Armor Camouflage & Markings of the British Expeditionary Force,
France 1939–1940 Part 1: 1st Army Tank Brigade

Armor Color Gallery #15
By Robert Gregory
Published by Model Centrum Progres, Warsaw, Poland
ISBN 978-83-60672-29-7

Review by Peter Brown

Overview :
The actions of the British Expeditionary Force in France 1940 are overshadowed by the rescue of its survivors from Dunkirk. One of the reasons often given that this was able to take place at all was the counter-attack at Arras on 21st May, when tanks of 1st Army Tank Brigade supported infantry units in a move which caused the German High Command to order a pause in their advance.

There are numerous accounts of the battle but they usually only mention the tanks briefly. This book concentrates on them, using a collection of period photos mostly taken by German soldiers and collected by the author with a few official photos of training during the "Phoney War".

The Brigade consisted of two Battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment. The 4th arrived in France in September 1939 while the 7th only moved there at the beginning of May 1940. Between them operated a mixture of A11 and A12 "Matilda" Infantry Tanks which were designed and intended to support attacking infantrymen, with a few Light Tank Mk VIB for command and liaison. A brief introduction leads on to descriptions of the tanks themselves, their characteristics along with camouflage schemes and the complex system of markings applied to them.

When the Germans attacked on 10th May, the Brigade moved into Belgium by train but was soon withdrawn. As trains were not available they had to travel on their tracks which lead to some tanks being lost to breakdowns. By the time they were committed to action at Arras they were down to 74 Infantry and 7 Light Tanks which were divided to support two infantry units. These went forward and caused panic among their opponents who found that their anti-tank guns caused little damage. A brief tank-vs-tank action resulted in the Panzers withdrawing. However the attack was halted, surviving tanks were grouped together and over the next few days they fell back towards the coast where many men were about to board ships back to England.

The text is well-written and informative but the main section of the book is the photos. As well as photos throughout the other parts, each Battalion is shown in separate chapters. Together they show 4th Battalion training and both Battalions after the action at Arras. Many are shown from more than one angle which gives modellers all they need for reference. Captions say where they were photographed and give details of the markings including many small variations in how they were applied. Tanks were gathered together by the German, some were evaluated including cutting out sections of their armour or by more practical methods of shooting at them which are both shown.

Tables list known tank serials and names where known. One colour plate shows the markings system but most are in the usual style of the series showing nine individual tanks, mostly in full three or two view studies with some partial views. Again these are ideal reference for modellers to model the tanks shown or others in conjunction with the photos.

The author is to be congratulated for this his first book, I look forward to more in the same format as well as any other well-produced books from the publisher.

Rating 9/10

Sample pages:

Click thumbnails for slideshow view
Model Centrum ProgresModel Centrum ProgresModel Centrum ProgresModel Centrum ProgresModel Centrum Progres
Model Centrum ProgresModel Centrum ProgresModel Centrum ProgresModel Centrum Progres
Close new window to return to review

Thanks to Wojciech from Model Centrum Progres for the review copy

to help the reviews continue, thank you

Page created 30 January 2018

Back to Top