Images of War: Armoured Warfare and the Fall of France, 1940, Anthony Tucker-Jones

Images of War: Armoured Warfare and the Fall of France, 1940, Anthony Tucker-Jones

This entry in the Images of War series looks at the Western European campaign of 1940, which saw the Germans conquer Belgium, Holland and France and force the BEF to evacuate the Continent, leaving most of its equipment behind.

We begin with a series of chapters on the forces involved, starting with chapters of French tanks and the Maginot Line, then British tanks and finally German tanks. After that each chapter looks at part of the campaign. First comes the invasion of Belgium and Holland, then the breakthrough on the Meuse, two chapters looking at French and British counterattacks, and finishing with chapters on the evacuation from Dunkirk and the final fall of France.

I like the balance of the content here, which doesn't just focus on the British experience, but includes the entire campaign - it was nice to see a full chapter on the fall of France, which is often skipped over in English language works as it comes after the BEF had largely disappeared from the Continent.

Although the focus is on tanks, there are plenty of well chosen pictures on other topics. My favourite shows two Dutch sentries guarding the middle of a canal or river, presumably either a border or a key ford. The tank pictures cover a wide range of vehicles, including some real rarities. These include the 70 ton French Char 2C, which required a crew of 12 and carried a 75mm gun and four machine guns with one in a second rear gun turret - only five of the original twelve still existed in 1940 and they were destroyed before coming into action, but their scale is still impressive. At the other extreme was a Belgian light cavalry tractor that was simply a small armoured box on tracks.

The chapter introductions are good, and provide a useful history of the campaign. The captions are accurate, and relate directly to the pictures. Some tell the story of the campaign, others set the scene or provide valuable context. The pictures themselves are interesting and well chosen.

1 - Finest Tanks in Europe
2 - Shield but no Sword
3 - The British Expeditionary Force's Matildas
4 - Guderian's Panzerwaffe
5 - Codeword Danzig - Netherlands and Belgium
6 - Blitzkrieg - Across the Meuse
7 - Desperate Situation - Counterattack!
8 - Arras - Rommel's Bloody Nose
9 - Dunkirk - Churchill's Miracle
10 - The Fall of Paris

Author: Anthony Tucker-Jones
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 160
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2014

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