Book review: The Desert VCs

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15 February 2019
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Although the title and the subtitle of Extraordinary Valour in the North African Campaign in WWII might indicate that these Victoria Crosses were all won in the desert.

Author: BRIAN BEST

Reviewed by: Duncan Evans

 

Buy your copy here.

 

Although the title and the subtitle of Extraordinary Valour in the North African Campaign in WWII might indicate that these Victoria Crosses were all won in the desert, the author widened the scope to include ones won on submarines and in Greece and Syria. Here then, are 29 stories about acts of bravery that were awarded the VC. Some of the recipients died in the actions, others lived and went on to have careers post-war.

While it’s miserly to decry any award given to a soldier who gave his life, some of the awards are clearly more deserving than others. The narrative also reveals ones which were subject to controversy and questioning as they were won for sustained gallantry rather than individual, heroic actions.

 

Each section usually sets the scene for the theatre or campaign and then tells the stories. There is a mono, glossy plate section in the middle with photos of the award winners.

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One of the most intriguing, and entertaining stories is about the struggles of John Kenneally, who was actually born to an unmarried mother and with a different surname. His story is probably worthy of a book all by itself.

 

Buy your copy here.

• Frontline Books

• 206 pages • Hardback • £19.99

 

As reviewed in The Armourer February 2019.

 

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