by Matthew Wright
Published by Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd. Price $29.95.
Reviewed by Alan Johnston
Desert Duel tells the story of New Zealand's four-year war in North Africa.
The 2nd New Zealand Division, classified by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel as "the e1ite of the British Army", was led by Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Freyberg, a man the Germans officially considered a "dangerous opponent", and, as events unfolded in the Western Desert in the early 40s, they were proved right.
Since the war years, the Division's exploits have been expressed by many worthy narrators, however, Desert Duel relates to each battle in an entirely unique and distinctive manner, highlighted by explicit dialogue and many photographs.
In this new chronology of action, each desert campaign has been researched in depth to the extent that some new and indeed interesting revelations have emerged. These, together with Sir John White's archival and photographic collection, and with the extensive use of much original source material does most to enhance the total historical perspective.
Veterans of the Western Desert will find much in which to attract their attention as the author focuses on each action be it at El Alamein or Takrouna whilst the Division strives to annihilate an extremely aggressive enemy.
Readers will also appreciate the topographical maps and military dispositions that form an integral part of the book. Desert Duel is a worthy addition to the recorded history of the Division.
A couple of errors of 'date' are noted (page 20). The Second Echelon left Wellington on 2 May 1940, not November. The first of the 4th Reinforcements sailed on the Batory in November 1940.