Desert Rats: British 8th Army in North Africa 1941-43

Desert Rats: British 8th Army in North Africa 1941-43

by Tim Moreman


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Tim Moreman examines the creation and deployment of British 8th Army, probably the most famous military formation raised by the British during World War II. Formed in September 1941 from the Western Desert Force, it went on to wage a lengthy, hard-fought campaign against German and Italian troops across the deserts of North Africa. It was composed of British and Commonwealth troops - as well as smaller numbers of French and Polish troops. Additionally, a variety of specialized elite forces came under its umbrella including the Special Air Service, Popski's Private Army and the Long Range Desert Group. This book will provide a fascinating insight into these unconventional troops who became the inspiration for today's Special Forces. It was also the first Allied army to rely on close air support; a revolutionary, war-winning tactic that would shaped combined forces strategy throughout the rest of the war.

The Desert War was unlike any other fought by the British Army. The hot, dusty, and unforgiving climate and environment in which its troops lived, moved, and fought was almost as troublesome as the enemy. During its two-year period of service in North Africa, 8th Army underwent major changes in organization, equipment, and training to adapt it to the terrain. Discover the difficulties of desert warfare and how these were overcome by the 8th Army to defeat Rommel and become masters of the desert.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781846031441
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 07/24/2007
Series: Battle Orders Series , #28
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 1,158,144
Product dimensions: 7.25(w) x 9.69(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Tim Moreman is a freelance writer and academic. For several years he lectured in the Department of War Studies at King's College London, where he obtained his PhD. He also held a six-month appointment as Resident Historian at the Army Staff College at Camberley. His primary interests include the British-Indian Army during the 19th and 20th centuries, counter-insurgency, and the British and Commonwealth armies during World War II. In addition to a significant number of articles and papers, Tim has written two major books: a study of the Indian Army on the North-West Frontier 1849-1947, and a book on the war in Burma and Malaya 1941-45. In recent years he has also worked for the new Dictionary of National Biography and the Australian War Memorial, as well as acting as a historical adviser for the BBC and Carlton Television. This is his first book for Osprey. He is based in Somerset, UK. The author lives in Somerset, UK.

Table of Contents

Introduction     4
Combat mission     6
The theatre of war
Unit organization     10
Formation and early Eighth Army organization
Divisional and brigade organization
The post-Operation Crusader changes in organization
The Battle of Gazala and its aftermath
The Eighth Army at El Alamein, August-October 1942
Doctrine and training     28
Fighting methods during the early Desert War
The influence of doctrine - the effect of Operation Compass
Harsh German lessons
The lessons of Operation Crusader
Montgomery - a return to attrition
Training for desert warfare
Weapons and equipment     42
Command, control, communications, and intelligence     53
Command and control
Communications in the Desert War
Combat operations     61
Operation Crusader - Eighth Army's debut in battle
The Battle of Gazala - Eighth Army on the defensive, May-June 1942
The Battle of Alam el Halfa, 31 August-7 September 1942
Operation Pugilist - Eighth Army and the Battle of the Mareth Line, March 1943
Eighth Army's last battle in North Africa: Wadi Akarit, 5-6 April 1943
Lessons learned     89
Chronology     91
Select bibliography     93
Abbreviations     94
Index     95

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