Osprey's British Tank Crewman 1939-45


Neil Grant


Osprey Publishing


$19.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1696-2

One would think that the training and methods of operation of tanks of various nations would be pretty much the same. However, there are differences and this particular book looks at the crewmen and operations of British tanks.

Britain never had a really good tank in terms of speed, firepower and protection until the last months or so of the war. They also built tanks to two different specifications. One was the cruiser tank. These were fast but lacked really good armor and were generally under gunned. The other type was the infantry support tank. These had superb armor, but, were under gunned and were not designed to go much faster than infantry. British tanks tended to be mechanically unreliable so required a lot of maintenance to keep operational. There are stories in the book of the amazement of British tanker who were given US M3 and M4 medium tanks, which were mechanically reliable.

As with all tank crews, the men were provided with a goodly amount of training and it was expected that each man be able to handle the duties of the others in the tank in case of casualties. Those crews who were experienced in battle were frequently split up once returning for rest or refit to spread their experience with new tankers.

During operations, the crews were constantly tired. When retiring for the day, the work did not stop as they had to do maintenance, reload the tank, and stand watch. If their tank was put out of action, there was the additional hazard of getting free from it without being wounded or killed as tanks just naturally drew fire from defenders. It should not be too surprising that one's chances of death or injury was greater in a tank despite having all that armor.

This book follows the standard format of the series. It starts with recruitment and training then goes through conditions of service, clothing and uniforms, equipment and personal weapons, and unit structure. There are also sections on what it was like inside the tank and what their day was like. This is followed by morale and crew cohesion then what British tanks were like.

In all, another interesting and informative addition to the Warrior series and one that I know you'll find worth picking up.

January 2018

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