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