Alan Allport

Battle Basics

Monty’s Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe, 1944–5

By

Yale University Press 370pp £20 order from our bookshop

It is strange to recall that on the eve of the Allied invasion of Europe in spring 1944, almost five years into the Second World War, very few soldiers in the British Army had actually fired a shot in anger against the Germans. The campaigns in North Africa and Italy, though certainly ferocious, had involved relatively few troops. Most of the great conscript army that the British had painstakingly mobilised, equipped and trained since the Dunkirk debacle of 1940 had spent the entire war so far in the United Kingdom. Its servicemen, the overwhelming majority of them ordinary civilians who had been temporarily conscripted into the armed forces, were almost wholly untested.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,