The war in Iraq revived public focus on the Desert Rats whose famous battles of World War 2 helped turn the tide of German dominance. In Iraq, seven units of the British Army which now form the 7th Armoured Brigade, bearers of the Desert Rats insignia, were immediately engaged in some of the fiercest early fighting, ultimately taking Basra for the Allies.
Nothing less was expected of this most renowned of British fighting forces which came into being as part of the Western Desert Force in 1940 and subsequently fought with Montgomery's 8th Army in the great desert battles. They underpinned epic campaigns culminating in El Alamein, where Rommel's much-vaunted Afrika Corps was poised to begin the final route of the British in North Africa in 1942. But they met unimagined resistance from an army spearheaded by the Desert Rats. As Winston Churchill wrote: "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat".
The Desert Rats later saw action in India and Burma against the Japanese and in the D-Day landings. After the war the 7th Armoured Division re-emerged as part of the NATO forces during the Cold War years, and in other major deployments in the 1991 Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo. In this latest of his military histories, John Parker once again draws heavily on the drama of first-hand accounts for a story that is a seminal part of modern military history.
- Publication Date:
- 15 / 01 / 2005
- 158 x 244 x 35mm