Another excellent book in the Images of War series from Pen and Sword. As per usual with this series you can judge a book by it's cover and title.
- M.P. Robinson & Rob Griffin
The front cover is in colour with a main image of a Scorpion CVR(T) on Soltau West Germany 1985.
Both authors are experts in the field of Armour with Rob Griffin an ex 4/7 RDG crewman and M.P Robinson who studied history at Toronto's York University, with an emphasis on 20th Centaury Ground Warfare. Both men have written books and articles on Armoured Vehicles in the post war and Cold war period.
Opening the book we are immediately greeted by various photo's which take us nicely into the first chapter. With many of these books the reader is simply struck by the size of the post war army.
Post war the RAC's strength was set at 20 Cavalry Regiments and 8 RTRs.
In 1945 the British Army of Occupation became the British Army On The Rhine; a title many of the old and bold "Cold War Warriors" on this site will claim having served during the period the book covers.
One of the post war challenges was of course demobbing and the first chapter describes how the RAC was faced with the challenge of shrinking and modernisation.
Of course post war Europe wasn't the only area of operations for the RAC units, Egypt, Palestine, Malaya, Hong Kong and India were just some of the countries which had British Garrisons or Detachments, all of which had to be manned by a shrinking Army struggling to modernise, with a broke Government and austerity measures in place.
In order to combat the shrinking numbers National Service was introduced with 18 months service plus 54 months Territorial / Reserve service. This placed a further drain on the Regular Army which had to train each intake of National Servicemen.
The text taking us through these changes is free flowing and easy to read, it doesn't get itself bogged down with jargon and too many technical facts. Each chapter has numerous photos, many technical drawings and unit's listings and order of battle.
We are taken from the end of WW2 in Germany through Korea, and numerous other countries plus various other tasks such as U.N. tours, Op Banner and the fireman strikes.
One thing we see as the book takes us each decade is that, despite the many changes and reduction in size of the RAC and the Army in general, operational commitments were still expected to be met.
It also reminds us that despite many people treating the cold war as a bit of a joke and thinking that all everybody did was a quick three week exercise in between drinking ones self silly, that there were operations and sadly blokes did get killed and they did a lot more fighting than people actually gave them credit for.
If you served in the RAC during the cold war I would say this book is a must for you. I passed it onto a colleague in work who was back 10 minutes later saying I know him, him and him that's us in Berlin, that's my wagon on Soltau.
Even if you didn't serve in the RAC this is an excellent historical look at one of the British Army's Corps over a period of 45 years.
The book is 200 pages long with 282 photos and technical drawing plus appendices adding another 9 pages.
Well researched, well written and at £16:99 a decent addition to the bookshelf.
5 Stars from me