Wednesday, October 9, 2019

'Rampant Dragons', New Zealand armour in WW2

While away on a brief break between school terms, I made the obligatory visits to the local bookstores, and found this.

I have known Jeff for several decades, but our contact has been sporadic at best, and I was unaware that he had published this book, the first edition coming out in 2012. This is the story of New Zealand armoured units in World War 2. The physical production values are very high - this is a very high quality piece of production, a beautiful book. That quality is very appropriate because Jeff's work tells an important story in New Zealand's military history.

This is not the story of armoured divisions battling it out on the steppes, or the plains of northern France. This is the story of New Zealand men adapting to armoured warfare. Their story begins in the early days of New Zealand, spans a brief sojourn in the Pacific, and then into the middle east, before seeing them tackle terrain which all too often did not favour tanks as they fought in support of the New Zealand Division infantry battling north through Italy.

Jeff provides a solid narrative background, and builds the colour and the nature of the human experience through the words of the men themselves. His driving motivation lies initially with the experiences of his own father in North Africa. With this in mind he has spent what must have been countless hours interviewing the remaining survivors, gathering what is effectively an oral history archive that documents their experiences through the North African and Italian campaigns.

It is an engaging and compelling story. As a former member the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps, I have to say that I can't help feeling that Jeff's publisher has done this story, and Jeff's work, a gross disservice. I had no idea it existed until I found this copy remaindered on a book store shelf. I have no doubt that many ex and current serving members would have bought copies and supported what for us is an important record of the RNZAC legacy. I know I would have.

My only criticism, and it's relatively minor in the context, is that the editors needed to pay more attention to thorough proofing. There were too may typographical errors for my liking., That said, I was still finding typographical errors in my own best selling publication after three editions.

All I can say is thank you Jeff for creating this wonderful piece of work. I have ordered another of your works on the strength of this.

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