Texas native and Second World War British
Airborne re-enactor David Gordon wrote several excellent books on British
Army uniforms, weapons, and equipment.
The latter three books comprise a nice
series, and though the volumes are compact in the manner of a primer, the
contents are extensive, covering a wide array of kit from the common to
the obscure, often with all national Commonwealth variants (including
Tommy is one of the companion series to the
SOLDAT series by Cyrus Lee. This volume was written by David Gordon and
published by Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Inc., Missoula, Montana.
Canuck is also one a companion series; the aim of the three sets of books
is to provide re-enactors, historians, modellers, and anyone interested in
Second World War uniforms with an affordable and well-illustrated guide to
the various uniforms and equipment of the major combatants.
Military Modelling magazine
described TOMMY as such in Volume 29, Issue 15:
Volume 1 (of) Tommy is
described as, "The Collector's Historical Perspective to the British
Soldier of the Second World War". Profusely illustrated with black and
white and colour photographs, the book covers everything 'British WWII
Airborne' from a shoulder patch to a Jeep, from a glider to a folding
bicycle, it's all here. I didn't know about the camouflaged tank suit
issued to Airborne AFV crews - but it's in here. Some of the colour
photos of uniform insignia are quite colourful and varied, excellent for
anyone contemplating a model figure. Most of the pictures were taken
specially for the book, although wartime photos are included and
together they present a well-balanced mix.
Additional comments by
The following notes were
posted to the CANUCK message board by David Gordon who has given the
webmaster permission to reproduce them here:
I have received over 75
actual hand-written letters from people that took the time to write for
whatever reason. In addition to this, there have probably been over 100
people that reenact or have established a link to me through eBay or other
on-line activities and made the connection that I wrote “Tommy”. Of these,
there have been a handful with comments that either raised questions or
were pointing out what they felt was an error of some kind. I was very
surprised and pleased by the overwhelming number of nice complimentary
letters that I received from people. I’ve never taken the time to write to
an author, good or bad, so the flow of mail was a shock to say the least.
Some of the negative /
error / bad things include:
I misspelled the word
“throne” in the front section. I spelled it “thrown” and this aggravated a
few people. Sorry, been a while since the USA had a king
I’m told the stackable
utensils in one of the kit layout shots are associated with pattern ’44
gear. They are dated 1944 as a set but possibly were never issued during
the war. I don’t know for sure but have often seen them in other
publications detailing WWII items.
Photo of the people using
the pioneer tools, something to the effect that “nobody” in the British
army was overweight…..no comment as I have seen period photos that are
very similar. (thankfully though its not a photo of me…)
Told by a guy in the UK
that the Airborne absolutely never, ever had a single person place a field
or shell dressing in their helmet net. They did state that the infantry
did this quite often though. So the question is…are Glider-borne troops
actually leg infantry or airborne in this sense once the fighting starts?
Another UK guy, String vest
(winter wear) was never, ever worn over any other clothing like a
collarless shirt or other undershirt. My text here was based on speaking
with several veterans that indicate that they often wore them in this
fashion. The thing I guess I didn’t elaborate on is that they normally
were not issued in warm climates to be used in this manner for “cooling”
as I describe in the book. These troops did time in North Africa and that
was the difference. Gets very cold at night so they had them as issue to
stay warm. During the day, it was determined that the opposite effect was
achieved and they wicked perspiration away from the body and the baffles
cooled you the way a radiator works. It’s not by the manual and
regulations by I would stand by their testimony of how things were really
done. Also have tried it in the field here in Texas and it works quite
well. We wear our string vests, under our D-Smock while reenacting.
Along the same lines…was
told that my described method of placing the cleaning tools for an Enfield
into the butt stock is not by the book. I have the book and know what it
says. I also live fire and have had veterans explain the way “they” did it
and this is what I documented. It still all fits but one way works better
and faster, especially once your pull through starts getting worn. One
nice benefit of living history….
Someone on this list that
also publishes books mentioned some things that I had never even though
about might happen when I wrote Tommy. The insignia section as well as
parts of the uniform section are showing and explaining some very basic
concepts in placement and particulars of things like trade badges, rank,
etc. This was my intent so a novice would learn more of the basics if he
didn’t have a bunch of books on the subject. I did not intend to imply
that the things there were strictly airborne. A good example is the photo
showing three shooting badges. Different patterns, makers and colors of
the same design. Obviously not all airborne, particularly since one is a
Canadian Cadet patch. Merely showing that variation of a basic item can
and do exist. My fault for not expanding on my intentions.
Someone in Holland didn’t
like the markings on my Airborne jeep. It has a 75mm pack howitzer on it
in one shot. His gripe was my marking did not indicate Royal Artillery.
This meant my jeep could never have had a field piece connected to it. I
guess that’s part of why the troops at Arnhem had problems, right? The
reconnaissance jeeps that worked must have been denied access to pulling
anti-tank guns that they saw laying on the glider landing zones….
I didn’t cover the training
helmets, parachutes or harness arrangements due to space and time
constraints. My fault for not following through….
Last big one that I can
remember off the top of my head is the backgrounds of a few shots. Not all
trees pictured are found in Europe. Sorry, cheaper to shoot photos of
people in my country than to fly them to France.
Uniforms of the World War Two
Uniforms of the
WWII Tommy was written by David Gordon and published in 2005 by Pictorial
Histories Publishing Company (Missoula, MT).
The book is very well written and features
information in the following categories:
Khaki Drill and Aertex
Coats and Waterproof Clothing
Cap and Collar Badges
Tropical Clothing and Equipment
Pattern 1944 Web Equipment
Formation and Regimental Badges
Badges of Distinction
Many of the hundreds of
photos are wartime photos, many previously unpublished, all of high
quality, along with contemporary studio shots showing detail of surviving
examples. National variants are described also, highlighting the
differences between manufactured items of the different
Weapons of the World
War Two Tommy
was written by
David Gordon and published in 2004 by Pictorial Histories Publishing
Company (Missoula, MT).
As with the other books in
this trilogy by David Gordon, Uniforms of the WWII Tommy and Equipment of
the WWII Tommy, this is a comprehensive handbook supported by both period
photos as well as clear museum quality photos of surviving artifacts.
Additionally, there are both reprints of wartime diagrams as well as
modern reconstructions of same, showing details of ammunition and weapons.
The book is logically laid out into several chapters, including a colour
The book also includes a bibilography.
Commonwealth subjects are
given good representation, and most of the information in the book is
directly related to the Canadian Army as the majority of weapons and
equipment in the book were also issued to Canadian soldiers in the Second
Equipment of the World War Two
Equipment of the WWII
Tommy was written by David Gordon and published in 2004 by Pictorial
Histories Publishing Company (Missoula, MT).