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  #1  
Old 30th August 2012, 19:14
John Beaman John Beaman is offline
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New Shores, et al, book comments

I hate to rain on the parade of accolades about the new Chris Shores, et al, A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945, Vol. I: North Africa, June 1940-January 1942, but I have some concerns about the Luftwaffe dimension that is of special interest to me and others.

The original Fighters Over The Desert (1969) and its follow-up Fighters Over Tunisia (1975) were ground-breaking in their approach to air war history and content. Both have deservedly received many plaudits over their 40+ year existence. I and others thought A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945 would take the earlier works into and beyond the twenty-first century by making comprehensive revisions and by incorporating all the new material, sources, and research work done by many in the last four decades. I have, however, concerns as to what the new work actually draws upon.

There is nothing wrong about the diary approach or what is written and the daily summaries of claims and losses. My concern is what may, or may not, have been incorporated into the narrative. Specifically, what sources were used in writing this dairy?

Since 1970 there has been a veritable torrent of research and publication on the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean Theatre. This includes high-quality unit histories of LG 1 and KG 54 as well as most, if not all, of the Luftwaffe fighter units deployed to Greece, North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy. We also now have important publications focusing on the Luftwaffe in Greece and in Sardinia.

Additionally, vast primary sources have become available, discovered, or declassified in the last four decades. Yet, Mediterranean Air War’s bibliography begins on p.524 and is but three pages long. It comprises almost exclusively English-language literature. Nowhere listed are the Luftwaffe’s Namentliche Verluste Meldungen (NVLM), the LwGQM 6. Abt. daily materiel loss reports, or the service’s official claims lists from 1939 on (microfilm, BA-MA). It would appear that at least some of these have been used in the daily summaries, but why are these sources not cited? Next, and most importantly, there is no entry for vital British/Allied ULTRA materiel or for routine air-ground and ground-air radio intelligence. In addition to Luftwaffe personnel and materiel loss reports and to DEFE 3 and HW 5 in the PRO, the BA-MA and the PRO have a plethora of archival materials on North Africa. Not least is a big document by Fl.Fhr. Afrika on its role in North Africa (this seems mostly if not wholly statistical rather than detailing individual losses). Then there are the SALU reports; a wadge of different Allied air tech intelligence report series; and the CSDIC series (over 500 reports total) reporting mostly on POWs taken in the MTO (admittedly CSDIC didn't get fired up until Apr. 1943). Now all these sources were sometimes slow and intermittent to be sure, but clearly the RAF was getting significant intelligence from early 1941 on. Where are the citations?

Was this intelligence significant to both sides and thus to conduct of the war? Yes, maybe not always in a direct, tactical, or strategic way, but it was useful and it was acted upon—the Malta air attacks on Italian-German convoys to Africa are but one example.

So were these sources studied? If so, why not list them? It would not have taken more than a quarter of a page or so to enhance the bibliography, were it merely a matter of doing so. Just asking ….. . . .
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  #2  
Old 30th August 2012, 19:23
Jukka Juutinen Jukka Juutinen is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

Perhaps a fuller bibliography was left out due to some mishap? Now, one note is due here, though it is not about this title in particular: thorough footnoting of sources. Now, the recent big Ju 87 book has 107 source notes. Daniel Uziel's Arming the Luftwaffe, a book whose word count doesn't probably differ that much from the Ju 87 book, has about 1400 source notes. Food for thought...
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Old 6th September 2012, 14:12
Frank Olynyk Frank Olynyk is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

John,
I talked with Chris about your concern with the lack of sources. The initial, basic, problem is that he ran out of time. You may remember at the beginning of the year there were a number of delays in completing the book. Partially due to reorganizing the Grub Street schedule, and partially to the need to locate sources at the PRO to fill in some holes. I believe that when Chris and John Davies were discussing photos and photo captions, Chris suddenly realized that there had been no bibliography prepared. So he hastily prepared what you see in the book, simply based on his own personal library.

With regard to a full bibliography, Chris feels that over the course of the 5-6-7 volumes (the first four volumes will get us to December 1943; how many more for 1944-45? Including a volume on the invasion of Southern France, and the progress of that campaign until it joins the campaign in northern France and western Germany) that we are talking 50-100 pages of references to source material in the NA/PRO, NARA II, BA/MA, and Italian archives. We will at the least try to catalog all of these sources as a file. If there is a final volume similar to that of volume 4 of 2nd TAF, the list would go there. That is probably five years away, and whether Grub Street would be willing to publish such a volume (bibliography, unit lists with commanders and dates and locations, miscellaneous topics) is a question that would have to be decided at that time.

A real question here of course is how many readers of the series will be interested in a 50-100 page bibliography of archival sources? The specialists will welcome it, but how many copies of such a bibliography could be sold? 100 to 200? Maybe/probably. 1000 to 2000? Probably not.

What I suggested to Chris is that I maintain a list of archival sources as we go forward, with the hope of publishing it in a final volume. If that cannot be done, we might try to publish it ourselves (Lulu, for example); hopefully using the same size paper as the series. Or we could find a site on the Internet, TOCH for example, that would be willing to host the file.

Finally, I think it is worth noting who are the members of the MAW "team". Chris Shores has been researching for probably close to 40 years; he is handling the Commonwealth units, and the overall writing and editing. I have been researching well over 30 years, and I handle the American side (along with Chris). Giovanni Massimello has been researching Italian operations for 30 years or more. Russell Guest has been researching on the order of 30 years, and he is handling the intelligence sources. And Winfried Bock is handling the German side (although his first priority of course is the Jagdfliegerverbände series, to which he has now returned); again researching 30 years or more. We will not leave any stone unturned (and if any terns get in the way we will not leave them unstoned).

Enjoy!

Frank.
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Old 6th September 2012, 16:17
leonventer leonventer is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your very informative response. So much to look forward to! Keep up the great work.

Regards,
Leon Venter
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Old 6th September 2012, 17:26
Andrei Demjanko Andrei Demjanko is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

I've started to read MAW (currently reading about operations in August 1940) and found that victory claims credits for Regia Aeronautica pilots varied considerably from those, listed in Desert Prelude by Håkan Gustavsson & Ludovico Slongo, who used Italian unit diaries as a source.
For example: 29.06.40, morning combat with Blenheims. Both books give Italian claims as six Blenheims destroyed. Claims as listed in Desert Prelude: Torresi - two, Zuccarini - one and one probable, Fausti - two (or one and one shared with two unknown pilots), De Fraia - one.
The claims for the same engagement listed in MAW: Torresi - two, Zuccarini - one and three as shared destroyed with Fausti, pilots of 8 Gruppo - two damaged.
I would like to know what sources were used by authors of the MAW for Regia Aeronautica victory credits?
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Old 7th September 2012, 16:45
John Beaman John Beaman is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

Hi Frank:

Thanks for talking to Chris and your reply about my concerns. I never had any doubts about Chris' research credentials, the MAW team, or his dedication. I simply wanted to make sure that all these sources were reviewed/consulted and the information used in creating the diary narrative.

I am like you and rather doubt that a book simply listing the sources would be much of a seller. I think that those of us who would want the bibliography would welcome it as a PDF document we could download, perhaps thru TOCH, here.

Best,

John
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Old 7th September 2012, 20:30
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

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Originally Posted by John Beaman View Post
I am like you and rather doubt that a book simply listing the sources would be much of a seller. I think that those of us who would want the bibliography would welcome it as a PDF document we could download, perhaps thru TOCH, here.
If a full bibliography exists, I'd have thought that it was the kind of material that could easily be published online as an "extra" (would Grub street host it?) without any detriment to the sales of the books themselves.
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Old 8th September 2012, 22:01
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

Good to know, Frank--remember some Terns are endangered so be carefully when you stone them...

Last edited by NickM; 8th September 2012 at 22:06. Reason: (pun removal)
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Old 8th September 2012, 22:34
Frank Olynyk Frank Olynyk is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

Nick,
I am always carefully of endangered species. But while I am going to California later this month (http://www.americanfighteraces.org/news.htm) their terns are the least of my worries, because they all left for their secret headquarters at the end of August.

Enjoy!

Frank.
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  #10  
Old 9th September 2012, 02:36
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: New Shores, et al, book comments

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Olynyk View Post
Nick,
I am always carefully of endangered species. But while I am going to California later this month (http://www.americanfighteraces.org/news.htm) their terns are the least of my worries, because they all left for their secret headquarters at the end of August.

Enjoy!

Frank.
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