The latest issue of your magazine has proved to be an enjoyable read. Indeed, it never disappoints.
However, I feel compelled to comment on Alex Izza’s review of the book The Reckoning: the defeat of Army Group South, 1944.
Alex states that the phrase ‘Eastern Front’ is a reflection of a Western-centric view of World War II. I would beg to differ. Surely the term originates from the simple fact that the Russian front was to the east of Germany? After all, the Germans themselves referred to it as the Ostfront – ‘Eastern Front’.
Furthermore, I disagree that the ‘West’ sees the struggle on the Eastern Front ‘as an afterthought’.
There are numerous books regarding the war in the east, written by some excellent historians, such as Barbarossa by Alan Clark, The Road to Stalingrad by John Erickson, Russia’s War by Richard Overy, Absolute War by Chris Bellamy, and The Battle of Kursk by Robin Cross, to name a few.
Indeed, one of the bestselling military-history titles of recent times has been Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad. Jonathan Dimbleby has also just released a new book on Barbarossa.
I don’t think any ‘Western’ historian or military-history enthusiast underestimates the importance of the Eastern Front.
Mr S Davidson
I very much enjoyed your coverage of Operation Barbarossa (MHM June/July 2021), which coincided with the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Russia earlier this summer.
David Porter’s opening article, on the tense build-up to the events of 1941, worked very well with his follow-up on the ultimately disastrous unfolding of the campaign itself.
The opening image inside the magazine, featuring a striking Soviet propaganda poster, was also impressive. Unfortunately, I don’t speak any Russian, but I would love to know what it says!
The fascinating feature on the Auxiliary Units (MHM April/May 2021) came just as I was finishing an article on local units for an online newspaper, Maldon Nub News.
It drew a lot of response from people with local stories, but one from the Maldon Museum Newsletter I paraphrased for my article thus:
Derek Johnson’s book East Anglia at War recounts that farmer Reginald Sennitt of the Dengie patrols didn’t surrender his weapons until 1964.
The marshy conditions meant that the unstable explosives were best stored above ground, and he moved them to his milk shed (after a spell in which they had occupied his bedroom).
As other patrols were disbanded, they handed their caches to him, but having signed the Official Secrets Act, Sennitt felt it was best not to tell anyone and to wait for the army to collect them.
They never came, and when in 1964 he told the local police, he was in possession of 14,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,200lb of gelignite, 310 paraffin bombs, 10 phosphorus grenades, 900ft of fuse cord, and nearly 5,000 fuses, delay switches and booby-trap devices!
I have not been able to discover more about this story, but those who know Essex’s wild and remote Dengie Peninsula will find this all too likely!
The cover of your superb edition focusing on ‘Airpower comes of age’ (MHM April/May 2021) featured not an image of a famous World War I Empire ace like Billy Bishop, Albert Ball, or James McCudden scoring a victory, but with the legendary Eddie Rickenbacker, an American ace, getting kills against two German LVG biplanes, two of his total of 26 over the course of the war.
This is an unexpected pleasure and, on behalf of your readership on this side of the Atlantic, I just want to say thanks.
The caption reads ‘c.1915’, but, as you know, we were late entering the war, as usual, and Rickenbacker, a nationally known pre-war race-car driver and auto-developer, did not enter flight school until 1917. He finished there later the same year.
As such, his kills all came at the tail end of the war, in 1918. Some of these were after he was promoted and given command of the USAS 94th Pursuit Squadron.
Terrific edition. Accurate, well written, insightful, and beautifully illustrated. Keep up the good work.
Col Wayne Long (ret’d)