Book News

Speaker Series at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about and signing copies of Eagles over Husky at one of the premier aviation museums in North America: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Mount Hope, Ontario! Books will be available for purchase. Admission to the presentation is free.

Date: Saturday, May 16th, 2020

Time: 1pm

Place: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road
Mount Hope, Ontario.

Book News

Book Talk at the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about and signing copies of Eagles over Husky at one of my favourite places in the world: The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum in London, Ontario! Books will be available for purchase ($40). Admission to the museum is by donation and “tickets” will be “sold” on Eventbrite (there is limited seating).

Date: Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Time: 6pm

Place: The RCR Museum, 701 Oxford St E, London, ON

I’ve included a list of the entire speaker series below. There are a lot of great historians involved and I’m told that the museum will be producing a podcast featuring the series for those who can’t make it to the events. You can also download a copy of the full brochure here.

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Book News

Military Lecture at the Guelph Civic Museum

Hello friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about Eagles over Husky on January 16th at the Guelph Civic Museum in Guelph, Ontario.

This will be my first speaking engagement in my new hometown. My wife and I moved here back in the spring of 2019. The Guelph Civic Museum Military Lecture Series is offered in partnership with the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies in Waterloo, Ontario.

Join me in Guelph at 7:00pm on January 16, 2020. Books will be available for purchase ($40). Admission to the museum is by donation.

Book News

Let’s Get Digital!

Hello, friends.

Big news in Eagles over Husky land! The book is now available as an eBook.

This means great savings for you, my prospective reader. The best price I can give for hardback copies thanks to my author’s discount is $40. This is because the book is published in the United Kingdom and the North American distributor is across the border in the United States.

The eBook edition looks to be going for between $4 and $5. Start reading right now:

Kindle (Amazon)

Kobo (Chapters)

Nook (Barnes & Noble)

Here are some preview images of the Kobo edition:

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Please rate and review the book when you’ve finished!

Here’s what some happy readers have said:

The author draws upon experiences and sources from both sides to produce a fascinating narrative. [Eagles over Husky] is an all-round exceptional book.

– Andy Saunders, Britain at War magazine

The heat kept me indoors most of the weekend, so I read Eagles over Husky by Alexander Fitzgerald-Black non-stop. The book was a riveting, fascinating, and human history of the Allied Air Forces in the Sicilian campaign of World War Two. Full of interesting characters and stories. Highly recommend!

– Adam Montgomery, author of The Invisible Injured

Book News

14th Annual Windsor Military Studies Conference

Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about Eagles over Husky on March 30th at the Major F. A. Tilston VC Armoury in Windsor, Ontario.

The event is the 14th Annual Windsor Military Studies Conference, being held from March 29th to 30th. The conference features Donald L. Miller, author of Masters of the Air and expert on the bombing of Germany during the Second World War. Also featured is Geoffrey Hayes, author of Crerar’s Lieutenants, the 2017 recipient of the C. P. Stacey Award. It’s shaping up to be a great weekend!

Join me in Windsor at 1:45pm on March 30, 2019. Books will be available for purchase ($40). Details below:

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Book News

Honouring Our Local Veterans Guest Speaker

Hello, friends.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking about Eagles over Husky on October 28th at Owen Sound Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6.

Honouring Our Local Veterans is an annual ceremony hosted by Billy Bishop Home and Museum. The museum and National Historic Site tells the story of Canada’s ace of aces. It also features the stories of countless others from the Grey and Bruce counties who served in Canada’s many conflicts.

Join us in Owen Sound at 2pm on October 28, 2018. Details below:

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Rants

What the Allied Air Forces Did in Sicily

It was a hot and dry summer afternoon in Sicily. Most of the locals had already gone home to take in their early afternoon siesta. It was 2013, and I was part of a Canadian-American battlefield study tour. That day we were exploring the beautiful mountaintop commune of Enna, where Canadian and American troops met during the Second World War clash that brought destruction to the island 70 years before. We visited the Castello di Lombardia, an ancient fortress that dominates the terrain north and east of Enna. From atop the castle’s ramparts, we had an impressive view of the battle sites that marked the middle point of the Sicilian campaign. We could see Leonforte and Assoro, famous Canadian battlegrounds, and into the American sector near Nicosia. As we started back towards the touring vans, one of the Canadian army officers with the group asked me, “So, Alex, where’s the air force in all of this?”

Castello-di-Lombardia-11-Fine-Art-Produzioni
Castello di Lombardia from the northeast.

He knew that I was working on my master’s thesis, a history of the Allied air forces during the Battle of Sicily. At the time, I had completed my literature review but had yet to dive deeply into the primary sources I had so carefully photographed in a visit to England on my way to Sicily. I consulted documents at the National Archives at Kew, the Air Historical Branch at RAF Northolt, and at the University of East Anglia Archives in Norwich. But these documents remained unread files on my camera, laptop, and at least one external hard drive at the time. The best I could do was assure him that the air force was there, despite what some of the literature on the subject would have you believe.  

© IWM (CNA 1029)
Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vs of No. 243 Squadron RAF undergo maintenance at Comiso, Sicily. Photographed over the tail section of an abandoned Messerschmitt Bf 109G of 6/JG53. © IWM (CNA 1029)

In a nutshell, that’s why I wrote Eagles over Husky. Although the Allied air forces played a critical role in the success of Operation HUSKY – the invasion of Sicily in 1943 – much of the literature disparages or downplays their efforts. Most campaign histories, like Carlo D’Este’s Bitter Victory or Mitcham and von Stauffenberg’s The Battle of Sicily, focus primarily on the army’s fight. These authors occasionally fly airplanes through their narratives and see the air force’s contribution through the army and navy’s fault-finding perspectives. I wanted to write a detailed account of the battle from the air force’s perspective. What I found was an overlooked air war that was just as critical to strategic success in Sicily as the boots on the ground.

Why were the Allies in Sicily? There’s an interesting story behind that, and you’ll find it in my book. The short version is that the Allies had a large military force in the Mediterranean at the end of 1942. They thought they could best employ it by defeating the Italians and opening the Mediterranean to Allied shipping in 1943. Doing so would entice Nazi Germany to dispatch forces to defend its southern flank, including an already overstretched Luftwaffe. As it turns out, the Allies accomplished these objectives with Operation HUSKY. In July 1943, the Luftwaffe wrote off more aircraft in the Mediterranean than in any other theatre of war.

© IWM (C 3772)
A Martin Baltimore of the Tactical Bomber Force of the North West African Air Forces, flying over its target by a road in Sicily, while bombing retreating German forces heading for Messina, August 1943. © IWM (C 3772)

For Operation HUSKY, the Allied air forces secured air superiority against a resurgent Luftwaffe and an Italian Air Force defending its homeland. Allied bombers struck the Italian homeland relentlessly and with effect, destroying ports and marshalling yards. The Italian capitulation in North Africa, coupled with direct threats to the homeland by land, sea, and especially the air, convinced the Italian government that Fascism in Italy had run its course. As the Germans and their remaining Italian allies made a final stand in Sicily, the Allies brought tactical air power to bear. Air power could not stop the Axis evacuation, but it could help the Anglo-American armies make the enemy pay for every stand they made. The result was another bitter Axis defeat following on the heels of Stalingrad, Tunisia, and Kursk. That’s what the Allied air forces did in Sicily.       

This post originally appeared on the Helion & Company blog in March 2018.