Jack Tanner is a soldier of the Second World War. Serving in the King’s Own Yorkshire Rangers, he and his comrades find themselves caught up in the unfolding conflict, and battling their enemies in the snow and mountains of Norway to the plains of Flanders, and in the desert of North Africa to Mediterranean islands of Crete and Sicily.
April 1940, and Nazi Germany has invaded neutral Norway. Fleeing north away from the enemy are three men of His Majesty the King’s Guard – men who have been entrusted by King Håkon with a vitally important mission: to get Hening Sandvold out of Oslo and away to the safety of the Allies.
Heading south to meet the German advance are the poorly equipped, poorly prepared men of British 148th Brigade. Among them is Sergeant Jack Tanner, recently returned from the Middle East to join the territorial 3rd Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Rangers. As the British fall back from Lillehammer, Sergeant Tanner and his patrol are left stranded in the mountains. Trying to rejoin their unit they stumble first across Sandvold and the Norwegians and then a French patrol of Chasseurs Alpins.
Tanner soon realises the odds of making it to safety are stacked against them. Trekking through snow-clad mountains and across treacherous valleys with the Germans dogging their every move, Tanner is forced to try and out-fox and out-fight not only their pursuers, but also overcome the enormous obstacles thrown at him from within their disparate group. And as the Allies prove unable to stem the German advance, it quickly becomes clear that the small band of fugitives face a desperate race against time.
Yet Tanner knows he must succeed. For as he discovers, Sandvold holds the key to a vital secret – one that could change the outcome of the entire war…
May 1940. Sergeant Jack Tanner has been posted to a Training Company at Manston airfield on the south-east coast of England, where his experience is needed before the men are sent to France to join the rest of the 1st Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Rangers. But all is not well at Manston. Exposure of a fuel racket leads to the death of two Polish refugees and Tanner is certain there has been foul play. When he and Corporal Sykes are nearly killed themselves, Tanner finds his suspicions directed at an old enemy from his pre-war days in India, the Company Sergeant Major, Will Blackstone.
As the Germans launch their blitzkrieg in the west, training is cut short and the entire company are sent to join the rest of the 1st Battalion as they try to stop Hitler’s drive to through the Low Countries. Almost immediately, they are thrust into the thick of the action and cut off from the rest of the Battalion. Soon trapped behind enemy lines, it is largely left to the ingenuity of Tanner to get the Company back to the Allies.
Subsequently caught up in the Battle for Arras and the long withdrawal to Dunkirk, Tanner, Sykes and his new Platoon Commander, Lieutenant John Peploe, find themselves pitted against not only the die-hard Nazis of the SS Totenkopf (‘Death’s Head’) Division, but also the great panzer commander himself, General Rommel. Yet, while caught up in the British Expeditionary Force’s desperate struggle for survival amidst the mayhem and chaos of retreat, Tanner must first deal with the corrosive treachery bubbling within the Company’s ranks – and an enemy more deadly than the Germans – before he and his men have any hope of escaping from Dunkirk…
Crete, May 1941, and there is trouble for Jack Tanner. Not only has a new subaltern, Guy Liddell, arrived who knows him from home and who seems determined to make life difficult, Tanner has offended Alopex, a powerful Cretan kapitan who has sworn to kill him. Then suddenly the Germans invade and British fortunes take another dive for the worst.
At Hiraklion, Tanner and the rest of the 2nd Battalion Yorks Rangers find themselves battling in vicious close-quarter fighting against the German paratroopers. Leading a counter-attack, it is Peploe and Tanner’s B Company that drives the enemy back. But this success is short-lived, the British garrison allows opportunities to pass, and once again, Tanner and Sykes find themselves faced with another bitter retreat.
Although they successfully make it aboard a destroyer, the danger has not passed as the skies darken with enemy bombers. After a string of bombs hits ship and it begins to sink, Tanner and his fellows are forced to swim for the shore. Although Tanner is able to save Lt Liddell’s life, his problems have only just begun, for they are now forced to flee to the mountainous interior where only man seems able to help them – Alopex. To make matters worse, the Germans are determined on vengeance, and Tanner soon finds himself face to face with an enemy eager to settle the score.
In Blood of Honour, Tanner finds himself embroiled in a deadly game of survival that will test his resolve more than ever before…
August, 1942. North Africa. The desert war hangs in the balance. Although their retreat has finally been halted, morale in the British Army is at rock bottom. When the commander of the Eighth Army, General Gott, is killed, it seems that foul play is at work. An impenetrable Axis spy circuit could be compromising any hope the Allies have of stemming the Nazi tide.
Jack Tanner, recovering from wounds in a Cairo hospital, is astonished to receive a battlefield commission which will propel him into a very different world when he returns to action. Fit once more, he finds himself facing the full onslaught of Rommel’s latest offensive.
In its aftermath, Tanner and his trusty sidekick Sykes are recruited to work behind the Axis lines in a desperate attempt to take the fight to the Nazis. But the murky world of subterfuge, deceit and murder they find themselves in is a million miles away from the certainties of the battlefield and somehow they must discover who they can trust in the cat-and-mouse world of counter-espionage.
Hellfire sees Tanner fighting his way through his most dangerous adventure yet – one that takes him from the dark backstreets of Cairo to the open Mediterranean and finally to one of the decisive clashes of the entire war – the Battle of Alamein.
July 1943. With North Africa secured, the Allies launch an invasion of Sicily, and the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Rangers are in the van of the assault on the Italian beaches.
Now B Company Commander, Tanner’s promotion has brought him fresh trouble. Not only has his new Battalion Commander decided to make his life as difficult as possible, they soon find themselves battling against some of the toughest most determined troops in the Wehrmacht.
In the bitter fighting that follows, Tanner witnesses a new kind of warfare in which the rule books are seemingly thrown away and in which the biggest enemy appears to be on his own side rather than the Axis troops barring their way.
As Tanner battles his way across the sun-scorched islands, he is confronted by the new realities of war in which the Sicilian mafia are supposedly fighting on the side of the Allies but making the lives of ordinary Italians a misery.
It seems, however, that it is not just the Mafia that are playing dirty, for it soon becomes clear that in the quest to force Italy out of the war, compromises and brutal choices need to be made – choices in which right and wrong have become horribly blurred.
Forced to question the cause for which he has fought so long, Tanner and his trusted sidekick, Sykes, find themselves embroiled in a fight that has become personal – and a fight in which they have to use all their resolve, skill and experience if they are to have any chance of survival…