Few accounts of the tank battles in the Western Desert during the Second World War have provided so vivid an evocation as Cyril Joly’s classic account Take These Men. In such inhospitable conditions, this was armoured warfare of a particularly difficult and dangerous kind.
From 1940 to 1943 battles raged back and forth as one side or the other gained the upper hand, only to lose it again. Often the obsolescent British armour was outnumbered by the Italians or outgunned by Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and frequently it suffered from the ineptitudes of higher command.
Cyril Joly’s first-hand narrative of these campaigns, highly praised when it was originally published in 1955, tells the story through the eyes of a young officer in the 7th Armoured Division, the famous Desert Rats. It describes in accurate, graphic detail the experience of tank warfare over seventy years ago, recalling the fortitude of the tank crews and their courage in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds.