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Tank Commander (Paperback)

From the Fall of France to the Defeat of Germany - The Memoirs of Bill Close

Military > Tanks WWII > Battles & Campaigns > D-Day & Normandy

By Maj Bill Close
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526766694
Published: 9th November 2021
Last Released: 6th October 2022



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Bill Close had a remarkable war. Throughout the conflict, in campaign after campaign, from the defence of Calais in 1940 to the defeat of Germany in 1945, he served as a tank commander in the Royal Tank Regiment – and he survived. His tanks were hit eleven times by enemy shellfire and he baled out. He was wounded three times. He finished the war as one of the most experienced and resourceful of British tank commanders, and in later life he set down his wartime experiences in graphic detail. This is his story.

After being evacuated when France fell, he took part in the Greek campaign and in all the major battles in the Western Desert, including those fought at Sidi Rezegh, Bir Hacheim, Knightsbridge, Agedabia and El Alamein. During the final offensive in North Africa, as Montgomery's army broke the Mareth line and advanced into Tunisia, his battalion played a major role.

Then, as a squadron commander, he was involved in the break-out battles in Normandy – Operation Epsom, the struggle for Hill 112, Operation Goodwood – before his tanks drove across France and the Low Countries in pursuit of the retreating enemy. In the final months of the war he was caught up in deadly, small-scale clashes with the Wehrmacht as the Allies forced their way into the heart of Germany.

His book is not only an extraordinary memoir. It is also a compelling account of the exploits of the Royal Tank Regiment throughout the conflict. As a record of the dayto- day experience of the tank crew of seventy years ago – of the conditions they faced and the battles they fought – it has rarely been equalled.

As featured on World War II Today

WW2 Today

This is really something rather special, as Pen and Sword have published this new edition of Bill Close's memoirs.  It has been published before but if you have not read it then I can only recommend that you take the chance to read this book.It is a very personal account, and tells you what it felt like to be part of the team it takes to make a tank crew, and later how to command a squadron unit as well.


For anyone with an interest in the tank battles of WW2, this title is an essential addition to the collection. As well as being a chronicle of events, this is the story (modestly told) of a brave soldier and his comrades...a tale of courage that we should not forget.

Military Modelcraft International Magazine
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About Maj Bill Close

Major Bill Close joined the Royal Tank Regiment as a trooper in 1933 and was posted to the 3rd Battalion RTR in 1934 where he held every non-commissioned rank up to regimental quartermaster sergeant before being commissioned in the field in 1942. He served in France in 1940, in Greece in 1941, in North Africa in 1941-3, and in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany in 1944-5. After retiring from the army he was assistant bursar at Bryanston School and a manager at the electrical engineering firm Racal Redac. He married twice, had three sons and a daughter, and he died, aged 91, in 2006.

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