Voices of the Foreign Legion by Adrian Gilbert

Voices of the Foreign Legion by Adrian Gilbert

The French Foreign Legion has established a reputation as the most formidable of military forces. Created as a means of protecting French interests abroad, the legion spearheaded French colonialism in North Africa during the nineteenth century. Accepting volunteers from all parts of the world, the legion acquired an aura of mystery—and a less than enviable reputation for brutality within its ranks. Attracting recruits from all over the world, these new soldiers explain in their own words why they submitted themselves to such brutal training.

Voices of the Foreign Legion looks at how the legion selects its recruits, where they come from, and why they seek a life of incredible hardship and danger. It also analyzes the legion’s strict attitude toward discipline, questions why desertion is a perennial problem, and assesses the legion’s military achievements since its formation in 1831. Its scope ranges from the conquest of the colonies in Africa and the Far East, through the horrors of the two World Wars, to the bitter but ultimately hopeless battles to maintain France’s imperial possessions.

Voices of the Foreign Legion by Adrian Gilbert

Before reading this book, all I knew about the French Foreign Legion was from Brynn Kelly’s brilliant suspense series.

That series was a large part of why I requested Voices of the Foreign Legion for review. I’m glad I did, because it was a really interesting read.

Adrian Gilbert used a lot of primary sources and interviews with former members of the Legion in his book, and it gave a fascinating look into a secretive world.

Formed in the nineteenth century, the Legion is made up of men from all over the world. There’s an air of mystery about it all, and members receive new identities upon entering, which is why it is seen as such a “cool” thing for a guy to do. As in the past, many men enter to escape upheaval at home, and I appreciated how many personal accounts – historical and current – were used.

Unlike many military-themed nonfiction books, this one would make a good read for anyone. It’s definitely not all facts, figures, and too much terminology to get your head around.

Another thing that I learnt from this book? Brynn Kelly sure did her research!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Danger Close

Danger Close Long Tan Movie Vietnam War Travis Fimmel Australian Army 1966

I had the opportunity to attend a special screening of Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan last night with some Vietnam veterans (including my father) and other members of the Australian Defence Force. They actually had a counsellor there just in case, and now I understand why – it was quite the experience.

Long Tan is the best-known battle Australia (and New Zealand) fought in the Vietnam War, but I was still amazed both by the quality of the movie, and the actors in it. The “face” of the movie is Major Harry Smith, played by Travis Fimmel, of Vikings fame.

In the 1960s my father was an armoured personnel carrier driver stationed in Nui Dat, which is the base under attack in the movie. He later fought another major battle only a few kilometres from the base: Binh Ba, which had its fiftieth anniversary this year.

It was amazing to see people my father knows portrayed on the big screen, and to know people who consulted on the film.

I would strongly recommend this movie, as long as you’re prepared for it. It’s very confronting, and that much sadder because none of it is fiction.

Anzac Day Reads: Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

With Anzac Day coming up on the 25th, I’m recommending some Australian and New Zealand authors who have written about war veterans.

Anzac (“Australian and New Zealand Army Corps“) Day is our main day to commemorate those who served in the military.

Today I’m recommending Brynn Kelly, who writes romantic suspense books set all over the world. She has a book featuring an Australian soldier, and one featuring a woman who was in the New Zealand military (Kelly is a Kiwi).

Anzac Day Reads: Helene Young

Wings of Fear (Border Watch #1) by Helene Young

With Anzac Day coming up on the 25th, I’m recommending some Australian and New Zealand authors who have written about war veterans.

Anzac (“Australian and New Zealand Army Corps“) Day is our main day to commemorate those who served in the military.

Shattered Sky (Border Watch #2) by Helene Young

Today I’d like to recommend Australian author Helene Young, who has written romantic suspense books featuring military and former military characters.

You can read about her books HERE.

75 Years Ago: Kyiv, Ukraine in Ruins.

The Second Battle of Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine concluded in freezing conditions on the 22nd of December, 1943, when the Red Army defeated the occupying Germans.

The first battle took place as part of the infamous Operation Barbarossa in 1941, when the Soviets were defeated, and over 600 000 were killed or captured in the Ukrainian capital. Comparatively, around four-thousand Ukrainians were recorded as dead or missing in the second battle.

This photograph, shortly after the Nazi defeat, shows the major boulevard Khreshchatyk, Ukraine’s most famous street, in ruins.

Kiev_Kreschatik_after_liberation_November_1943 Khreshchatyk Kyiv Ukraine Second World War Two

Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

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Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Thousands and thousands of handmade poppies at the Australian War Memorial for Remembrance Day, and a hundred years since the end of the First World War. Australia committed to the war before Britain even declared it, and Canberra turned on a sunny, hot, blue-skied, beautiful day for the occasion.

Because I live in Canberra, love history, and have a military father, I visit the War Memorial quite often. However, today was special, and because I’ve been overseas for much of the past few months, and today was the last day to see all the poppies before they go, (there are poppies at Parliament House, too, but they’re there for another week), I had to visit.

On this day: British women prepare for invasion

The_British_Army_in_the_United_Kingdom_1939-45_Second World War Two 23rd October 1941 Women of Britains Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) operate a rangefinder during anti-aircraft

Source

23rd October 1941: Women of Britain’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) operate a rangefinder during anti-aircraft training on the beach of Weybourne in Norfolk, England.

Weybourne was considered to be at serious risk of invasion during the Second World War, and the region was prepared accordingly.

The ATS was formed in 1938, and existed until 1949, when it was incorporated into the Women’s Royal Army Corps.