The Field - - Books -

Mark Fel­ton is adept at win­kling out wartime sto­ries that have largely been for­got­ten – or ig­nored. His lat­est, Ghost Rid­ers, is no ex­cep­tion and proves to be a fas­ci­nat­ing read.

Dur­ing the spring of 1945, dogged fight­ing con­tin­ued as the Rus­sians struck west into oc­cu­pied Ger­many and the Third Army pushed east, Pat­ton hop­ing to reach Prague be­fore the Red Army. In the midst of the mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions that ac­com­pa­nied the end of the war, an ex­tra­or­di­nary at­tempt was made to save and re­move the Lip­iz­zaner stal­lions and brood mares from Hostau, in Czechoslovakia. Un­der­taken by the Se­cond Cavalry Group (the eyes and ears of the XII Corps, form­ing half of the Third Army and al­ways at the van­guard of each as­sault) it was an hon­ourable task, be­yond the mut­ter­ings of “FUBAR” as they had made their way east. Both Ger­mans and Amer­i­cans, of­fi­cers and pris­on­ers of war, worked to­gether in this re­mark­able op­er­a­tion. It in­volved se­cret ne­go­ti­a­tions, de­feat­ing rogue SS forces and co-op­er­a­tion be­hind en­emy lines. It is a tale of hu­man­ity sur­viv­ing where it had of­ten been lost. By Mark Fel­ton Icon Books, £17

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