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Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck (Hardback)

WWII Military Biographies North Africa in WWII 20th Century Biographies El Alamein Military

By Evan McGilvray
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781526716101
Published: 7th August 2020

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Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck is a study not only of the individual but also of how the British Army, Indian Army and the Empire were transformed during his long military career. Auchinleck was commissioned into the Indian Army from 1904 and served with distinction against the Turks in Egypt and the Mesopotamian campaign, earning a DSO. Between the wars he was involved in the pacification of the Northwest Frontier (now Pakistan).

In the Second World War he briefly led a division in the ill-fated Norway campaign before being appointed Commander-in-Chief, India. He is best remembered for his controversial stint in command in North Africa, where he replaced Wavell in July 1941. He halted Rommel at the First Battle of El Alamein but was then replaced by Montgomery and resumed as C-in-C India, where his logistical support for Fourteenth Army was vital to success in Burma. Post-war he planned and oversaw Partition and British withdrawal from India. Here, as in North Africa, interference from his political masters added to the burdens of command. Evan McGilvray appraises Auchinleck’s long and varied career in its entirety.

A book that shows the author has researched extensively with care and mastered his subject. The Auchinleck is usually remembered for his brief and controversial command during WWII in North Africa and his long and distinguished military career is largely unknown, making this excellent book especially welcome – Most Highly Recommended

Read the full review here

Firetrench

In 1941, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister, was being buffeted by a succession of military defeats. The loss of men and equipment at Dunkirk, overshadowed the British defeat in Norway and Singapore was soon to follow. German barges docked in French, Dutch, and Belgium ports foreshadowed Britain would be next. In north Africa, Italy had joined the war and with German divisions, forced the British troops back to the Egyptian border. With captured British and colonial troops filling German and Italian prison camps, and weapons, trucks, and artillery, lying abandoned in foreign fields, Churchill badly needed good news.

On 27 January 1941 General Claude Auchinleck was appointed C-in-C India and six months later replaced General Wavell in North Africa in July. With near panic at military quarters in Cairo, Auchinleck ambushed Rommel's thrust towards Egypt at El Alamein. Giving Churchill his wish. Preparing for Rommel's counterattack, in London General Montgomery had Churchill's ear, and Auchinleck resumed his position as C-in-C India, replaced by Montgomery in North Africa. As C-in-C India his Fourteen Army drove the Japanese out of Burma. With the war over, he was faced with the holding the multi-religious Indian Army together in the face of horrendous racial massacres which swept India during the Partition.

Evan McGilvray's research has produced a first-class book, well researched giving glimpses of Auchinleck refusal to be bullied by Churchill and Montgomery hovering in the background. While at home, another was keeping his wife warm in bed. Leaving the army 'The Auk' retired to the Atlas mountains in Morocco, refusing all Honours. The book reads well, a page turner and essential reading.

Richard Gough, Author and historian.

Auchinleck was a remarkable man in many ways having helped transform the Indian army, British army and the Empire during his long military career. He also served with honour in Norway, India, Egypt, Pakistan, North Africa and Burma. He halted the trail of Rommel at El Alamein and then later oversaw the partition and withdrawal of India. Auchinleck was a man who did really well and a man of integrity and trust with him being to make his up the career to near the top. A fine man of leadership and quality.

One of the best things about reviewing books for Pen and Sword Books, is that you’re always learning something new. This is a fine book and interesting story about Field Marshall Claude Auchinleck. I would say he was a very underated figure who sadly fades into the background against other more prominent people due to circumstance. It was after I read this book that I saw a programme where he was featured during World War Two and he was a clearly a quiet man of substance who was strong enough and good enough halt Rommel at El Alamein. I would say from reading this book that he was clearly a man who could work well with other men and people without seeking attention to what he was doing. An excellent read about a man I hadn’t really heard about, but I am now glad that I have. The book is very well balanced and written by the author who obviously knows his stuff about this man. I would give this book a very good 4 star rating.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

The book is carefully written and forms a useful addition to the canon of Second World War biographies.

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

This book provides some balance to this aspect of the Second World War, and I do recommend it to readers to broaden their understanding on AUCHINLECK and his place in history.

British Military History
 Evan McGilvray

About Evan McGilvray

Evan McGilvray specializes in 20th century military history and particularly Polish history. His previous works include The Black Devil's March, a previous history of the First Polish Armoured Division, and studies of the Polish Government-in-Exile 1939-45, a biography of Polish General Stanislaw Maczek and an account of the Warsaw Uprising. He lives in Leeds, Yorkshire.

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