Mention of this Derbyshire market town’s name invariably conjures up an image of an iconic landmark: the crooked church steeple. It does, however, also speak of a military heritage built up over a millennium. The word Chester itself is derived from the ancient Roman fort or ‘castrum’: military garrisons that peppered the English countryside during the occupation.

Available from Amberley Publishing (Released July 2016):

In June 1941, Adolf Hitler, whose loathing of Slavs and Jewish Bolsheviks know no bounds, launched Operation Barbarossa, throwing 4,000,000 military personnel, supported by tanks, artillery and aircraft into the Soviet Union. Operational groups of the German Security Service, SD, followed into the Baltic and the Black Sea area. Their orders: neutralize or exterminate elements hostile to Nazi domination 

Released by Pen and Sword Books in April 2018.

Straddling the Derwent River, the cathedral city of Derby, its foundations in the Roman occupation of Britain, can directly attribute its contemporary status to the Industrial Revolution. This book reveals the rich and diverse history that is reflected in Derby’s architecture through successive decades of growth. 

Available from Amberley Publishing (Released 15 April 2016):

With a pathological hatred of the other’s ideology that had spawned total mistrust, the paucity of belief in a non-aggression pact between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in a short space of time catapulted the two nations into a bitter conflagration of Biblical proportions. (link)

Released May 2017. Available from Pen and Sword Books:

Revealing accounts of preparation, mobilization and engagement from hitherto Top Secret War Office and United Nations documents. Anecdotal first-hand experiences from the first in the field deployed to save the south from the North Korean onslaught. South Korea, the West and the UN caught totally unawares as North Korean forces swept across the 38th Parallel in a blitzkrieg-style invasion of the south. The is the first of six volumes on the Korean War.

Released by Pen and Sword Books in February 2018.​

Mansfield Through Time offers a cameo glimpse of a town whose character and identity has, over the last few hundred years, been moulded, modified and tempered by coal mining and the Industrial Revolution. This ancient market town evolved into Nottinghamshire’s second largest town, a strategic trading hub from which roads radiate to all cardinal points. 

Available from Amberley

Publishing (Released September 2016):

The Rhodesian Soldier Rhodesian History the rhodesian soldier rhodesian military research the rhodesian soldier rhodesian history

For a hundred years, British and Chinese territorial claims in the Himalayas were in dispute, with Indian historians claiming that the region was the fountainhead of Hindu civilization. In the spring of 1962, Indian forces deployed into the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, hoping to push the Chinese back. 

Released by Pen and Sword Books in July 2018. ​​

From August 1940, Hitler’s Luftwaffe mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed cities and towns in Britain. The historic city of Coventry did not escape the carnage as, night after night, high-explosive and incendiary ​bombs rained down on this production centre of cars, munitions and aero engines.

Released by Pen and Sword Books in August 2018.​

In October 1944, the US Office of Strategic Services described the Irgun Tsvai Leumi –  National Military Organization, – as ‘an underground, quasi-military organization with headquarters in Palestine … fanatical Zionists who wish to convert Palestine and Transjordan into an independent Jewish state … advocate the use of force both against the Arabs and the British to achieve this maximal political goal’.

Due for release by Pen and Sword Books in 2018. 

China. 1949: two vast armies prepare for a final showdown that will decide Asia’s future. One is led by Mao Tse-tung and his military strategists Zhou Enlai and Zhu De. Hardened by years of guerrilla warfare, armed and trained by the Soviets, and determined to emerge victorious, the People’s Liberation Army is poised to strike from its Manchurian stronghold. Opposing them are the teetering divisions of the Kuomintang, the KMT.

Released by Pen and Sword Books in January 2018. ​​

Over the years, much has been written about individuals and the forces and their operations in what became commonly known as South Africa’s Border War, or Grens Oorlog, but never before has the human spirit of this 23-year-old conflict been so graphically and unashamedly captured and chronicled as in this book.  Equally unique, was the exclusive use of social media to invite and encourage individuals to tell their personal stories, without apology or recrimination, and so provide an indelible oral history of the war.

The Rhodesian Soldier

Staggering under the immeasurable cost of the ‘good fight’, post-war Britain was immediately confronted with an imploding empire, where overseas territories over which the Crown held varying levels of control clamoured for self-determination. (link)

Released June 2017. Available from Pen and Sword Books:

Two years after landing on English soil in 1066, William of Normandy erected a strategic castle at Nottingham, thereby creating an enduring military nexus through to the modern era. (link)

Released July 2017. Available from Pen and Sword Books:

Detailed accounts and maps of local and foreign conflicts in which Sheffield’s citizens in uniform participated.      Selected honours and awards, together with citations for bravery. Biographies of military personnel. A look at memorials and buildings – silent symbols and custodians of Sheffield’s proud military history.

Released by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017.

Welcome to my website.

Since coming to the UK in 1999, my work on Rhodesia’s military history has grown from a casual interest to a full-blown passion for researching and recording elements of this legacy. Along with this has been the acquisition of an extensive library and the establishment of a comprehensive range of on-line and networked documentary sources.  

I undertake freelance copy-editing and proofreading work and welcome enquiries. The titles that I have worked on appear in the Books section.

I have expanded my research services, whereby I receive requests for information about a certain member who had served with the armed forces, particularly in the two world wars.  In order to cover direct expenses and my own time, I charge a nominal fee. See my
Research page.

As a published author of non-fiction, I know how difficult it can be to source top-quality graphic images for my books. That was until I teamed up with very dear friend and fellow historian, Colonel Dudley Wall, as my only source for all my graphic military material. If you Google my name, or visit Pen & Sword Books and Amberley Publishing, you will find my books.We would like to offer this service to you and the Graphic Services page has several examples of the types of work we're able to offer.

Finally, I would like to offer my website as a place where your book can be promoted. Under the Books menu, we have inserted a sub-section titled Guest Books. We will need a high-res image of the book cover and a 100-word blurb on the book. Preference will be given to books about Rhodesia, and we reserve the right to decide on what we insert. All that it will cost you is a copy of your book for my library!

Enjoy your visit and please contact me if you have anything specific in mind, and I will endeavour to assist where I am able.

Gerry van Tonder