Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb

Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb* – Uncovering the Civilian Deaths from Friendly Fire is a fascinating book, so worth reading. Webb gives quotes from primary sources, including some newspapers articles. He examines bomb-shelters and the Anti-Aircraft guns used at the time. The book is primarily about UK, but there are two chapters, one about US and another one about France.

Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb

While I recommend this book, I am not agreeing with his views. For example, I don’t think Churchill or any other government had a choice of not using Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns, regardless of how poorly their aim was. What was the alternative? Leave the door open for the Germans? He ignores that the real enemy was the one who attacked, who invaded many European countries. The fear of not killing your own people would have led to German invasion, as it is possible that they would have been able bomb the munition factories and destroy Britain’s defences before arriving in and doing what they did in the rest of Europe, like in France, like opening death camps for Jews, gays, and disabled, or just transporting them to the ones already open. He also says that France had bad memories of what RAF and US Air Force did, in bombing cities, well, if that is the case, I imagine the French should have even worse memories of being occupied by Germans.

While I do not agree with his points, this is irrelevant to what he shares and talks about regarding friendly-fire. The data is shocking, not only for Brits, but for Americans too, as he talks about Pearl Harbour and Los Angeles. I gave the book 4.5 stars because of his strong views, which, for the most part, ignore that those guns were aiming at enemy aircraft. The technology was not good, but that was not a fault that could have been solved by the UK or US governments, it is just what happens during war, when every country pushes for development and the health&safety rules are relaxed because the alternative is so much worse.

Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen and Sword
Year it was published: 2020
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History – 20th Century
Pages: 174

About the author: Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational Supplement, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.
Books by him: Forgotten Slave Trade; The Analogue Revolution; Post-War Childhood; 1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution; A History of Torture in Britain; British Concentration Camps; First World War Trials and Executions; Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers; Suffragette Fascists; The Suffragette Bombers.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “Secret Casualties of World War Two by Simon Webb”

  • This sounds like a very interesting book. My husband (a Vietnam vet) has always said there are far more civilian casualties and friendly-fire deaths than folks realize… and that they’re often inevitable.
    Kelly recently posted…Winter TrioMy Profile

    • It’s chilling to hear that friendly-fire was still a big issue as late as Vietnam. I hope things have improved now. This is a horrific part of war which, understandably, people are not keen on talking about.

  • As you say, what alternative would there have been to not defending ourselves in the best way we were able to, the Germans were already on our doorstep in the Channel Islands and France, so we were basically a ‘sitting duck’ target.

    As for the French, there has never been any love lost between ‘us and them’, as we have seen played out on numerous occasions over the years, including Brexit. Whilst many French suffered terribly at the hands of the German invaders, there were also many who profited mightily.

    I don’t really know too much abut Pearl Harbour, although (slightly off the subject), we have just watched a fascinating documentary about 9/11, told from the President’s perspective, with appearances and narration by both he and many of the surviving people who were evacuated on Airforce One that day. The total lack of communication and responsibility was quite appalling, as was the anger of George Bush when he realised that he was ultimately not in control of the situation, with his aides and advisors refusing to fly him back to Washington. Plus the Vice President’s unequivocal order that a civilian plane full of passengers should be taken out of the sky if it refused to respond to requests from the ATC – one hell of an act of friendly fire potentially, as they didn’t really know that the plane had been hijacked by terrorists!

    Another one for my list 🙂

    • Exactly, with what weapons were available at that time, not doing anything was not an option. Today we have drones and highly accurate missiles, but 70-80 years ago there were no real options besides trying to reassure the public that something is done to protect them.
      The documentary on 9/11 sounds really interesting. In Obama’s book I noticed that he received a lot of information, but all filtered by his aids, as is the case with all the presidents.

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