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    Nathaniel Weber

    Hello all. I have ordered a bunch of 20mm British infantry for WWII but want to learn more about the British army in that war. I am pretty familiar with the cultures, campaigns, and motivations of the German and American WWII armies but not the British.

    What books would you suggest about the British in WWII? About the British army, its doctrine, its military culture, major campaigns, weapons? I’m also interested in memoirs.

    I have read Buckley’s book about British armor in Normandy (great stuff!) and will be picking up Keegan’s 6 Armies in Normandy from my campus library.


    This one is quite handy:


    If NW Europe is your thing, this one explains how the army worked, there is more here than coordination of gun group and manouver group:


    At a lower scale there are ripping histories of divisions and regiments.  Google the division or regiment;

    And the list of first person grasshoppers views is too long to list.


    Not a book but a website http://nigelef.tripod.com/directory.htm which contains pretty much anything you’d want to know about British (& by extension Commonwealth) artillery doctrine, practice and equipment.



    +1 for Stout Hearts – a superb book, well researched and delivered and what’s more the author served in a half-decent military outfit. 😉



    Nathaniel Weber

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    Entranger, I have been reading the artillery site since your post. Fascinating stuff. Wargames so dramatically simplify arty fire.


    If artillery is of interest to you then I can recommend Gunfire – British artillery in WWII by Stig Moberg.  I also like Monty’s Men by John Buckley.  There are also numerous divisional histories by Patrick Delaforce, but whilst I own most, if not all, of them, I have yet to find the time to read them.  So I don’t know how good they are.


    Personal memoirs, how about Arnhem/Oosterbeek, have you got these two?

    ‘The Cauldron’ by Zeno

    ‘Men at Arnhem’ by Tom Angus

    Both are written as novels, but they’re not, they are two of the finest Battle of Arnhem memoirs. The first was written by a member of the XXI Independent Parachute Company, the second by a Company Commander in 156 Parachute Battalion.

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"


    Buckleys Montys Men is v. Good for NWE, you’ve already got that. Neil and Battle for Rhine and Middlebrook Arnhem 1944 also.

    Further afield Alan Moorsheads African Trilogy on the desert, Slims Defeat into Victory on Burma are also excellent. I’ve not come across and decent books on Italy apart from campaign and unit histories.

    My favourite memoirs are Mailed Fist by John Foley and 18 Platoon by Sidney Jay.



    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke


    The Over the Battlefield books on Epsom, Goodwood and Bluecoat by Ian Daglish.

    No Triumphant Procession by John Russell

    By Tank to Normandy Stuart Hills

    D-Day to Victory Trevor Greenwood

    Ken Tout has written a number of good books some based on his own experience.

    Ken Ford’s books on the Seine Crossing and Geilenkirchen also highly recommended.

    I know I’ve forgotten lots but the above should be enough to get started.


    List of those I forgot;

    Only the Enemy in Front Richard Doherty

    Battalion Alistair Borthwick

    With the Jocks Peter White

    I have the following which I’ve not read yet but are supposed to be quite good.

    Tank Action David Render

    Troop Leader Bill Bellamy

    Nathaniel Weber

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

    I have been ordering books through the library accordingly.

    Jemima Fawr

    In terms of pure organisation, weaponry, vehicles and markings (for the Northwest European Campaign 1944-45), go for Jean Bouchery’s ‘The British Soldier: Volume 2 (published by Histoire & Collections), as it’s got everything you could possibly need for assembling a wargames army and is fully illustrated in colour throughout.  Don’t bother with Vol.1 unless you’re really into the details of badges and hats.  He also does a very similar book called The Canadian Soldier.

    The best British infantry platoon commander’s memoir is Sidney Jary’s ’18 Platoon’, which presently goes for ridiculous amounts of money, but is apparently about to be reprinted following his recent death.

    Bill Bellamy’s ‘Troop Commander’ is excellent, but my favourite armoured troop commander’s memoir is ‘By Tank Into Normandy’ by Stuart Hills.

    You can’t really go wrong with Patrick Delaforce’s various division, brigade and unit histories.  He did them for 7th Armoured Division, 11th Armoured Division, 3rd Division, 15th (Scottish) Division, 43rd (Wessex) Division, 49th (West Riding) Division, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, 51st (Highland) Division, 53rd (Welsh) Division, 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Brigade, 8th Armoured Brigade, 1 RTR and 2 RTR.  they can often be picked up quite cheaply and are periodically republished.

    Peter Harclerode’s ‘Go To It!’: the history of 6th Airborne Division is excellent.

    Peter Beale’s excellent ‘Tank Tracks: 9 RTR At War’ was available to download for free on the RTR’s own webpage for a long time, but it’s now gone.  However, it’s archived here: https://web.archive.org/web/20070226224441/http://www.royaltankregiment.com/9th_RTR/TT/CONTENTS.HTM

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

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