The Elite military magazine. A 1980s ORBIS publication.

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The Elite: The World's Crack Fighting Men

The Elite magazine was a military history collectable part-work published by ORBIS from 1985 to 1987. This guide gives a brief background, and an overview of the sort of information the magazine contained. 

Sub-titled 'The World's Crack Fighting Men', the magazine covered in detail the training, role and historical actions of elite fighting units worldwide. Issued weekly in 134 parts, with a table of contents and a cross-referenced index, the magazine built up into a comprehensive study of the top fighting forces of the time.

Each 22-page issue usually covered three different units, and had a profile of a famous military leader on the back page. For each article a brief history of the unit was given, then a detailed account of a famous action that the members of the unit took part in, illustrated with contemporary photos, maps and diagrams. Particularly well done were the magazine's battle diagrams. These were shown in relief so you could get an understanding of the nature of the ground, and were labelled with time-elapse information boxes that clearly showed the sequence of events.


Examples of the text and illustrations shown here are from the article 'Last Stand on Gloster Hill' by Anthony Farrar-Hockley in issue 11 of the magazine.

The articles were highly detailed, as an excerpt from 'Last Stand on Gloster Hill' shows:

      To the southeast of Choksong village, Captain Harvey watched the firing with D Company from the area of Hill 182. Further east still, though out of view, Major Harding and B Company could hear the battle noises from Castle Hill to the west and intermittent artillery and smallarms fire 2000m to the east, the position of the nearest company of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
      After their setback, it took the Chinese battalion at Gloster Crossing two hours to reach D Company and their first assault, though menacing because of the number of men involved, was badly co-ordinated, Well supported by mortar fire, the Glosters’ riflemen and machine-gunners drove them off. The next attack was more dangerous, and though it was defeated, the fighting round D and A Companies grew heavier as dawn began to break. Infantryman faced infantryman in close combat with grenade, rifle and machine carbine. Casualties multiplied.
      With dawn came the prospect of stronger support for the defence. Artillery observers could select targets accurately, and ground-attack aircraft could be deployed, although because the whole United Nations front was now engaged there was a stream of demands for air support and not all could be met at once. The Chinese, masters at concealing themselves when out of contact, were also able to make better use of their own field artillery and mortars which their crews had spent much of the night digging in to hidden positions. At about 0630, Angier told Colonel Carne that Castle Hill had been lost. He was mounting a counter attack but... "I need to know whether to expect to stay here indefinitely or not." Carne replied, "You will stay there at all costs until further notice."

Although published over 20 years ago, the unit detail and original pictures and diagrams of the actions described still make this part-work a valuable and fascinating resource.

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