Book Review
SAS Egyptian Airfield Raids
Stirling’s Desert Triumph – The SAS Egyptian Airfield Raids 1942
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Stirling’s Desert Triumph – The SAS Egyptian Airfield Raids 1942 by Osprey Publishing chronicles the daring mass jeep attack on an Axis airfield in the summer of 1942.
    The night of July 26, 1942 saw one of the most audacious raids of World War II, just as the outcome of that conflict hung in the balance. In North Africa, a convoy of 18 Allied jeeps carrying Special Air Service personnel appeared out of the early-morning darkness and drove onto the Axis landing strip at Sidi Haneish in the Egyptian desert. Within the space of a few savage minutes 18 Axis aircraft were ablaze; a dozen more were damaged and scores of guards lay dead or wounded. The men responsible for the raid then vanished into the night as swiftly as they had arrived, prompting the Germans to dub the enemy leader, David Stirling, 'The Phantom Major'. Featuring full-colour artwork, gripping narrative and incisive analysis, this engaging study recounts the origins, planning, execution and aftermath of the daring raid that made the name of the SAS at the height of World War II.
    - Osprey

This book is Raid 49 in Osprey’s series. Written by author Gavin Mortimer it is 80 pages long, illustrated by Peter Dennis, Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland, and has the ISBN 9781472807632. The book is also available in the formats of eBook (ePub) and
eBook (PDF), each having different ISBNs.

The photographs within the book are useful source material for modelers. The text can inspire new projects.

Stirling’s Desert Triumph – The SAS Egyptian Airfield Raids 1942 is recounted through several chapters and sections:
    Initial Strategy
    The Plan
    The Raid
    Further Reading

It is well written with an amount of technical and operational information, plus more personal accounts than I am used to encountering. Sidebars relating major events of the subject with dates and times flag the text.

The book introduces us to Major Sterling who, like another British unorthodox desert warrior, was at first impression an unlikely warrior. So laid back was he that his nickname was “The Giant Sloth”! Yet, like several well-known warriors of the ages, this soldier who many considered an oddball, possessed the qualities of unique though and the ability to sell his ideas up the chain of command, then organize, train, and execute his vision. Successfully, too, even after surviving a parachute jump with a defective 'chute! This account of the SAS raid relates directly to those extraordinary qualities of Major Sterling.

It also introduces us to other SAS greats like the former rugby star Capt Blair “Patty” Mayne, who suggested the use of jeeps to transport Sterling’s groups autonomously, and Mike Sadler, navigator extraordinaire.

After presenting the reader with the strategic and tactical situation in North Africa following the fall of Tobruk in 1942, the reader is acquainted to the background and formation of Major Sterling’s unorthodox unit and its relation to the Long Range Desert Group and L Detachment. It follows them through their training and deployment, and their early time at the desert base of Siwa Oasis. Their early raids on Axis forces are recounted in varying detail. Then the book moves to the events leading to the great airfield raids that this book focuses on.

The main raid against Sidi Haneish is a significant portion of the story. The planning, equipping, organization, training, deployment, execution, recovery and casualties of that attack is covered in detail. The trials and hardships of navigating the desert and night in blackout conditions are fascinating. Yet the main part, the combat during the raid itself, is worth the book. As are the trials and hardships of escape and recovery back to their hidden base under an escarpment. Finally, Analysis and Conclusion explores the effects of the raid. The post-raid lives of several of the main participants are recounted. Several of those are fascinating in and of themselves.

photographs and art
This gallery is particularly appealing. There are several photos that are well known, such as a lineup of SAS jeeps with Major Sterling. There are also many that were taken by the members of Sterling’s command. In fact, Mike Sadler was tasked with exposing photographs of the raid. Several images from German sources round out the selection of photographs.

Two original artwork scenes include Patty Mayne leaving his jeep to plant a Lewes bomb on a nazi aircraft, and SAS men hiding in camel thorn to escape the searching eyes of Nazi planes the morning after the raid.

Maps include a keyed events and unit map of the Libyan and Egyptian region around the Qattara Depression, and an overview of North Africa.

Sterling’s SAS command and their attacks behind the lines against Rommel have always been an enthralling subplot to the war against the Afrika Korps. The Sidi Haneish raid was probably their master stroke. This book presents a level of detail about the raids that I have never encountered before. It is well written and kept my attention. Firsthand accounts greatly enhance the text. The photographs, artwork and maps help bring the subject to life.

The photographs within the book are useful source material for modelers. The text can inspire new projects.

Aside from a slight typo I think the book is exceptional. I recommend it.
Highs: Firsthand accounts greatly enhance the text. The photographs, artwork and maps help bring the subject to life.
Lows: A slight typo.
Verdict: An exceptional story about the SAS airfield raids of 1942. The photographs within the book are useful source material for modelers and the text can inspire new projects.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472807632
  PUBLISHED: May 14, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


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