Archive for November, 2014


The North Koreans’ attack on their Southern neighbours shocked and surprised the World. The conflict rapidly escalated with China soon heavily involved on one side and the United States and United Nations on the other.  Brian Parritt, then a young Gunner officer, found himself in the midst of this very nasty war.

Describing first hand what it was like to be at the infamous Battle of the Hook, where UN troops held off massed attacks by the Communists. Few outside the war zone realised just how horrific conditions were.  As a qualified Chinese interpreter and, later, a senior military intelligence officer, Parritt analyses why the Commonwealth got involved, the mistakes and successes and the extreme risk that the war represented.

Chinese Hordes and Human Waves is enjoyable from the start, as Parritt is a likable and sympathetic narrator, and – as a reader – you want him to succeed.  He starts off with some very enjoyable anecdotes displaying the local colour, which help us to understand the locations he visits, and the era he is living in.  The tension is well maintained as all the forces are ready to be mobilised at a moment’s notice.  The sections on their field gear and armaments is especially interesting.

Several of Parritt’s experiences in the war are very well written, especially the description of the truce/ceasefire, which is actually very moving.  As he works as an Intel Operative and Radio Operator, we are introduced to a whole new side to the conflict, and I learnt more from this section that I did from the rest of the book, as the coded signals and Morse used is very intriguing.

My only real criticism is that it doesn’t really seem to have a conclusive ending, instead meandering off topic a little and just…finishing.  A better ending would have made for a more satisfying conclusion, but there’s no denying that the bulk of the book makes for a very interesting journey.

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Written by Captain A. Radclyffe Dugmore of the King’s Own Light Infantry, this personal memoir provides an account of the Great War up to the Battle of the Somme. In 1914, Radclyffe Dugmore travelled to Belgium as a civilian observer where he was wounded before spending a brief time in German captivity. These experiences gained Radclyffe Dugmore a highly unusual viewpoint for the opening battles of the war, that of a civilian, and later as a participant on the
front lines of the Somme.

Originally published under the title When The Somme Ran Red in 1918, Radclyffe Dugmore’s memoir has sadly been long out of print. Yet what the author modestly described as ‘Being a very egotistical account of my own personal experiences and observations from the early days of the war in Belgium to the Great Battle of the Somme in July, 1916’ proves to be anything but that.

Radclyffe Dugmore is, unfortunately, very much a product of his time, and reading this narrative as a casual reader, rather than an academic one, his stiff-upper-lip can get very, very grating by the end of the second chapter.  His jingoistic bullshitting and his digs at Johnny Foreigner are a realistic insight to the mind of the common man in the trenches at the time, but that doesn’t stop it from being very, very annoying.

Fortunately, by the time he reaches the front lines, he doesn’t seem to be quite such an officious prick anymore.  His descriptions of life in the trenches are vivid, and – unsurprisingly – very unpleasant.  Naturally, the whole book is intended as a propaganda exercise to rally support for the brave boys in the front lines facing off against the Hun.

Like many contemporary works, on the First World War, what the books is saying is somehow not as telling as the way in which is says it.  In reading between the lines, one is left with an actually quite staggering impression of the bravado and bluster that must have been going on all the time in the trenches; interspersed with very real fear, and very real danger.

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Lest we forget…

Posted: November 11, 2014 in World War I


by John Grehan and Martin Mace
Available now from Pen and Sword Books

Fought between the British Empire and the two Boer republics – the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic – the First Boer War (1880–1881) was a rebellion by the Boers (farmers) against British rule in the Transvaal. The engagements that it involved, such as they were, were small and involved few casualties.

More commonly referred to as just the Boer War, the Second Boer War (1899–1902), by contrast, was a lengthy conflict involving large numbers of British troops, and which ended with the conversion of the Boer republics into British colonies. The British defeated the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, first in open warfare and then in a long and bitter guerrilla campaign. British losses were high due to both disease and combat. It was also the war conflict which saw Winston Churchill first achieve household fame.

The war had a lasting effect on the region and on British domestic politics. For Britain, the Boer War was the longest, the most expensive (£200 million), and the bloodiest conflict between 1815 and 1914, lasting three months longer and resulting in higher British casualties than the Crimean War.

One of the recent releases in Pen and Sword Books’ Despatches from the Front series, The Boer War 1899-1902, contains the original, unexpurgated transcripts of the missives and battle reports from the troops and officers who had taken part in key battles of the second Boer War.  Sometimes they are dramatic, and full of heroism; and sometimes they are hum-drum, dealing with stock takes and movement orders.  As a piece of primary source history in and of themselves, though, the presentation is superb.  Nothing – or, at least, very little – appears to have been altered from the original documents.

If you are interested in the Boer War, or other wars and battles from the era, you would do very well to pick up a copy of this book, as the materials it contains will be of great value in your studies.  If you are a newcomer…then this is perhaps not the best starting point, as it is – by its very nature – very statistics heavy and more than a little dry in its tone.  For those with an interest already, though, this is essential.


Total War: Attila – New Trailer

Posted: November 7, 2014 in Ancient, Gaming

And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto to him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. – Revelation 6:2

As the world descends into the mists of the Dark Ages, civilisation begins to crumble. Early Christians of Western Europe clamour to repent, stricken by looming omens of a divine apocalypse. In this climate of turmoil, the Eastern Roman Empire stands at a crossroads.

Secure behind the impenetrable walls of Constantinople, there are opportunities for fresh conquest. But with the warlike Visigoths to the North, the heathen Sassanids to the East, and their closest ally to the west stretched thin and tearing itself apart in its greed, is now truly the time to ride out and expand the Empire? And who will rightfully wear the crown?

Total War: Atilla is due for release in 2015.