By Peter Hart, Nigel Steel
A major new history of the most infamous battle of the First World War, as described by the men who fought it.On 1 July 1916, Douglas Haig's army launched the 'Big Push' that was supposed finally to bring an end to the stalemate on the Western Front. What happened next was a human catastrophe: scrambling over the top into the face of the German machine guns and artillery fire, almost 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed that day alone, and twice as many wounded - the greatest loss in a single day ever sustained by the British Army. The battle did not stop there, however. It dragged on for another 4 months, leaving the battlefield strewn with literally hundreds of thousands of bodies. The Somme has remained a byword for the futility of war ever since. In this major new history, Peter Hart describes how the battle looked from the point of view of those who fought it. Using never-before-seen eyewitness testimonies, he shows us this epic conflict from all angles. We see what it was like to crawl across No Man's Land in the face of the German guns, what it was like for those who stayed behind in the trenches - the padres, the artillerymen, the doctors. We also see what the battle looked like from the air, as the RFC battled to keep control of the skies above the battlefield. All this is put in the context of the background to the battle, and Haig's overall strategy for the Western Front, making this the most comprehensive history of the battle since Lyn MacDonald's bestselling work over 20 years ago.
By David Wragg
The daring British air raid that inspired the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.In November 1940 Britain was isolated in its stand against Nazi Germany and its ally, Italy. The country could not afford to lose control of the Mediterranean, but the Royal Navy was already overstretched by the U-boat war and the threat of invasion. Italy's fleet of modern battleships presented a grave threat to our communications with Egypt and the Suez Canal.On the night of 11 November 1940, 42 members of the Fleet Air Arm took off in 21 obsolete 'Swordfish' biplanes, launched from HMS Illustrious. Their target: the Italian fleet anchorage at Taranto. Pressing home their attack in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire and searchlights, they torpedoed and sank three battleships. Incredibly, all but two of the biplanes survived. The Italian fleet was crippled and the world took note that Britain was far from defeated. No-one was more impressed than the Japanese, who noted how a fleet in harbour could be demolished by air attack.In this new account of the Royal Navy's most daring operation of the Second World War, David Wragg draws on British and Italian records as well as interviews with the aircrew, to tell the full story of a night that changed the course of the war.