This book is an analysis of the men that ran the war. Though Churchill and Roosevelt provided the general direction of the Allied war effort, and the public face, it was the men of the Combined Chiefs of Staff that turned ideas into solid strategy.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) was the supreme military staff for the western Allies during the Second World War. It emerged from the meetings of the Arcadia Conference of December 1941 and held its first formal meeting on 9 February 1942.
This book opens with the biographical details of the individuals that comprised the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS). Surprisingly, there is no unanimity of opinion on which persons were actually full members of this body. Whilst certain persons were unquestionably full members, such as Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Sir Charles Portal and Sir Dudley Pound on the British side and General George Marshall notably for the Americans, the status of others, such as Ismay, Mountbatten and Field Marshal Sir John Dill is less certain. Nevertheless all those that sat in on meetings of the CCS are given biographical sketches.
The title is eye-catching, the opening scene of the escape from the Tower of London tense and dramatic, the central narrative compelling and fast moving, the conclusion measured and considered: "The Greatest Traitor" is at the same time a fascinating biography of one man, Sir Roger Mortimer, but with considerable emphasis on the lives and influence of the two other main protagonists, Edward II and his Queen, Isabella "the Fair". It offers an engrossing insight in to the social and military life and the political intrigue of Plantagenet England whilst taking the form of an action adventure and a mystery story.
This book represents a very thorough examination of the air war from the start of the Battle of France to the end of the Battle of Britain. It is packed with figures and statistics and is immensely detailed. Possibly more interestingly, it will prove to be uncomfortable reading for some people and it explodes many well-entrenched myths.
One of these is that the French Armée de l’Air Chasse Escadrilles (fighter squadrons) were actually comparatively more successful than either the Luftwaffe or the RAF in those crucial months of 1940. Robin Higham explains the reason for this as being because the Armée de l’Air Chasse Escadrilles “were homogenous, trained and experienced in their own aircraft, units, and milieu until mid-1940. They were an élite, knitted together by unit pride and camaraderie, even among the pilots and the ground crew. With an estimated average 750 flight hours each, the pilots had five times as many hours as new RAF pilots and three times the average Me 109 or Me 110 German pilot.”
At the start of the First World War the Imperial German Navy had a number of surface warships deployed around the globe. These obviously posed a serious threat to Allied shipping and every effort was made by the Royal Navy to track down these warships and bring them to battle. Amongst these was the light cruiser Karlsruhe which began attacking ships in the Caribbean almost as soon as war had been declared. In the course of just two months she captured and sank no less than sixteen British merchant ships, with a combined weight of 72,216 tons.