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"North African Campaign - Infantry Centric Books - ?" Topic


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737 hits since 28 Jun 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2018 6:46 a.m. PST

Looking for books from the Infantry – Platoon / Company / Battalion perspective to increase my knowledge as to how infantry engaged in this campaign.

Thanks in advance for any assistance!

dragon628 Jun 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

I don't think there are any. Basically infantry digs in and holds while armor maneuvers around them.

On second thought look for books on the siege of Tobruk. It's the longest infantry action I can recall.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2018 8:33 a.m. PST

"I don't think there are any."

Up to this point in searching that is my conclusion too.

"…siege of Tobruk."

Understood. I have numerous volumes on Tobruk which was primarily defensive in nature.

It seems very difficult to track down any books dealing with Compass or the Gazala battles from an Infantry perspective.

olicana28 Jun 2018 8:59 a.m. PST

I'm afraid dragon6 has this about right. It's generally all about the armour and it's why books about the infantry did don't really exist to any extent.

The best book I have on the desert war is "Sidi Rezeg Battles 1941" by Agar-Hamilton and Turner. Super book that details the Crusader battles, including what the infantry did. If you don't have a copy of this book, get one.

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2018 9:03 a.m. PST

Infantry Brigadier – Kippenberger

Eastern Epic – Compton Mackenzie (Lots on info on all theatres, 1940-42, especially East Africa, Desert and MEC)

The Tiger Strikes – IGOP

All avail on Archive.org

BillyNM28 Jun 2018 10:13 a.m. PST

If you include the Tunisian Campaign there are a couple that might help – there's one by Edward Grace (title?) and another about paras in Tunisia. If you're interested I can look up the titles.

wmyers28 Jun 2018 10:24 a.m. PST

You could try this:

PDF link

German Infantry Combat Tactics (a US Army translated copy of a German training manual). The US Army published this in 1943 so it probably an early war manual and would, therefore, probably highlight tactics used in the desert.

I would think a search for Italian treatises on the desert war would be very valuable as they would have concentrated more, possibly, on the role of infantry.

There is always the Osprey 'Infantry Tactics of the Second World War' (Turnbull and Rottman, 2008)

Andy ONeill28 Jun 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

Desert warfare was largely characterised by very flat, open terrain.
There were a few engagements where there was cover.
Largely speaking though, not the obvious choice for infantry gaming.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

Olicana: that book is on my list. Trying to track down a moderate priced copy.

AP, BillyNM and Wmyers: thanks!

Andy: agreed. I was not asking in regards to gaming but for historical information / understanding.

BuckeyeBob28 Jun 2018 1:37 p.m. PST

Rommel used mobile infantry to follow up behind the armor breakthrough.
"The armored troops are the backbone of the motorized
army. Everything depends on the tank; the other units are there merely to support it. Therefore, the battle of attrition against the enemy armored units must be fought as much as possible by one's own tank-destroyer units. One's armored troops should deliver the final thrust."

From what I have read, supported infantry made the frontal attack on a strong point while the mobile tanks and motorized infantry swept the flanks and rear turning inwards to pincer off the strongpoint and then after being reorganized, follow up on the retreating enemy. I have not found any books to the level of detail you are looking for either.

Although the following resource does not address infantry use in much detail, it is interesting to know of the terrain features and problems, both environmental and military that had to be addressed in desert warfare of the time.
PDF link

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2018 1:51 p.m. PST

Buckeye,

Thanks for the link. Should be interesting reading for my 1:285 gaming in the Western Desert.

Jim

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2018 2:31 p.m. PST

Buckeye: great link -thanks!

idontbelieveit28 Jun 2018 2:59 p.m. PST

If you can find it online…. I seem to have lost the link. The NZ war archives have action reports from the NZ units in N. Africa. There's a lot of description of what infantry did there. It makes for very interesting reading.

Found them after some searching:
link

Look for battalions that were in N Africa and read their unit histories for those actions.

Eclaireur28 Jun 2018 4:16 p.m. PST

On a slightly different tack perhaps … but I would recommend Battalion by Alistair Borthwick. It's a memoir from a junior officer in one of the Highland Battalions but a lot of his hard fighting is in North Africa and it's excellent insight into the lowly infantry soldier's view of that fight,
EC

Martin Rapier29 Jun 2018 3:16 a.m. PST

Platoon and company level accounts are hard to find in any theatre.

For battalion and up actions many of the divisional or campaign histories wil cover it e.g. Mike Cavers 'Tobruk', 'Montys Highlanders' etc.

While armour was certainly dominant in the desert, the infantry (as usual) did much of the fighting and dying.

The Command Decisions scenario book 'Beghazi Handicap' has lots of infantry centric scenarios in it pitched at battalion-brigade level.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2018 4:48 a.m. PST

Idontbelieveit: great link, thanks!

Eclaireur: thanks.

Martin: agreed. I have all the books you listed, thanks.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2018 7:00 a.m. PST

I would start with an understanding of platoon/company/battalion tactics and doctrine, in general. Contextual differences unique to the Desert can be obtained from books and other accounts of desert fighting.

For example, a lot of information on infantry combat is to be found in the book "Pendulum of War" by Niall Barr.

Memoirs posted on the Internet are also useful, such as those in this South African site (search for words like "1941", "Sidi", etc.). Here's the site link and here's an example article link

MH

Blutarski29 Jun 2018 7:33 a.m. PST

Good discussion!

B

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2018 8:30 a.m. PST

Hinds: agreed. I retired from the military after 28 years in 2000: I have a good grasp of platoon / company tactics in the 'modern' sense.

Thanks for the book recommendation and the link!

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

Blutarski: yes it is! This is why I enjoy TMP: people are always willing to help expand your knowledge base.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 1:37 p.m. PST

Update: I just started reading 'Alamein' by Jon Latimer. While it's core focus is on the entire battle it has just the type of infantry information I was referring to / looking for in the first post (during the latter period of the African Campaign).

I'm only about 25% in but it's an excellent read so far. Recommended.

link

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