Egypt and the Suez Canal. But he knew that this could not be accomplished while the strategic island of Malta remained in Allied hands. For the next two years Malta and its people suffered for almost continuous bombardment, but never gave in.