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ARCHIVED READS > 2014 - May - Theme Read - North African Campaign

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Apr 25, 2014 05:00PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Second World War in North Africa



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This thread is open for members who wish to read and discuss any book or books covering the North African Campaign of WW2, land, air or sea.


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message 2: by Tionne (new)

Tionne | 255 comments I'm on board for this month. I still haven't gotten around to reading An Army At Dawn, and of course my phone isn't letting me post the cover, but I'm sure most of you know what it looks like. I'm excited!! Been looking forward to this one for a while, just hadn't found the time.


message 3: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Hi Tionne, that's great news, I am pretty sure you will enjoy Rick Atkinson's first book in the trilogy!

An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson

I've just started this book as part of the theme month, it's the 1st in Australia so I get a head start :)

Bardia Myth, Reality and the Heirs of ANZAC by Craig Stockings by Craig Stockings


message 4: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2857 comments I'm with Tionne on this one...finally going to tackle An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943


message 5: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments I'm sure you and Tionne will have a lot to discuss Mike.


message 6: by happy (new)

happy (happyone) | 2210 comments I'll second AR's feelings - I'm sure both of you will enjoy it.


message 7: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments I have to say that while I liked An Army at Dawn and am also enjoying the Day of Battle, I find his books somewhat difficult to read. Nothing really wrong with them, they just don't seem to flow for me. And yep, I figure that is a personal issue. Since the books are full of interesting tidbits. And the second one has made me want to go back and pick up Ortona again.


Mike wrote: "I'm with Tionne on this one...finally going to tackle An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick AtkinsonAn Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943"


message 8: by James (new)

James | 105 comments I'll be amongst it towards the end of the month with Bloody Road To Tunis by David Rolf


message 9: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3796 comments I'll be "in" with you guys in a few days - just got a WWI read to finish. Not sure what I'll tackle yet.


message 10: by A.L. (last edited May 01, 2014 06:21PM) (new)

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments I started this book yesterday (yes, it was still April; sorry). The Battle of El Alamein: Decision in the Desert The Battle of El Alamein Decision in the Desert by Correlli Barnett . I think I got it when the kindle version was free. It's very, very short (only 80 pages), so I've already finished the first Battle of El Alamein and Monty has been put in charge now. As you might guess, at that length it's not very detailed, but I haven't read a lot on El Alamein so I'm finding it a good introduction.

Maybe when I'm finished I'll join Mike and Tionne with An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943. Atkinson's The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 The Day of Battle The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #2) by Rick Atkinson took me a while to get through, but I learned a lot from it.


message 11: by Tionne (new)

Tionne | 255 comments I'm glad others are reading An Army At Dawn! Thought I was the last person in the group to have read it! :-) it's really good so far, I'm sucked in and it's hard to get around to doing other stuff... :-)


message 12: by Tionne (new)

Tionne | 255 comments Also, I started yesterday too! Haha!
Hey, it was May elsewhere...


message 13: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Very true Tionne :)

Glad you are really enjoying the book.


message 14: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)


message 15: by Chin Joo (last edited May 01, 2014 06:10PM) (new)

Chin Joo (quekcj) | 283 comments Tionne wrote: "I'm glad others are reading An Army At Dawn! Thought I was the last person in the group to have read it...."

Ha! I bought this book on the last day of last year and didn't realise that it was on the war in North Africa. Ok, then this book it shall be.


message 16: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Keep us posted Geevee, I hope you enjoy it.

Good choice Chin Joo, you can join Tionne and Mike in the discussion :)


message 17: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments How are people going on their theme read books? My account on Bardia has so far been setting the armies and commanders in context, the battle is about to be joined soon.

For some information on the battle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_o...


message 18: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Battle for Bardia, the fall of Post 11:



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VX3511 Sergeant H B S 'Jo' Gullett, VX3495 V N Maloney, VX3497 Private H F Brockley, QX3118 Private F C Damm, all of 2/6th Btn 2 AIF, unidentified Australian and Italian soldiers. The first major campaign of the Second World War in which the Australians fought was against the Italians in Libya. Hele did not witness the important battle which led to the capture of Bardia, although he did travel to the area in 1941 and made various studies of the town. Commissioned by the Memorial twenty-five years after the event, Hele based his painting on material and information provided by one of the survivors, Henry Baynton Somer 'Jo' Gullett, shown as the figure in the centre of the composition being dragged from amongst the bodies. Unlike most of his large, panoramic battle paintings, Hele has painted the event at close range. The choice of a confined perspective on a large scale gives the work a cinematic quality. The fallen bodies in the immediate foreground echo the dramatic effects of baroque art. The subject is an episode in the fighting between the Australian 2/6th Battalion and the centre of Italian resistance at Post 11. Colonel Godfrey, commanding officer of 2/6th Battalion, had written that this stronghold could 'defy capture if manned by Australian troops.' While the garrison at Post 11 was the last to fall in the battle which lasted from 3 to 5 January 1941, the point in the action painted by Hele occurred in the first few hours. Hele wrote: 'I have taken the incident where Brockley is lifting Joe [sic] to his feet, with Bernie Damm carrying his brother + Maloney keeping the enemy heads down in the background, with Cpl Latham dead near Joe's [sic] feet.'


message 19: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Here is one of those interesting incidents that occasional occur during wartime. This particular incident took place during the initial attack on the Italian defences at Bardia on the first day of the Australian assault:

“A moment later a passage was cut through the wire and the platoon stormed inside. This time, a can of something that smelled like petrol was poured down a ventilation shaft in the shelter roof before grenades were thrown inside. Seconds later 30 ‘scorched’ Italians emerged to surrender. One of the prisoners called out a ‘hello’ in English to a soldier in 14 Platoon. It turned out that the Italian knew the Australian from days spent cane cutting in Queensland before the war. He had returned to Italy to visit his parents and had been conscripted into the army as soon as he arrived home.”


message 20: by Lee (new)

Lee | 215 comments I'm only about 10 pages into "Bardia", myself. Reading falls behind on the weekends for me.


message 21: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2857 comments An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 is brilliant. I sat down to start and suddenly 50 pages flew by. Reminds me of Max Hastings in how he shines the light on good and bad, and how he uses interesting tidbits to tell the story.


message 22: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments I hope you enjoy it Lee, the author takes the time to place the battle into context and also how and why the Australians came to be fighting Italians in the desert in the first place.


message 23: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Another funny story from the battlefield:

“ … a British forward artillery observer from F Battery, 4 RHA, established an observation post in the bottom storey of an Italian observation tower and began directing fire. After 2 hours he looked up to see his Italian equivalent on the top storey directing fire back onto the break-in point. Neither had been aware of the other’s presence and the Italian was taken captive at gunpoint.”


message 24: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3796 comments Some good passages from your book Rick. I've read similar ro the Italian & Australian recognising each other in WWI where Germans had seen or asked about people as they had worked in London prior to the war.

BTW - not read much this weekend as we have an extra day off this Monday (public holiday) so will get going after that.


message 25: by Frank (new)

Frank | 27 comments Have started An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson , enjoying it so far, and a big shift after completing The Admirals Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King—the Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea by Walter R. Borneman . Looking forward to studying the ground battles in North Africa.


message 26: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Hi Frank, I hope you enjoy Rick Atkinson's first book in his trilogy.


message 27: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments My book is providing many examples of Italian soldiers fighting courageously against the Australians during this battle:

"After moving a short distance further south, Chapman noticed that most of the shellfire directed at his company was coming from a battery of Italian guns firing from his left flank over open sights. He led his headquarters and half of the nearest platoon against the Italian artillerymen. The gunners fought to the last and were killed to a man."


message 28: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3796 comments Thanks Rick for this - Our previous thread on war in the Med also showed up some good examples which had us all discussion it. It is a shame that they have often been overlooked and written out of many histories - overall performance may not have been good but examples of courage and duty are not uncommon.


message 29: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Very good point Geevee. In the third part of my book; The Explanation, the author intends to go into great detail why the Italian army did not perform as well as expected and I am looking forward to a balance and non-bias appraisal of the Italian and Australian forces in the desert campaign.


message 30: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Another interesting incident from my book, this took place during a counter-attack against the Australians by six Italian tanks;

“The Italian tanks then moved towards a captured medical centre close to Hutchison’s main company position and engaged it, wounding an Italian doctor who was working on a patient. The injured doctor emerged and berated the crew commander, who promptly ceased firing.”


message 31: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Again, this incident highlights that fighting the dug in Italian defenders was not a walk over as many may think:

“To Bowen’s left a section of Gullett’s platoon also managed to reach the first line of Italian trenches and sangars. There, in a scene reminiscent of the attack on Lone Pine in August 1915, the Australians set about pulling timber covers off trenches and shooting down into the defenders below. This small group, led by Corporal B.A.F. Latham, cleared a number of trenches in this fashion but were soon isolated and taking fire from machine guns closer to the post. Forced to stay within the covered Italian trench, Latham’s men fought their way along its length until they stumbled into a large bay filled with Italians. There the two parties killed each other.”

More information on Sergeant Jo Gullet:

http://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/fif...

Information on Lone Pine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_o...


message 32: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Mike wrote: "An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick AtkinsonAn Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 is brilliant. I sat down to start and suddenly 50 pages flew ..."

I'm glad you are enjoying the book Mike, I thought it was a pretty well told story and like you said the author uses lots of first-hand accounts and does not shy away from negative aspects of the campaign.


message 33: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments Finished The Battle of El Alamein: Decision in the Desert The Battle of El Alamein Decision in the Desert by Correlli Barnett . I think I've gotten used to more in-depth books, and I prefer those details. This one was more of a summary of the big picture.

Started An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943. Though not specific to N. Africa, this quote caught my eye: September 1, 1939, was the first day of a war that would last for 2,174 days, and it brought the first dead in a war that would claim an average of 27,600 lives every day, or 1,150 an hour, or 19 a minute, or one death every 3 seconds.


message 34: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Truly terrible statistics eh A.L. ,


message 35: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Another account from my book on the battle for Bardia:

"At one point Sergeant W. Symington Brown (a World War 1 veteran who as a platoon commander had won a Military Cross), although badly wounded, crawled in front of Captain Smith to protect him. Symington Brown reportedly muttered, 'Well lads, they've got me .... I'll give you some shelter', and insisted that his body be used to support the Bren gun with which Smith was engaging the nearest Italian guns. Symington Brown was hit again and Smith was Bradley wounded by shrapnel."


message 36: by Lee (last edited May 05, 2014 06:30PM) (new)

Lee | 215 comments For anyone still looking for a title, in addition to Atkinson, I also recommend Douglas Porch's The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch "The Path to victory." It covers the whole theater, paying attention to what benefits the Allies reaped by continuing to keep the theater active, when they could have closed it down or abandoned it on several occasions.


message 37: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Another great recommendation Lee!


message 38: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4279 comments Just received an email...this is waiting for me at the library --

Knight's Cross A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel by David Fraser Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel by David Fraser.


message 39: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Good book, I hope you like it Manray9, I certainly did but we all have different tastes.


message 40: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4279 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Good book, I hope you like it Manray9, I certainly did but we all have different tastes."

I liked Fraser's

And We Shall Shock Them The British Army in the Second World War by David Fraser And We Shall Shock Them: The British Army in the Second World War


message 41: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments That's one I recently purchased and need to read. I also enjoyed his book on Frederick the Great.


message 42: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4279 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "That's one I recently purchased and need to read. I also enjoyed his book on Frederick the Great."

I want the Frederick the Great book, but prices in the U.S. are very high.


message 43: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Bummer, that's no good :(


message 44: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4279 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Bummer, that's no good :("

Several university libraries nearby have copies. Looks like an ILL.


message 45: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2857 comments Manray9 wrote: "Just received an email...this is waiting for me at the library --

Knight's Cross A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel by David FraserKnight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel by D..."


I have this one on the shelf. Might get to it as a second book in the theme.


message 46: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2857 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Another account from my book on the battle for Bardia:

"At one point Sergeant W. Symington Brown (a World War 1 veteran who as a platoon commander had won a Military Cross), although badly wounded..."


Would like to read this one but hard to find a copy over here. Great excerpts!


message 47: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 2857 comments An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 is just chock-a-block full of great vignettes. Here the French agree to let Allied ships enter the Algiers harbor:

P119:

At dawn on Monday, the task force flagship, H.M.S. Bulolo, steamed with imperial dignity toward the Railway Jetty, unaware that an earlier near-miss from a Luftwaffe bomb had damaged her engine room telegraphs. A routine docking order from the bridge for full steam astern went unheard. The French welcoming committee on the jetty watched with mounting alarm as the ship loomed nearer at twelve knots. Officers on the bridge debated whether Bulolo’s masts would more likely shear forward or backward upon impact. Shrieking bystanders scattered; the captain yelled “Everyone lie down!” to his crew; and the great bow heaved up onto a fortuitous mudbank, demolishing the seawall and nicking a waterfront house before settling back into the harbor, intact. Applauding spectators recovered their wits and agreed that the Royal Navy knew how to make an entrance.

I have a forest of little scraps of paper marking interesting passages.


message 48: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments A sign of a good book eh Mike :)

Glad to hear you are enjoying Atkinson's first book in the trilogy, I reckon they get better with each book as well!


message 49: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited May 06, 2014 07:10PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments A funny incident during the fighting to breach the outer defences of Bardia when an Italian defensive position was captured by the Australians:

" ... Macfarlane's runner (and notorious larrikin), Private W.A. Jinnette, asked his company commander what rank the Italian officer wore. On receiving his answer Jinnette walked up to the captured Italian brigadier and kicked him in the buttocks. Macfarlane reprimanded Jinnette immediately - captured officers were to be treated with the same degree of respect shown to Australians of similar rank. Jinnette replied that he was sorry but the opportunity was simply too good to resist and besides, he often felt like doing the same thing to his own superiors."



For my overseas friends, the definition of larrikin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larrikin


message 50: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4279 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "A funny incident during the fighting to breach the outer defences of Bardia when an Italian defensive position was captured by the Australians:

" ... Macfarlane's runner (and notorious larrikin), ..."


Larrikan is a new wrinkle on my horn.


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