Monday, May 25, 2009

Goose winged!

Apologies for the interruption to blog service folks - I promise you there's lots going on - it's just that there's not enough time to blog about them which in the grand scheme of things is probably the right way to go about life... do it and then blog!! So for your viewing pleasure the first of a few quick fire posts....

So - it's along weekend in the UK and most of it to date spent on the water - Saturday was a big race day at my local sailing club and I'd volunteered to man one of the rescue boats... bottom line I got to spend the day blasting all over the harbour in a nice comfortable rib, with a huge (for me) 40 horsepower outboard on the back, and better yet a nice little flag that meant the harbour master didn't mind me breaking the speed limit! Good day, though all the racing was delayed which meant we had a bit of a mud walk when we got back in...

Sunday though was a far more gentler experience as my littlest person and I took to the water in Papillon for the day... the outboard may be a tenth of the size, but it was an absolutely cracking day - we got the whole four hours of available tide, loads of sunshine, and although it was a little light at the beginning the wind soon filled in for some truly memorable sailing that had both me and little'un whooping... ace day... all capped off by a goose wing run from the bottom to the top of the harbour - and that has to be the most mellow experience known to man!

A little of what it was about.....



Distance: 8.5 miles (32 miles year to date)
Wind: None to Moderate (Nothing to force 3 perhaps gusting 4)

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Next some book reviews....

This was a little bit of an impulse buy, but one that definitely worked out well...

As the author himself says, Napoleonic naval fiction is an absolute mine field for a new writer... and I guess you'd have to admire any writer who decided to launch a new series in this genre given the undoubted competition both past and present.

"Under Enemy Colours" is Russell's first novel, and I think he does an absolute blinding job... his writing is definitely in the style of Patrick O'Brian, but not quite so full on. I came to think of him as being the nautical equivalent of Alan Mallinson - Russell undoubtedly knows his stuff, and is not afraid to share it, but not in a heavy handed way....

The story is cracker - a half French lieutenant, Charles Hayden, currently unemployed and with little chance of finding a ship is offered a job by the first secretary of the admiralty to sign on as first lieutenant in a frigate commanded by an alleged tyrannical coward (quite a mix!).

He is given the task of reporting back with a view to removing the man from command which couldn't be done without evidence as the man is not without considerable "interest" or political clout...

The story about how Hayden finally manages to do this is accompanied by nice chunks of cutting out expeditions, broadsides, and all sorts of naval derring do, climaxing in mutiny and a full court martial... fantastic book, happily there's going to be another and I can't wait for it!

Steve the Wargamer gives this one 9 out of 10.

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This one was recommended by Keith on his blog (click here) it is very unusual to find any books giving a good balanced account of the Italian Army in WWII so this immediately piqued my interest...

"Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts" (the motto of the Italian tank men) by Ian T. Walker is about the Italian Armoured Divisions in WWII from their inception to the surrender of the Axis forces in Tunisia. The vast majority of the book therefore covers the desert battles, from the disastrous battles of Operation Compass right up to Kasserine Pass...

Walker is very good at showing what the root causes are of the Allied (and German it has to be said) contempt for the Italian Army - what no-one was taking into account however was the huge material shortages that Italy faced at the start of the war and which inevitably led to huge shortages in material and equipment...

Despite this the Italian armoured divisions ("Ariete" & "Littorio" and later "Centauro") proved to be an integral and critical part of the forces available to Rommel - if they hadn't been there then Rommel may as well have packed his bags and gone home.

Again - this is an excellent read - the history is very familiar, what Walker does is show the effect the Italians had in each engagement on the bigger picture - what we see is that despite often failing to meet objectives due to poor equipment and limited resources, the Italians often batted over their weight, and often caused Allied forces to be sucked in that made Axis attacks on the flanks and in other parts of the battlefield significantly easier....

A brilliant book, and I'd say a must have for any wargamer with an interest in the North African theatre of WWII. Steve the Wargamer gives this one a well deserved eight out of ten.

...whew - and that's it for now - told you I'd not been idle...

3 comments:

  1. I agree with recommending Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts I read it early last years after persuading my local library to buy it !! One interesting point among many is that if any Commonwealth unit was defeated by the Italians it was claimed to be the Germans. The was a good example of the NZ claiming this.

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  2. Your little sailing video made me jealous!

    I nearly bought Under Enemy Colours the other day so now it looks like I should. For me there is nothing like reading one of these books in a bunk while anchored overnight somewehere like Beaulieu, Chichester or Newtown harbour. One for my summer holiday in Cowes I think!

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  3. I am half way through Under Enemy Colours and enjoying it. My garden lounger cannot really compare with your boat but it was a v fine place to be on a sunny bank holiday afternoon with a good book, a long cool drink and no jobs.

    Guy.

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