Book Alert: British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II

Osprey Publishing has released a new hardcover book by David Fletcher titled British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II.  This book is a follow-up to last years book British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939.  For those familiar with the WWI book, this new book follows the same format, although with a slightly higher page count (280) than the previous book.  This is a well illustrated book, with photos, drawing or charts on every page accompanying the text.  These books are both published in association with the Tank Museum at Bovington.  Author David Fletcher served for many years as the Museum historian and is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable researchers on the topic of British armor.

Publisher’s Description:

Building on the earlier volume dealing with British armor of the First World War, this is the second of a multi-volume history of British tanks by renowned British armor expert David Fletcher MBE.

This volume traces the story of the British use of the tank through the early years of World War II, when Britain relied on its own tanks built in the late 1930s, and those designed and built with limited resources in the opening years of the war. Plagued by unreliable vehicles and poorly thought-out doctrine, these were years of struggle against an opponent well versed in the arts of armored warfare. It covers the development and use of the Matilda, Crusader, and Valentine tanks that pushed back the Axis in North Africa, the much-improved Churchill that fought with distinction from North Africa to Normandy, and the excellent Cromwell tank of 1944–45. It also looks at Britain’s super-heavy tank projects, the TOG1 and TOG2, and the Tortoise heavy assault tank, designed to battle through the toughest of battlefield conditions, but never put into production.

Tank Chats #40 Crusader

David Fletcher of the Tank Museum at Bovington takes a look at the British WWII era Crusader tank.

Tank Chats #37 Daimler Armoured Car

Historian David Fletcher MBE, of the Tank Museum at Bovington discussing the Daimler Armoured Car.

Tank Chats #35 Centurion

Another installment of the Tank Chats series from the Tank Museum at Bovington.

The thirty-fifth Tank Chat, presented David Fletcher MBE, is the first of the videos on the Centurion series of tanks.

The Centurion is one of the most important tanks in the history of the British AFV and is one of the most significant post-war Western tanks. Introduced in the spring of 1945, a small number of the Beach Armoured Recovery Version (BARV) served with the British forces during the Iraq war of 2003, 58 years later.

Book Alert: Rolls-Royce Armoured Car: 1915-44 (Haynes)

Haynes has released another of their “Owners’ Workshop Manual” titles focused on armored vehicles.  This latest one examines the Rolls-Royce Armoured Car: 1915-44 and is authored by well known British AFV expert David Fletcher.  This is a 160 page hardcover book.  As with others of this series, it features plenty of photos, charts and diagrams.

Publisher’s Description:

The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car is almost a legend: introduced by the Royal Naval Air Service the First World War for shore patrols, modified versions were still in service during the Second World War in 1940–41 with the British Army’s 11th Hussars in the North African desert. Between the wars they were used for policing duties by the Royal Air Force in Iraq, Egypt and India. Centrepiece of this manual is the Irish Army’s 1920 Rolls-Royce Armoured car ‘Sliabh na mBan’, restored jointly by the Irish Defence Forces and specialist historic Rolls-Royce restorer James Black Restorations between 2012 and 2015.

Author: David Fletcher MBE is the former Librarian at the Tank Museum and a respected world authority on armoured fighting vehicles. He is also a prolific author, including the Haynes Great War Tank Manual (2013) and co-author of the Haynes Tiger Tank Manual (2011). He lives in Dorset.

 

The Tank Museum: Tank 100

t100-main-logo-1It’s been a few months since we visited the Tank Museums Tank 100 website, celebrating 100 years since the first use of tanks in 1916. There is quite a bit of interesting new content there, including more installments of the Tank Men series looking at WWI British tank crewmen and Training and Combat section.  Quite a few of the posts are written by Tank Museum researcher and prolific author David Fletcher.  We have provided some links to some of posts written by Fletcher below.  This is not a complete list and we highly recommend that people spend some time browsing the content at the Tank 100 site, it’s well worth the time.

Recruiting for the Heavy Section – Mr. Fletcher describes the formation of the first tank units

Part I – Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Swinton was one of the leading men in the development of the Tank Corps, going on to recruit hundreds of tank men who served in the First World War. Read his story in the first of a three part series on the creation of the Heavy Section of the Royal Machine-Gun Corps.

Part 2 – It can’t be easy recruiting for a new branch of the Army, especially if you’re not supposed to say in the first place exactly what it does. This seems to have been the main problem in the early days facing Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Swinton, Royal Engineers, when he tried to recruit men for the new war machines, the ‘tanks’.

Part 3 – Part 3 goes into more detail regarding exactly how Swinton, first commander of the Heavy Section, managed to swell the numbers up to 184 officers and 1610 men of other ranks.

 

A Tank in Your Town – A list of some of the WWI British tanks that survived the war

Ypres – Ypres, in Belgium, on the edge of the Salient of evil memory, is another location that acquired a tank, selecting one from those about to be destroyed at the end of the war which had significant local associations.

Tonbridge – It would be nice to say that I remembered the Tonbridge tank but it was long gone by the time I was there, I knew the Castle well enough, and the river Medway that runs by it, but the tank was scrapped in 1938, even before I was born.

Barnsley – Barnsley, in Yorkshire, received its tank on 27 June 1919. It was delivered to the goods yard and driven from there by a Tank Corps crew, to a temporary resting place in the town centre, two weeks later the men returned and drove the tank to its permanent site in Locke Park where it was displayed along with a German 77mm field gun.

Aberdeen – Scotland ran its own National War Savings Scheme and since we don’t have their version of the Silver Bullet we don’t yet know how many tanks were distributed. We can only rely on postcards, such as the one above from Aberdeen, but we’re slowly building up a picture.

Colchester – At Colchester, in Essex, the gifted tank was set up on a plinth alongside the ancient castle walls. It was a Mark IV female although its number is not recorded. However we do know that it sported unditching beam rails and the white/red/white markings which indicate that it served in France and was not a mere training machine from Bovington.

 

Toward the Tank – The first 8 of a 12 part series looking at the predecessors of the tank over the centuries.

Part 1: Chariots of Iron

Part 2: The Armoured Knight

Part 3, Scottish War Cart

Part 4: Valturio’s War Chariot

Part 5: Leonardo Da Vinci

Part 6: Steven’s Landship 1599

Part 7: Holzschuher 1558

Part 8: Siege Engines

 

Tanks in the Middle East – A very interesting series of articles about the little known use of WWI armor in Palestine and Egypt.

Tanks in Palestine in the First World War

Palestine Tank Detachment

Mark I & Mark II Tanks in Gaza

 

 

Tank Chats #32 Cromwell

The thirty second in a series of short films about some of the vehicles at the Tank Museum featuring historian David Fletcher MBE. The Second World War, British, Cromwell tank was one of the fastest tanks of the war.