New book marks 75th anniversary of beginning of World War Two

Norman Ferguson's book on the Second World War.
Norman Ferguson's book on the Second World War.

A locally-born author has written a compelling guide to the Second World War which has been published to mark next month’s 75th anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities.

‘The Second World War - A Miscellany’ is the work of Newburgh-raised Norman Ferguson, who has written books on history, aviation and modern culture.

It is a companion book to Norman’s last work, ‘The First World War - A Miscellany,’ and takes the same approach, with a wealth of information, including a look at the build up to the conflict and the key figures of the Allied and Axis powers.

There’s also a chapter on the ‘phoney’ war before a detailed look at the main events during each year of the war.

Norman who, as a youngster, started attending airshows at RAF Leuchars, where he saw Second World War Spitfires and Hurricanes flying, points out that WW2 was the bloodiest conflict the world had seen.

“Its beginnings saw a form of warfare developed from that seen in the first global conflict and ended with one whose power would have been unimaginable to those who fought only a few decades before.

“It was fought in the deserts, jungles, seas, and on the mountains and plains, and those affected by it had their worlds turned upside down.”

Well illustrated with drawings and easy to digest tables, the book boasts a fascinating timeline, which starts with Adolf Hitler becoming German Chancellor in January 1936 and ends with surrender of Japan in September 1945.

A fascinating facts and figures chapter reveals that only one in four American soldiers fired their weapons.

Also, how many people know that the Royal Navy began the war with six aircraft carriers, but ended it with 52? During the war, however, the Navy lost 1525 ships.

Among the many other statistics is one showing that more than 22,000 German prisoners of war chose to remain in Britain after the war.

Included in the 10 Women of the War is, predictably, Anne Frank, who died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after hiding in a secret annexe in Amsterdam for two years. Her famous diaries gave a poignant account of life under threat of Nazi persecution.Less well known is Constance Babington Smith, a British photo-analyst who made the first sighting of Germany’s V1 flying bombs in 1943.

The shocking casualties of the war are listed at the end of the book, with the final estimate put at about 65 million, which includes those killed by diseases and starvation.

The war claimed 10 million lives in China, 6.1 million in Poland and 5.1 2 million in Germany.

‘The Second World War - A Miscellany’ is published by Summerdale at £9.99.