Current projects

Latest book:  “The Sunday Service”

Published as a trade paperback and ebook by Nightstrike, this is Hugh’s first work of fiction, an historical military thriller set in the Belfast of 1981, when PIRA was running out of money, desperately needing a spectacular success.  But their top bomb operator’s meticulously planned attack on an SAS patrol is thwarted, with tragic and serious consequences.

“The Sunday Service” is the first of a five-book series which covers an extraordinarily turbulent and dangerous period of UK military history: from 1981 in Northern Ireland, to the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands eighteen months later.  The series’ protagonist is a Parachute Regiment and SAS officer, Peter Straker, a gladiator misplaced amid the peacetime careerism of his peers; and a senior intelligence officer Stanhope Chapman.

Hugh brings to life the ill-preparedness of the British Army of that era, with its ambitious officers focussed on a Cold War that everyone knew could never entail actual fighting. For these senior officers, counter-terrorist operations in Northern Ireland were a distraction, although  providing “good low-level training for young officers and junior NCOs”. “The Sunday Service” focusses on Northern Ireland; the desperation of PIRA, and the security forces’ in-fighting – powerful ambitions preventing the necessary compromise.  The second book “Athena’s Owls” shows how PIRA’s desperation for money and materials leads them to bomb high-level targets in England; and is a continuation of Captain Peter Strakers’ uncertain military career.

This was also a time of political and social pressure: the Miners’ Strike, and raging inflation as well and PIRA bombs and bullets.  The months before the Argentine invasion of April 1982 were filled with distractions, and Whitehall ignored many warnings from the Islanders. The British Government had little interest in the Falklands, and Foreign Office officials wanted simply to get rid of them.  A government minister said exactly this at a public meeting in the Falklands with Argentine officials present, causing the Argentine junta to believe that an invasion would not be opposed by Britain.

But amid the ignorance of Cabinet Ministers and the idle disinterest of Foreign Office and MI6 officials, MI6 officer Stanhope Chapman can see what’s coming. And the now Major Peter Straker gets sucked into the vortex.

Hugh McManners knows from personal experience the MoD and Whitehall environment in which he traces the often unbelievable development of the Falklands War. Much of what Hugh describes really did happen, with several of the major and most shocking incidents being fictional extrapolations of actual but so-far unreported events.

Far more than is openly accepted, The Falklands War was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life” – as the Duke of Wellington might have put it. These two novels, the first major work of fiction about this remarkable war, show just how close-run it really was.

Unfinished Business: “Falklands Commando”

The latest fourth ebook edition of Hugh’s’ best-selling autobiography “Falklands Commando” (NightStrike Limited 2014) ends with an additional half-chapter, in which the story continues back into the normal peacetime world. This was however far from being the end of the story.

After the war, Hugh continued in the Army with a posting to the office of the Chief of the General Staff in Whitehall, then to HQ 1st Armoured Division in Germany then Staff College Camberley; counter-terrorist work in Northern Ireland, high altitude mountaineering the Chinese Karakoram; followed by post-Army careers in television, as an author and the Defence Correspondent of The Sunday Times.

For his last five years in the Army he’d suffering from  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, which was only diagnosed diagnosed after he left.  He then become a campaigner to get the MoD to look after soldiers with post-combat psychological problems. This led to much research and the publishing of  a definitive book on the psychology of modern combat troops and combat-related PTSD  “The Scars of War”,  which made Hugh seriously unpopular with the MoD although not with many senior officers who could see there was a problem. Hugh campaigned for the MoD to take seriously its responsibility to affected soldiers, culminating in a 6-month High Court class action of 300 war veterans versus the MoD. Sadly this did not achieve much.

So Hugh then formed a medical research Foundation at the University of Oxford, The Scars of War Foundation, to research the cognitive neuroscience of post-combat psychological problems. Working with some of the best neuroscientists in the world, using very radical brain imaging techniques, the Scars of War Foundation will tease out the differences between actual brain injury that does not show up on diagnostic scans, and psychological problems. In reality there is little difference between the two; their symptoms are also much the same, and one can lead to the other. But until now, the techniques to do this did not exist.

So this particular story ends with Hugh and his Co-Director Professor Morten Kringelbach, taking up where the 1922 Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry into Shell Shock left this most serious of military and medical problems. As a Kings Centre for Military Health Research paper (Jones, Fear & Wessely 2007) stated:

“The 1922 Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry Into “Shell-Shock” recommended that evidence be sought to limit the term to those cases in which a “causal connection” existed between “the effects of the explosive force and the symptoms resulting from the shock to the nervous system” (48). So far that hope has yet to be realized, although recent advances in neuroimaging may improve its prospects.”

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14 thoughts on “Current projects”

  1. Thomas Murray

    Dear Mr McManners,

    Gulf War One:

    Page 122. Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vickery “in the Second World War they’d gone to Iraq with Ferret” “scout cars”.
    Page 138. Lieutenant Toby Masterton “Second World War Ferret scout car”.

    Jane’s tank & combat vehicle recognition guide, Christoper F. Foss,
    HarperCollins, 1996. “Ferret” “First prototypes completed in 1949 with production running from 1952”.
    Armoured fighting vehicles of the World, Christoper F. Foss, Ian Allan Ltd,
    1977, “Ferret” “First prototype completed in 1949 and delivered in 1950” “first production” “in 1952”.
    Armoured Forces, Richard M. Ogorkiewicz, Arms and Armour Press, 1970. “After the war the best of the wartime vehicles” “were retained and further development continued.” “Its outcome, by the early fifties, were 3 new vehicles : the Ferret scout car”.
    The Tank Museum, Bovington, “the museum of the Royal Tank Regiment & Royal Armoured Corps”: “The Ferret Scout Car was developed after World War II”. “first prototypes delivered in 1950” “entered production in 1951” “first production vehicles in 1952”.

    Page 166-7. Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vickery “Challenger” “750hp engine”.

    Jane’s tank & combat vehicle recognition guide, Christoper F. Foss,
    HarperCollins, 1996. “Challenger MBT 1” “Engine” 1,200bhp”. “Chieftain” “MBT” “Engine” “750bhp”.
    The Tank Museum, Bovington: “Challenger 1 MBT” “HP1200”. “Chieftain MBT” “750 bhp”.

    Yours sincerely,
    Thomas Murray.
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    1. Dear Mr Murray,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I don’t know if you’re an ex-tank soldier. I would however say that those of us who’ve used military kit are less concerned with models and marks – only in how they variously perform.
      I dare say that some of my own recollections of weapons and equipment in war contain questionable facts. Suffice it to say by way of a general explanation for this, that professional soldiers often know more about the equipment and weapons they use than even its designers.

      If two RAC officers describe the Ferret as “Second World War”, that’s their professional impression of its capabilities, which is not for me to question. I therefore can only suggest you take these questions up with the interviewees. Mike Vickery is a tank gunnery instructor with I’m sure you’ll agree impeccable experience.

      I don’t quite see what you’re saying regarding Challenger’s bhp, but personally I’d hesitate to quote Janes or BTM at Mike Vickery, and take the view that he would know the power output of the MBTs with which he was fighting. It is in any case irrelevant to the fighting of the war; particularly as the higher figure you quote could be engine output bhp. The much lesser bhp quoted in my book could perhaps be as measured at the tracks – which would be he only figure relevant to the user. But I’m no expert in such esoteric numerology!

      As for the Ferrets – if you’ve ever used Ferrets or Dingos, you’ll know that they’re both Second World War designs. Like the Dingo, the Ferret was also designed by Daimler, and apart from a monocoque body and larger crew compartment, was much the same. Truly new designs came later – as the UK’s defence industry took some time to recover from its wartime efforts, with the FV107. This was a light tank, in recognition of the increased firepower of modern weaponry.

      Many thanks for your interest. I’m grateful that you’ve read my book so carefully.

      Hugh McManners

  2. Dear Hugh
    Just finished Gulf One -thoroughly researched and accurate. At the time of the crisis in 1990 I was serving in HMS YORK which was alongside in Dubai when Saddam invaded Kuwait, nerve racking time sailing up the Gulf to try and obtain intelligence without being targeted ourselves!!
    I spent 35 years in the Royal Navy serving in the South Atlantic in 1982, several 6 month deployments to the Gulf and Adriatic, my final ship was HMS ARK ROYAL as a WO1 and experienced first hand the landing of 40 Cdo onto the Al Fawhr Peninsula in March 2003.
    We lost 7 aircrew shortly after commencement of hostilities and I was deeply involved in the recovery and repatriation of their bodies back to the UK and in the case of Tom Adams to the US the memories of this experience has remained with me since. I was diagnosed with chronic PTSD in 2005 but they haven’t been able to establish when it first started and my treatment was sporadic and ineffective and I was discharged at the end of my career in 2007.
    It was truly amazing how I felt reading the book learning of other guys similar experiences. Particularly the Lance Corporal poor poor bastard, my best wishes to him and his family, would it be possible to privately email me his contact details with his permission of course.

    Regards and thank you


    1. Hi Stan,
      I sent you a private email back in August, and also sent your message on to Roy Sellstrom (the lance corporal you mentioned). I hope he’s got in touch.
      I also hope that you’ve got some treatment for yourself, as it needs to be done. A lot of effort which you won’t want to go through, but worth it – and necessary.
      But do get in touch again if you’d like to.
      With very best wishes,

  3. Hugh;
    I bought your book “Falklands Commando” on 17 Nov.1985 and that book was passed around to all my unit (136 Mobile Aerial Port Squadron) officers and NCO’s and was very helpful in our mobilization & deployment for Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
    I’m retired from the Texas Air National Guard now and from my airline job, but, I still keep your readiness things in mind in this difficult era.
    Harold Davey

    1. Hi Harold. Many thanks for getting in touch. I’m so glad that Falklands Commando was useful to you all. I wrote it in order that British non-military folks could understand that what we went through in the Falklands War of 1982 wasn’t as depicted by the many journalists who rushed out books while we were on leave trying to make some sense of it all.

      It’s obviously a rather restricted view – from a captain in charge of a small team – but we were operating at a pretty high level and so had an interesting insight into many aspects of the land war. I’m particularly happy that it’s still relevant and useful. One of my worries is that we the Military in general plus in particular our political masters, don’t seem to remember the lessons of previous campaigns and so repeat all sorts of basic mistakes. As ever, it’s the troops who pick up the pieces and make it all work.

      Very good luck and fortune to you all.


  4. hello Hugh , I met you at southsea a few years ago when you presented your gulf war one book at the D Day Museum . i am sorry to put upon you but if you have a spare minute can you please look at our facebook group , we are all gulf war vets and some are still denied war pensions for well evidenced medical symptons of service ( The gulf war 90/91 group ).

    and .

    We are all trying to keep our plight going in the media as we are fast becoming the forgotten army.

    Anything you can do to keep our story going would be appreciated.

    Best regards


  5. Anneke Andrews

    Hi Hugh

    A friend gave me your survival book as a 30th birthday gift many years ago – a really awesome gift!Our boys are 5, 7 & 9, and love reading your book, often sharing wisdoms from it. I thought it would be very cool to have a survival birthday party for them. Last year we had an overnight camping party with 200 people, half of them kids; 85 people spent the night in tents in our garden – great family affair! The hit of the party was night guard duty where the fire had to be watched and the camp “guarded”. I realise the chance of you being in South Africa is small, but thought I would ask, you might know of a South African counterpart. Look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards Anneke obo Matthew, Luke & Joshua

  6. David Glazier

    Mr McManners – My old friend, Ricardo Gómez Kenny of Rosario, Argentina has read an article in the Argentine Press written by Liliana Soria Carrera which was the account of an interview with you.

    Ricardo says that he was in contact with you several years ago and wishes to reestablish that contact. He is the prime mover behind a group trying to establish better Anglo/Argentine relations with special emphasis on relations with the islanders.

    If you are interested please reply to this email and I will forward it on to him.

    Best wishes.

    David Glazier

  7. Dear Mr. McManners,

    My son has read (and quite enjoyed!) your Top Gun book. His teacher requires him to list this, and all other books read, along with a Lexile level. After great search, I have been unable to locate such a level for the book. Thus, I turn to you in hopes that you might have such a reference, or be able to point me in a direction of promise.

    Many thanks!

  8. Dear Mr McManners,
    I’m hoping you can get in touch with me to fulfill a request, you served with my wife’s uncle, Des Nixon, in the Falklands and he is mentioned in your book “Falklands Commando”.
    If you can please respond via my email address i would be most grateful.
    Many Thanks
    John Shuker

  9. Hugh McManners

    Hi John, I greatly enjoyed meeting you, and thank you for coming round! I was grateful for news of Des’ family, and very much hope the signed book went down well with them?

  10. Hi Hugh

    Just finished Falklands Commando. I joined in 86 at 18 years old, so met a lot of the lads who had been down south when I joined 45. My son’s godfather was down there with the NP when the invasion happened and as you wrote, went back with the others. His description of the actual invasion and the improvised defence by the naval party is a mix of fear and humour. Brewing an Amtrak up with an 84 before Killing a tractor with a rogue shot.
    I had nothing but respect for the guys who’d fought in the Falklands. I don’t remember any of them spinning dits or swaggering about on the back of it. Just timely reminders in the field of lessons learnt.
    Had a good crack with the Gunners at Condor. And if you ask nicely I’ll let on who it was set fire to the furniture outside their accom and got their leave mistakenly cancelled.
    Hope you’re well and good.
    All the best.

  11. Not sure if you read it, it’s a while this post. – Anyhow thanks for the outdoor doc of Canada; will translate parts it into my lang to do with the kids. Great things, the kid’s training.

    As to PTSD: .. maybe please read this: Anshin Thomas, At hell’s gate .. probably it will give some insights into a path of .. say .. healing

    have a good day. music is super.a

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