'Strafer' - The Desert General by N S Nash

9781781590904 Pen and Sword


Selected by Churchill to command 8th Army in 1942, in place of the sacked Auchinleck, 'Strafer' Gott was targeted by German intelligence as he flew to Cairo to take up his new post. Six ME109s intercepted his aircraft and, after shooting it down, deliberately obliterated the crash scene killing Gott in the process. As a result Montgomery was given his chance to command and the rest is history.

But as this superb biography reveals, 'Strafer' deserves to be remembered for his exceptional talents, meteoric career and record of gallantry. His performance as a young officer in The Great War earned him the Military Cross (many thought a VC would have been more appropriate) and he repeatedly made determined efforts to escape. In 1939 he was commanding his Battalion as a Lieutenant Colonel and in just two years he rose to become a Lieutenant General.

In doing so he became recognised as a superb Desert General whose aggression, originality and leadership qualities were supported by charm, warmth and compassion. While it is fascinating to surmise what would have happened had Gott and not Monty fought Rommel, it can be confidently said that relations with our allies would have benefitted. Thoroughly researched, using primary source material, this book is a rewarding and revealing read.