Forgotten Voices Desert Victory by Julian Thompson, Imperial War Museum
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Overview: For Britain in the first half of World War II, the importance of defending the Middle East against the Axis powers was second only to defending the homeland against invasion. Had the Allies lost in North Africa, the vital life-line through the Suez Canal to Australia and India would have been cut. More crucial was protecting the route to the oilfields of the Persian Gulf. Without oil, Britain could not fight. The initial threat came from a large Italian Army, who, from their bases in Libya, were quick to take British-held ground in Egypt. Yet the professional British soldiers, along with tough all-volunteer regiments from Australia and New Zealand, easily defeated the poorly lead Italians. Churchill, confident that this front was secure, transferred troops and equipment to Greece, little realizing what the remaining troops would face when Rommel and his Panzer Division arrived. With their armies fighting over vast distances on rugged terrain, and supply lines often stretched to breaking point, both Rommel and the then little-known General Montgomery had to take huge tactical risks. Good intelligence was vital, so the elite Long Range Desert Group was formed, capable of covert operations behind enemy lines. David Stirling famously founded the SAS in the Western Desert, trained to perform audacious sabotage missions. Told in the voices of the men who were there this is the story of the Western Desert, and how the Allies struck the first successful blow to Axis forces and achieved this remarkable Second World War victory.
Genre: Non-Fiction > History