Tank Warfare in the Second World War: An Oral History

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9780094780101: Tank Warfare in the Second World War: An Oral History

The tank is only as good as its crew, who are required to fight in a noisy, jarring, explosive-filled "box," knowing that, at any moment, they could be blown to bits. Lieutenant Colonel George Forty, who himself served for 32 years in Britain's Royal Tank Regiment, has gathered a vast range of firsthand accounts from the crewmen of both Allied and Axis powers, covering every theater of the war. The accounts are sometimes deceptively humorous, typifying the bravado shown by soldiers in the face of danger; almost all are revealing and deeply affecting. Illustrated with many previously unpublished photographs, Tank Warfare in the Second World War is essential reading for those interested in military history.

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From Publishers Weekly:

British author Forty, well known for his work on armored warfare and his illustrated campaign histories, illuminates the experience of tank warfare through interviews, personal communications and oral histories from American, British, French, German and Soviet soldiers. The men recall everything from enlistment (or draft) through training to combat and its aftermath. Whatever the army, the experiences were similar. British, Russian or American, a tank crewman's war was structured by the requirements of driving, maintaining and utilizing a complex, fragile weapons system. An individual's mistake or a failure of teamwork, an overheated engine or a jammed turret, could prove fatal. Foot soldiers envied the tankers: not only did tank crews ride everywhere and go into battle sheltered by armor, but they were able to carry such luxuries as stoves or extra blankets in their vehicles. Forty's narrators, however, make it abundantly clear that armor plating could seem paper-thin under the muzzle of a German 88 or a British 17-pounder. With fighter-bombers overhead, even a Tiger tank was no more than a large, slow target. Nicknames like "Zippos" or "Tommy cookers" paid grim tribute to the flammability of damaged tanks. In particular, Forty's chapter on casualties, with its repeated, matter-of-fact descriptions of crews reduced to ash or burned alive, offers harrowing testimony to the fact that no one in combat has an easy war.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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