Blog Archives

The Yellow Jackets go to war

In the years both before and after the Second World War, Hodder & Stoughton were well known for their Yellow Jacket books, often stories of adventure or crime, from writers such as John Buchan, Rider Haggard, Edgar Wallace and Baroness Orczy as well as the Bulldog Drummond stories by ‘Sapper’ and ‘The Saint’ stories by Leslie Charteris.   The books appeared in both paperback and hardback editions.

Pre-war Yellow Jacket

A typical Hodder & Stoughton Yellow Jacket

During the war, their range of titles looked well suited to the demands of the Central Services Book Depot for ‘warm’ fiction, westerns and crime, but so far as I know they didn’t contribute any books to the Guild series of Services Editions.   Instead they bided their time and in 1944 launched their own series, spurning the generic description of ‘Services Editions’ for their own ‘Services Yellow Jackets’.

Hodder 1

For a company that clearly then had an eye to its own brand image, it’s perhaps surprising that they didn’t go for bright yellow jackets on their services series.  Instead they opted for a stylised design, apparently based on white cliffs overlooking a blue sea and a yellow sky.  Do the blue swooshes, apparently representing waves on the sea, also contain a hint of the ‘blue birds over, the white cliffs of Dover’ that were a feature of “We’ll meet again”, the most popular song and the most popular film of the time?  Most copies of the books would after all have been sent abroad to troops serving far from home, and perhaps dreaming of returning home (or dreaming of Vera Lynn?).

Hodder 10

I don’t know of any list of the books published as Services Yellow Jackets, other than the list I’ve put together myself, from my own collection and ones I’ve seen elsewhere.  I can identify at least 15 titles, published between September 1944 and September 1945, listed below, but it seems a fair bet that there are more.   Please let me know if you come across any other books in the series.


List of known Services Yellow Jackets