From the bestselling author of Fortress Malta this is the second book in the Mediterranean war trilogy. This book looks afresh at the conflict in Northern Africa, focusing for the first time on the involvement of the US and the way this early collaboration to defeat shaped the whole Anglo-American axis for the rest of the war in Europe.
By June 1942, Britain had reached her lowest ebb. Her military command was in tatters, her armies beaten, and in the Middle East it seemed all might be lost. Her new ally, America, had only fledgling armed forces and was severely under-trained, yet it was this alliance of the weary combatant and naive newcomer, coming together for the first time in North Africa, that would eventually bring about the defeat of Nazi Germany.
This crucial period – from defeat at Gazala through to the victories of Alamein and, ultimately, Tunisia – was a time of learning for the Allies. Yet by the end Britain and America had finally gained material and certain tactical advantages over Germany, particularly in air warfare. As this book shows, the development of a tactical air force – principles that are still used to this day – were founded over the skies of North Africa.
When the Axis forces were finally driven from North Africa in May 1943, over 250,000 Axis troops were taken prisoner, more than had surrendered to the Russians at Stalingrad. It was a major victory and a crucial steppingstone to the future invasion of Italy and France.
In this new reappraisal, James Holland interweaves the personal stories of the men – and women – who made up these polyglot Allied forces: British and American, Nepalese and Punjabi, South African and Australian, Maori and Zulu, from all ranks and all services. From the heat and dust of the Western Desert to the mud and mountains of Northern Tunisia, this book charts the extraordinary first days of an Alliance that has worked together ever since.