Hamilton served with 8th RTR in the Western Desert in 1941-42, Palestine and Syria 1943-44 and Italy in 1944-45. He was a troop commander operating Valentine tanks in Africa but had graduated to Squadron leader and Sherman tanks for Italy.
The author's role in the desert was primarily infantry support. Unfortunately the Valentine's main weapon was the 2 Pounder which was inadequate for confrontations with German tanks. It was very interesting to read how the crews managed to make do though. Manoever, a high rate of fire and guts went a long way - until the overwhelming odds caught up with you at least. One of the most remarkable aspects of Hamilton's account is the relentless nature of the desert campaign. Aside from the intense battles, the travel was exhausting and the desert itself imposed serious difficulties. Hamilton writes in exasperation of units being continually spilt up and sent racing all over the desert. As such they were quickly reduced to `penny-packets' and had great difficulty achieving battlefield success. In combat, Hamilton experiences air-attack and finds armoured warfare to be very harsh. Death meant gore and burns were a constant fear. Actions could erupt out of nowhere and the Italians were not always push-overs. The author gets a partial spell for Alamein but he otherwise seems to be in every other fight there was.
Italy is a less fluid campaign. There are different challenges with the terrain, ridges, cliffs, mud and it is a long hard slog. The Germans are impressive fighters and always maintain their determination and deadliness. There are also many casualties, including many accidental ones and command failures that exacerbate all the other problems. This is the only tanker account I know of that address this campaign.
As with it seems all war memoirs written by British officers, this is a very well written book. The author writes in great detail on the actions he fought in, including on killing, his friends, his men and the tragedies that occurred to them. The author was very, very lucky to survive to the end. In many ways, fighting in the desert and Italy was different to the battles of Normandy and beyond but even though there are excellent accounts from those, I think this book has the edge in terms of the overall experience of being a British tanker in WW2. Highly recommended 4 ½ stars