Mailed Fist Paperback – 23 Jan 1975
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Superbly written war tales that took place in the European Theatre during WW2.
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Top Customer Reviews
april 2016, I am now reading my original review written some years back, the same emotions are still with me as I read my comment.& I wish my Father (who was a platoon Sargeant) has spoken about those times, I am sure he must have gone through the same experiences these tank crews did, & the hope is my Grandsons never have to face these experience in their future. I have never understood why this book did not get made not a film, you are now unlikely to find this book..
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Foley is assigned to command 5 Troop of A Squadron and his first activities are in training for the invasion of France. It is fascinating to see how their methods changed when an experienced commander takes over. Indeed, this allows a very interesting comparison with some of the other senior regimental officers that Foley encountered early on. Armies can be very peculiar things and the people in them just as strange. Thankfully the unit is combat ready when they arrive at Normandy shortly after D-day.
Initially Foley's unit is in reserve and when they do enter combat they are not committed to any of the infamous big battles. It is therefore an account of infantry support, with the Germans rarely seen. With the breakout though, operations become unpredictable with the establishing of a bridgehead over the Orne attracting a heavy counterattack by 12 SS Panzer Division. It is here that Foley's Churchill comes face to face with a Tiger with predictable results. This section is the most interesting of the book and reveals the confusion and cost of battle made clear. Later episodes follow a pattern of clearing villages and pushing forward against ambushes by SPGs. It is a good account of what the majority of armoured crews experienced for the last months of the war.
Aside from battle, there is a lot on the operations of the Churchill tanks, including some remarkable material on negotiating the ice covered roads in the Ardennes. There is also a lot on the camaraderie of a tank troop, the costs of battle, the occasional comic relief and Foley's role as an officer, managing everyone through it all. Particularly enjoyable are the stories of the liberation.
Foley's memoir was first published in 1957 and was popular enough to be reprinted several times since, including after the author's death in the 1970s. The author writes fluently (he is frequently quoted in history books) and has a wry sense of humour which helps when he is telling stories where he made a mess of things. It does cover combat and sad losses occur and it is quite exciting at times but the author's tone is matter-of-fact, almost understated. This is particularly so where the author recounts his personal very close calls with death. It is very British in that regard I think. All up, it is a good read. It gives a lot of detail regarding training and the typical experiences of men operating tanks. Recommended - 4 stars