Anti-Tank: The Story of a Desert Gunner in the Second World War, Mark Carter

Anti-Tank: The Story of a Desert Gunner in the Second World War, Mark Carter

Mark Carter served in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. During the campaign in North Africa he was the commander of a 25pdr gun crew. He arrived at the end of the initial Allied advance against Italian opposition and took part in the long campaign against Rommel, from the first German counterattacks in 1941 to the final advance after El Alamein. He also spent a brief period with the Long Range Desert Group (again with his 25pdr gun).

Carter worked in the press after the war, and I feel that shows in two aspect of this book. First of all the text is polished and has a focus on the dramatic and unusual - the time with the LRDG, facing a tank attack at short range, sneaking into besieged Tobruk and a wartime romance. Secondly Carter always provides a more general context for his adventures, often with information that he couldn't possibly have known at the time (the relative number of tanks on each side at the start of the battle of El Alamein for example). In some autobiographies the author attempts to paint the picture as they knew it at the time, but Carter prefers to tell the wider story.

Carter and his gun crew often found themselves firing over open sights at approaching German tanks, placing them much closer to the front line than I had realised. Indeed in the wide open spaces of the desert the gunners could easily find themselves ahead of most of the rest of the line, or facing attack from an unexpected direction. The result is an perhaps unexpectedly exciting account of the life of a gunner in the desert, with far more incident than I had expected.

Ten unnamed chapters

Author: Mark Carter
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 192
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2012

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