by Mark W Tonner.
A4 size Softback 126 pages
Review by Peter Brown
Canada organised its army along British lines during WW2, including forming an Army Tank Brigade. These formations were intended to support infantry units in an attack using specially designed "Infantry Tanks" with thick armour and low speed.
1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade landed in the United Kingdom in June 1941. It had been intended that it would use Canadian-built Valentine tanks but as they were not available tanks were obtained from British stocks. Initially two of its three regiments had Matildas but finally all had Churchills. They were to use various Marks of this tank until changing over to Rams in May 1943.
Canadian use of Churchills will forever be associated with the Dieppe landings in August 1942 but their involvement with the tank was more extensive than just that single momentous day. The full story is recorded here in great detail.
The tank is described first with a brief but comprehensive history of its design and development. As it was rushed into service, it was at first unreliable and needed a major rebuilding programme to sort out its problems.
The many improvements and changes are followed in the text. Once this was done it went on to be as reliable as most tanks.
Canadian crews were however faced with keeping their tanks in service during the period when it had the most problems. It was not uncommon for most of a regiment's tanks to be out of action for various reasons while many were sent away for rework which meant a constant turnover of equipment which is recorded as it happened.
Most of the problems had been sorted out by the Dieppe operation. The section covering this records the actions of several of the tanks which landed and includes a complete listing of those involved complete with serial numbers and names.
The Brigade continued to use Churchills Mks I, II, III and IV as well as a small number of the Carrier, Churchill, 3-inch Gun Mk I. All these are described in detail, as are the specialist Oke flamethrowers and carpet layers sent to Dieppe and several other specialist types the Canadians helped test.
Official organisations - War Establishments - are given together with what the regiments had at various points.
Churchills in Canada are also covered, both the tanks sent there for trials and later training use and the vehicles in museums including the unusual Great Eastern Ramp obstacle crossing conversion and even photos of Crocodile flamethrowers to show what one of the museum vehicles originally looked like.
All are illustrated using a large number of photos. These include tanks at Dieppe from official German archives and photos taken by German soldiers now in a private collection. Emphasis is on the tanks but many show crews. All are useful for modellers. Markings are given good coverage, with a separate chapter describing the system used and how they were applied including colour drawings of the markings themselves.
The author describes this book as an "expanded version" of his earlier Service Publications book on the Churchill in Canadian Service but it is much more than that. It contains far more detail, even down to the individual serial numbers of the tanks used - the full list runs to almost
400 of them! - as well as a lot of basic information on the tank itself.
Thanks to Clive Law at Service Publications for the review book.