Saturday, May 05, 2018

"With Pennants Flying" - a review..

DG gave me this (loaned?? I need to check!) years ago and it's been sat on my bedside table ever since..  but this year I took an new year 'intention' to read at least one non-fiction book a month and this is this months...

This is an old book, my edition was printed in 1943 on that slightly thin, and weightless paper the British government bought in under war time rationing...  that in itself adds to the atmosphere!

What we get is a brief history of the Royal Armoured Corps in the war from the start of the war to the date of publication, and given it was published in '43, this covers a quite surprising number of operations and theatres; BEF in France, the retreat to Dunkirk, he then cuts to North Africa for Wavell's campaign against the Italians, the abortive campaigns in Greece and Cyprus, campaigns against the Italians in Eritrea, then Burma, and then back to North Africa for Crusader, Tobruk, and El Alamein..........

He has a flowing style, that puts you in mind of reading one of those Pathe newsreels - he has endless numbers of fascinating personal stories of the officers and men who fought in those fragile machines that the RAC went to war with (except the Matilda II of course, about which he positively glows)  - he also talks to them and gets interesting (fascinating) insights into what it was like to fight in a tank with no real main gun against German Pz3's and 4's...  how good the Matilda II was (albeit slow, and quickly outgunned)...  I particularly liked the coverage of the Wavell campaign...  Reminded me very much of the Alan Moorehead North Africa diaries..

There is undoubtedly (how could there not be, given the publication date?!) an element of propaganda, and that Pathe view I mentioned of "play up, play the game", but even so, as a written history of events at the time, and with his first hand access to combatants, this is very much  recommended!

Steve the Wargamer gives this one 8 out of 10....


  1. I also have a copy of this one somewhere. Have not yet read it though. I view it more as a period piece.

    1. Andy - definitely.. and even more fascinating because of that I think....

  2. Sounds good,my daughter got me a similar book about mtb boats from the same period, not exactly jingoistic more like we can tough it out, all RNVR types who'd sailed yachts pre war.
    Best Iain