See interview with translator of For Kaiser & Hitler, Jochen Mahncke
See interview with authors of Hitler's Rocket Soldier, Murray R. Barber and Michael Keuer
See interview with author of Ops : Victory at all Costs, Andrew R.B. Simpson
See interview with author of Spacesuit, Brett Gooden
See interview with author of Stalin's Claws, E.R. Hooton
See interview with author of Over Empires and Oceans, Robert Bluffield
See interview with author of Lawrence, Bruce Leigh
See interview with author of A Box of Sand, Charles Stephenson
Bruce Leigh talks in Brighton on Lawrence
We were delighted to see so many people attend a talk given on T.E.Lawrence by Bruce Leigh, author of Lawrence – Warrior and Scholar, at the Brighton Buddhist Centre on the evening of Friday, 3 October.
To an attentive audience, Bruce explained what drove and motivated Lawrence to lead the often complex life he led, focusing on his activities in Cairo ( 1914-1916 ) , before he joined the Arab forces as a liaison officer, ( 1916-1918) and his influence on- and relationship with the Arab world. He also spoke of Lawrence’s personality and why the man and his philosophy is so relevant today.
The talk was chaired by Emeritus Reader (Philosophy), Dr. Terry Diffey, while among the audience was Graham Chainey, writer and Lawrence scholar. After Bruce’s talk, there was much discussion from the audience about the effectiveness of Lawrence’s role in Middle Eastern politics, the merits of the classic Lawrence of Arabia movie and how the younger generations will view the man.
Toronto Launch for 'Liberty or Death!'
More than 100 people, including diplomats from Venezuela and Cuba, attended the Toronto launch of 'Liberty or Death!: The Life and Campaigns of Richard L. Vowell – British Legionnaire and Commander, Hero and Patriot of the Americas' on October 4, 2013, at the Lula Lounge, a well-known venue in downtown Toronto.
The venue was decorated with the colourful flags of Latin American countries, as well as the Union Jack and the Canadian flag. It is the place to hear the best Latin music in the city, so several excellent performers took to the stage as well as a very popular group on guitars, Andean pipes and drums.
Guests enjoyed wonderful food and music and had their copies of 'Liberty or Death!' signed by the author, Maria Páez Victor.
Her fascinating address was greeted with a standing ovation and a good time was had by all!
London, 8 July 2013
On a wonderful summer’s evening some 70 people gathered at the London clubhouse of the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, the oldest continuously operating yacht club in the world, where Mr David Franks kindly hosted the launch of Maria Páez Victor’s Liberty or Death! The Life and Campaigns of Richard L. Vowell: British Legionnaire and Commander – Hero and Patriot of the Americas.
Our host, David Franks, introduces the author
Following years of detailed research carried out over three continents, Maria’s book tells the extraordinary story of Richard Longfield Vowell, an audacious and intrepid young English adventurer who abandoned his studies at Oxford in 1817 and volunteered to fight for Simón Bolívar and the Patriot cause in South America against the Spanish Empire in the
19th century. It is a wonderful story of adventure, courage, warfare and revolution, exploring a fascinating episode of British endeavour and valour and its contribution to the shaping of the modern Americas.
The book is also the story of the little known British Legion, formed of English and Irish volunteers, which became an integral part of Bolívar’s Patriot Army in its fight against Spanish troops battle-hardened from fighting the Peninsular Wars. Maria Páez Victor’s book recounts how, in distant Venezuela, Vowell and fewer than 2,000 British volunteers, distinguished themselves in battle.
The author, Maria Páez Victor, signs copies of her book and addresses the guests
In her address, Maria commented: ‘It has always bothered me how little the English-speaking world knows about the incredible feat that was the liberation of Latin America from the 300-hundred year rule of a ruthless Spanish Empire, and how the army of Simón Bolívar, highly outnumbered, counting on little military expertise, and always straining under lack of resources, beat an army that had helped defeat Napoleon’s formidable troops.’
Attending this unique event, were the Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia, His Excellency Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera, as well as representatives from embassies of Venezuela and Ecuador, and members of the present Vowell family and a descendent of the penal reformer, Alexander Maconochie, who would help Vowell regain his freedom later in his life.
As Maria remarked: ‘I wanted the wider English audience to know about the British Legion. Most do not know that there was a unit in Bolivar’s patriot army composed of British and Irish officers and men who, without the approval of their government,
volunteered to fight with the patriots. The British Legion left a reputation of heroism that is stillhonoured in South America, but the legionnaires are unsung heroes in their own land. I hope my book contributes somewhat to rectify that.’
The author and Tattered Flag Press publisher, Robert Forsyth
At sea there was also desperate need to counter Spanish warships. Vowell was later recruited by British naval hero, Admiral Cochrane, to sail with the Chilean Squadron and, as Commander of the Infantry Marines, he took part in the final naval battle that vanquished forever the Spanish Navy in the Americas. As Maria noted: ‘Similarly I want to show how a country such as Chile with no naval tradition defeated the Spanish navy. And they did it without the aid of any powerful nation. It is a testimony to what a united people with a strong leadership is prepared to do in the face of oppression.’
This important first biography is based on extensive research undertaken in three continents. It uncovers information previously unknown about Vowell’s remarkable life and daring exploits - from his birth in a genteel English country town, to his campaigns in the far-off Americas, and finally to his period in the harsh landscape of Australia, where he confronted another empire.
A guest studies the book; descendants of Richard Longfield Vowell (far left and far right) and Alexander Maconochie (2nd left); guests at the launch
Rocket Men land in Kent!
To commemorate the arrival of a fully-restored V2 rocket, on the cold, crisp evening of Friday, 30 November 2012, the Royal Engineers Museum (REM) at Gillingham, in Kent, invited Murray R. Barber, co-author of Hitler’s Rocket Soldiers to talk on the history of the V2 rocket.
Murray R. Barber and Michael Keuer, authors of Hitler’s Rocket Soldiers
published by Tattered Flag Press, at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, November 2012
Measuring over 14 metres in length and three-and-a-half metres in width, the rocket has recently been restored after spending decades exposed to little more than the elements at the nearby SME (Royal School of Military Engineering) depot in Chattenden.
The rocket had been owned by the British Army and housed in a nearby depot at Rochester, at the Royal School of Military Engineering for more than 40 years, until the recent closure of the facility. The Royal Engineers brought the V2 home to the UK in 1945 following the end of the war.
A restored instrument compartment is refitted
Most certainly, this particular V2 was captured in the area of Nienburg or Leese, Germany, where so many excess rockets were ditched or demolished by retreating German rocket troops. On 10 April 1945, British forces discovered several demolished V-2s on railway wagons when they captured a large munitions factory eight miles south-west of Nienburg. This may explain much of the original damage to the rocket.
During the summer of 2012 the rocket was retrieved from the depot at Chattenden in poor condition and transported to the Cambridge workshops of structural engineering company, Borley Brothers. The company has undertaken restoration work on several of the V2s at the Imperial War Museum and the Science Museum in London, and had completed the task on the REM rocket by mid-September.
Left to right, Robert Borley, Harry Howe (ex RAF Bomber Command,
who participated in the raid on Peenemünde in August 1943 as a ‘tail end Charlie’ on Stirlings) and Murray R. Barber
Deputy Curator of the REM, Catherine Byrne, commented: ‘It’s really exciting to see this rocket restored and on display to the general public for the first time; this is an extremely significant exhibit.’
The restoration of the V2 has been a delicate and expensive process costing in the region of £100,000, but the finished project is not just of almost inestimable commercial value, but is also of extreme cultural significance.
In she goes!
Speaking to a sell-out room, Murray gave a fascinating and insightful presentation of the history of the V2 rocket. Using slides and an accurate, large-scale V2 model finished in the eye-catching black and white colours of the early rockets (which broke into sections), Murray explained the origins of rocketry in pre-war Germany, portrayed the personalities behind the V2 programme and how the Nazis became involved and eventually took over its development.
Murray R. Barber uses a model to demonstrate the take-off and flight characteristics of a V2.
The V2 and display stand await lifting into display position
He also demonstrated the awesome power, supersonic speed and range of the rocket and the damage and casualties which the terrifying weapon inflicted on London, Paris and Antwerp.
A packed room watches Murray’s slide presentation.
Murray, who had been involved as a historical advisor during the restoration process of the REM V2 and who also donated the original glass detonator at the very tip of the rocket’s nose, also offered the audience a rare opportunity to watch the starting up and running of an original V2 gyroscope – an item given personally to the author by a former German rocket engineer. This was exhibited alongside Murray’s collection of rare artefacts associated with German wartime rocketry.
Murray R. Barber and Michael Keuer sign copies of their book
Murray was joined for the evening by his co-author, Michael Keuer, who had travelled from Germany for the event. The two authors answered a round of questions from the audience before signing copies of their book. Afterwards, the audience was treated by the REM to a viewing of the V2 in the exhibition halls.
The V2 in situ at the Royal Engineers Museum
A Journey through Fact and Fiction – Spacesuit ‘The Book’ ‘launches’ in Australia
To launch publication of his new book, Spacesuit – A Journey Through Fact and Fiction, recently published by Tattered Flag Press, author Dr Brett Gooden spoke to an enraptured audience at the Macquarie Regional Library, in Wellington, New South Wales, last month.
This captivating, colourful and exciting book follows the remarkable story of the spacesuit through its many and often astonishing developments. With an absorbing blend of drama and detail, the book explains how a seemingly impossible dream evolved from the often unbelievable forms of the early 20th century into the complex suits of today and how the quest continues for the ‘Mars and Beyond’ suits of tomorrow.
Welcomed by his friend, Dr Mike Augee, formerly of the University of New South Wales and a fellow of the Royal Zoological Society, Sydney, Dr Gooden told his audience how he came to write the book: ‘I have always asked questions about how things worked and, as a child, a friend of my mother gave me each week “a penny to spend and a penny to go to the moon”. The friend of my mum’s, born in the 1800s on a remote mountain in South Australia, said she thought they would go to the moon one day.’
‘she thought they would go to the moon one day…’
She was proved right and the spacesuit played a crucial role in man’s epic journey into space. As Dr Gooden commented: ‘My book tells the story of the spacesuit from all angles and how scientists had to work out the essential, but incredibly difficult, problem of how to make the suit flexible enough for a man to walk on the moon.
After his talk, Brett Gooden, signed copies of his book
Dr Augee added: ‘I was always intrigued with space myself. The pictures in this book and also the other sides of the spacesuit “journey” from a fictional point of view, make for entertaining reading.’
Brett Gooden with a young member of the audience
After his talk, Dr Gooden, who is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society and whose scientific research in Australia, USA and UK has dealt mainly with aerospace and diving medicine, signed copies of his books for delighted readers of all ages.