Eighth Army Versus Rommel

Tactics, Training and Operations in North Africa 1940-1942

James Colvin

An explanation of why things went wrong for the Eighth Army for so long, despite the best efforts of brave and determined men.
Date Published :
December 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
30 b/w photos, 11 b/w maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781913336646
Pages : 262
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Available


Eighth Army Versus Rommel is a riveting account of the Desert War from 1940 through Montgomery's celebrated battle of Alamein in 1942. Comprehensively researched and rich in previously unpublished material, it examines the undertrained and underfunded pre-war British Army, contrasting its leadership with its opposite numbers in Germany, and demonstrates how and why Eighth Army had difficulties in its first 18 months of fighting the Afrika Korps.

This volume also examines the battles from the perspective of the commanders, the decisions they made and how cultural influences effected tactics and decisions of the Eighth Army high command. Ultimately, British commanders were as much the product of their military culture and education as Rommel and his commanders were of theirs, but British military culture and education was, for much of this period, markedly less fit for purpose than the German. Saul David, Professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham and author of All the King's Men and 100 Days to Victory, describes it as: "A compelling and highly original study, firmly based on archival research, that explains for the first time the real reason the British and Commonwealth troops struggled to overcome their German and Italian opposition in the Desert War: not because of inadequate generals and equipment per se, but rather because of inherent weaknesses in British military culture."

About The Author

James Colvin has had a lifelong interest in the Desert War because several family members and friends were involved in it. Like most war veterans, they found it difficult to talk of their experiences to those who had not shared them, and he was often intrigued by the contradictions and omissions in their related accounts. Thus 'Eighth Army Versus Rommel' emerged from his considered attempts to solve some of these puzzles. James earned a history degree from Bristol University and, following a business career, embarked on a research degree in military history at the University of Buckingham. In addition to service with the Territorial Army's 44th Parachute Brigade, James has contributed to the History Network's World War II Podcast and published an article on Eighth Army operations in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. This volume is his first full-length work.


"Colvin produced a well-researched, balanced account of the consequences of failing to adjust to battlefield conditions. His work contains detailed maps that enhance understanding. His explanations on the importance of doctrine to successfully train and employ forces are superb. The author’s comments on maneuver, firepower and massing of forces by both sides is worthy of review and study."

- ARMOR Magazine

"[Colvin] gives good accounts of the planning and execution of numerous operations, with an emphasis on how they were perceived by the various commanders and how the internal tensions in the officer corps handicapped the development of effective tactics and proper command and control."

- The NYMAS Review

I find it depressing that Britain had to wait half the war until it found an effective senior commander in Montgomery. This excellent book unpicks the reasons behind this. […] Good maps, good text, much research, and a balanced analysis.

- Miniature Wargames

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