Wednesday 29 June 2011

Tanks in Camera by David Fletcher

I bought my copy of Tanks in Camera: The Western Desert, 1940-43 by David Fletcher at Broadside a few weeks ago. I paid the princely sum of £5.00 for it and not only was it a bargain it has also been a very enjoyable and fascinating book to read.

Drawing on photographic archives of the Tank Museum, this book covers the three years of almost continuous tank warfare in the western desert of North Africa. Each chapter is prefaced by an overall description of the tactical situation and individual battles that marked each phase of the war. These sections alone make this a good overview of the desert campaign.

I particularly enjoyed these chapter overviews, which are written in David Fletchers uniquely straightforward and witty style. He has the ability to cut through the facts and figures and get to heart of the matter from the point of view of the troops that fought in these hot and dangerous machines.

This preface is then followed by a selection of illustrative pictures that have largely not been seen elsewhere. Most of the pictures are by allied servicemen (although officially they were banned from taking pictures many still did) with just a handful of 'official' pictures thrown in. Consequently some of the pictures are not technically perfect and some have clear signs of age or even scribbled notes by the photographer on them. But this make the selection of ohotos more interesting because they are not posed publicity shots or war photographer pictures. These were taken by real soldiers and get behind the mask of officialdom in a way that other pictures do not.

Hardcover: 186 pages
Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd (Feb 1998)
Language English


  1. Yes I think they would be all the more interesting like that, especially if anyone knew the story behind the picture which they probably usually don't.


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