Book Review
Archibald Wavell
Osprey Publishing LTD Archibald Wavell
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


** Between June 1940 and June 1941 Archibald Wavell was the only British theatre commander actively engaging Axis enemy forces. At a time when the British Expeditionary Force had been forcefully expelled from the Continent and Great Britain was preparing as best it could for the threat of a Nazi invasion, Wavell was conducting campaigns across nine countries and in parts of two continents. From the hugely successful winter campaigns against the Italians in the Western Desert and the conquest of Italian East Africa, through the Iraqi revolt, the invasion of Vichy Syria and Lebanon to the ill-fated British involvement in Greece as well as the unsuccessful attempts to break the siege of Tobruk that led to his replacement in June 1941, Wavell influenced every move. **

** Author’s words quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released Archibald Wavell as Number 28 in their command series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations, color maps, an information chart and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-737-7. As the title states, the book covers Archibald Wavell and his military career.


- Introduction
- The early years
- The military life, 1900 - 40
- The hour of destiny
- Opposing commanders
- Inside the mind
- When war is done
- A life in words
- Select bibliography
- Index


The text in the book is nicely written and gives a detailed account of the military career of Archibald Wavell and various actions that he was involved with. Jon Diamond has gone to great lengths to research Archibald Wavell and provides excellent coverage of his life both on the battlefield and the home front as well as his life after World War II. The text, and the accompanying photographs, are in a correct chronological order and is well written and detailed on all counts. As well as discussing Wavell, Jin Diamond discusses several other areas such as Operations Compass and Thursday, military armor and aircraft, Allied and Axis commanders, and other such items. An area that is shown and discussed that I was pleased to see was the way the British forces used deception in North Africa. Methods such as making US M3 tanks look like trucks, and trailers called the “Trackmaker” device pulled behind soft-skinned vehicles that left tank track impressions on the ground. These things should be of interest to the military modeler as well as anyone interested in military deception practices. Anyone interested in the military career and personal life of Archibald Wavell will find this book very informative and interesting and a worthwhile read. The book didn’t contain any spelling or grammar errors that I could find as I read through it. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.


There are a total of 41 black and white photographs included in this volume. There are no color photographs included other than the one on the front cover of the book. The photographs begin with Archibald Wavell as a child and then show him throughout his military career from his days at in The Black Watch, World War One, throughout World War Two and the years after the war ended. The majority of them are close up photographs of Archibald Wavell and other military commanders in propaganda type settings. There are also photographs of Archibald Wavell and other military commanders in scenes such as inspecting troops and defensive positions, military planning, awards ceremonies and conferences. Other photographs included are of the British LRDG (Long Range Desert Group), armor, military aircraft, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, small arms and other nation’s soldiers such as the Gurkhas from India. Some of the other military commanders shown are General Sir Edmund Allenby, Brigadier Eric-Dorman Smith, General Sir Alan Brooke, Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Clarke, Lieutenant-General Henry Maitland “Jumbo” Wilson, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, Generalmajor Kurt Student, General “Hap” Arnold, Lieutenant-General Joseph Stillwell and Winston Churchill just to name a few. The majority of the featured photographs are very nice and will help the military armor, aircraft, and diorama modeler as well as the military figure modeler as they show several different uniforms styles and also show individual sidearm choices as well as the ranks and decorations. Jon Diamond has chosen photographs that are specific to Archibald Wavell and his military career and not just random World War II military photographs of the period. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.


There are 3 color illustrations by illustrator Peter Dennis that are very well done and nicely detailed. As with the photographs, the illustrations come with well written captions that provide detailed information about each illustration. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

The color illustrations are of the following:

- O’Connor’s ATTACK ON Fort Nibeiwa, 9 December 1940
- General Headquarters (GHQ) Cairo, 4 December 1940
- Operation Thursday, the defence of White City, March-April 1944


There are 5 color maps included in this volume that are well done, nicely detailed and are of:

- The British XIII Corps attack, 4 – 7 February 1940
- The campaign in East Africa
- Wavell’s operation in Iraq
- The defence of Crete, 20 – 31 May 1941
- Wingate’s Operation Thursday, March – August 1944


There is 1 informational chart provided that shows:

- Key to military symbols


The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through them which is a detail that is important to me. I was very impressed by Jon Diamond’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail necessary to explain the accompanying photograph. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.


This is a well written book. Jon Diamond has gone to great lengths to research Archibald Wavell and provides excellent coverage of his life both on the battlefield and the home front as well as his life after World War II. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.


World War II Day by Day
An Illustrated Almanac 1939-1945
Donald Sommerville
Dorset press

WWII Time-Life Books History of the Second World War
By the Editors of Time-Life Books
Foreword by Eric Sevareid
Prentice Hall Press

The American Heritage Picture History of World War II
C.L. Sulzberger
American Heritage Publishing Co. Inc.

The Military History of World War II
Consultant Editor: Barrie Pitt
The Military Press

World War II
Ronald Heiferman
Octopus Books Limited

The Second World War
Martin Gilbert
Owl Books
Highs: Well written and detailed text and captions Detailed illustrations and photographs
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book of British Commander Archibald Wavell that is well written.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-737-7
  Suggested Retail: $18.95 US
  PUBLISHED: Sep 12, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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