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Manual Desert Rats

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The new memorial will acknowledge the history of the Desert Rats using the insignia of the Desert Rat. The Jerboa will be; 1. The Plinth will have the sides carved with a sand motif with letters incised. We would like to keep the memorial as simple as possible but, if required, any further information can be added to a bronze plaque at the front.

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We will use the Patina and Rust that will naturally occur, as the rust from the Desert Rat is likely to run and stain the plinth. We propose that this should be made into a feature by carving shallow channels in the plinth, which would create red tracks of rust signifying the blood spilt and given for victory. The memorials will be positioned in an oval area with two crescent shaped mounds.

In section, echoing the desert landscape of the sand dunes, steeper on one side than the other, covered in turf. The memorial from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst will be placed on the higher of the two mounds with the Rat on its plinth in the centre between. There will be a flat area running through the middle of the memorial ground. Things began to change from when it was decided to increase it to division strength.

Desert Rats to lose armoured role

But shipping the full complement of an armored division took time and the new division would be far from being entirely equipped at the outbreak of the war in September On February 16th, , the division received its definitive designation as the 7th Armoured Division and designed its famous insignia which will give it its nickname: the Jerboa mouse. His 10th Army advanced some 90 km past the border before setting camps and establishing a series of fortified positions.

For the next three months, a desert version of the Phony War prevailed in Egypt, with both sides sitting on their positions. And 7th Armoured played no small part in this outcome. The division was brought back to Cairo for refitting, receiving new Crusader tanks in the process.

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Meanwhile, Hitler had sent Erwin Rommel to restore the situation of his Italian allies in Afrika and in the course of a few weeks the later had reversed it in favor of the Axis: the British had been pushed back near the Egyptian border again and Tobruk was surrounded. It received new equipment, increased in strength and trained relentlessly to prepare for the next offensive. Starting October 23rd, , the Second Battle of El-Alamein saw 7th Armoured initially only used in diversionary attacks against the far right of the Axis front, near the Qattara Depression. But as soon as November 26th, most of the division was pulled back and placed in reserve to exploit a breakthrough.

On November 30thst, after a mock attack to show itself in the South, the division was moved all the way to the North, just behind the frontline. The next day, the two divisions met what was left of their Axis counterparts for the showdown of the Desert War: Panzer had 10 tanks left, Panzer 14, while Italian Littorio division had 17 and Ariete 29 serviceable ones and 40 in repair workshops. However weak they were, those veteran divisions put a tough fight. Yet by the end of the day, the three former were forced to retreat while the latter, surrounded, lost all its tank and was destroyed the next day by the Desert Rats.

Acknowledging his defeat, Rommel abandoned his unmotorized Italian units and tried to save his more mobile divisions by retreating West. Here, he tells of some narrow escapes. I was born in Brentford, Middlesex in We had to live on five shillings a week army pay.

My father was in the army in India for many years. My mother had to work to make up the extra to live on.

When I left school, there was the General Strike and all the unemployment that followed. You could be in a job one day, and then out on your ear the next because someone had offered to work for less money. No-one would stick together; that was always the trouble. When we had eggs, you could fry them on a rock in the sun. But we more often than not had none.

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So — we'd improvise! We would put together a concoction of bully beef and dog biscuits to make into a stew. We would crush the biscuits by putting them in a sack and then drive the truck backwards and forwards over them.

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You make do or you starve. It was all bluff then. Much of our time was spent on long tours round the desert driving in bottom gear making tracks to look as though we were a tank division. During the night, we towed oil drums behind, up and down, to fake the tank tracks. Sound carries in the desert and, driving in bottom gear, it would make Gerry think it was tank movements. We went hundreds of miles behind German lines, hiding up during the day, then out again at nightfall. We were making our way back to the truck.

Shells started falling all around us. We thought it was our lot finding their range.


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  5. When we got back to the truck, we realised they were Gerry shells. We had to get the radio out of the truck in short measure in case it was hit. He was still staring and started shaking his head in disbelief. And then I looked.