The Impact of Terrain in North Africa 1940-43

From Tobruk to Tunis: The Impact of Terrain on British operations and Doctrine in North Africa, 1940-43 is a new book by Neal Dando, published just recently by Helion & Co. The author/publisher states “This book focuses on the extent to which the physical terrain features across Egypt, Libya and Tunisia affected British operations throughout the campaign in North Africa during the Second World War. One main theme of the work analyses the terrain from the operational and tactical perspective and argues that the landscape features heavily influenced British operations and should now be considered alongside other standard military factors.

From Tobruk To Tunis by Neal DandoIt goes on to say “The work differs from previous studies in that it considers these additional factors for the entire campaign until the Axis surrender in May 1943. Until now it has been widely assumed that much of the Western Desert coastal plateau was a broadly level, open region in which mobile armoured operations were paramount. However this work concentrates on the British operations to show they were driven by the need to capture and hold key features across each successive battlefield.

A secondary theme of the work argues that British forces began to improvise certain tactical doctrines, which altered the early practice of combined arms assaults into one of the Infantry and Armoured formations fighting largely separated battles until the autumn of 1942.

The books interesting and I have purchased a copy so hope to read and give a brief review in the coming months. Meanwhile a well read fellow (Crossfire) gamer has commented that although the book doesn’t provide as much detailed information on North African terrain as he hoped it still provides far more than elsewhere, and highlights how significant Deirs (depressions) were in the landscape (anyone who has read the NZ Official Histories in detail will likely be well aware of the significance of Deirs). The text of the book is supported by 24 pages of specially-commissioned colour maps.

It also appears the book is the evolution of a thesis originally done by Mr Dando at Plymouth University, and which can be downloaded here. I’m unclear as to whether the book features significant additional material is is meaningfully reformatted from the available thesis pdf download.

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