Adolf’s Bri­tish Hol­i­day Snaps — Luft­waffe Aerial Re­con­nais­sance Pho­to­graphs of Eng­land, Scot­land and Wales by Nigel J Clarke www.fonthill­me­ £16.99 pa­per­back, 224 pages, B & W illustrati­on through­out

Pilot - - BOOKS & GEAR -

Silly ti­tle for a se­ri­ously in­ter­est­ing book

Reprinted in 2015 and first pub­lished by Fonthill in 2012, This is the third, ex­panded edi­tion of Nigel Clarke’s Adolf’s Bri­tish Hol­i­day Snaps book (he ad­mits in his in­tro­duc­tion that the ti­tle was cho­sen for its com­mer­cial im­pact, be­ing far more mem­o­rable that the kind of la­bel a his­to­rian might have cho­sen). The ‘snaps’ of the ti­tle were taken with hos­tile in­tent, the Luft­waffe com­plet­ing the first full aerial sur­vey of Bri­tain and the Con­ti­nent prior to and dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Its re­con­nais­sance archive — six­teen tons of ma­te­rial — was even­tu­ally cap­tured at the end of the war and be­came valu­able Bri­tish and US Gov­ern­ment property.

Hap­pily for Nigel Clark, var­i­ous al­lied sol­diers had helped them­selves to any copies of the aerial pho­tos they found ly­ing around — and he has spent many years col­lect­ing th­ese tro­phies, which form the bulk of the il­lus­tra­tions in the book. They make ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nat­ing view­ing, es­pe­cially where they cover one’s own manor.

Dig­i­tal copies of the pic­tures can be pur­chased from www.hitler­sukpic­ (I have the 2 Septem­ber 1940 ‘Lon­don Kingston’ shot on dis­play in our hall­way at home, with an ar­row marked ‘you are here’). Both book and prints are highly rec­om­mended. PW

The Bat­tle in truly fas­ci­nat­ing de­tail

I must con­fess that we were al­ready suf­fer­ing a mea­sure of Bat­tle of Bri­tain com­mem­o­ra­tion fatigue when this ti­tle, pub­lished in Septem­ber, ar­rived at ed­i­to­rial of­fice. For this rea­son it was laid aside while we con­cen­trated on other things — which is a shame, be­cause it is rather a good book that of­fers fresh insight on a sub­ject we all per­haps think we know too well. Granted; there will be lit­tle nov­elty in the de­scrip­tions of aero­planes and fighter tac­tics (al­though the fact that through­out 1940 the RAF stuck to vul­ner­a­ble three-air­craft ‘vics’ seems to have been lost on the pi­lots fly­ing com­mem­o­ra­tive for­ma­tions in 2015!) How­ever, it is in telling the story of the fighter con­trol, and as­so­ci­ated de­fence sys­tems that this ‘man­ual’ ex­cels (and, for once, call­ing it a man­ual has a de­gree of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion). You might have known that those coloured tri­an­gles on sec­tor-room clocks were used to code plots, so the con­trollers knew how up to date was their in­for­ma­tion, and you might have known that ground-based ob­servers played a part in track­ing raids — but did you re­alise that the whole sys­tem was only made to work prop­erly at the eleventh hour when grad­u­ates re­placed the NCOS and ju­nior ranks in­ter­pret­ing the of­ten con­tra­dic­tory mix of (prim­i­tive) radar and sub­jec­tive ob­server data? Or that the RAF’S ob­se­lete air­craft ra­dios were a night­mare to keep tuned in flight? Fas­ci­nat­ing is the word! PW

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