Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill
Authored by Candice Millard, Narrated by Simon Vance
Audiobook, 10 hours and 14 minutes
Published by Random House Audio
Born into English aristocracy, Winston Churchill was always convinced he was destined for greatness. He determined that the surest path to political success was being publicly recognized for audacity on the battlefield, and at the end of the 1800s England did not lack for battlefields in the far reaches of her sprawling Empire. Churchill served as a junior officer in India and the Sudan, but the medals he so desperately sought eluded him. Resigning his commission, he relied on his writing skills as a military correspondent in Cuba, and his oratory skills in a failed run for Parliament. Still craving adventure and the recognition which would propel him to greatness, he sailed to South Africa to cover the Boer War as a journalist in 1899. He was 24 at the time.
The Boers soon proved to be worthy opponents for the mighty British Army. A pioneering people, they turned their frontier skills and knowledge into formidable weapons, fighting a successful guerilla war and handing the British several defeats. Churchill was with a formation which was bottled up in Estcourt, harassed by invisible Boer fighters. The garrison sent out an armored train on a daily patrol. Churchill rode along on the day the train was ambushed. He saw this as an opportunity, and directed the men in responding to the ambush, attempting to get the train underway again. The British were eventually overwhelmed, the survivors being captured and taken to Pretoria, the Boer capitol.
Churchill chaffed at his captivity. He joined a small party who were planning an escape, but wound up being the only member to go over the wall unnoticed. There he found himself alone deep in enemy territory, lacking adequate provisions, a map, or even a plan. With no other acceptable options, he set out.
This book is part biographical history and part adventure story, an excellent combination. While I was familiar with Churchill’s background in broad terms, the details of his escape are fascinating. This is not a dry history and the author’s style is engaging, resulting in a real “page turner”. I was surprised at Churchill’s unreserved ambition, and conviction from an early age that he was destined for greatness. One wonders how the world might have turned out differently today if things had worked out differently for him, and there certainly were multiple opportunities for things to have gone wrong. Highly recommended.
This is a Vickers Mk. VI light tank from designer “TigerAce1945” on Thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2055879
The file was scaled to 1/72 and printed on a Creality LD-002R 3-D resin printer. It is painted as one of the tanks defending Malta in the “stone wall” scheme. The figure is converted from a Preisser Luftwaffe pilot.
These are Standard Light Utility Vehicles which are part of the Airfix WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set. One is included in each box, it is essentially a light truck and a quick build in 1/72 scale. Many of the kit parts are molded on the clear sprue, but mine suffered from the dreaded Airfix flow lines so I cut the portions representing glass off and replaced the windshields with acetate. There were also gaps at the sides where the cab joins the hood which I filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. Other than that they build up nicely.
These are the Airfix Bedford trucks which are part of their WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set. You get one truck in each set but have the option of building it as either an MWC water tanker or an MWD light truck. I purchased two sets so I built one of each version. The kits are well engineered and go together without any surprises, the only down side is the clear parts had the dreaded Airfix flow lines and so the windshields were replaced with clear acetate. I modified the water tanker by lowering the equipment boxes on the sides of the tank and replacing the walkways with P.E. from Brengun.
Bomber Re-Supply Set construction here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/airfix-wwii-raf-bomber-re-supply-set-build-in-1-72-scale/
Allied Armor in Normandy
By Yves Buffetaut, illustrated by Jean Restayn
Paperback, 128 pages, heavily illustrated
Published by Casemate, June 2018
Product Dimensions: 7.0 x 0.5 x 9.8 inches
The size and format of Casemate’s “Illustrated” series naturally invites comparison to Osprey’s long-running catalog. Both publishers aim squarely at the modeling / wargaming / history communities with affordable paperback volumes focusing on a specific topic. Both are well illustrated with photographs, artwork, and profiles of the men and vehicles involved. They are also prevented by size from presenting much more than a brief overview of their subjects.
This Casemate volume can be considered to be a cross between an Osprey Campaign book and a New Vanguard vehicle monograph. The first third of the text explains the organization of the American and British model armored divisions. The Breakdown of the Regiments and Battalions comprising each Division is then listed which quickly devolves into a laundry list of units. The remaining two-thirds of the text explains the landings at Normandy and the subsequent Allied Operations culminating in the breakout during Operation Cobra in August 1944.
Interspersed throughout the text are several black and white photographs, which are relatively large and printed clearly. There are also several color illustrations of selected vehicles. These are divided into two-page spreads, each showing three vehicles along with captions and marking details. The vehicles are illustrated in profile and perspective views. There are also brief one-page biographies of several of the commanders involved.
There is little in the way of personal anecdotes or detailed reports of specific actions, outside of summations listing losses at the end of an engagement. This generality carries over to the profile captions – while the type of vehicle and unit is identified, there is no detail provided concerning any actions it may have fought in nor the fate of the vehicle or crew.
The overall impression is of a potpourri of content which never forms a cohesive whole, it simply tries to cover too much material in too little space. The result is a book which jumps around too much to ever establish a flow. Still useful, but could have been better.
More finished pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/06/09/airfix-bedford-trucks-in-1-72-scale/