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Tank Tracks: 9th Battalion Royal Tank Regimental War 1940-1945
Peter Beale
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Peter Beale was a sqadron commander in 9th RTR during the war, and has also written a book on the failures of wartime British tank design, called ‘Death by Design’. In this book, he recounts the story of his battalion in training, and the fight for north-west Europe, 1944/5, with a short chapter on the actions of the 9th Battalion of the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps, the predecessor to 9th RTR. In World War 2, the battalion was a territorial formation, made up of reservists and conscripts, typical of the army that went to war to fight and defeat Germany.

‘A’ Squadron of 9th RTR was the squadron that was decimated at Maltot on 10th July 1944, in one of the more disastrous days the British army experienced in Normandy, and the book opens with two personal accounts of this day. As can be expected, this action is covered in a lot of detail, and the book is worth buying just for that. Other famous actions the battalion was involved in are the capture of Le Havre, and the fighting in the Reichswald.  The format for the narrative is a compilation of entries from war diaries and official documents, followed by personal recollections. This works very well.

The book has many pictures and perfectly adequate, although not great, maps. A roll of honour, table of casualties, the tank names of 9th RTR, and many (if not all) the citations for decorations are given in the appendix.  It also benefits from a short index. It gives a good insight into the working of a British tank battalion, and the minds of the men who fought to liberate Europe from German occupation.

A very enjoyable and informative book.  Not as good as ‘The South Albertas’, but well worth reading nevertheless.

(Reviewed by Andreas Biermann)

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