1st Edition UK HB 2005
1st Paperback edition. Published in 2006 by "Orion/Cassell Books".
Printer N/K. ISBN number 0304367362
Hardback with dustjacket. First published in the UK in 2005 by "Weidenfeld & Nicholson".
Printed by "Clays Ltd". Written by Robin Neillands.
Robin Neillands' new history of the Battle of Normandy (Cassell, 2002) was hailed by
the SUNDAY TIMES as one of the best military history books of the year. This continues
the story from the breakout from Normandy to the arrival of the Allied armies on the
Rhine at the beginning of 1945. The story is dominated by two great battles: the Allied
airborne offensive into Holland that ended in bitter failure at Arnhem, and Hitler's
last great offensive in the Ardennes that December, the 'Battle of the Bulge'.
This book ends where Robin's previous book THE CONQUEST OF THE REICH begins, thus
forming a trilogy that takes us from the Normandy landings to the fall of Berlin.
Robin Hunter Neillands was born in Glasgow in 1935. His father was killed in the war,
and he was brought up by his grandmother in Wiltshire. Called up for National Service
in 1953 he joined 45 Commando Royal Marines. He was promoted to corporal while serving
in Cyprus and the Middle East, and rose to sergeant during a 12-year spell with the
Royal Marine Volunteer Reserve.
On demobilisation he was a salesman for Huntley & Palmers biscuits and for a stationery
suppliers. Then he was an export manager for Pan Books and travelled extensively around Australia,
the Far East and South America. While working in Chile he married his first wife Patsy.
Once back in Britain he launched a small publishing company, Spur Books. Among its first
publications were guides to the Dordogne (1975), Languedoc and Roussillon (1976),
Burgundy (1977) and Brittany (1979). He wrote two travel books, Cycle Touring in France (1984)
and Britain by Bicycle. He also wrote for newspapers and magazines describing such
undertakings as cycling the Crusader trail from Istanbul to Jerusalem, and along the
pilgrim route from Le Puy in France to Galicia, recounted in The Road to Compostela (1985).
Neillands was also a keen long-distance walker, and his lengthy perambulations yielded
four memorable books: Walking Through France: from the Channel to the Camargue (1988),
Walking Through Spain: from the Channel to Gibraltar (1991), Walking Through Ireland:
from Antrim to Kerry (1993) and Walking Through Scotland: from the Borders to Cape Wrath (1995)
This seemingly inexhaustible energy appeared not to diminish with age. In the year marking
his 50th birthday, he undertook a series of challenging excursions to provide material for
his travel writing: skiing in the Alps, cycling from Britain to Majorca, taking part in a
cattle drive in Montana, white-water rafting on the Zambezi, and a gruelling and
occasionally perilous trek across the Pyrenees.
He was a founder member of the Outdoor Travel Writers Guild in the late 1970s and
a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, serving as its chairman in 1991-93.
He was also the first British chairman of the Confraternity of St James, a pilgrim association.
Neillands also found time to write fiction, producing three thrillers under the pen name
Robin Hunter. The first, The Fourth Angel (1985), was made into a film with Jeremy Irons
and Charlotte Rampling in the leading roles. It was followed by Quarry's Contract (1987)
and The London Connection (1990).
By then, however, Neillands's interest in military history had come to the fore.
His first venture into the field was By Sea and Land: The Royal Marine Commandos 1942-82 (1987)
It was followed by The Raiders: The Army Commandos 1940-45 (1989); The Desert Rats:
7th Armoured Division 1940-45 (1990); The Hundred Years War (1990); The Wars of The Roses (1992)
and (with Roderick de Normann) Voices from Normandy (1993), about the D-Day landings.
Then, in quick succession, came The Conquest of the Reich: D-Day to VE-Day (1995);
Wellington & Napoleon: Clash of Arms (1994); The Dervish Wars: Kitchener and Gordon
in the Sudan (1996); A Fighting Retreat: Military Campaigns in the British Empire 1947-97
(1996); and The Great War Generals on the Western Front 1914-18 (1998).
In the same year Neillands, who had just had started a degree course in history at Reading,
found that he had prostate cancer. His treatment did not slow him down: by the time he
received his BA in 2002 he had written three more books: Attrition: The War on the
Western Front 1916 (2001), The Battle of Normandy 1944 (2002) and The Bomber War:
Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 (2001). For the latter, which
rebutted many criticisms of this aspect of the Allied strategy, he was nominated for
the Royal United Services Institute/ Duke of Westminster's Gold Medal for Military Literature.
In 2003 Neillands took his MA in modern history at Reading and, despite evidence of his
cancer returning, continued to pursue an active schedule, lecturing at the National
Army Museum and the Imperial War Museum, the Victorian Society, the Bomber Command
Association the Western Front Association and on the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2.
In addition he led battlefield tours in France, North Africa and the US and in 2002
and 2003 he ran courses at Oxford University summer school.
Alongside this activity, and despite health problems, his literary output continued
undiminished with Eighth Army: From the Western Desert to the Alps 1939-45,
The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force 1914 and a biography of Ulysses
Grant all appearing in 2004. The Dieppe Raid 1942, The Battle for the Rhine 1944,
and Churchill: Statesman of the Century appeared in 2005.
His final book, The Death of Glory: The Western Front 1915, will be published this spring.
Neillands is survived by his second wife Judith (whom he married after his divorce
from his first wife in 1995), and by the two daughters of his first marriage.
Robin Neillands, travel writer and military historian, was born on December 3, 1935.
He died on January 3, 2006, aged 70.