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Secret Casualties of World War Two (Hardback)

Uncovering the Civilian Deaths from Friendly Fire

WWII P&S History The Blitz Military

By Simon Webb
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781526743220
Published: 28th February 2020


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The London Blitz and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are iconic myths for Britain and America. Few in either nation realise, however, that these artfully constructed narratives of heroic resistance to aerial bombardment both conceal appalling massacres of their own citizens. In Britain, thousands of civilians were killed when the army shelled London and other cities in an effort to prevent those living there from fleeing the German bombs. At Pearl Harbor, American warships fired their heavy guns at the city of Honolulu, with devastating results.

In this book, Simon Webb reveals one of the last secrets of the Second World War; the casualties which ‘friendly fire’ from heavy artillery inflicted upon British and American civilians. In the case of the British, these deaths were part of a quite deliberate policy which was devised to ensure that those living in big cities remained there, despite the dangers of enemy bombing. There were times during the German bombing of London when more people were being killed by British shells than were dying as a result of enemy bombs.

Although this book traces the history of bombing and anti-aircraft guns from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, through to the First World War, its chief concern is with the events of the Second World War; particularly the Blitz. Nobody reading this book will ever view Pearl Harbor or the Blitz in quite the same way again.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb is a real eye-opener. Like most others I suspect I'd always taken the commonly understood story of the Blitz as gospel. As Simon Webb shows us an incredible number of people were killed not by German bombs but by our own air defences with unsuitable anti-aircraft guns raining death from the skies on a regular basis . Just as incredible is Webb's suggestion that those in power were quite happy with the situation for quite cynical and shocking reasons. While this mind sound like some kind of wacky conspiracy theory the author backs up his assertions with contemporary eye-witness and newspaper reports on the shocking casualty rates inflicted by those supposedly protecting the populace from enemy bombers.
Just as the reader has got their head around that he then tells us of the mind-blowing attack on Honolulu by Americans thinking they were defending Pearl Harbour on the day of the infamous attack.
An excellent book and an important one as it shows the difference between myth and reality on various occasions when the victors certainly got to write the history..

NetGalley,Dave Blendell

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