the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Book Review; Catch That Tiger by Noel Botham & Bruce Montague


13592735In one of the lesser known acts of bravery in WWII, this book retells the story of a humble officer and a few hand selected non-comms who were given one simple order, directly from Churchill himself; “Go catch me a Tiger!”

The Tiger tank was the ultimate in tracked terror, an almost perfect combination of destruction and refinement, the largest tank of the North African campaign. Dwarfing anything that Germany, England, or America had in stock, the Tiger housed an 88mm within a 60-tonne shell capable of demolishing Allied armour accurately from 2 miles, while seemingly not having a single flaw. So steps up Major Doug Lidderdale.

When Churchill demanded that an intact Tiger be captured and brought back to England for analysis one would expect a crack team of elite commandos, the envy of every soldier and hero of book-reading youth, but no, Dog and his selected men were just mere tank repairers, which as this book reveals, was a heroic bloody mob in itself as they raced into battlefields with tractors to two back damaged tanks under shell fire.

The book is a mix of fact derived from letters and official documents, including Lidderdale’s own diary, but at times it feels a little fictional as conversations take place between some of the role players. All in all, it is an amazing story as young men risk life and limb to hijack a weapon that had no obvious predators, fiercely protected by the Nazis, and not only get it back to Allied lines, hide it from their own side and try to smuggle it back to Old Blighty.

With scenes of deception and cloak and dagger stuff, it reads at times like a James Bond novel, so it came as no surprise when Ian Fleming himself popped up in a starring role! In a case where any attempt to hide the ending, the Tiger obviously is captured, and shipped to England (with no real sense of urgency, I noted) amongst spies, repeated sub attacks and internal command break downs.

The propaganda photo soon after the tank's capture - however the team involved were not allowed to be mentioned as it wouldn't 'look good' if Commandoes hadn't carried out such a heroic deed.

The propaganda photo soon after the tank’s capture – however the team involved were not allowed to be mentioned as it wouldn’t ‘look good’ if commandos hadn’t carried out such a heroic deed.

A good book for anyone interested in war memoirs.

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