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Desert Rat 1940-43: British and Commonwealth troops in North Africa (Warrior) Paperback – November 22, 2011
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Where this account excels, however, is in the short but discerning section on the soldiers' beliefs and sense of belonging. The Desert Rats were a diverse lot, with troops from India, South Africa, Australia, the British Isles and elsewhere. Yet they shared a sense of pride built up from O'Connor's early victories over the Italians. Language differences caused problems, but also built a unique jargon with terms from beyond the English-speaking world, such as sangar, an Urdu term for a hastily-built rock fort. There is an informative write-up on the problems of moving and fighting in the desert. Did you know that most combat took place during the morning and late afternoon, because heat haze made it difficult to see targets at midday?
The write-up ends with two brief stories from the desert fighting, the Battle of the Omars during the Crusader offensive and the stand by 150th Brigade at Gazala.Read more ›
"Desert Rat 1940-43" is an Osprey Warrior Series entry, authored by Tim Moreman and illustrated by Steve Noon. It is less about the battles in North Africa and more about the soldiers who fought them. In a brisk 64 pages, the author discusses where the troops came from, how they fought, what they believed in, and their weapons and equipment. There is an astonishing amount information here, and the text is nicely supported by photographs, maps, and some excellent illustrations.
The most interesting takeaway for this reviewer was how the composition of the Desert Rats changed over time. The long-serving professionals of the 7th Armoured Division became the far less trained collection of draftees and Commonwealth troops of the Western Desert Force. The Eighth Army would require extensive retraining and reequipping to achieve its victories from El Alamein to Tunis. "Desert Rat" is too short to provide more than a good introduction to that process, but it is a decent read. Recommended.
My dad was a Desert Rat, Valentine driver... Captured June 21, 1942 in what is sometimes called the "First Battle of El Amamein" A battle many seem to overlook, including this book -for the most part. Even Rommel talks about this battle... Dad was Point tank and the first one to get hit. RTR was like cavalry in that they shot on the run... it worked fighting the Ital's but not Jerry. Jerry hit back with 75mm & 88mm guns... and wiped out the British tank regiment.
Any tanker -like my son- should read this
The information, I found was similar to the recognized Official Histories of the British and Commonwealth Forces that participated. The captions to the majority of photographs appear correct. As well as the history in order 1940 to 1943 of specific battles and campaigns, I found the author picked, what I would assume are his particular favourite battles, and dealt with them in detail. I also feel it is very obvious the author is British. However, I feel the diagrams are good quality and the information accurate.