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4th New Zealand Armoured brigade in Italy

Peter Brown

4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade in Italy by Jeffrey Plowman and Malcolm Thomas. Kiwi Armour No 1, 44 page A4 softback with colour covers. Published by Jeffrey Plowman, 33 Colman Avenue, Christchurch, New Zealand. ISBN 0-473-06534-7. Price NZ$25 plus NZ$2 packing and postage in NZ, NZ$4 overseas by airmail. For details contact plowman.holmes@xtra.co.nz

Coverage of armour in the Italian theatre has not been as extensive as that of AFVs in North-West Europe, and the part played by what are usually termed Commonwealth forces is all too often not readily included under the blanket title of British. This book is doubly welcome for both these reasons, as well as being welcome in its own right in its coverage.

The story of New Zealand's armoured units in this area is followed from their beginnings in North Africa to provide dedicated armoured support to New Zealand's infantry units. The 4th Armoured Brigade was formed from 4th Infantry Brigade and trained in Egypt before moving to Italy in late 1943. From then until the end of hostilities it was engaged in actions of many types and forms which are described in the first section of the book. The main account is added to with personal reminiscences of those taking part, and a general map shows the Brigade's movements from Taranto via Cassino, Rome, Florence and on to Trieste.

Following this the organisation of the Brigade is covered, not only in Italy with changes in equipment as the campaign progressed but also including details of its time in Egypt. Markings of the Brigade and its Regiments are shown with the composition of a typical regiment being illustrated with silhouettes of the armoured vehicles showing their tactical numbers. Official and unofficial markings come in for special attention with a complete list of arm of service codes and colours, as do camouflage schemes which show a variety of colours in use at different times and crew uniforms. As well as the units of the Brigade, 7 Anti-Tank Regiment is also covered which will be very interesting for those seeking different colour schemes for the current crop of M10 series vehicles.

The chapter on 28 Assault Squadron New Zealand Engineers who had a variety of standard and not so standard vehicles is also a bonus for modellers. It is also pleasing to see the often unsung but vital part played by supporting units such as 18 Tank Transporter Company NZASC, the Forward Delivery Squadron, Brigade Workshops and the NZ Armoured Corps Training Depot back in Egypt are not forgotten. All these accounts are fully illustrated, mainly using black and white photos from official New Zealand sources and several from private collections. Many will not have been seen outside their native land and some maybe not seen much in it. These show the range of Sherman and Stuart Recce tanks and Lynx and Humber Scout Cars, plus M10s and specialist armour and supporting vehicles. Rounding off an already comprehensive account is a set of 1/35th plans of a typical M4A2 Sherman which formed the main equipment of the Brigade and a listing of currently available kits in this scale.

To complement the black and white coverage, the covers show a typical Sherman three-quarter view with front or side views of various vehicles with detailed enlargements of their markings in colour. As you will see from the above, not much if anything is left out. What is included is all good material, resulting from long and painstaking research by real enthusiasts. Not content with collecting and collating all this they have also published it themselves. They deserve to be congratulated for their efforts and encouraged to do more along the same lines. The most practical way to do this will be to buy the book either from a specialist book supplier - Barbarrossa Books in England were quick to order stocks and I am sure others will follow suit - or if all else fails get a copy direct. Waiting for a second-hand or remaindered copy will lead most likely to being disappointed. These privately produced ventures will only succeed if supported, and this one is worthy of all the support it can get.

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