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Hitler's V-Weapons (Hardback)

An Official History of the Battle Against the V-1 and V-2 in WWII

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII WWII > German Forces & Weaponry WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By John Grehan, Martin Mace
Frontline Books
Pages: 296
ISBN: 9781526770059
Published: 18th May 2020



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At 04.08 hours on the morning of 13 June 1944, two members of the Royal Observer Corps were on duty at their post on the top of a Martello tower on the seafront at Dymchurch in Kent. At that moment they spotted the approach of an object spurting red flames from its rear and making a noise like ‘a Model-T-Ford going up a hill’. It was a development that they, and many others throughout the UK, had been anticipating for months. The first V1 flying bomb, an example of what Hitler had called his Vergeltungswaffen or Vengeance Weapons, to be released against Britain was rattling towards them. The two spotters on top of the tower may well have been aware that a new Battle of Britain had just begun.

For years, key individuals in the UK had been aware of experiments by Germany to build long-range weapons. From leaked documents, reports from the French Resistance and the result of aerial photography a picture was gradually put together of an extensive programme by the Nazis to build pilotless aircraft, the Fi 103 V1 flying bomb, and the V2, the A4 rocket, which could be directed at the United Kingdom. By 1943, enough information had been gathered for Britain and its American allies to act, and the first bombing raids were undertaken against the long-range weapons installations.

From August 1943, every effort was undertaken by the RAF and the USAAF Eighth Air Force to destroy every site lined to the V-weapons. This book, written by the Air Ministry’s Air Historical Branch is the official account of the measures undertaken by the Air Defence of Great Britain, Fighter Command, Anti-Aircraft Command, Bomber Command and even the Balloon Command to defend the UK from what was potentially the greatest threat it had ever encountered.

It was only through this multi-disciplinary approach that the actual effect of the V-weapons was contained to the level it was. Even so, the extent of the damage and deaths the flying bombs and rockets caused and the fear they generated, was considerable and had this coordinated approach not been undertaken the UK’s resolve in the crucial months of the war might have been seriously challenged.

This highly detailed, accurate and unbiased account is a valuable addition to the history of the Second World War. It demonstrates the difficulties the UK faced in identifying the nature of the highly secret German weapons and how, through an enormous combined effort, this threat was overcome.

Grehan's book offers readers an excellent opportunity to get their hands on the inside story of Britain's response to Hitler's V-weapons.

Military History Matters Feb/March 21

Wars are filled with ‘what ifs’ but the German Vengeance Weapons had the potential to alter the military balance. The official documents of the time have been compiled to provide the most detailed account of how Britain saw this phase of the war. – Very Highly Recommended

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Mr Grehan collates reports and analysis from the war against the V weapons, divining important chunks of detail to underscore narrative histories that do the rounds. I like the way he eschews the urge to interpret the writings of others and sticks to the script. This serves to make this volume all the more authentic. Like the Home Guard book we saw earlier, this is an important resource for students of the war on the home front in Britain.\r\n\r\nRead the full review here

War History Online

I have long had an interest in the V-weapons of WW2 and found this most interesting, extending my existing knowledge of what was involved. I like this for the level of detail it contains but also that is records facts and historical events and how so many factors had to be taken into account to tell the real story. If you have an interest in the German V-weapons of WW2, I would say this should be one of your basic references. Definitely reccommended.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

The story of the battle against the German V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket is more fascinating than I thought. The official history of this battle, recently compiled by John Grehan, reminds of how the unmanned aerial vehicle made its debut long ago and includes Norwegian and Swedish aspects.

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Lars Gyllenhaal

The book is an intriguing read which brings the threat to London during the closing stages of WWII alive to the reader. Highly recommended.

Dr Adrian Greaves

For statistical and historical information on the UK side of the struggle against the V1 and V2 weapons, this book is probably the best you will find in terms of depth and breadth of information.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

The book has been put together very well by John Grehan, who I know is an authority and published author on these particular subjects. When you think of the amount of reading and work he must have had to read he has done an impressive job. At the back of the book there is a fantastic notes and sources section, certainly the best one that I have seen for a while. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book to read, and I understand some might find it a little dry or formal I would still happily recommend it to others.

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UK Historian

I have fond memories of a book and film called Carve Her Name With Pride, which concerned the efforts of Violette Szabo and her comrades as they fought to destroy the V1 rocket factory at Peenemunde - John Grehan takes a much more rounded approach to his history of these amazing but ultimately destructive weapons, and it's a fascinating and terrifying tale.

Books Monthly

About John Grehan

JOHN GREHAN has written, edited or contributed to more than 300 books and magazine articles covering a wide span of military history from the Iron Age to the recent conflict in Afghanistan. John has also appeared on local and national radio and television to advise on military history topics. He was employed as the Assistant Editor of Britain at War Magazine from its inception until 2014. John now devotes his time to writing and editing books.

About Martin Mace

Martin Mace has been involved in writing and publishing military history for more than twenty years. He began his career with local history, writing a book on the Second World War anti-invasion defences in West Sussex. Following the success of this book, he established Historic Military Press, which has published a wide range of titles. Having launched Britain at War Magazine, he has been its editor since the first issue in May 2007.

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