On 10 May 1941, Rudolf Hess, then the Deputy Führer, parachuted over Renfrewshire in Scotland on a mission to meet with the Duke of Hamilton, ostensibly to broker a peace deal with the British government. After being held in the Tower of London, he was transferred to Mytchett Place near Aldershot on 20 May, under the codename of ‘Z’. The house was fitted with microphones and sound recording equipment, guarded by a battalion of soldiers and codenamed ‘Camp Z’.
Churchill’s instructions were that Hess should be strictly isolated, with every effort taken to get any information out of him that could help change the course of the Second World War. Stephen McGinty uses documentation, contemporaneous reports, diaries, letters and memos to piece together a riveting account of the claustrophobia, paranoia and high-stakes gamesmanship being played out in an English country house. CAMP Z is a ‘locked room mystery’ where the ‘locked room’ is a man’s mind that no one can conclude, with any degree of confidence, is sane.
At the age of fifteen Hortense Daman embarked on a secret career. In her German-occupied hometown of Louvain, Belgium, she joined the resistance, first as a courier, then as a fighter. She ran terrifying risks, smuggling explosives in her bicycle pannier past German soldiers and helping allied airmen to safety. It couldn’t last; and it didn’t.
She was later betrayed, imprisoned and condemned to death. Separated from her family, she – and later her mother – was sent to the ‘women’s inferno’ – Ravensbruck concentration camp. Subjected to horrific medical experiments, she endured starvation, illness, freezing temperatures, and she watched helplessly as thousands died around her. Yet, against unimaginable odds, she survived.
Child at War is the true, extraordinary and often shocking account of the years that saw Hortense change from the innocent schoolgirl to freedom fighter and ultimately to survivor of the most atrocious regime the world has ever seen.
‘A magnificent story, brilliantly told. Read it!’ Anthony Horowitz
Six gentlemen, one goal – the destruction of Hitler’s war machine
In the spring of 1939, a top secret organisation was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler’s war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage.
The guerrilla campaign that followed was to prove every bit as extraordinary as the six gentlemen who directed it. Winston Churchill selected them because they were wildly creative and thoroughly ungentlemanly. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler’s favourite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another member of the team, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world’s leading expert in silent killing. He was hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines.
Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men – along with three others – formed a secret inner circle that planned the most audacious sabotage attacks of the Second World War. Winston Churchill called it his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. The six ‘ministers’, aided by a group of formidable ladies, were so effective that they single-handedly changed the course of the war.
Told with Giles Milton’s trademark verve and eye for detail, Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is thoroughly researched and based on hitherto unknown archival material. It is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do and is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War.
Previously published in hardback as The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
One of the most remarkable stories in the history of Special Forces’ operations – Daily Express
In the bleak moments after defeat on mainland Europe in winter 1939, Winston Churchill knew that Britain had to strike back hard. So Britain’s wartime leader called for the lightning development of a completely new kind of warfare, recruiting a band of eccentric free-thinking warriors to become the first ‘deniable’ secret operatives to strike behind enemy lines, offering these volunteers nothing but the potential for glory and all-but-certain death.
Churchill’s Secret Warriors tells the story of the daring victories for this small force of ‘freelance pirates’, undertaking devastatingly effective missions against the Nazis, often dressed in enemy uniforms and with enemy kit, breaking all previously held rules of warfare. Master storyteller Damien Lewis brings the adventures of the secret unit to life, weaving together the stories of the soldiers’ brotherhood in this compelling narrative, from the unit’s earliest missions to the death of their leader just weeks before the end of the war.
In standard histories of the Second World War, the last six months in the western European arena invariably make a short epilogue. After the German failure in the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s bold counter attack across the Ardennes, the war is often assumed to have been all over bar sporadic shooting. This was far from the truth; it was certainly not how those soldiers and civilians at the front saw it. Drawing on American, British, Canadian, German, Dutch and Scandinavian sources, most of them previously unpublished, and starting with the Battle of the Bulge, COUNTDOWN TO VICTORY tells the little known story of those final months through the eyes of ordinary people who had to live the trauma.
Acclaimed historian and best-selling author Antony Beevor vividly brings to life the epic struggles that took place in Second World War Crete – reissued with a new introduction.
‘The best book we have got on Crete’ Observer
The Germans expected their airborne attack on Crete in 1941 – a unique event in the history of warfare – to be a textbook victory based on tactical surprise. They had no idea that the British, using Ultra intercepts, knew their plans and had laid a carefully-planned trap. It should have been the first German defeat of the war, but a fatal misunderstanding turned the battle round. Nor did the conflict end there. Ferocious Cretan freedom fighters mounted a heroic resistance, aided by a dramatic cast of British officers from Special Operations Executive.
‘Vivid, graphic and moving’ Mail on Sunday Book of the Year
‘It has a wonderful immediacy and vitality – living history in every sense’ Anthony Horowitz
‘Fantastic’ Dan Snow
‘Compellingly authentic, revelatory and beautifully written. A gripping tour de
force’ Damien Lewis
‘Stirring and unsettling in equal measure, this is history writing at its most powerful’ Evening Standard
Seventy-five years have passed since D-Day, the day of the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance on that chill June morning. If Allied forces succeeded in gaining a foothold in northern France, the road to victory would be open. But if the Allies could be driven back into the sea, the invasion would be stalled for years, perhaps forever.
An epic battle that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships and 20,000 armoured vehicles, the desperate struggle that unfolded on 6 June 1944 was, above all, a story of individual heroics – of men who were driven to keep fighting until the German defences were smashed and the precarious beachheads secured. Their authentic human story – Allied, German, French – has never fully been told.
Giles Milton’s bold new history narrates the day’s events through the tales of survivors from all sides: the teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, the French resistance fighter. From the military architects at Supreme Headquarters to the young schoolboy in the Wehrmacht’s bunkers, D-Day: The Soldiers’ Story lays bare the absolute terror of those trapped in the frontline of Operation Overlord. It also gives voice to those hitherto unheard – the French butcher’s daughter, the Panzer Commander’s wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff.
This vast canvas of human bravado reveals ‘the longest day’ as never before – less as a masterpiece of strategic planning than a day on which thousands of scared young men found themselves staring death in the face. It is drawn in its entirety from the raw, unvarnished experiences of those who were there.
The story of D-Day, told in the words of those who were actually there.
‘The gigantic scale of the invasion is stunningly evoked’ – MAIL ON SUNDAY
At fifteen minutes after midnight on June 6 1944, Operation ‘Overlord’, the Allied invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe, became reality. In this penetrating account of D-Day and the period which followed, Robin Neillands and Roderick de Normann weave objective narration with personal accounts from those who were there to create a matchless history of the largest amphibious assault ever launched.
The dramatic story of the sinking of the Dunedin Star
November 9th, 1942. Amid the cloaking gloom of the Liverpool docks lay the Dunedin Star. A ship of the Blue Star Line, she was bound for the Middle East, her consignment of munitions for the 8th Army supplemented by twenty-one fare-paying civilians escaping the Blitz for the colonies, all forced to take the long haul round the Cape.
As an unescorted merchantman sailing U-boat infested waters, Dunedin Star’s passage was, at best, a risky undertaking. But her eventual fate was to defy all expectation. Three weeks into her voyage, her hull mysteriously holed, Dunedin Star ran aground off Namibia’s infamous Skeleton Coast – five hundred miles of raging surf and burning desert, the most violent and desolate shore on earth. Sixty-three men, women and children were to defy mountainous waves and unfathomable odds to reach land . . . but their struggle for survival had only just begun.
From interviews with survivors, eyewitness testimony, historical resources and personal journals, Dawson skilfully reconstructs the Dunedin Star’s doomed voyage, the terror of the wilderness and the painstaking rescue missions. From the grim waters of the North Atlantic to the blistering African wastes, he narrates a classic tale of pluck, set against the backdrop of World War II.
An extraordinary account – from firsthand sources – of upper class women and the active part they took in the War
Pre-war debutantes were members of the most protected, not to say isolated, stratum of 20th-century society: the young (17-20) unmarried daughters of the British upper classes. For most of them, the war changed all that for ever. It meant independence and the shock of the new, and daily exposure to customs and attitudes that must have seemed completely alien to them. For many, the almost military regime of an upper class childhood meant they were well suited for the no-nonsense approach needed in wartime.
This book records the extraordinary diversity of challenges, shocks and responsibilities they faced – as chauffeurs, couriers, ambulance-drivers, nurses, pilots, spies, decoders, factory workers, farmers, land girls, as well as in the Women’s Services. How much did class barriers really come down? Did they stick with their own sort? And what about fun and love in wartime – did love cross the class barriers?
Over 8 million women stayed at home during the Second World War and their story has never been told. Using brand new research from the Mass-Observation Archive, Jennifer Purcell brings to life – in all its tragedy, pathos, joy and fear – the lives of six ordinary women made extraordinary by the demands of war. In their diaries and notes they record the inner thoughts and everyday activities as they tried to survive come what may.
Nella Last, the archetypal housewife struggles between the demands of her husband and her desire to help the war effort. Cambridge-educated, middle-class Natalie Tanner sneaks out to the cinema whenever possible and discusses politics in town, leading a leisured life while others try to scrape by. Saddled with a draughty and unwieldy centuries-old home directly in the path of German bombs, Helen Mitchell constantly tries to escape the war and her domestic life. Opinionated and patriotic Edie Rutherford uses the war to escape the home and go to work. Alice Bridges endures the horrors of the Blitz on her home town of Birmingham and finds a new and exciting social life as she reports the war for Mass-Observation. Housebound for most of the war with debilitating arthritis, working-class Irene Grant struggles to keep her family fed and dreams of a better Britain.
Intensely moving and personal, each woman reveals their most secret fears and hopes, as well as the everyday problems of wanting to contribute to the war effort, keeping a house together under difficult circumstances, the travails of rationing, work and volunteering, whilst maintaining their duties as wife and mother.
Jennifer Purcell redraws a new, emotional and unexpected history of the Second World War as it was experienced by those left behind, the domestic soldiers.
What makes a good missionary makes a good American spy, or so thought Office of Special Services (OSS) founder “Wild” Bill Donovan when he recruited religious activists into the first ranks of American espionage. Called upon to serve Uncle Sam, Donovan’s recruits saw the war as a means of expanding their godly mission, believing an American victory would guarantee the safety of their fellow missionaries and their coreligionists abroad.
Drawing on never-before-seen archival materials, acclaimed historian Matthew Sutton shows how religious activists proved to be true believers in Franklin Roosevelt’s crusade for global freedom of religion. Sutton focuses on William Eddy, a warrior for Protestantism who was fluent in Arabic; Stewart Herman, a young Lutheran minister rounded up by the Nazis while pastoring in Berlin; Stephen B. L. Penrose, Jr., who left his directorship over missionary schools in the Middle East to join the military rank and file; and John Birch, a fundamentalist missionary in China. Donovan chose these men because they already had the requisite skills for good intelligence analysis, espionage, and covert operations, skills that allowed them to seamlessly blend into different environments. Working for eternal rewards rather than temporal spoils, they proved willing to sacrifice and even to die for their country during the conflict, becoming some of the United States’ most loyal secret soldiers.
Acutely aware of how their actions conflicted with their spiritual calling, these spies nevertheless ran covert operations in the centers of global religious power, including Mecca, the Vatican, and Palestine. In the end, they played an outsized role in leading the US to victory in WWII: Eddy laid the groundwork for the Allied invasion of North Africa, while Birch led guerilla attacks against the Japanese and, eventually, Chinese Communists. After the war, some of them — those who survived — helped launch the Central Intelligence Agency, so that their nation, and American Christianity, could maintain a strong presence throughout the rest of the world.
Surprising and absorbing at every turn, Double Crossedis an untold story of World War II spycraft and a profound account of the compromises and doubts that war forces on those who wage it.