Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Columba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Occupied Europe [EPUB]
23 February 2018, 13:40
2018 | EPUB | 30.13MB
Gordon Corera uses declassified documents and extensive original research to tell the story of MI14(d) and the Secret Pigeon Service for the first time.
Between 1941 and 1944, sixteen thousand plucky homing pigeons were dropped in an arc from Bordeaux to Copenhagen as part of 'Columba' – a secret British operation to bring back intelligence from those living under Nazi occupation. The messages flooded back written on tiny pieces of rice paper tucked into canisters and tied to the legs of the birds. Authentic voices from rural France, the Netherlands and Belgium – they were sometimes comic, often tragic and occasionally invaluable with details of German troop movements and fortifications, new Nazi weapons, radar system or the deployment of the feared V-1 and V-2 rockets that terrorized London.
Who were the people who provided this rich seam of intelligence? Many were not trained agents nor, with a few exceptions, people with any experience of spying. At the centre of this book is the ‘Leopold Vindictive’ network – a small group of Belgian villagers prepared to take huge risks. They were led by an extraordinary priest, Joseph Raskin – a man connected to royalty and whose intelligence was so valuable it was shown to Churchill, leading MI6 to parachute agents in to assist him.
A powerful and tragic tale of wartime espionage, the book brings together the British and Belgian sides of the Leopold Vindictive’s story and reveals for the first time the wider history of a quirky, quarrelsome band of spy masters and their special wartime operations, as well as how bitter rivalries in London placed the lives of secret agents at risk. It is a book not so much about pigeons as the remarkable people living in occupied Europe who were faced with the choice of how to respond to a call for help, and took the decision to resist.
Somalia (Cold War) [EPUB]
23 February 2018, 13:39
2017 | EPUB | 25.62MB
When the world held its breath …
It is 25 years since the end of the Cold War, now a generation old. It began over 75 years ago, in 1944—long before the last shots of the Second World War had echoed across the wastelands of Eastern Europe—with the brutal Greek Civil War. The battle lines are no longer drawn, but they linger on, unwittingly or not, in conflict zones such as Iraq, Somalia and Ukraine. In an era of mass-produced AK-47s and ICBMs, one such flashpoint was, and is, the Horn of Africa …
Few countries in Africa have had such powerful links with both the Soviet Union and United States – each for several years at a stretch – as Somalia. From a quiet Indian Ocean backwater that had once been an Italian colony, it remained aloof from the kind of power struggles that beset countries like Ghana, the Congo, Guinea, Algeria and others in the 1970s. Overnight, that all changed in 1969 when the army, led by Major General Siad Barre, grabbed power. His first move was to abrogate all security links he might have had with the West and to invite Moscow into his country as an ally. The Soviets moved quickly, establishing several air bases in the interior and stationing their ships in Somali ports. Baledogle, a small airport north of Mogadishu, became a major air base from where Soviet military aircraft operated through much of the Indian Ocean. An impetuous man, Siad Barre believed his links with Moscow were secure enough to annex several neighboring regions. But when he invaded Ethiopia’s Ogaden Province – Addis Ababa was then Washington’s staunchest friend in Africa’s Horn – the Soviets had had enough. To the consternation of the West they abandoned Somalia and embraced Ethiopia, which resulted in the Russians giving full support in the Ogaden War to Addis Ababa and establishing the largest airlift of arms to an African country since the Six-Day War.
For more than a decade thereafter conditions within Somalia deteriorated. Various tribal leaders established themselves as ‘war lords’, some with Soviet support, others getting succor from Western sources. It got so bad that in 1992 the United Nations eventually stepped in with Operation Restore Hope, a multinational force created for conducting humanitarian operations in Somalia. The move was always controversial with many tribal leaders retaining either clandestine Soviet links or receiving aid from radical Arab forces that included al-Qaeda. Though the United Nations and the African Union (AU) both maintain a strong presence in the country, hostilities – and killings – go on.
The Armies of Ancient Persia: The Sassanians [EPUB]
23 February 2018, 13:37
2017 | EPUB | 24.66MB
Throughout most of the classical period, Persia was one of the great superpowers, placing a limit on the expansion of Western powers. It was the most formidable rival to the Roman empire for centuries, until Persia, by then under the Sassanians, was overwhelmed by the Islamic conquests in the seventh century AD. Yet, the armies of ancient Persia have received relatively little detailed attention, certainly in comparison to those of Rome. This work is the firsst of three volumes that will form the most comprehensive study of ancient Persian armies available.
The Sassanians, the native Iranian dynasty that ousted their Parthian overlords in AD 226, developed a highly sophisticated army that was able for centuries to hold off all comers. They continued the Parthians’ famous winning combination of swift horse archers with heavily-armored cataphract cavalry, also making much use of war elephants, but Kaveh Farrokh interestingly demonstrates that their oft-maligned infantry has been much underestimated.
The author, born in Athens, Greece, and expert in ancient Persian languages and military history, has been researching the military history and technology of Persia for a quarter of a century. He draws on the latest research and new archaeological evidence, focusing on the organization, equipment and tactics of the armies that dominated the ancient Middle East for so long.