BRITISH PARATROOPER 1940-45 – Review by Phil Hodges

I Love Osprey books. To me they’re as loveable and enjoyable as laying on the sofa with a beer on a Saturday night and watching Match of the Day… You never know how many goals you’ll get but you know you’ll get some! And that to me in a nutshell is an Osprey Book… If that makes sense.

No? I thought not. What I’m trying to say is, show me a bad Osprey Book and I’ll show you a kid that doesn’t eat sweets! They may not eat or like every sweet in the shop but they’ll have a go and that’s the thing with any Osprey title. If you’re into WW2 German or WW1 Canadian, or if your thing is tanks of the Vietnam War or weapons of the English Civil War, then you’ve dozens of titles to choose from and chomp through.  And here’s the clever bit, they’re bitesize and like a Milky Way they won’t spoil your appetite.

It’s like eating your Nans barley twists .You don’t know you won’t like them until you try.  We’ve all done it: At a friend’s house you happen to see their copy of say, Roman Legionary 58 BC-AD 69 or The Spanish Civil War 1936-39

(Republican Forces)  laying on the coffee table. Chances are not only will you pick it up and flick through it, but you’ll also probably enjoy it and learn something. This to me is the whole point of the Osprey collections, be it the Warrior or Campaign series or the age old trusted Men-at-Arms series. It’s the quickest and easiest way to get accurate knowledge of a military subject.

The British Paratrooper 1940-45 in Osprey’s Warrior series is just one from hundreds of titles. Unsurprisingly, this book covers the British para from conception in 1940, in answer to Germany’s Fallschirmjager, through to the end of the war. Iconic and instantly recognizable, the para not only fought behind the hedgerows of Normandy or in the fierce house to house fighting of Arnhem but also in virtually every other theatre of war. They fought In Italy and North Africa and even in the Far East. This book tells us the history and reasons behind their formation, the specialist equipment they used and the battles they fought. It tells us about the men who joined up and the officers picked to lead them.  It isn’t a complete history by any stretch of the imagination but it isn’t meant to be. It’s a concise history of one of the most feared regiments of WW2. A taster, if you like, and that is why I love these books. They whet your appetite and guide you onto a path of interest without huge expense. If you’re a WW2 re-enactor or a model maker, an artist or just a budding historian these books are for you.  Learning is, after all supposed to be enjoyable and it’s supposed to be fun. The military historian who says he knows everything isn’t probably worth listening to!  You can never stop learning. Especially in this hobby.

Knowledge. Its that simple. One thing I tell anyone new to re-enacting or living history, whether they be young or old, male or female is research, research and research some more.  Osprey has built on years of expertise and knowledge to bring us handy, affordable books on virtually every subject of military history.  You know Its going to be well researched. It’s going to have fantastic original photographs (depending on your era of expertise of course), with an informative text, detailed historical descriptions and fantastic artwork, which, like me, if you care to admit it, we all marvel over and lose ourselves. It has everything on the subject you could wish for to get you started and then some more to carry you along further. It doesn’t have chocolate however!

Osprey’s British Paratrooper 1940-45… made to make your mouth water!

Reviewed by Phil Hodges for War History Online.

By Rebecca Skinner
Illustrated by Graham Turner
Warrior 174
Osprey Publishing
ISBN 978-1-47280-512-6

Phil Hodges

Phil Hodges is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE