Rommel in North Africa...

 

...Quest for the Nile, an Images of War book from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Rommel in North Africa

Author: David Mitchelhill-Green

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-220-0

One of a recent batch of new books in the Images of War series from Pen and Sword, and I think this has jumped straight into my list of favourites in the extensive range this series now includes.  There are some variations in the style of presentation in their content, with the photographs being very much the main focus of each title.  Pages 8 through 19 are text, where the Introduction gives the background story of Rommel and his leadership of the Akrika Korps and allied Italian units in their ultimately unsuccessful push to reach the Nile.  Following that though, each of the 8 main chapters are simply made up from archive photos to illustrate each topic, most of which then have extensive and informative captions which tell the associated stories.

It starts with the arrival of the Afrika Korps in North Africa, to support their Italian allies in an operation code named Sunflower.  The vehicles being unloaded are still all in the dark grey European colour scheme, yet to receive any sand camouflage.  Next is 'An Unfamiliar Land', as German forces got used to operating in a largely featureless landscape, and an environment they hadn't trained for.  Then we see more of 'The Desert Fox', and Rommel working with his own officers and troops as well as their Italian allies and conducting operations on the battlefield.  That is followed by how they coped/behaved with POWs in chapter 5 and on in 6 to a notable feature of the Desert campaign, the extensive use of captured equipment.  These include trucks, artillery and even a couple of Dorchester Armoured Command vehicles which Rommel himself made use of.  Chapter 7 looks at artillery, and this one is divided into two sub-sections, dealing with German and then Italian artillery pieces.  The final chapter looks at the subject of 'Fur Deutschland', and those who died for their country in North Africa.

The historian interested in the war in North Africa will enjoy a fine collection of archive photos, many of which I had not seen before, while the modeller will find lots of interesting detail on uniforms and equipment.  Not too much showing the Panzers though there is already plenty available on those.  Hundreds of wartime photos which make interesting viewing, and they illustrate the desert war that I couldn't help but think about how my own father would have enjoyed seeing this one.  As a member of the 8th Army, he spent the years from 1940 through to 1943 in North Africa and despite it being war, he always maintained what I will describe as an 'affection' for his time in the desert, a complete contrast to his memories of the later years in Italy and then North West Europe which he had little desire to 'remember'.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin