Book Review: Allied Fighting Effectiveness in North Africa and Italy, 1942-1945


by Andrew L. Hargreaves, Patrick J. Rose, & Matthew G. Ford, editors

Leiden / Boston: E.J. Brill, 2014. Pp. x, 262. Notes, index.. $142.00. ISBN: 9004275231

Reassessing Allied Fighting Power Against the Germans

For decades numerous studies and analyses of combat in the European-Mediterranean theatre rated the performance of Allied forces as considered inferior to that of their German opponents. In recent years, however, many younger scholars have been taking a fresh look at the subject, using more careful analysis and with the benefit of access to documents and testimony unavailable to earlier authors, who frequently based their accounts on the testimony of German generals rather than documentary evidence. 

The dozen essays in this volume address different aspects of the performance of American, British, Indian, French, and even Brazilian troops in the campaign, though oddly omitting the Polish Army in exile and Italian co-belligerent forces , both of which did impressive, if mostly unheralded work.  The essays cover Allied “Air-Land” doctrine (albeit a generation before the term was coined), ground-air cooperation, the French Air Force, British airborne operations, the British Eighth Army in the Sicilian campaign, the training of the Indian Army and of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, Allied special operations forces,  British communications, American quartermaster operations, the 4th Indian Division’s performance at Cassino in February ’44, and the British XIII Corps’ operations against the same objective there three months later

The authors make no effort to paper over flaws, and their essays often address problems in training, doctrine, organization, or command, but there is also no exaggeration of the problems. The introduction and conclusions tie the somewhat disconnected essays together, to help develop a new view of Allied efforts in the theatre. This will prove rewarding reading for those interested in the war in North Africa and Italy or for the evolution of the armies involved.

Note: A volume in the Brill series “History of Warfare,” Allied Fighting Effectiveness in North Africa and Italy is also available as an e-Book, ISBN 978-9-0042-5570-8.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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