War and Military

Arthur Aldridge

with Mark Ryan

The Last Torpedo Flyers

The true story of Arthur Aldridge – Hero of the skies

Simon and Schuster (May 2013)

Aldridge The Last Torpedo Flyers

Arthur Aldridge was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery in taking out German cargo ship SS Madrid in December 1941, during which he lost a wing tip. He was lucky enough to survive his squadron’s attack on the Axis’s maritime fleet during the notorious Channel Dash, which saw 40 RAF planes shot down. ‘Arty’ was awarded a Bar to his DFC for sinking two enemy ships off Malta and rescuing a fellow pilot while wounded, as his own Beaufort took four shells. Arthur Aldridge and his loyal gunner, Bill Carroll, who also contributes his memories, are two of the last torpedo airmen left alive.

Anthony Barne

Churchill’s Colonel

The War Diaries of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Barne

Pen & Sword Military (October 2019)

Barne Churchill's ColonelEdited by Anthony Barne’s grandson, Charles Barne


Anthony Barne started his diary in August 1939 as a young, recently-married captain in the Royal Dragoons stationed in Palestine. He wrote an entry for every day of the war, often with great difficulty, sometimes when dog-tired or under fire, and sometimes when things looked black and desperate, but more often in sunshine and optimism, surrounded by good fellows who kept one cheerful and helped one through the sad and difficult times’. His diary ends in July 1945, by which time he was commanding officer of the 4th Hussars, having recently visited Downing Street for lunch alone with the Churchills. The diaries have an enormous scope covering time in Palestine and Egypt before he joins the Eighth Army, describing the retreat back to El Alamein, the battle and its aftermath. He ends the campaign commanding his regiment. He often graphically details the physical realities of war: the appalling conditions in the desert, the bombardments of the regiment from the air, the deaths and serious injuries of fellow soldiers. In 1943, he flies down to Rhodesia to see his wife and infant son before returning to Cairo to join Churchill’s regiment, the 4th Hussars. Arriving in Italy in 1944, he recounts the campaign as the Allies push north. The tone of the diaries varies wildly: often witty, sometimes outrageous but also poignant and philosophical. The voice and attitudes are entertainingly dated, but are delivered with warmth, a charming turn of phrase and a keen eye for the absurd.

John Baxter

Missing, Believed Killed

The remarkable story of a Japanese POW camp survivor

Aurum Press ( 2010)

Baxter Missing, Believed KilledJohn Baxter was 91, when his book about his experiences in Japanese POW camps was published.  Royal Engineer Baxter was captured and imprisoned in Indonesia in 1942.  He was starved and beaten, and contracted malaria, dysentery and diphtheria, for which he received no treatment.  For the last two years of the War, he worked in the hard labour mines in Japan, where, in August 1945, he felt the direct blast of the atomic bomb falling on Nagasaki 40 miles away.

Martyn Compton and Michelle Compton

with Marnie Summerfield Smith

Home From War

How love conquered the horrors of a soldier’s Afghan nightmare

Mainstream Publishing ( 2009)

Foreword by HRH The Duke of Cambridge

Compton Home From WarLance Corporal Martyn Compton’s life changed dramatically when a Taliban ambush killed three of his colleagues in Helmand and left him for dead with third degree burns to 75% of his body.  Bravely rescued by a comrade, he was brought back to Britain in a critical condition and endured the gruelling ordeal of countless operations.  By his side throughout his on-going recovery was his loyal fiancée, Michelle.  They married as soon as Martyn was fit to do so, and have now been blessed with two babies.

Robert Driscoll

Lethal Shot

A Royal Marine Commando In Action

John Blake Publishing (May 2019)

Rob Driscoll, former sergeant with 42 Commando, Royal Marines, served tours in Iraq, Kuwait and Driscoll Lethal ShotKosovo. A born leader of fighting men, with the medals to prove it, he also endured three tours in Afghanistan. The third of those will go down in history as one of the UK military’s darkest hours, for it marked the first time a British serviceman has been tried for a murder on the battlefield since the Second World War.

That man was Sergeant Alexander Blackman, Rob Driscoll’s friend and fellow NCO in 42 Commando, and on the day in question they were commanding patrols within a few hundred yards of each other. Few men know what really went on that day in Helmand Province. Rob Driscoll is one. And in his book – with Blackman’s blessing – he reveals all.

Yet Fire a Lethal Shot is more than a compelling insight into one of the most controversial rulings in recent military history. It is a clear-eyed account of life on active service with the Royal Marines, of incursions into war-torn countries where chaos and anarchy ruled – and of risking your life daily for politicians back home who won’t support you. In charting its author’s career as a Royal Marine Commando, it unflinchingly demonstrates the real-life horrors of engaging at close quarters with enemies such as the Taliban – as well as the dangers that politics can bring to the ordinary fighting serviceman.

Sergeants Blackman and Driscoll were two sides of the same coin. One came home a hero, the other a wanted man. But for circumstance, it might have been the other way round.

Maurice Mayne

with Mark Ryan

Down But Not Out

The moving true story of a WW2 airman

The History Press (April 2014)

A tremendous memoir by a 92-year-old World War II veteran airman, Maurice Mayne. His life in action as a torpedo gunner came to a dramatic end, when his Beaufort was shot down into the sea off the Norwegian coast in 1942. Badly wounded, he miraculously managed to evacuate the plane, survive near drowning, but was picked up by a German boat and taken to a POW camp, Stalag VII B. From there he made a daring escape across Germany to the North Sea. Reunited with his sweetheart, Sylvia, they married at the end of the War, and still are, 68 years later.

Nathan Shapow

with Bob Harris

The Boxer’s Story

Fighting for my life in the Nazi camps

The Robson Press ( 2012)

Shapow The Boxer's StoryLatvian teenage boxer, Nathan Shapow, saw his youth disappear among the terrors of the Jewish ghettos and the Nazi concentration camps.  He defied almost certain death on numerous occasions through his quick-thinking and his prowess as a boxer.  He even killed one of his Nazi tormentors, managing to escape detection.  Remarkably, he survived the war and contrived to enter what was then British-controlled Palestine.  There he was reunited with the girl he had fallen for in one of the camps.  Still married in their nineties, they live happily in the USA.

David Slattery-Christy

Mildred on the Marne

Mildred Aldrich, front-line witness 1914-1918

The History Press (November 2013)

Within weeks of reserved 61 year-old American journalist, Mildred Aldrich, retiring in 1914 to live quietly in a small hill-top house near Paris, she was to have a grandstand view of the first bloody battles of World War I in the Marne Valley. The author skilfully weaves Mildred’s own published and unpublished words into his detailed and moving account of her war, especially of the British and French soldiers, whom she befriended, fed and cared for as best she could, without thought of the danger she was in.

Private Len Smith

Drawing Fire

The diary of a great war soldier and artist

HarperCollins ( 2009)

Smith Drawing FireThe horrors of the 1914-18 War in the trenches are brought to life with rare immediacy and power through the illustrated diary of private soldier and commercial artist Len Smith.  Living through the wholesale slaughter of soldiers on the battlefields of France, including Loos and Vimy Ridge, Len miraculously survived.  His evocative words and colour sketches, all produced at the time in the midst of the combat, form an extraordinarily intimate and important first-hand record of trench warfare.

Cameron Stewart

A Very Unimportant Officer

Life and death on the Somme and at Passchendaele

Hodder & Stoughton ( 2008)

Cameron Stewart A Very Unimportant OfficerMud, shells, flies, dinner parties and rats guzzling hair-cream were all part of the courageous life of this ‘unimportant officer’, Alexander Stewart, who fought on the Western Front in three of the bloodiest battles in history.  His shocking, but absorbing and darkly humorous personal account was rediscovered by his grandson, the actor Cameron Stewart, who has written the commentary.

Gretel Mahoney and Claudia Strachan

Mrs Mahoney’s Secret War

The untold story of an extraordinary young woman’s resistance against the

Mainstream Publishing ( 2009)

Mahoney & Strachan Mrs Mahoney's Secret WarThe inspiring story of a courageous young woman in the German Resistance.  Gretel helped to protect fugitives hunted by the Gestapo, hid her Jewish doctor in her house cellar, and passed secrets to the Resistance, which she had learned from her employment in the Wehrmacht, sending and receiving messages on the Enigma encryption machine.  Rescued in 1945, she married one of the British officers, who had liberated her.