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Churchill's Desert Rats: From Normandy to Berlin with the 7th Armoured Division Paperback – 17 Mar 2003

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (17 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750931981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750931984
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 14.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,468,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Patrick Delaforce is an established military history author, his other publications in this series including The Fighting Wessex Wyverns. From Normandy to Bremerhaven with the 43rd Wessex Division and The Polar Bears - Monty's Left Flank From Normandy to the Relief of Holland with the 49th Division.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Patrick Delaforce's 'Churchill's Desert Rats' tells the story of the British 7th Armoured Division during the north-west Europe campaign of the Second World War. The books begins with the division arriving home in 1944, after being deployed in Africa and Italy since the start of the war in 1939, and details its downtime, reputation, role for the upcoming invasion, and the preparation undertaken. This is followed by the fighting in Normandy, the subsequent dash across France, the fighting in the Low Countries, the advance to the Rhine and the 'great swan' across Germany, concluding with the victory parade in Berlin. This story is told mostly through the words of the men who formed part of the division, with comments scattered between by Delaforce providing context and advancing along the narrative.

However, this style of writing is a huge let down. While such a wealth of personal testimony, this book being more of an anthology of memoirs and anecdotes of former members of the division, is welcomed and it being put out there for public consumption is excellent, these primary sources could have been utilised much more effectively. Delaforce does not use them as the focal point of an argument, they are not generally woven into the narrative, nor are always used in a chronological order. They are on the whole disjointed, jumping from date to date and some appearing in the work - one would only be left to assume - because the author had access to them. The former members of the division are left with the last word to say, and at no time does Delaforce correct the errors that crop-up in the personal testimony. The lack, as it would seem, of consultation with any secondary source allows the errors of these personal accounts to creep into the book at an alarming rate.
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Format: Paperback
Patrick Delaforce's 'Churchill's Desert Rats' tells the story of the British 7th Armoured Division during the north-west Europe campaign of the Second World War. The books begins with the division arriving home in 1944, after being deployed in Africa and Italy since the start of the war in 1939, and details its downtime, reputation, role for the upcoming invasion, and the preparation undertaken. This is followed by the fighting in Normandy, the subsequent dash across France, the fighting in the Low Countries, the advance to the Rhine and the 'great swan' across Germany, concluding with the victory parade in Berlin. This story is told mostly through the words of the men who formed part of the division, with comments scattered between by Delaforce providing context and advancing along the narrative.

However, this style of writing is a huge let down. While such a wealth of personal testimony, this book being more of an anthology of memoirs and anecdotes of former members of the division, is welcomed and it being put out there for public consumption is excellent, these primary sources could have been utilised much more effectively. Delaforce does not use them as the focal point of an argument, they are not generally woven into the narrative, nor are always used in a chronological order. They are on the whole disjointed, jumping from date to date and some appearing in the work - one would only be left to assume - because the author had access to them. The former members of the division are left with the last word to say, and at no time does Delaforce correct the errors that crop-up in the personal testimony. The lack, as it would seem, of consultation with any secondary source allows the errors of these personal accounts to creep into the book at an alarming rate.
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Format: Paperback
A little dry unless you have an interest. If you have an interest (and it's a significant part of our history) then it is most informative. The extracts depict a sense of resignation to fate - but still ullustrate the very humour that must have acted as an antidote to the horrors of war. My interest was in following the route taken by my father who also served with the desert rats in North Africa and Italy. Probably the best 10p I ever spent. And hey, it arrived early and in better condition than I hoped.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing 7 July 2012
By Carl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Patrick Delaforce's 'Churchill's Desert Rats' tells the story of the British 7th Armoured Division during the north-west Europe campaign of the Second World War. The books begins with the division arriving home in 1944, after being deployed in Africa and Italy since the start of the war in 1939, and details its downtime, reputation, role for the upcoming invasion, and the preparation undertaken. This is followed by the fighting in Normandy, the subsequent dash across France, the fighting in the Low Countries, the advance to the Rhine and the 'great swan' across Germany, concluding with the victory parade in Berlin. This story is told mostly through the words of the men who formed part of the division, with comments scattered between by Delaforce providing context and advancing along the narrative.

However, this style of writing is a huge let down. While such a wealth of personal testimony, this book being more of an anthology of memoirs and anecdotes of former members of the division, is welcomed and it being put out there for public consumption is excellent, these primary sources could have been utilised much more effectively. Delaforce does not use them as the focal point of an argument, they are not generally woven into the narrative, nor are always used in a chronological order. They are on the whole disjointed, jumping from date to date and some appearing in the work - one would only be left to assume - because the author had access to them. The former members of the division are left with the last word to say, and at no time does Delaforce correct the errors that crop-up in the personal testimony. The lack, as it would seem, of consultation with any secondary source allows the errors of these personal accounts to creep into the book at an alarming rate.

Delaforce states, in the introduction, "If there are errors ... they are mine alone", and the work is littered with them outside of the personal accounts. These include providing the reader with incorrect unit designations for German units, stating the division fought units it did not, and in one particular example claims an entire German corps arrived two weeks earlier than it historically did. The worst error, by far, is contained within the photograph section. One is credited with being a German photograph of the "disaster at Point 213, Villers-Bocage". However, nowhere in the text, or with this photo, does Delaforce explain or indicate that it is a doctored image produced for German propaganda purposes (See Dan Taylor, Villers-Bocage) and that if anything the photograph highlights a section of road just outside of the town and not at Point 213. Was Delaforce aware of the nature of the photo? When there are plenty of photographs, within the German archives, of the devastated nature of the 7th Armour units ambushed at Villers-Bocage, why did Delaforce - or his publishers - choose this particular photograph without revealing it had been published in a propaganda newspaper? All of these factors raise serious doubts about the research done to support this book.

Much within the book is left without explanation, unless one already has an understanding of the north-west Europe campaign and even then it can still be confusing due to unexplained abbreviations, confusing narrative, and poor use of grammar. For example a new division is introduced into the narrative, but it is only a paragraph later that it is clarified to be a German one. During the 7th Armour's stay in Belgian, the 'White Brigade' is referenced several times however at no point is it explained what the nature of this unit was.

There is little sense of analysis within the book (a key example: It is explained that following the liberation of Ghent, it was a week until a separate British unit cleared out the last remnants of German resistance. No explanation is offered as to why elements of the 7th Armoured Division did not undertake this job since they were based within the city during that week, or if they were even aware of German holdouts.), it is full of unsourced and grandiose claims, and hyperbole. While there is an acknowledgement at the back of the book for some sources used, there is no bibliography and nothing within the book is fully referenced making it impossible, from looking at this book alone, to find and use these personal accounts or check claims made. In sections the work is also clearly dated (Two examples come to mind, the coverage of the fighting at Villers-Bocage and how Delaforce describes the tanks used by the division. For the former, one would recommend looking at Dan Taylor's, George Forty's, or Henri Marie's work, while for the latter John Buckley's 'British Armour in Normandy' provides a modern balanced account of the machines used by the British). Delaforce makes no attempt to show that he is an unbiased author, the British are the 'good guys' and the Germans are the 'bad guys': this can be seen in the language used in describing the exploits of the division.

If you are after personal accounts from the men who served in the division during 1944-45, or just for the wealth of personal testimony, then this is the book for you although caution is advised on taking everything stated within on face value. Otherwise, for a balanced look at how the division fared during this campaign I cannot recommend it. At the time of writing this review, I do not believe, there is a book that actually fits the latter description. One would suggest looking for works that cover the various battles the division was engaged in, which can offer some form of analytical opinion on the division along with more detail on what they in fact did. For a general history of the division during this period, there is the campaign history by Captain Lindsay: History of 7th Armoured Division: June 1943 - July 1945 ISBN 978-1-84791-219-0.
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