Book Review
Take These Men
Take These Men - Tank Warfare with the Desert Rats
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Very few people can understand how war affects mankind. During the 20th Century man waged war as never before. Tank warfare was in its infancy in World War 1, but with developments during peacetime it was only a matter of where not when war would be waged again.


Take these men was first published in 1955, but this edition is published by Pen and Sword Military 2019. This publication contains 357 pages of good quality paper with a soft cover that was designed by Jon Wilkinson. There are no photographs or maps contained in this publication, just the vivid recollections of Cyril Joly (Lieutenant Colonel) who writes of his first hand experiences of tank warfare, where not only were they out gunned but had to deal with the incompetence of their higher command.

The contents are as follows:
Part One: 1940 - Early Skirmishes
1 - I journey to the Desert
2 - I joined the Armoured Regiment
3 - We move to the Frontier
4 - The Weary Vigil
5 - A Skirmish with the Italians
6 - The Italians Advance

Part One - takes you on the journey that Cyril and his chums embarked on and how they soon realised that they had much to learn when they took it in turns to drive the tank and all of them managed to leave the tank axle deep in the sand and having to dig it out, as they did not have the experience of how to read the terrain, and also the exhaustion and fear of actually being in battle.

Part Two: 1940 - An Army Destroyed
1 - Out of Battle
2 - Lessons from Experience
3 - Advance 1
4 - Chase Beyond the Frontier
5 - Templeton Falters
6 - We Surround the Enemy
7 - Victory at Beda Fomm

Part Two - How Cyril and the crew felt after they settled into the day to day routine, but also had to be ready at a moment’s notice for action.

Part Three: 1941 - Defying the Germans
1 - We meet the Germans
2 - Templeton Dies
3 - A Desperate Race
4 - On Foot to Tobruk
5 - In Tobruk
6 - We Move to Relieve Tobruk
7 - Brewed-up
8 - Our Advance Fails
9 - We Withdraw

Part Three - A desperate fight and the loss of a friend, this part gives more of an insight into what the boys were going through.

Part Four: 1941 - Defeating the Germans
1 - Cairo
2 - A Squadron to Command
3 - Into Battle Again
4 - Surrounded in Leaguer
5 - Sidi Rezegh
6 - Alarms and Excursions
7 - Followed into Leaguer
8 - Trials and Tribulations
9 - Crippled and Deserted
10 - False Alarm
11 - We Visit Rommel’s HQ
12 - Peters is Killed
13 - Wounded

Part Four - Having a change of pace and feeling that the war is a bad dream is how this section of the book starts.

Part five: 1941 - Eighth Army at Bay
1 - Cairo Again
2 - Waiting for Battle Again
3 - Comparisons and Fears
4 - Sudden Disaster
5 - Despairs and Frustrations
6 - Disaster Again
7 - Tobruk Captured
8 - Alam Halfa - The Tide Stemmed

Part Five - The roller coaster of being wounded, recovery, waiting for action again.

Part Six: 1943 - A Day’s March Nearer Home
1 - Posted to Brigade Headquarters
2 - El Alamein and Beyond
3 - Tripoli at Last
4 - Mareth and into Tunisia
5 - The Chase Again
6 - Over the Mountains
7 - The Crowning Triumph

Part Six - A new posting and new experiences await…

This book gives a unique insight into the life of a young officer in the 7th Armoured Division (aka The Desert Rats), from being outnumbered by the Italians to fighting against Rommel’s Afrika Korps and how losing friends during the fighting had an impact on how everyone felt.


I found this book to be very thought provoking, reading how two of the writers friends were killed and how this affected the rest of the men, and the way that things could change at the drop of a hat, is very hard to comprehend. I would think that when this was first published in 1955 that it was still very raw in the minds of those that had taken part in these most horrifying of campaigns. This book shows the resilience of those men who were ready to sacrifice themselves for King and country. Although Cyril Joly died in 2000, but we should continue to read and record these stories, as very soon they will be lost to history as they leave living memory.
Fay Baker takes a look at a Pen and Sword release of a book titled 'Take These Men - Tank Warfare with the Desert Rats'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526752093
  Suggested Retail: £11.99
  PUBLISHED: Jun 18, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


Thank you for the review. This is a book I would like to read as I prefer first hand experiences and what the individual went through.
JUN 18, 2019 - 03:39 AM