Hayne’s British Infantryman Book Review

I must start this review off with a small caveat, I have had some very minor involvement in the book we are looking at today, supplying some photographs and appearing in some of the reconstructions in it. I therefore have a small vested interest, but hopefully this will not detract from the review.

Haynes have been publishing books about technology and history for many years now, their old staple of car repair books having long since been made redundant. The range of books is quite extensive now and one of the more recent publications covers the British Infantryman of World War Two. The title is actually a bit of a misnomer as the book covers a lot more besides and includes details of communications, training, the structure of the army, weapons etc.

This book is an excellent primer for those wanting to learn more about the British army during the Second World War and offers something rather different to books already on the market as it covers a lot of the organisation, training and doctrine behind the British use of their infantry. The focus is naturally Western Europe, but the campaigns in Africa and Asia are not forgotten and there are some useful insights into these conflicts and the lives of British infantrymen there.

Some parts of the book work better than others, the listing of each division and a potted history of them is useful for reference, but hardly the part of the book you are going to read assiduously- although I confess I am not sure how this could have been presented in any other way. Where the book comes into its own is when it focuses on the minutiae of daily life and the personal experiences of the infantryman. The author does an excellent job of getting across the more mundane side of the military life.

A highlight of the book are the images included. These are a mixture of period images, pictures of documents and modern images of items, vehicles and reconstructions. It is these that really help bring the book to life and my only gripe would be that some of them are a little small and would have benefitted from being a bit larger so all the details could be seen, however this is probably as much to do with the publisher as anything the author had control over.

This is certainly an excellent book to have on the shelves, for a new student of the subject it is an excellent primer, and for the more knowledgeable reader, not only will you learn something new, but the book makes an excellent easy to reach for compendium when you just want to quickly look something up rather than trawling through six different books for the information. Highly recommended and available now for under £20 here.

2 comments

  1. Haha, yes i bought the book, and did recognise you from it, and the usual hedgerow at the background for that matter 😉
    Nice and very informative book!

    • I purchased this book and also recognized you. I was hoping that it would focus a bit more on the uniforms, but agree it’s a great primer.

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