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Hurricanes Over Tobruk [Hardcover]

Brian Cull , Don Minterne

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Book Description

31 May 1999
At the beginning of 1941, the strategically vital port of Tobruk and its Allied garrison was under siege from Rommel's troops and the Luftwaffe and Italian Regia Aeronautica. The only air defence standing in the way was a handful of RAF Hurricane pilots, supported by their RAAF and SAAF colleagues. Until the last remaining Hurricanes were forced to withdraw from the garrison at the end of April 1941, this gallant band had flown daily against overwhelming odds while Rommel's troops attempted to penetrate the garrison's defences, defended mainly by unyielding Australian forces. It was a life and death affair, a desperate period in which the name of Tobruk made world headlines. Whoever controlled Tobruk controlled the central Mediterranean. The Squadrons involved in this titanic struggle were 73 RAF, 6 RAF, 274 RAF, 3 RAAF and 1 SAAF, with 73 Squadron bearing the brunt of the action until forced to evacuate when the German Messerschmitts arrived. There were many unsung heroes from these Squadrons - men like Peter Wykeham-Barnes, Ginger Murray, Smudger Smith, Mike Beytagh, Dickie Martin, Owen Lamb, Tom Patterson, Noel Agazarian, John Elsworth, Bill Wills, the Free Frenchmen, James Denis, Albert Littolf and many, many more. By carefully studying records and diaries, Brian Cull and Don Minterne have written a well researched action-packed account of these months and these men, which is a fitting tribute to their magnificent contribution to the war.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurris in Action Over Tobruk! 20 Feb 2009
By Michael OConnor - Published on
In the see-saw fighting that characterized the 1940/41 land war in North Africa, possession of the port of Tobruk was of crucial importance to Allied and Axis forces alike. Captured by the British in January 1941, it subsequently was beseiged by Rommel's forces as the Afrika Korps pushed westward. Until they were withdrawn at the end of April 1941, a handful of Hurricanes flown by RAF, SAAF and RAAF units fought a desperate battle to keep Tobruk free. The story of those air battles is the subject of Brian Cull's 1999 volume from Grub Street.

Author Cull packs a lot of information in the book's 199 pages of narrative. After relating air activity in North Africa after war's outbreak, he chronicles the daily, deadly air battles fought over Tobruk by the five squadrons - 6, 73 and 274 RAF, 3 RAAF and 1 SAAF - against Italian and German fighter and bomber squadrons.

Cull does a thorough job of detailing the combats waged by those units and pilots like Peter Wykeham-Barnes, 'Jas' Storrar, Mike Beytagh and 'Kiwi' Lamb. Using data from British, German and Italian sources he accurately reconstructs each air battle, usually being able to identify who-did-what-to-whom. He also includes many, many first-person accounts from the pilots themselves. Indeed there is so much information provided that HURRICANES OVER TOBRUK is a book best savored a chapter at a time.

The book features an eight page photo insert depicting some of the Allied and German aircrew involved; their aircraft whether it be Hurricane, CR 42 or Bf 109E; crash scenes; etc.

In short, HURRICANES OVER TOBRUK is an exciting, detailed and accurate recounting of the deadly air battles that ensured Tobruk's survival in 1941 and the crucial role played by Hurricanes. Recommended.
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