South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War
Donald E. Graves

This is simply the best regimental history for a Commonwealth formation that I have come across.  A must-read for anyone with an interest in the Canadian Army, or Commonwealth formations.

Donald Graves has gone to great lengths to write this book, interviewing veterans, attending reunions, and researching on the site of the old battles in North-West Europe.

The book is extremely well documented throughout, contains numerous high-quality pictures, and very well-done maps.  The regimental history is covered from before the beginning of the war.

Important actions of the regiment are covered in great detail, such as e.g. St. Lambert-sur-Dives, probably the most famous, where Major Curry won the only VC of the Canadian armoured forces in WW2.  Also well documented are the fights for the Kappelsche Veer, the Hochwald Gap, and the fights in the western Netherlands. The description of the fight at St. Lambert, where C Squadron of the regiment under Major Curry stood almost alone against the German army trying to break out of the Falaise encirclement runs to over 10 pages, and must be considered the most well-researched and documented narrative of this fight.

The book contains a lot of information about the training of an armoured regiment in the army preparing for the invasion of German-occupied Europe, and about the combat, and everyday life, after the invasion.  It does not gloss over the negative experiences as well, such as the ‘drumming out’ of two soldiers for rape while the regiment was in Brussels.

Donald Graves manages to give the history a personal touch throughout, by providing the personal background of every soldier killed in action or training in the regiment.  He treats the regiment as a family, and gives the reader a feeling of being as close to the events as one can be while sitting in a comfortable chair with a mug of tea in one’s hand.

Highly recommended.

(Reviewed by Andreas Biermann)

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