Take These Men, Tank Warfare With The Desert Rats

A vivid and flowing account of the North Africa armoured engagements by the late Lt Col Cyril Joly, MC & Bar. This book was highly acclaimed in 1955 when it was first published and remains the outstanding account from a ‘tanker’ who served throughout the Western Desert campaign, was wounded and awarded the Military Cross and Bar – Very Highly Recommended

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NAME: Take These Men, Tank Warfare With The Desert Rats
FILE: R2924
AUTHOR: Cyril Joly
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 276
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, World War Two, Second World War, 
armour, North Africa, Afrika Korps, tank warfare, 7th Armoured Division, 8th Army, 
desert warfare

ISBN: 1-52675-209-3

IMAGE: B2924.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y6ymzkpt
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: A vivid and flowing account of the North Africa armoured 
engagements by the late Lt Col Cyril Joly, MC & Bar. This book was highly 
acclaimed in 1955 when it was first published and remains the outstanding 
account from  a 'tanker' who served throughout the Western Desert campaign, 
was wounded and awarded the Military Cross and Bar –  Very Highly 
Recommended

This is one of those rare battlefield books that does not require illustration, the text 
carrying the reader through the hell of armoured warfare in the desert. The vivid 
descriptions hold the reader in a ringside seat.

Cyril Joly was born in China, educated at Clifton College and the Royal Military 
Academy Sandhurst, joining the Royal Tank Regiment in 1939. Much has been 
written about the British use, or lack of use, of armour in a modern all-arms context. 
It is entirely true that politicians cut the services to the bone between the two World 
Wars and many senior officers failed to grasp the principles of mobile armoured 
warfare, with the integration of mechanized infantry, motorized artillery and close 
air support. However, the first publications advocating this form of warfare were 
first published by British and French tank officers. The German Army prepared 
detailed plans before WWII but, in 1939, were initially still equipped with training 
tanks that were less than ideal for their purpose. As the Royal Tank Regiment 
demonstrated convincingly at Arras, in buying time for the Dunkirk evacuation, 
British armour, in the form of the Matilda, were more than equal to the task of 
halting a panzer advance, provided adequate numbers of tanks were dedicated to 
the battle. They were also supported by mechanized infantry and the much under-
rated Universal Carriers. The only thing lacking was close air support. In the battles 
around Arras and the Dunkirk perimeter, the RAF Fairy Battle was highly 
vulnerable but was still committed and flown with courage. The Royal Navy also 
deployed its Skua dive bombers effectively and, had they been able to train with the 
army before 1939, it is possible that the RTR could have repeated the successes of 
the 'Old Contemptibles' in 1914 in a skilled fighting retreat that blunted and then 
halted the German advance.

North Africa was to prove the British armour in a difficult and dangerous 
environment. The author's account of the ebb and flow of fortunes provides a 
unique insight from his own direct experiences.

The British land forces in Egypt were seriously under strength and equipped 
largely with obsolete equipment. The Italians comfortably outnumbered the British 
and yet British armour forced them back with large numbers of prisoners and much 
equipment being taken by the British. The process of rapid advance and rapid 
defeat then alternated until the Germans were badly mauled at El Alamein and 
never recovered the initiative. By that stage, the British had finally cracked the 
problem, providing equipment and men in adequate numbers, with tanks supported 
by self propelled artillery and effective towed guns, with close air support from a 
Desert Air Force that soon established air superiority. The author has told this story 
from the perspective of a junior officer who distinguished himself in the bitter 
fighting. In the process, he has written the definitive account of the action.