Armoured Horseman, with the Bays and Eight Army in North Africa and Italy

B2246

An author of military history has to research with care, locate suitable illustrations and then write down what happened with equal care, drawing conclusions and providing new perspectives and insights. However, the first, and often most difficult step, is to decide on a person, or campaign, or battle to make the focus of what can become a fresh insight. This new book covers familiar ground, because there have been many books that tell the story of the major North African and Italian campaigns, but it brings forward a unique story that is fascinating, compelling and charming. This is a must read WWII account but it will also appeal for its horse racing connections and the very human story that it tells.

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NAME: Armoured Horseman, with the Bays and Eight Army in North Africa and Italy
FILE: R2246
AUTHOR: PeterWillett
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 174
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War Two, Second World War, technology, tactics, armour, cavalry, horsemen, North Africa, Italy, 8th Army, tanks
ISBN: 1-47383-412-X
IMAGE: B2246.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/gt5py7z
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: An author of military history has to research with care, locate suitable illustrations and then write down what happened with equal care, drawing conclusions and providing new perspectives and insights. However, the first, and often most difficult step, is to decide on a person, or campaign, or battle to make the focus of what can become a fresh insight. This new book covers familiar ground, because there have been many books that tell the story of the major North African and Italian campaigns, but it brings forward a unique story that is fascinating, compelling and charming. This is a must read WWII account but it will also appeal for its horse racing connections and the very human story that it tells.

Peter Willett is a well-known and highly respected figure from the world of horse racing. What even some of his best friends and closest colleagues may not know about is his extensive experience as a soldier and tanker during WWII. It is not something that he has spoken about and this is mirrored across the thousands who stepped from peacetime into the crucible of war and then stepped back into a very different world. The great tragedy of military history is that so few who fought have taken time to record their personal experiences. Time flies, old soldiers often have difficulty in talking about intense and painful experiences, relatives fail to preserve the stories and then those who were there have passed into history. It is therefore a delight when an old soldier writes down his thoughts, views and experience. Sometimes the story is harrowing, sometimes filled with humour, frequently a tale of comradeship, but always an important lesson for those who come after.

WWII is a story of total global war and a terrifying range of new weapons. Some had made their first appearance during WWI but really came of age in WWII. As so often happens, the next war is not the war that democracies have prepared to fight. Britain and France were still thinking of fighting again the trench war of the Western Front. They expected to sit in the fixed defences of the Maginot line and the Belgian fortifications that had been expected to continue the defence to the sea. In the event WWII saw the lightning war of continuing movement, movement across great distances. The use of armour, self-propelled artillery, mechanized infantry, tactical war planes, and mobile communications revolutionized warfare. That was true in the narrow lanes of old European battlefields, but it was a core of fighting in the huge open areas of Russia and North Africa. It was the time of the armoured horseman. It was a shock of new tactics, not seen since the Hixos swept into Ancient Egypt on their charriots, the first mounted charges.

WWII was to complete the pattern begun in WWI, where the boundary between military and civilians blurred. Men went to war and women filled the vacant places in factories and farms, some women served very close to the fighting and some even flew combat aircraft between factories, squadrons and repair units. The use of air-power to attack cities became firmly established and was already terrible in its destruction by the half way point of the war, but concluded in total devastation when the first nuclear weapons were dropped on Japanese cities.

When the war ended, society began to attempt normalization but not all women gave up the freedom of work and pay-packet. Not all military personnel adapted back into their peacetime lives. Few spoke of their wartime service other than to comrades with whom their had shared an intensity of comradeship that was alien to civilian life.

The author was fortunate to move from education to war and then come back to forge a new and very different career in journalism, bloodstock, horse racing and administration. He has written a book which is warm and human, providing a balanced autobiography, beginning with his family background to the military, his war service and his new career in horse racing circles. It could be said that this is the story of a horseman who spent several important years mounted on armoured, mechanized mounts.

From North Africa, many were sent into Sicily and Italy, “The D-Day Dodgers in Sunny Italy”, who were to fight a strenuous battle against a determined German enemy in a landscape that was far from the popular conception of Sunny Italy. They had come from the great expanses of hot desert, flies and sandstorms, to an ancient country of hills and mountains, rain and snow for a long slog north towards the border with France.

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