James Colvin: Eighth Army versus Rommel, Tactics, Training and Operations in North Africa 1940-1942 Helion & Co Ltd 2020
This is James Colvin’s first book and is based on research undertaken for his MA. It is an academic work in that it is sourced and draws on primary sources. His academic tutor was Matthais Strohn, and this work displays rigour and insights informed by someone close to the British Army.
The book does what is says on the tin, and covers tactics training and operations.
However, its real strength is the clinical examination of the culture of the British and Indian Army and how this hampered the commanders and staff of the Eighth Army in developing effective tactics.
The author pieces together the thinking that led to the ineffective tactics and the influence of the Indian army approach to armoured warfare. It is worth reading alone for the exposition of the thinking of Tom Corbett, Eric Dorman Smith and Francis Tuker and how this led to a battlefield of boxes. Much of this is new analysis and adds a new dimension to any thinking about the desert war battles.
The author is related to two Gunner veterans of the campaign. One relative is the ill fated Beresford Peirse quotes extensively from the papers of his relative Robin Dunn,, an HAC officer during the campaign. However, the Gunners themselves escape critical review without mention of one question often asked. Why didn’t the British Heavy Anti Aircraft guns in a similar way to the Germans 88?
The 261 page work is illustrated with relevant sketches and photographs.
It should be on the reading list of anyone interested in the war in North Africa 1940-1942 or in the wider British Army of that period.
Not particularly cheap, but affordable. £29,95 RRP