This is the story of 9 RTR in WW2 written by one of its officers andÂ including material from many of the survivors and contemporary diaries, including the battalion war diary, the brigade history and at one pointÂ the radio logs. It is packed with a wealth of material, much of whichÂ is directly quoted from a primary source. If you want a feel for whatÂ life was like for a heavy tank battalion then this is the book to read.
The stories told by the survivors and in the diaries don’t pull anyÂ punches, and some of what is described is quite horrific, many of theÂ casualties in the battalion are well documented and the nature of theÂ injuries suffered by tank crews tend to be severe.
The battalion re-formed in [late 1940/l941] and was one of the first toÂ be equipped with Churchills. It trained in the UK until mid to lateÂ June 44 when it went to France. It took part in Goodwood & EpsomÂ and the Falaise battles supporting the Canadians and 43rd WessexÂ Division at various stages. After that they were involved in theÂ capture of Le Havre, Walcheren, and the Reichswald.
Each of the stages of the battalion’s existence and each of its battlesÂ forms a chapter. These are opened by the official account of whatÂ happened followed by personal narratives of events during the sameÂ period. Often the same incident is reported from several sources whichÂ gives you a clearer idea of what might have happened, and the level ofÂ confusion. For example one tank driver reported that he had no ideaÂ where he was during one operation as his vision slits were covered inÂ mud and he was relying on the tank commander to guide him. At the endÂ of the book are several appendices with a wealth of statistics andÂ other information useful to gamers. Amongst other things the casualtiesÂ are very well documented, not only in the usual table of numbers, butÂ it also gives service number, rank, name, trade, appointment (e.g.Â troop leader’s driver), date, place, and sometimes a short descriptionÂ of the incident (e.g. mortar fragment in the face). There are alsoÂ extracts from operational orders and most battles have several mapsÂ showing you the ground and the movements of the troops.
Overall I’d rate the book very highly and strongly recommend it to others that have an interest in WW2 and/or tank operations.