The Tank War: The British Band of Brothers - One Tank Regiment's World War II Paperback – 3 Apr 2014
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A genuinely fresh perspective . . . shocking in its rawness . . . achieves the almost impossible feat of capturing something of the excess of emotion conjured up by the heat of battle (Spectator)
A raw and gripping account of the Second World War and the men and the Machines who beat HitlerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
One strong point of this book is how Urban effortlessly changes perspective from the tank turret to the wider strategic picture. Furthermore, it is (in my humble opinion at least) very fair and balanced in that it gives due credit to the admirable bravery of the crews, while also expanding on the less glorious aspects: badly planned and executed actions, tensions between crews and inexperienced commanders (sometimes resulting in near mutiny), battle fatigue, drinking and looting, and occasions of panic. A very understandable example of the latter is a confrontation in Normandy where a number of crews, finding their Cromwell 75 mm rounds just bouncing off a Tiger's thick skin, simply bail out and run for it.
'The Tank War' clearly focuses on the human side rather than on the technical. Readers should not expect details on the Christie suspension system of the Cruiser or on the sizes of bolts in the Cromwell, but Urban does a very good job in describing the evolution of the tank throughout the war. The 5th RTR operated a variety of tanks, starting with unreliable Cruiser A13s, then transferring into reliable yet still small M3 Valentines, then M3 Grant, Crusader, Sherman, and finally in Normandy, Cromwell and Sherman Firefly. For laymen such as yours truly this is quite educational; I had never realized that armour piercing ammunition is just solid shot that does not explode when penetrating a tank but rather ricochets around inside, the effect augmented by shards of spalled-off armour.
To conclude, an excellent book about a very brave set of soldiers.
I must admit perhaps due to academic snobbery that I thought a journalist's book about 5th RTR would be full of derring-do and 'Boys Own' style stories of individual bravery and would not give me a great deal of insight - I am glad to be proved wrong and it is my loss that I did not read this book earlier.
Urban has chosen his subject wisely - a battalion that served throughout the war in all theatres (except the Far East) and he follows a small number of key personnel throughout the war blending the strategic, tactical and personal stories very well. In tracking these men through France 1940, the Desert War, Italy, Normandy and Germany he provides a case study of the British Army, its battles, its internal politics and struggle to get to grips with the bloody and unforgiving nature of modern warfare.
I found the discussion of the Normandy battles particularly illuminating. Whilst Urban is no apologist for Montgomery, he understands the restrictions that 5 years of war have placed on British manpower resources particularly in front-line infantry and the need to spearhead offensives with armoured units and immense air and artillery bombardment as in Operation Goodwood illustrates the dilemma perfectly.
The infamous Villers-Bocage incident which befell the sister unit of 5th RTR, the 4th CLY, is frequently used to demonstrate the ineptitude of British armour tactics compared to the brilliance of the German army.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very enjoyable read. Infomative detail, highly recommended.Published 1 month ago by Paul Rumbelow
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Couldn't put it down from start to finish. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in British armoured warfare during the second world war or... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Thomas James John Abrahams
This is the only book I've read on the British tank aspect of the Second World War, so I cannot compare it to others. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Rumpty
I hate this book and everything associated with war. However it was requested by one of my grandsons. Arrived ok.Published 4 months ago by Christine Mary Shelley
I bought this for my dad as he was in a tank regiment himself based in Germany and he thoroughly enjoyed the book as his dad was also in the army and got captured whilst in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
'The British Band of Brothers' will attract readers of that there is little doubt, however this should not mislead readers into expecting a mirror of the Stephen Ambrose... Read morePublished 5 months ago by David Mark Perry
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