The Desert War Trilogy I – Mediterranean Front

I completed the first volume of Alan Moorehead’s Desert War trilogy. He was a British war correspondent in World War II and these books, published during the war itself, have the same immediacy as the dispatches from the war zone that they are expanded from.

Moorehead rode with the Navy on several sorties against Italy, and followed O’Connor’s counteroffensive that took Cyrenaica from the Italians in late 1940. After that, he seems to have moved from zone to zone just barely missing some actions he was eager to see – he missed Rommel’s counteroffensive since he was at the retaking of Ethiopia. He missed the capture of the capital because he couldn’t quite make the air connections through Uganda.  He did catch some action in Greece, and was evacuated, but was unable to get onto Crete and had to report on that battle from Egypt.  He did end the book on one stroke of luck – he was vacationing in Palestine when the Commonwealth invaded Vichy occupied Syria and was able to get a close look of much of that obscure operation. He did miss the capture of Damascus, to put a cap on the running ‘gag’ of the book.

The book gives a slighty different view of the war than you get from a standard history. I’m looking forward to the other books in the set which cover the fight against Rommel and the fight in Tunisia.

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