Recommended Reading #1

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Looking for more on British military history, news and technology? Below are a list of articles that I recommend you take a look out. Some are recent while others not so but all are worth taking look.


 

Desert Storm Part One: Training
The start of a series of articles based on the diaries of Capt. Tim Purbrick who commanded a troop of Challenger Main Battle Tanks during the 1991 Gulf War. A personal and detailed account, it covers everything from training up to actual combat.

Attrition on the Somme
Written by Rich Reynolds this article looks at the cost of the terrible battle waged 100 years ago on the Western Front.

Britain’s Airfields – What does the future hold?
Andy Laing discusses some of the possibilities for Britain’s disused aerodromes.

“K” for Katastrophe
Written by Edward C. Whitman Ph.D this article tells the disastrous story of the Royal Navy’s steam powered K-class submarines of World War I.

 

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Upcoming changes to Defence of the Realm

Hi everybody,

I thought I would take a moment and explain the changes that will be taking place to Defence of the Realm over the coming weeks.

As you know the site aims to cover British military news, technology and history. However, as this is a one man show and with my writing time limited to about an hour a day at best, keeping updated with the latest developments has proven an almost full-time job. The news posts have started to dominate my time which means writing factual articles about history and technology has fallen by the wayside. Also, because I have to vet which news articles I feel should go on the site a lot of news gets missed out.

I have therefore decided that as of tomorrow (February 4th 2016) I will instead be doing a news round-up which will be a post put up in the evening with links to the day’s military news. Instead of spending my limited time writing my own news reports I can now devote that time to writing up more articles about the past and get back to technology articles such as more aircraft comparisons (currently researching a comparison between the Short Stirling and the Italian Piaggio P.108). This also means that as the readers you will get a better news service and you will be able to chose what news story interests you.

This does not mean I have given up on writing about current events. Far from it. I will continue to write about current events if I feel I have something to contribute. I understand that I will probably sustain a lower visitor rate this way but hopefully I will counterbalance that with interest in the new articles I can work on with all that time freed up.

On a similar note I will be starting a new series of posts that will go up at 0900hrs GMT on Saturday mornings. Called “Recommended Reading” it will provide links to posts and articles I have read in the week that I feel deserve to be shared. These will include pages on and off of WordPress. I am pleased to say that I have built up a small library of WordPress sites written by some talented people that I want to promote but I have never liked the way WordPress reblogs pages.

Thank you all again for your support. As some of you know, Defence of the Realm started as a bit of side project that I didn’t take seriously but has now taken on a life of it’s own. I have even just conducted my first interview which will hopefully be put up soon. You can now find the site through the domain name defenceoftherealm.com which was donated to me by the previous owner of the domain name who no longer wished to use it.

I wish you all the very best.

-Tony Wilkins

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One happy chappy!

SITREP – A big thank you for a big day

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Hello everybody

I felt I should put up a post today thanking everyone for what has been DotR’s best day yet. Thanks to you reading, commenting, reblogging and sharing the stats for Defence of the Realm exploded. Usually the site averages between 350-450 hits per day but yesterday the site hit the staggering mark of 3,207 hits beating the old record of 1,954 by a considerable margin. The article on the alternatives to Poseidon for a Nimrod replacement had a lot to do with it but actually an older article discussing whether the RAF could assume the nuclear deterrent back from the Royal Navy was the biggest scorer thanks to it appearing on Forces News Online and sparking the creation of a pprune.org discussion board.

None of this would be possible without you guys – DotR’s followers. Thanks to your support, kind words of encouragement, contributions and your sharing/reblogging DotR is growing far beyond what I thought it would ever be. Thank you so much. There are those who have particularly supported me since I began and I don’t want to list people because I will no doubt miss one or two and I don’t want that to happen. You know who you are as I am in contact with you on a regular basis and consider you part of the wider DotR community.

Don’t forget I am still looking for more photographs to build up the gallery section. Please don’t feel that if you have photos of the subjects already shown I am not interested in them. That is far from the case. If you have any photographs of aircraft, tanks, ships, parades, museums, etc then email me at DefencerealmYT@gmail.com. Any photos I use I will of course give the owner full credit and advertise your own Twitter/Facebook/Wordpress site in the article.

Thank you again.

Best wishes

Tony Wilkins

One happy chappy!

One happy chappy!

SITREP – March 2015

sitrepWelcome to Defence of the Realm’s SITREP for March 2015. For those of you who are new followers and have never seen one of these posts before I would like to welcome you and thank you for giving the site a look. Basically, this is my opportunity to let you you know the site is doing and the direction it will be taking over the next month. It is also your opportunity to let me know your thoughts on the site in general as well as to offer your own suggestions/input in to any of the projects that are on the horizon.

So, as always I like to begin by thanking everyone who has taken the time to read the most recent posts. In the past two months alone the site’s hit rate has already surpassed all of 2014 and thats down to you guys. I know some of them can be quite long winded at times but when the spirit grabs me and I throw myself in to a topic I like to run with it for all its worth. An interesting comment was posted by one of the site’s long time supporters, Pierre Lagacé on the article Britain’s Forgotten Tank War regarding British tanks fighting in the Russian Civil War in 1919. He asked me where do I find such practically unheard of stories and so I thought I would take some time in this SITREP to explain just how I do my research.

In very simple terms; I read a hell of a lot of books. The 21st Century has been called the Information Age and thanks to the internet this is certainly true. We now have a vast wealth of digital knowledge available to us via an online search engine but there are limitations to this method of research the biggest one being you have to already know something about what you want to look for. Sadly we can’t yet Google “show me something I don’t know.” This is where books have something of an advantage. With a book there is a wealth of information at your fingertips covering a general topic that you can flip through and stumble across a hidden gem of a story that you can work on and that’s exactly how I stumbled across the story of British tanks in the Russian Civil War.

a pictorial history of the tank regimentI take a trip in to Caldicot town centre, near where I live, at least once a week and whenever I do I invariably find myself wandering in to the two charity shops they have there. Charity shops are a goldmine for military books and not only are they cheap but you are helping a good cause in buying them; I almost always make a little donation to the cashier even if its just letting them keep the change. One day I picked up a book called A Pictorial History of the Royal Tank Regiment by George Forty for just 75p! Admittedly this book was somewhat out of date (I am really excited about seeing those new Challenger 1 tanks that are coming in to service 😀 ) but did that make any of its details about the formation of the Tank Regiments of the British Army any less relevant? Certainly not! And tucked away within its pages was a few brief paragraphs that mentioned British tanks being sent to Russia to fight the Bolsheviks. I was intrigued.

Thus because I knew what I was looking for I then turned to the world wide web to build on what was published in the book and thus a new article began. Now I am no technophobe by any stretch of the imagination but for me there’s nothing better than simply picking up a book and reading it. I am just old fashioned in that way but at the same time my research would be painstakingly slow if I used books alone. I guess what I am trying to say is if you are taking to the internet to advance the cause of preserving and promoting history, wander in to a charity shop every now and again. You may find something completely new to you in the old books and telling forgotten stories of Britain’s military successes and failures is really what Defence of the Realm is all about.


So with the preaching over let me highlight a few things I have planned on the horizon. Remember if you have any suggestions on any of these topics or have one you would like me to address just put it in the comments section below.

  • Last month I specified that future aircraft comparisons would be made between British and other western aircraft not just from an opposing side. Plans I have at the moment include De Havilland Sea Venom FAW.22 vs Douglas F3D Skyknight in a comparison of first generation naval nightfighters of the 50s. I am also planning to compare the Gloster Meteor F.8 against the Dassault Ouragon as requested by Gareth Wood of Fighter Jet News.
  • I have decided to make more of an effort to cover topics and events before the 20th century. The First and Second World Wars seem to have cast quite a shadow over the 19th century especially and I want to bring more of this era to light. The article on the Bombardment of Alexandria 1882 is the first in this new series of articles.
  • Currently working on an article about an aborted Pearl Harbour style attack on the German High Seas fleet while they were in port during World War I. The attack was days away from being carried out by the Royal Navy before the signing of the armistice brought an end to hostilities. I should hopefully have it posted by Sunday.
  • I have talked a lot about the machines of war but this is not doing the men and women behind them justice and therefore starting this month I am going to be introducing “Personnel Files” which will chronicle the service careers of men and women of the British armed forces many of whom have had little acknowledgement for their contributions.
  • After speaking at such length about the importance of books I should therefore make more of an effort to do book reviews – I have just one at the moment.
  • Finally, I am considering starting a podcast. This is just a pipe dream at the moment until I can iron out some of the bugs and find knowledgeable people willing to participate. I have no more details other than that at the moment but it is something I have been thinking of for some time. Watch this space.

Thank you again for your time.

– Tony Wilkins

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A Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan makes an excellent head buffer

SITREP – February 2015

SignallingWell it’s 2015 and yet it feels more like 1985 at times with RAF fighters chasing Tu-95 “Bears” up the English Channel and the Royal Navy hunting submarines in the North Sea. Excluding a certain wall in the German capital one could be forgiven for thinking the Cold War never ended. Add to this the threat of an increasingly bold terrorist network and the world is looking more unfriendly than ever.

So with that frightening realization in mind welcome to “Defence of the Realm’s” SITREP for February 2015. For those of you who are new followers and have never seen one of these posts before I would like to welcome you and thank you for giving the site a look. Basically, this is my opportunity to let you you know the direction the site is taking. It is also your opportunity to let me know your thoughts on the site in general as well as to offer your own suggestions/input in to any of the projects that are on the horizon.

So let me begin by thanking everyone who has viewed/commented/liked/reblogged any of the site’s articles this month. I am not trying to boast when I say that between January 1st and February 10th the site has garnered the same number of hits as the first four months combined and that’s down to you guys taking some of your time to read the posts. Its both flattering and encouraging. You may have noticed for the last week or so the site has gone quiet and this was due to illness in the family as opposed to a lack of interest on my part. I had been planning and researching my Night Fighter Mosquito article before things went a little crazy at home and I finally got chance to crack on with it this week. I am a dad first; everything else second.

So here are just a few of the ideas floating around my brain for the next month as well as well as some updates on previous projects I have been planning;

  1. The aircraft comparison between the Canberra and the Il-28 has been my most successful so far and it got a lot of people talking on Facebook as well as the site. I found this interesting because it was the first one not to be about which two fighters were better in a dogfight. I plan to expand further the types of aircraft compared to include transport types as well. I will admit I have been a bit biased to comparing aircraft to Russian designs (I am a child of the original Cold War after all) but recently I have been looking in to expanding in to comparing British hardware to other nations such as France and Russia. (Please feel free to make any suggestions in the comments box below).
  2. Another very popular article from the previous month was Are the Japanese serious about selling the RAF Kawasaki P-1s? and I have been told that this was because it offered a debate as opposed to simply providing hard facts. I have considered writing more debate-style articles in the past and have shied away from them because there is a risk to them. By their nature these articles try to convince a person of one belief or another and the opinion of the author is slave to his/her research. If I do write more debate-like articles I will certainly try to be as objective as possible.
  3. The long awaited tank comparison series is proving much harder than I ever thought it would be. The problem is finding complete and reliable sources for information. It would be pointless for me to write a comparison whereby I have complete data on the armour of one tank and incomplete data on the other. This would lead to a potentially inaccurate conclusion. Rest assured its coming though.
  4. Speaking of tanks; as most of you know the one thing I try to do is discuss British military history that seems to be forgotten and recently I learned about the role of British tanks and crews in the Russian Civil War in the aftermath of World War One. I found the story fascinating and have been researching it since in preparation for an article. I had hoped to have it published by now but alas family commitments prevented it.
  5. As some of you know the site now has a “Defence of the Realm Recommends” menu on the right hand side of the screen as you scroll down. These are sites I feel deserve special mention for one reason or another such as providing a source for an article or are written by people with passion and deserve more recognition. (uh hum…if you like RC helicopters check out Home Drones…Uh hum…Just saying 😉 )
  6. This month I got the chance to feel like a 12 year old again when I got the opportunity to climb inside a Vulcan B.2 bomber at East Midlands Aeropark. This inspired me to do more posts about museum exhibits in the UK. More are on the horizon as I plan to revisit, among others, the International Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare.
  7. Finally the look of the site is going to be going through a big change soon. I am ditching the drop-down menus format and instead replacing them with menu pages. The drop-down menus were fine in the early days but now the site is growing so large they are filling the page and cluttering it up. Menu pages will also give me the chance to put notes up on updated pages.

Thank you again for reading. If you would like to comment on any of the above or have your own suggestions/observations please feel free to put them in the box below. I will do my best to respond to everyone.

Thank you

– Tony

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SITREP – December 2014

Wireless operatorHi everybody.

First of all I would like to thank you all once again for following the site and taking the time to read the articles I have posted. I have had some really positive feedback and this has been both touching and encouraging.

I have decided to make SITREP updates a monthly thing for the site. My plan is to publish one in the middle of each month to allow you guys, the followers, to take a look at what is coming over the next few weeks. As well as hopefully wetting your appetite for more I think it would be an excellent opportunity to call on your own expertise. If you see a topic below that you have information for that you think I may not be aware of then please feel free to comment below. As I have told a few of you now I have learned a lot myself researching topics for articles and that is one of the best things about projects such as this; that we can all learn more together.

I would also like to use SITREP as an opportunity for you to provide general feedback on the site as well as offer any suggestions for future articles. This is your opportunity to tell me what you want and hopefully we can work together to build an extensive database chronicling British and world military history and technology.

So here is December’s update;

  1. I am aware that I am quite bias towards military aviation. Unfortunately it reflects on my own personal history and so it is easier for me to write. I am making more of an effort to include more articles on the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Marines and have several article ideas that are wandering around my brain waiting to take fruition.
  2. I will be writing the long overdue Part 3 of “A U-Boat in the Royal Navy“. It has been left unacceptably long now and I know some of you are curious to know the final chapter.
  3. I am currently researching the use of an unlikely intelligence gathering aircraft used by the RAF to monitor Soviet Army movements in East Germany – the De Havilland Chipmunk. That’s right the trainer aircraft that thousands of air cadets flew in was used to spy on the Soviets as part of BRIXMIS.
  4. I know a lot of you enjoy the aircraft comparisons and as a pseudo sequel to the “Gloster Gladiator vs. Fiat CR.42 Falco” I am keeping with the North African theme and comparing the Spitfire V to Italy’s MC.202 Folgore – the Ferrari of the skies.
  5. I am going to do a write up on the Chieftain tank compared to the Soviet Union’s T-72 as soon as I can find some reliable sources for data.
  6. I am currently compiling a list of the small arms used by the British military since 1945 and analysing their usage and effectiveness.
  7. I am trying to make more of an effort to keep abreast of the latest military news and there will be far more news updates over the coming weeks.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Please feel free to give any feedback. Also don’t forget if you are on Facebook to LIKE the Defence of the Realm page.

Thank you again and seasons greetings to you all.

SITREP – Defence of the Realm

Lancaster_wireless_operator_WWII_IWM_CH_8790Hi everybody.

Just thought I would take a moment to bring you all up to speed on what December will bring for the site. Firstly I would like to thank all of you for following “Defence of the Realm”, the support I have received has been touching and inspiring to say the least. The site is now getting a healthy run of regular traffic and feedback.

There are a few of you who I would especially like to thank for their continued support through comments, reblogging and LIKES. I wont name them on here as I am worried I will miss a few of you out but you know who you are. If you are new to the site then welcome and I hope you find the articles interesting and informative.

So what’s on the horizon?

  1. I am definitely planning to do more aircraft comparisons in the future and have recently posted on the Facebook page an offer to submit requests. If you have a specific request then please feel free to comment below or on the Facebook page what you would like to see. The only condition is that the two aircraft have to be contemporary to one another in both role and time period. Ideally I would like at least one aircraft to be British but I am willing to accept requests for entirely non-British aircraft. I am currently working on a comparison of the Gloster Gladiator and the Fiat CR.42 in a project I am calling the “Battle of the Biplanes”.
  2. I am expanding the navigation tools of the site by adding more menus down the side of the page to cover some of the sub-categories or for topics that cross main categories e,g Forgotten Aircraft of the RAF and Royal Navy.
  3. Building on the “Aircraft Comparisons” I will be doing the same for tanks, ships and submarines. My long term aim is to build an encyclopaedia of information comparing many different types and evaluating the outcome. Again if you have any requests please feel free to comment below.

Thank you again for your support even if it is just taking the time to read an article on the site.

All the best.

– Tony Wilkins