The Desert Rats: The 7th Armoured Division, 1938 to 1945

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Arcole Publishing, Jul 11, 2017 - History - 278 pages
The exploits of the Desert Rats, based on official records and personal accounts traces the division’s progress in North Africa, Italy, Normandy and Germany

This classic and inspiring account follows the progress of the 7th Armoured Division from the sands of North Africa to the cold of wintery Holland and the mud of a German springtime, providing a unique insight into the workings of a formidable unit.

The division’s reputation was born in the desert. It first went into action against the Italians in 1940 and then, subsequently, fought Rommel’s Afrika Korps in Montgomery’s successful Western Desert campaign.

It was during this period of intense fighting that the division won its affectionate nickname of ‘Desert Rats’.

From there the division was transported to Italy and, later, Normandy and from then on was almost constantly in battle until the end of the war.

Based on official records, and written by one of the division’s key officers, The Desert Rats stands testament to the unique morale of the unit and is an enduring story of the difficulties they had to overcome.

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About the author (2017)

Major-General Gerald Harry George Lloyd Verney DSO & Bar MVO (10 July 1900 - 3 April 1957) was a senior British Army officer who commanded the 7th Armoured Division (“The Desert Rats”) during World War II.

Born in London, the son of Sir Harry Lloyd Verney and Lady Joan Elizabeth Mary Cuffe, he was educated at Eton College and was Page of Honour to King George V between 1914 and 1917.

He was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in 1919. He became Aide-de-camp to the Governor of South Australia in 1928 and then transferred to the Irish Guards in 1939. He served in WWII as Instructor at the Staff College, Camberley in 1940 before becoming Commanding Officer of 2nd Bn Irish Guards during their conversion to tanks in the UK later that year. He was appointed Commander of 32nd Guards Brigade in the UK in 1942, Commander of 6th Guards Tank Brigade in the UK (before being deployed to Normandy) in 1943 and General Officer Commanding 7th Armoured Division in North West Europe in 1944. He was personally appointed by Bernard Montgomery to the 7th Armoured Division. He went on to be Commander of 1st Guards Brigade in Italy and Austria from 1944-45 when he became Military Commander in Vienna. His last appointment was as General Officer Commanding 56th (London) Armoured Division in 1946 before retiring in 1948.

Verney died at Enniskerry, Ireland in 1957, aged 56.

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