Tank!: 40 Hours of Battle, August 1944

by Ken Tout

Book cover for Tank!: 40 Hours of Battle, August 1944

Explores the total experience of battle with unforgettable intensity: the fear and incomprehension; the boredom and exaggerated importance of mundane detail; the fleeting exhilaration and lasting grief. It tells the story of a crew of very ordinary young lads who find themselves rolling into an epic armoured action - the Night March of the lst Northamptonshire Yeomanry on 7/8 August 1944 - which penetrated what was possibly the strongest defence line set up by the Germans in World War II. But Ken Tout's book is much more than a record of a remarkable military exercise. It is a vivid recreation of the conditions - the heat, the noise, the smells - inside "the Tommy Cooker". This macabre nickname, given by the Germans to the Sherman tank, graphically summed up the fate of many young soldiers, burned alive when their tanks "brewed up" into an instant inferno. This is a compassionate, perceptive and sometimes humorous account which commends bravery and spirit without glorifying battle. As one of the most remarkable pieces of literature to come out of the war it makes compelling reading for the military enthusiast. For the general reader it offers a unique insight into human behaviour in inhuman conditions.

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