Disaster in the Desert

Disaster in the Desert

Ken Delve
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
This is a ‘What if….’ Book of the highest standard. It is almost all fact but with some bits altered to give a completely different result. It is so well done that the author has, in using actual events, made it difficult to tell which bit is what happened and which bit is fiction. A very thoughtful read.,

The war in the Western Desert was a very close run thing with Rommel nearly breaking through to Cairo and beyond, being held up mostly by the stretching of his supply lines, and a few good British soldiers willing to take the fight back to him. This book however changes certain actions and events. Malta is assaulted by parachute divisions followed by sea borne troops. Due to lack of supplies because the convoys have not been able to get through the island falls to the Germans and becomes a staging point for their supply convoys, or more importantly the air and naval cover for the convoys. Britain no longer has the static aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean so any air attacks have to be long distance efforts, thus fewer and less successful. Using Malta, southern France and N Africa the Germans have neutralised Gibraltar and made the western Mediterranean theirs.

The Battle of El Alamein, well I won’t go into detail as it is very good reading, but it does not go the way that you read in your history books. Just a tweak here, a misplaced artillery piece there and Rommel is racing for the Nile.

Op Torch goes ahead but with the Deutsches Afrikakorps being successful in the East and Malta not interdicting German supplies, the landings are not as successful as the actual ones.

The book ends with Rommel crossing the Suez Canal thus opening the way north to the oilfields of the Middle East and the Caucasus. The Allies had been thrown out of North Africa and the war is moving on to a completely different outcome.

A cracking book which has you wondering if some of the fiction bits are actually fact and did that happen as the twists and changes are often so close to actual events. I know some people don’t like “What if” books but this is a cracker and totally believable.

It takes a bit of doing to park the mind and remember that this did not happen it is only a book, but…………

The author finishes off the book with a section on what really happened and why. How Malta was saved from airborne invasion by Hitler’s fears that casualties would be too high and various other events where the author has changed or slightly altered an outcome, a bit of time to get the head back in place and remember, we did not lose the Battle of Alamein and subsequent battles and that Torch was a success, eventually.

A well written and clever re-telling of history as it was so close to be in actuality. Note this review only covers a fraction of the detail of how the outcome of the war in North Africa went - read the book for the full story.

A really good 4.5 Mr MRHs for this excellent book.

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