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The 1943 German Raid Airbrushed from History

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As seen in the Mail On Sunday

It’s been a State secret for more than 70 years: The official line in the UK has always been that it never happened – but this new work challenges the assertion that no German force set foot on British soil during World War Two (the Channel Islands excepted), on active military service.

Churchill’s Last Wartime Secret reveals the remarkable story of a mid-war seaborne enemy raid on an Isle of Wight radar station. It describes the purpose and scope of the attack, the composition of the raiding German force and how it was immediately, and understandably, ‘hushed-up’ by Winston Churchill’s wartime administration, in order to safeguard public morale.

Circumventing the almost complete lack of official British archival documentation, the author relies on compelling and previously undisclosed first-hand evidence from Germany to underpin the book’s narrative and claims; thus distinguishing it from other tales of rumoured seaborne enemy assaults on British soil during the 1939-45 conflict. After examining the outcome and repercussions of this astonishing incident, what emerges is an event of major symbolic significance in the annals of wartime history.

Did you know…

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Serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie, subject of the recent BBC1 drama Rillington Place, fought on the Western Front during the Great War. His story is featured in Famous 1914-1918 by Richard Van Emden and Victor Piuk.

Famous tells the Great War stories of 20 of Britain’s most respected, best known and even notorious celebrities. The generation that grew up in the late 19th Century enlisted enthusiastically in the defence of the country. Many would become household names such as Basil Rathbone, the definitive Sherlock Holmes, AA Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh, and Arnold Ridley who found fame and public affection as the dour Scotsman Fraser, and the gentle and genial Godfrey, in Dad’s Army. From politicians such as Harold Macmillan and Winston Churchill to writers including JB Priestley, and JRR Tolkien, from sculptors like Henry Moore, to composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, their fame and influence continue even into the 21st Century.

The authors have discovered the exact locations where these celebrities saw action. They tell the story of where CS Lewis was wounded and invalided home, and how Basil Rathbone won the Military Cross for a trench raid (while dressed as a tree). Each story is examined in detail with pictures taken of the very spot where the actions took place. There are maps of the area that will guide enterprising readers to walk in the footsteps of their heroes.

The Evening Standard‘s 2016 best biographies and memoirs

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Selected as one of the Evening Standard‘s best biographies and memoirs to read in 2016: Mary Ann Cotton – Dark Angel.

A female thief, with four husbands, a lover and, reportedly, over twelve children, is arrested and tried for the murder of her step-son in 1872, turning the small village of West Auckland in County Durham upside down. Other bodies are exhumed and when they are found to contain arsenic, she is suspected of their murder as well. The perpetrator, Mary Ann Cotton, was tried and found guilty and later hanged on 24 March 1873 in Durham Gaol. It is claimed she murdered over 20 people and was the first female serial killer in England.

With location photographs and a blow by blow account of the trial, this book challenges the claim that Mary Ann Cotton was the ‘The West Auckland Borgia’, a title given to her at the time. It sets out her life, trial, death and the aftermath and also questions the legal system used to convict her by looking at contemporary evidence from the time and offering another explanation for the deaths.

Also available in Kindle and ePub formats.

In the news:
The counterfeiter: Adolf Burger dies aged 99

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Adolf Burger, the last of the concentration camp inmates forced by Nazi Germany to churn out phoney British money, has died at the age of 99. Burger was a Jewish activist from Slovakia who spent two years working in the ultra secret counterfeiting operation, one of the largest in history, in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp north of Berlin. He had lived in Prague since the end of the Second World War, and Czech public radio reported his death on Tuesday.

Burger’s memoir of this remarkable episode of the war, The Devil’s Workshop, was used as a basis for the film The Counterfeiters, which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2008. In his extraordinary memoir, Adolf Burger describes his wartime experiences, including the murder of his wife Gizela in Auschwitz and his time as a prisoner in four concentration camps. He was working as a counterfeiter until his liberation from the Ebensee camp on 5 May 1945 and was present at Toplitzee lake on 5 July 2000 when thousands of forged notes were brought to the surface. Supported by hitherto unseen documentation and photographs that Burger took of his fellow prisoners after the war, this is a shocking account which sheds fresh light on the calculated barbarity of the Nazi war machine.

‘Sink the Bismarck’: Veteran Scottish pilot dies aged 97
Lieutenant Commander John “Jock” Moffat, a Scottish veteran pilot who helped to sink the German warship Bismarck during World War Two has died at the age of 97.

The death of the Scottish veteran was announced by the Royal Navy earlier this week. Moffat was credited with launching the torpedo that crippled the German warship in 1941, after HMS Hood was sunk during battle on 24 May 1941 and the order was given to ‘Sink the Bismarck’. The air strike carried out by the biplanes of HMS Victorious and Ark Royal on 26 May 1941 was said to have been Britain’s last hope of sinking the Bismarck. Mr Moffat and his crew took off in his Swordfish L9726 from the deck of Ark Royal and made for Bismarck, fighting against driving rain, low cloud and a gale.

This news report on the BBC website features video footage of Mr Moffat and his recollections of that fateful day.

Recommended reading:
The Battlecruiser HMS Hood Killing the Bismarck Bismarck: The Epic Chase

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The End of Glory ShipCraft 10: Bismarck & Tirpitz HMS Rodney

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£16.99
Ask the experts: P&S authors on Who Do You Think You Are?
This week’s episode of BBC One’s family history show, Who Do You Think You Are? explored the family background of singer and former X Factor judge, Cheryl. Catch up on iPlayer now.

Among the experts helping Cheryl to discover her roots were maritime genealogist, researcher and author, Dr Simon Wills, and battlefield historian, Paul Reed.

Tracing her roots in the north east, on her father’s side Simon Wills helped Cheryl to discover a sea-faring ancestor and a family tragedy. You will find his top tips for tracing shipwrecked forebears in this article via WDYTYA magazine. On her mum’s side, she learned the story of her long-forgotten great-grandfather, a quintessential Tommy in the Great War who fought in one of the most famous battles on the western front. One hundred years on, she walked the battlefields of the Somme with expert battlefield guide, Paul Reed.

Selected titles by Simon Wills and Paul Reed
Tracing Your Seafaring Ancestors How Our Ancestors Died Voyages from the Past Lifeboatmen

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£12.00
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Great War Lives Walking the Somme – Second Edition Walking Ypres Courcelette

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Corsets & Codpieces – as seen in the New York Times

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Corsets & Codpieces – A Social History of Outrageous Fashion by Karen Bowman, as reviewed in the New York Times.

‘Karen Bowman is the writer’s equivalent of a magpie, her beady eye alert for the oddest of details and the weirdest of facts in her brisk romp through a millennium of fashion’s victims.’ Read the full review here.

Have you ever wondered why we wear the type of clothes we do? Packed with outlandish outfits, this exciting history of British fashion trends reveals the flamboyant fashions adopted (and discarded) by our ancestors. Take a fresh look at history’s hidden fashion disasters and discover the stories behind historical garments. Karen Bowman charts our sartorial history from the animal skins first used to cover our modesty and show off hunting skills, right up to the 20th century drive for practicality and comfort. A fascinating read for fashionistas and history fans alike.

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