The following introduction is taken from the Pen and Sword website:
The Norwegian campaign, fought in 1940, early in the Second World War in Europe, is overshadowed by the campaign in Poland that preceded it and the German blitzkrieg in the Low Countries and France that followed, yet it was a close contest from the military point of view and it had a far-reaching impact on the rest of the war. Philip Jowett’s photographic history is a vivid introduction to it.
In a concise text and a selection of over 150 photographs he traces the entire course of the fighting in Norway on land, at sea and in the air. He describes how important it was for the Allies – the Norwegians, British and French – to defend northern Norway against the Germans, in particular to retain control of the strategic port of Narvik.
The book documents in fascinating detail the troops involved, the aircraft and the large naval forces, and gives an insight into the main episodes in the conflict including the struggle for Narvik and the major clashes at sea which culminated in the loss of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier Glorious.
The photographs are especially valuable in that they show the harsh conditions in which the fighting took place and offer us a direct impression of the experience of the men who were there.
This offering from Pen and Sword is part of the Images of War series, a series of books that I consider an affordable must for the modeller. This particular release is authored by Philip Jowett, who has up until this release covered combat with the Japanese. This is a soft backed book of 230 pages with a satin finish that displays the contents to a good quality. The book presents the information included over fourteen chapters, which are as follows:
Chapter 1 Defending Neutrality
Chapter 2 The Build up to invasion
Chapter 3 The Fall of Denmark: Operation “WESERUBUNG SUD”
Chapter 4 The German Invasion or Norway
Chapter 5 The Narvik sea battles, 10th to 13th April 3
Chapter 6 The Germans Advance
Chapter 7 The Allies Arrive in Norway
Chapter 8 Lillehammer
Chapter 9 Air Warfare Over Norway
Chapter 10 Allied Failures in Central Norway
Chapter 11 The Fighting in Northern Norway, 8th May to 1st June
Chapter 12 The Allied Evacuation from Central Norway
Chapter 13 The Battle for Narvik, 14th April to 28th May
Chapter 14 The End of the Norwegian campaign
With this being part of the images of War series, you will not be surprised to hear me say that the majority of this book is dedicated to period photographs. However, the author has provided the reader with an introductory chapter that provides an overall context to the Images of that chapter. These are well written, in English and due to the limited space are straightforward and to the point, and I cannot critique the author for that.
The main feature of the book are these period photographs, which in some ways tells the story themselves due to the vastly different quality across the images as a whole. The fact that the author has been forced to utilise images that are not always the best, explains how this facet of WWII would seem to have garnered limited attention. With that said, all of the photographs do bring something to the party.
The stars of the show are in my opinion is the effort put in by the author to provide captions of a very high quality for each and every photograph. The information provided covers who, where and what they are doing and displays the early WWII uniforms of all combatants to a good degree. An image that caught my attention is that of a British unit wearing the early patterned helmet which I believe was the Mk 2 and just how different they look from the images of Commonwealth troops seen after the Normandy invasions. This images also clearly show the quality of the German uniform during this early period of WWII.
This offering from Pen and Sword is a very nice addition to the Images of War series, as it covers a period of the war in an area that is largely ignored. I appreciate the authors attempts to provide written introductions to the chapters, as it does help to add context into what you are going to look at. Something Philip Jowett does particularly well are the captions for the photographs, as the level of detail provided I found pleasing. While I cannot say that the captions with every photograph is correct, I did not note any obvious errors.