We're continuing this year's Big Reveal with a look at next year's Raid and Fortress titles.
RAID: Operation Jericho 1944
Early 1944 was a time of massive intelligence activity across northern France in advance of D-Day. Large numbers of résistants were being captured by the Germans and imprisoned in gaols across northern France. Among these was Amiens. The raid was mounted as a debt of honour by MI6 and the RAF to try to free prisoners who would otherwise be executed by the Germans for what was considered traitorous activity.
MI6 requested an exceptionally precise air raid, to blow holes in the prison walls, free as many men and women as possible, minimize casualties among the prisoners and hit the German guards’ quarters. The RAF decided that, with the fast and accurate Mosquito light bomber, the raid had a good chance of success. This resulted in the creation of a Mosquito wing that comprised British, Australian and New Zealand squadrons, and included RCAF Airmen, all commanded by RAF Group Captain Pickard.
With specially commissioned maps, illustrations and bird’s eye views, this fascinating book explores the planning and execution of one of the most spectacular and challenging RAF operations, which was undertaken merely as a statement of gratitude.
RAID: The Capture of U-505
On June 4, 1944 a US Navy antisubmarine task group in the Atlantic captured an enemy U-boat on the high seas. It was not the first time the Allies had taken a German U-boat as a prize, but the capture of U-505 was different. Task Group 22.3 had set out to capture a U-boat. The capture was plotted and practiced by the ships in the task group. Not U-505 specifically, but any U-boat that offered an opportunity for seizure, with the aim of apprehending the vessel’s codes and coding equipment so the Allies could read U-boat message traffic. (The captain, Gallery, was unaware that the Allies had already cracked the German’s codes, and the capture of a U-boat could endanger that secret.)
The plan culminated in the capture of U-505 in early June. It was the first time the United States Navy captured a warship at sea since the War of 1812. It also nearly led to the exposure of the Bletchley Park codebreaking secret, leading the head of the US Navy to severely reprimand Gallery and consider court-martialling him. Later however, the Task Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation instead.
RAID: The Viking Siege of Paris
The Vikings’ siege of Paris in 885–86 was a turning point in the history of both Paris and France. In 885, a year after Charles the Fat was crowned King of the Franks, Danish Vikings sailed up the Seine demanding tribute. The Franks’ refusal prompted the Vikings to lay siege to Paris, which was initially defended by only 200 men under Odo, Count of Paris.
The Vikings attempted to break the Parisian defenders, but the city itself still held out, and after a year Charles’ army arrived to lift the siege. But Charles then allowed the Vikings to sail upstream against the revolting Burgundians. Outraged at this betrayal, the Parisians refused to let the Vikings return home via the Seine, forcing them to portage their boats overland to the Marne in order to reach the North Sea. When Charles died in 888, the people of the of the Île de France elected Odo as their king. The resistance of Paris therefore marked the end of the Carolingian line and the birth of a new kingdom.
This fully illustrated volume, accompanied with maps and strategic diagrams tells the full story of the Vikings' expedition to conquer medieval Paris, highlighting a key moment in the history of France and its foundation as a nation.
FOR: The Moscow Kremlin
A fortified complex covering 70 acres at the heart of Moscow, behind walls up to 18m high and watched over by 20 towers, the Kremlin houses everything from Russia’s seat of political power to glittering churches. This is a fortress that has evolved over time, from the original wooden guard tower built in the 11th century to the current stone and brick complex, over the years having been built, burnt, besieged and rebuilt.
Starting with the initial building of a wooden watch tower on the banks of the Moskva river in the 11th century, this book follows the Kremlin's tumultuous history through rises and falls and various iterations to today. In the process, it tells a story of Russia, and also unveils a range of mysteries around the fortress, from the 14th-century underground tunnels built to permit spies to enter and leave it covertly through to today’s invisible defences such as it GPS spoofing field (switch on your phone inside the walls and it may well tell you you're at Vnukovo airport, 30km away) and drone jammers.