This book has been brought out to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion. Matt Croucher GC has brought together stories of 90 men and women who he considers to have “done more than the ‘odd thing’ for their country or for the RBL”. Many of the people have been awarded the highest gallantry awards; Victoria Cross, George Cross/George Medal, but there are others such as Sgt Fred Kite RTR who won the Military Medal and two bars, and some have no awards at all!

    All royalties from this book will go to the RBL.

    The book is divided into 9 chapters with a decade given to each chapter. The people chosen are not representing the year they have been set against but to demonstrate the wide variety of military and peacetime experiences that the past century has thrown up. Many are from the First World War, before the RBL had been set up, but RBL had been set up to assist the people from that war so it is right that they feature so well in this book.

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    These Heroes and Heroines are not restricted to those who won gallantry awards. There are the stories of Brigadier Helen Cattanach QARANC who did so much for military nursing during and after WW2; and Dame Kelly Holmes whose exploits as an athlete bring her in to this category. There is also the story of Sergeant Pete Winner – no initials after his name but who, after joining the Royal Engineers, passed selection for the SAS and was present as part of the relief force at the Battle of Mirbat in 1972 and was also present at the Iranian Embassy Siege. In between MIRBAT and the Siege, Winner had been promoted to sergeant, but blotted his copybook and was RTU’d to the RE on disciplinary grounds. He then applied again for and passed selection again for the SAS which he rejoined in 1979, but as a Trooper. Well worthy of a place in this book of heroes.

    Again, the book does not restrict itself by only using servicemen and women as the heroes depicted. David Lloyd George is here, but not Winston Churchill, except where he is part of the story. SOE feature in several places, one of whom is Noor Inayat Khan who was the first female radio operator flown into Occupied France in 1943. She was captured by the Gestapo and interrogated at length without giving up any information; finally she was sent to Dachau concentration camp where she was executed. After the war she was awarded the George Cross.

    The book is full of heroes, people who put their lives on the line, often losing them in the process; some as a result of a spontaneous act of gallantry such as Sgt Michael Willetts GC who used his body to shield civilians when a bomb had been planted in Springfield Road Police Station, Belfast. Sgt Willetts lost his life protecting civilians and was posthumously awarded the George Cross, becoming the only member of the Parachute Regiment to have been awarded this. Others like Gp Capt Leonard Cheshire who won the VC for his extended leadership, yet is included in the book for this and for the work of the Trust he started after the war, The Leonard Cheshire Disability Foundation.

    As I said above, the book is divided into chapters by decade. So Chapter One is 1921-1930, Chapter Two 1931-1940 and so on. Each chapter starts with a brief update on the RBL and the major changes/issues of that decade. This is a book which has two purposes, one; to highlight the work of and to raise money for the Royal British Legion and two; to remind us of just some of the people who have given so much in the service of our Country.

    There is little new in this book, most of the people featured are well known through their actions. However the final person to be featured is Rosemary Powell, RBL Poppy Seller. Rosemary was a 6 year old in London in 1921 and remembers selling poppies on Twickenham Bridge. She has been included as someone who encompasses the whole time that RBL has been in operation and provides that link to the early days, right through to the present.

    This is a very good book, supporting an excellent cause, one that is close to the hearts of many on this Site. The hope is that this book will raise £100,000 by the end of this year for the RBL, if you buy it, you will be helping to reach that target.

    5 Ms Winos for a great way to support the RBL

    Auld Yin

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