Taking Stock & Getting Real

To all followers and others reached:

Please note that my 28 blogs have developed, almost by accident, into what has become a commentary on the whole book There was a Time.

We are now at the threshold of WW2 which accounts for about a third of the narrative.  It includes accounts of Britain’s allies, the USA and the USSR, their major contribution to overall victory and references to the aftermath.  I do not propose to go into detail here about that momentous time in our history but instead suggest that perhaps you may like to take a look at that part of the index of the book itself to see what areas are covered.  Each sub-heading indicates, at most, a page or so of easy reading.  It is, as stated, an overview.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR BEGINS

  • Winston Churchill to No. 10
  • First Blood to Britain
  • Battle of the River Plate
  • Blitzkrieg and the BEF
  • The Great Escape
  • The Churchill Factor
  • Mussolini Declares for War
  • Operation Sea Lion
  • “The Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
  • Battle of Wills
  • The PM’s First Great Dilemma
  • Battle of Britain: Conclusion and Reckoning

WAR IN THE WESTERN DESERT

  • Wavell’s Command
  • Royal Navy in the Mediterranean
  • Britain Loses O’Connor and Gets Rommel
  • Churchill’s Error
  • A Fortunate Rebound
  • Churchill’s Error: charged to Wavell’s Account
  • Enter Sir Claude Auchinleck
  • Operation Crusader

A NEW YEAR AND NO LONGER ALONE

  • Battle of the Denmark Strait
  • “Sink the Bismarck”
  • Barbarossa
  • Some Respite
  • The Scourge of the U-boats
  • Hitler’s Costly Errors
  • The Ultimate Sign of Lunacy
  • Rommel in Control
  • Gazala
  • Auchinleck Takes Over
  • Auchinleck Replaced
  • The Montgomery Controversy
  • Bad Blood
  • A New Ethos
  • The Battle of El Alamein

OPERATION TORCH

  • Ultra Intelligence

SICILY AND ITALY

EUROPE AND THE HOME FRONT – 1942

  • Reinhardt Heydrich, Nazi Sadist
  • Eliminate Heydrich
  • The Channel Dash
  • Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris
  • The Baedeker Raids
  • Strategic Bombing

WAR IN THE FAR EAST

  • Ignominy in the East
  • The Doolittle Raid
  • Battle of the Coral Sea
  • The Battle of Midway
  • Leyte Gulf & Kamikaze

BURMA AND THE FORGOTTEN ARMY

  • Orde Wingate and the Chindits
  • The Turning Point in Burma
  • Field Marshal Slim’s Apotheosis

1943 AND THE ALLIANCE

  • Sicily
  • Landings in Italy
  • Cassino
  • Glory Hunting
  • Dénouement for Mussolini

TOWARDS GOTTERDAMMERUNG

  • Quantity vs. Quality

PLANNING FOR OVERLORD

  • The Allied Air Offensive
  • The Sinking of Scharnhorst

BOMBER COMMAND AND BARNES WALLIS

  • Special Purpose Weapons

TARGET: METROPOLITAN LONDON

  • V1 & V2 Attacks

THE SECOND FRONT: GETTING STARTED

  • Summit Meetings of the Allies
  • Detailed Planning for D-Day
  • The Art of Deception

D-DAY: JUNE 6TH 1944

  • Monty: The Short Straw?
  • Caen and Bocage
  • Prima Donna Generals
  • Allies Separate

THE BRIDGE TOO FAR

  • Monty’s Brainchild
  • Flawed Assessment
  • The Scale of the Mismatch
  • No Seventh Cavalry at Arnhem

ONE LAST EFFORT IN THE ARDENNES                  

  • Hitler’s Swansong in the West
  • Monty Scores a Point

THE JUGGERNAUT IN THE EAST

  • Stalingrad, Kursk
  • Advance to Berlin

 

It is at this stage that I should point out that topics such as the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars, in particular the Peninsular Campaign (all of which played a part in modern British history), also feature in the book but have not been discussed in my blogs.  The bigger picture of those 300 hundred years is set out chronologically in There Was a Time and I believe that, to date, no other book does this in such an easy to read fashion, which, I am told, makes it appealing to anyone wishing to be acquainted with British history – warts and all!

american war of independence
The American War of Independence

 

penisnularcampaign
Wellington’s Peninsular Campaign –  breaching a French fortress

Since we are at the point of leaving the EU, now may be a good time to take a look at the history of this country and our heritage.  To anyone who has ever asked the question “can you explain to me why we, as a country, have become so embroiled in world affairs” the answer is, I believe, contained within my book and is the reason I wrote it in the first place, having been asked that question in some form on several occasions.  The answer is straightforward.  The world at the beginning of the eighteenth century was anyone’s oyster and, as with America two hundred years earlier, most of the settlements were inhabited by aborignal tribes.  Britain above all others had the navy, the military capacity and the spirit of adventure to explore continents and release their wealth.  Had it not done so somebody else eventually would have.

It is argued throughout that the pace of modern international civilisation owes much to Britain (see The British Empire:  Making an Omelette – blog post number 5), notwithstanding the turmoil and some dark deeds perpetrated in the name of colonial expansion.

Britain’s accumulated wealth, together with a strong sense of  noblesse oblige, enabled it to stand steadfast against Bonaparte, Wilhelm II and Hitler while, especially in the last case, continental Europe buckled and might well have been an amorphous agglomeration under tyrannical subjugation today.  The dictum ‘Arbeit macht frei’ properly belongs in the Dark Ages.

Some may agree with Henry Ford and see history as just the past and unimportant, as if life begins today.  I believe that the standards laid down such as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression, accord between neighbours and many hallmarks of professional integrity, have all grown from example, which most post-colonial countries have been happy to adopt.  Witness the solidarity of the Commonwealth of Nations.  Strange then that those European countries which felt the weight of the jackboot or Stalinist repression for many years resent Britain’s wish to remain as a sovereign country, rather than be subsumed into a federal state wherein its own laws and decisions are subject to overrule by unelected bureaucrats who are fortunate to be in positions of authority at all.

I do not expect to get away from this assessment without challenge!

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