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Myths & Legends of the Second World War

312 pages4 hours


As with the Great War, the Second World War gave rise to a rich crop of legends, many of which persist in the public consciousness even today. Some are well known, like the Dunkirk story, which portrayed the disaster of 1940 as a victory. Others are more obscure like the rumours of a German invasion attempt on the beaches of Norfolk in 1940, a myth that resurfaced in 1992. There are stories of the 'Manston Mutiny' during the Battle of Britain, espionage myths that surround the sinking of the battleship Royal Oak at Scapa Flow, the falsehood that no German spies in Britain operated outside MI5's double-cross system, and the real story behind 'the man who never was' (first revealed in 1996). Also covered are the Rudolf Hess story, myths about the nature and true effectiveness of the Resistance movements in Europe, and the true extent of Hitler's belief in astrology and his quest for the Holy Grail. Myths on land, sea and air are also discussed including the 'betrayal' at Dieppe, Nazi U-boat bases in Ireland. Weaving his narrative around a wide range of contemporary documentary sources, James Hayward presents an objective and rigorous analysis of the main myths, legends and popular falsehoods of the Second World War. The result is a new and refreshing perspective on the popular image of the Second World War.

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