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Author Topic: Tank Action book review  (Read 656 times)
Heedless Horseman
Second Lieutenant
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Posts: 148


« on: 26 August 2017, 03:09:06 AM »

'Tank Action'. David Render + Stuart Tootal. Weidenfeild & Nicholson. 2016. Available at Tesco 3.85.

Well worth picking up. David Render was a young Lieutenant taking command of a British Sherman troop  and fighting from Normandy to Bremen. The account is very much a personal experience at Troop level, though with some overview added. The 1st chapter on D Day landings  is compiled from the recollections of others, but, once Lt. Render reaches Normandy shortly afterwards, his account becomes personal and compelling. The seemingly endless daily slog of the fight through the Normandy Bocage...and later, the sodden polders of Holland is very evident...as are the variious difficulties encountered by a young officer, both with troops under command and with senior ranks. Some attitudes expressed may surprise as may some incidents...but, an army is composed of individuals, and the recollections of someone who 'was there', are very worthy of note. TV docs and some written campaign histories do not always contain the same level of 'experience'.

The book is written in a very readable style....with good pace and content which could match a novel in holding a readers interest. The level of detail in some recollections may also seem remarkable after such a span of time...but, sometimes, memory can become more vivid in later years. (In my own opinion, I wonder if some of the vehicle details may have been enhanced with later knowledge or by the co-author...many servicemen's recollections tend to be of the "my tank was green" level and identification of enemy vehicles was often rather vague). However, clarity could help to ensure survival and David Render seems to be a very intelligent and erudite gentleman...who did survive frantic combat against superior foes. I do not doubt the accuracy of the account...and applaud the detail.

The author's grief for lost companions is evident...as is the attitude of 'we are at war and they are the enemy...so them or us'. The strain of leadership on officers in combat also comes through...as does the compassion for crewmen or the PBI who were also integral to the actions described in the narrative. All are deservedly respected.


From a wargaming point of view, there are many points of great interest in this book' including:

Several 'low level' troop engagements are described from a tactical perspective and could form good scenarios on a table.

A unit preference to engage superior armour with 75mm HE, rather than AP...slapping a target with as much 'bang' as fast as possible to disable or cause bailing. The rate of fire for smaller, more easily handled 75mm HE rounds compared to larger, heavier 88mm rounds is food for thought...as is the relative confidence in the manoeuverability of a Sherman against a long-barrelled panzer in close environments.

A personal hatred for the petrol M4A4 Sherman V against the older diesel marks...upgraded is not always better!

Detection of well camouflaged armour by the 'heat shimmer' over the engine.

Heavy and prolonged dousing of target areas...hedgerow or building...with MG and HE fire before advance to either neutralise or provoke fire.

Occasional reluctance of infantry COs to advance troops alongside armour. We assume ALL our troops will do what we want...real commanders may have had differing agendas.

Several engagements with 'Jagdpanthers'. I had thought they were rather rare beasts, but description appears to identify. (Personally, I wonder if, possibly, Jagdpanzers could have been the opposition on occasion...however, identification of a Hetzer would seem to negate this). BUT, Statistics do not always reflect factual occurrence in the field...so put whatever you like on a table...and I like Jagdpanthers! lol.

Ps: Hope 'Fritz' found a home!


All in all, an excellent book to pick up...especially considering the price. It is both useful from a wargame perspective and a worthy tribute to those who fought from Normandy to the end of WW2. All Respect to those who were there and great thanks to the author for voicing his memories.
« Last Edit: 26 August 2017, 03:18:36 AM by Heedless Horseman » Logged
Steve J
Lieutenant General
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Posts: 5618


« Reply #1 on: 26 August 2017, 09:27:56 AM »

Thanks for the review and will keep an eye out for it.
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Matt J
Colonel
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Posts: 1183


...nana?


« Reply #2 on: 26 August 2017, 01:28:10 PM »

book ordered, thanks for the review
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Sunray
Colonel
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Posts: 1413


« Reply #3 on: 26 August 2017, 06:23:01 PM »

Stimulating review.  Thank you!  Thumbs up Thumbs up
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T13A
Lieutenant
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Posts: 151



« Reply #4 on: 26 August 2017, 09:54:27 PM »

Many thanks for the very useful review, will keep a look out for it.

Cheers Paul
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mad lemmey
Field Marshal
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Posts: 16180



« Reply #5 on: 27 August 2017, 07:27:59 PM »

Thanks for the review! Good one.
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Sunray
Colonel
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Posts: 1413


« Reply #6 on: Today at 02:40:27 AM »

Good & useful review  Thumbs up :

These first hand accounts are most useful.  The heat shimmer from hot decks took me back to BOAR and the days prior to thermal imaging.

The big bang of using HE against armour.  This reminds me of the well known encounter at Domagen (March 45) when a troop of M24s blundered into a brace of Tiger 1s. The Chaffees got off several rounds of point blank HE into rear and sides of the Tigers, and detonated the internal 88 rounds in both tanks !

Not implying that it would work beyond point blank, but worth a thought ?
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Matt J
Colonel
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Posts: 1183


...nana?


« Reply #7 on: Today at 07:16:31 AM »

Just finished the book. Excellent read. I doubt we will see any more books of this vein with vivid first had accounts of actions over 70 years ago.

The inevitable Mr Render succumbed to the inevitable a few months ago  Sad
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