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Bill Thayer

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World War II Resources Onsite

The page before you is no more than a guide to a few items, mostly books, having to do with the history of the war. As my site has grown to over fifteen thousand webpages and about two hundred books on various historical topics, the increase in the number of such pages was inevitable, and this index may therefore prove useful to some. These texts are all in English, unless otherwise indicated; I list them in more or less chronological order by subject.

[image ALT: A map of France against a dark background.]

The war in France was less straightforward than elsewhere: her territory was neither fully under the thumb of Nazi Germany nor truly free, and her freedom fighters were split between actual troops in North Africa and moral and propaganda leader­ship in London, while a strong current of fascist and pro-German sentiment divided the nation. How did France get to that point? How did she live during the war? How did she fight? France at War collects a variety of material by key actors and eyewitnesses, much of it published while the war was still raging. A bit of World War I as well.

[image ALT: The French flag.]
[image ALT: The British flag.]
			 [ mostly primary sources: 6 books, 1718 pages of print
— 62 webpages, 19 illustrations, 3 maps ]

[image ALT: A graphic montage, in silhouette, of a submarine periscope (serving as the upright of the image), against which, from top to bottom, figure a flying eagle with wings outstretched and about ready to swoop down with its beak pointing to the viewer's left; an automatic weapon also pointing left; and forming the base, a stand with two mortar shells. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'Combined Operations' by Hilary St. George Saunders.]

Combined Operations • The Official Story of the Commandos is the story of Britain's commando raids in the first years of World War II. Written by the official recorder of the Combined Operations Command with comprehensive access to its documents, and published in 1943 while the war was still unwon, it recounts among others the raids on Vaagsö, the Lofoten Islands, Saint-Nazaire, and above all the debacle at Dieppe (presented as a learning experience).

[ primary source: 159 pages of print
— 22 webpages, 9 maps, 32 photos, 4 drawings ]

[image ALT: A graphic of a choppy sea on which is superimposed a drawing of a person in a military uniform, wearing a military brimmed hat: but where the person should have a face, there is nothing, allowing the sea to be seen 'thru' it. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'The Man Who Never Was' by Ewen Montagu.]

A book on a now famous covert operation perpetrated by the British in World War II to fool the Germans into thinking there would be no invasion of Sicily in 1943; written by Ewen Montagu, the man who concocted and directed the plot, and thus a primary source — and a fascinating read: The Man Who Never Was.

[ primary source: 160 pages of print
— 19 webpages, 1 map, 22 photos, 1 other image ]

[image ALT: A head-and-shoulders portrait of a young woman in uniform against a solid background with a striped bar running down the left side. She is Bessy Myers, author of 'Captured', an account of her captivity in France in the early days of World War II. The design serves as my icon for this book thruout my site.]

Bessy Myers' Captured is one of the books in my France at War section above; but it's of wider interest as well, and as one of the five or six best books on my site, it's worth calling attention to here. It tells her story as a British ambulance driver in the Mechanised Transport Service, working in France in the early days of World War II: her capture by Germans at the front, her work in the military hospital of Soissons, her captivity in the notorious Cherche-Midi prison in Paris, and how she finally got back to England. Soberly told, often in her own contemporaneous diary.

[ primary source: 314 pages of print
— 14 webpages, 1 photograph, 1 map ]

[image ALT: A large concrete structure seemingly floating on the ocean, being pulled or accompanied by a tugboat. It is a Phoenix unit of the 1944 Normandy landings. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'Force Mulberry' by Alfred Stanford.]

The D‑Day landings required two complete artificial port facilities — "Mulberries" — to be built in England, towed across the Channel, and assembled in three days on beaches in France, under enemy fire. The story of this extraordinary enterprise, Force Mulberry, is told here by the Deputy Commander of the Mulberry at Omaha Beach, Cmdr. Alfred Stanford. Involved as he was in every phase of the operation and often an eyewitness to the events he describes, the book is inevitably one of the best first-hand sources of information that could have been written on the subject.

[ primary source: 233 pages of print
— 23 webpages, 13 photographs, 2 maps ]

[image ALT: A small head-and‑shoulders photograph of a man in late middle age, in a military uniform, wearing a garrison cap, looking straight into the camera. He is Admiral William F. Halsey; the image serves as the icon on this site for his autobiography \'Admiral Halsey\'s Story\'.]

Among the great naval leaders of the twentieth century was Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, USN: he has left us an autobiography, Admiral Halsey's Story, which includes several chapters on his earlier career but mostly details his World War II service in the South Pacific.

[ primary source: 483 pages of print
— 42 webpages, 79 photographs, 14 maps ]

[image ALT: A photograph of a small twin-engined World War II monoplane in the air. One of many illustrations of World War II planes in the book 'The Navy's Air War', and serves as the icon on this site for that book.]

At the end of World War II, the Navy's Aviation History Unit was tasked by the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) to tell the story of The Navy's Air War. The result is a dense, detailed book on every facet of American naval aviation in the Second World War: Pearl Harbor of course, then the forces and organization on hand at the beginning of the war, the war in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and especially the Pacific; and several interesting chapters on the logistics behind it all.

[ 415 pages of print
— 38 webpages, 55 photographs, 5 maps ]

[image ALT: An outline map of Ukraine. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'The Story of the Ukraine' by Clarence Manning.]

Ukraine in World War II (Chapter 26 of Clarence Manning's The Story of the Ukraine) should be mentioned here: a summary political history of the war from a Ukrainian standpoint.

[ 13 pages of print
— 1 webpage ]

Onsite link

Two smaller items:

U. S. War Department Pamphlet No. 21‑1

My Year in Europe as a Prisoner of War

[ primary sources: 24 pages of print ]

[image ALT: A nebulous scene of fire in which the outline of several planes might be distinguished; it is based on a photograph of the preinvasion bombing of Pointe du Hoc in Normandy in World War II. This design serves to represent the section of my site on World War II history.]

Rather than the obvious triumphalist possibilities (flags, images of soldiers, etc.) I've preferred to use a graphic for this subsite that marked instead the fire and darkness of the conflict. The icon I settled on is my colorization of a U. S. Government photograph of the preinvasion bombing of Pointe du Hoc (Normandy) as found online in Gordon A. Harrison, U. S. Army in World War II, European Theater of Operations, Cross-Channel Attack, p195.

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Site updated: 8 Apr 22