Published by The Overlook Press of NY. 25 Chapters in 390 Pages
Leo McKinstry is a Belfast born and Cambridge educated historian with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Second World War. He has written widely, and in great detail about WWII, and his style is fluid and non-judgmental. A compliment rarely paid to military historians. His subject is the intended invasion of Great Britain in 1940. This is a myth busting exposé which will amaze some, and surprise many. Simply put, this is a must read for anyone who has an interest in WWII, and an important work for students of recent history.
During 1940, many Germans wanted to invade Gt. Britain. Indeed, they had enjoyed almost complete success so far in their desire to dominate Europe. However, Hitler was rather cool on the idea. Indeed the evidence suggests that the Fuhrer wasn't all that keen to fight the English at all. The German High Command shared this reluctance, and offered many good reasons not to do so. German respect for British fighting ability was apparent from a report issued by IV Army Corps who were tasked to spearhead the attack. This report entitled " Lessons Learnt from Fighting the English" This report stated …
"…the English soldier has shown to be a first class fighter. In defense, the Englishman has to be killed. In the fighting few Englishmen were taken prisoner compared to French and Belgian. Thus the loss of blood was high on both sides."
The report went on …
"…the English are disciplined in conduct, and tough and dogged in outlook and are able to endure wounds with a stoic calmness. The English soldiers conviction that he was going to win the war is unshakable."
This may have been the German view, but it wasn't my Mother's. As a child in London during this period, our nightly prayers always ended with …
"God Bless Daddy and keep him safe, and please God let us win the war."
Clearly my Mother's conviction wasn't as 'unshakable' as our troops, as she sought a little help from the Almighty.
The German's continued to plan and organize for an invasion, and there was a suggestion that they tried with catastrophic results. McKinstry seems to doubt this, but I'm not so sure. My father was in the RAF, and he spoke from a position of actual knowledge of the event. The figures do add up. German High Command estimated invasion losses to be in the region of 50%, that would have meant plenty of bodies, and a lot of people saw a lot of washed up bodies.
Officially, it didn't happen, and the Luftwaffe bombed us with morbid regularity every night. We continued to pray and it worked! My Dad came home, and we won the war, albeit with a lot of help from our friends. Unfortunately two of my cousins didn't. Cousin Reg's Lancaster bomber was shot down over Germany, and his brother Ian's last resting place is Monti Cassino in Italy. Not many British families escaped personal tragedy between 1939 and 1945.
McKinstry's work concentrates exclusively on the German invasion part of the WWII conflict, and he does it extremely well. There has been so much nonsense spoken and written about England's ability to withstand an invasionin 1940, that his current work is a timely reminder of the facts. Every page is a revelation, and it was difficult to put it down - seriously.
If you are of the school that believed that after Dunkirk, England's shores were protected by bent old men with pitchforks, then read this book and ponder on the following ……
"…we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender…." Winston Churchill June 4th 1940.