Book Review
Second World War Illustrated
The Second World War Illustrated the First Year
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Modellers are always looking for images covering specific events or vehicles in order to make their projects as accurate as possible in all respects. A new offering from Pen and Sword titled ‘The Second World War Illustrated the First Year’ and authored by Jack Holroyd may be exactly what the modeller is looking for. This book which I believe is the first of a new series looks at the first year of World War Two.

The flowing portion of the introduction is as provided by Pen and Sword.
The first volume covers contributory factors leading up to the outbreak of hostilities. Hitler's amazing success in correcting the real and perceived insults to the German nation resulting from the Great War and the Treaty of Versailles is acknowledged. There followed a military operation – Blitzkrieg – which rocked the world as two super powers, France and Great Britain, were soundly thrashed on the battlefield of Europe by Nazi Germany. With the skin of their teeth the British Expeditionary Force fled across the Channel from Dunkirk, leaving most of their equipment behind. The invasion of Kent in the south of England by a triumphant enemy equipped with a cruel and oppressive regime replete with Gestapo, concentration camps and policies of racial and political persecution presented a spine-tingling threat to the British people. With Winston Churchill at the helm disparaging peace treaties with the Nazi regime, the fight back began. A few thousand fighter pilots of the RAF defeated the Luftwaffe by a very narrow margin and Hitler looked to the east for his further bullying of national groups. The first year of the war ended, in September 1940, with Mussolini threatening Egypt and the Suez Canal.


This offering from Pen and Sword is a soft back book offering of 280 pages filled almost entirely with photographs relevant to the first year of World War 2. The card cover is reasonably robust in my opinion and saw it arrive safe and sound wrapped in cardboard. The paper chosen is a very glossy offering that is ideal for the presentation of visual elements.

I quite enjoy a good read depending on the subject matter; after all it’s a book that gave me my site name. It also sometimes requires a photograph to answer a question you have or for that matter get the modelling juices flowing! Well this new offering from Pen and Sword and authored by Jack Halroyd would seem to not only meet that requirement but to smash it out of the park as our American members might say. Other than a short introduction the book is filled front to rear with images from the first year of World War 2 and the men at the top at that time.

The photographs are presented in a logical timeline and cover a very broad area of the initial stages of the war. The photographs begin largely covering the major players of World War Two, but these are interspersed with images showing other aspects. Something I was pleased to see as a Western European was the acts of the Japanese forces and the atrocities being committed in Nanking China; I say this as most do not think of the Japanese and World War 2 until after the attack on Pearl Harbour. An image that shows the brutality the Japanese brought to the war is of a Japanese Newspaper depicting and celebrating two Lieutenants who had decapitated 105 and 106 Chinese people by 1939; what adds to this is that most would have been civilians and likely woman and children.


I really like this offering as a visual reference as Jack Halroyd has supplied captions which tell the story of the photograph, but I will add that I would have liked them to be longer in some respects. The images of the troops at Dunkirk are a pleasing addition and provide the viewer with an idea of what happened and what was achieved in that event. As said previously I was very pleased and rightfully so to see what the Japanese were up to at this time. I am hoping that this is the first of a series covering World War 2 and if my opinion of this book is an indicator any future offerings will be a must have.
Darren Baker takes a look at a Pen and Sword publication authored by Jack Holroyd and titled 'The Second World War Illustrated the First Year'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526744401
  Suggested Retail: £13.50
  PUBLISHED: Jul 30, 2019

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


I have always valued colour as a medium in photography and any photos of that time period are fascinating. Unfortunately, colours and slides fade or shift and truth is not always in what you see so I hope that these were verified as to accuracy. A side note to the cover photo: the only thing worse than the nearly-useless cover that those Landsers find themselves behind is the absolute lack of anything better nearby.
JUL 30, 2019 - 09:53 AM