Desert Rat Division
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
Britain’s best-known division of the Second World War, the 7th Armoured began as the Mobile Division (Egypt), part of the Western Desert Force in 1938, becoming Armoured Division (Egypt) the next year and finally 7th Armoured Division in early 1940.
The division’s first commander, Percy Hobart, was fired in late 1939 after an intense argument with the new British commander in Egypt, Henry “Jumbo” Wilson. He was replaced by “Dickie” Creagh, whose wife, Jean, drew a red jerboa to symbolize her husband’s new command. The troops supposedly embraced the new symbol enthusiastically; given its origins, they had little choice.
Over the next five years the “Desert Rats” saw almost continuous combat service. Seventh Armoured Division took part in all of the major battles in North Africa, and captured Tunis in May 1943 to end the Axis presence in the theater. The division did not fight in Sicily, but landed at Salerno in September 1943, captured Naples, and fought in the Volturno campaign before moving to England in November to re-train and re-equip for the invasion of France.
The Desert Rats landed in Normandy on D-Day, after the initial assault, and fought in the battles around Caen. After the Allied breakout, the division fought across France and Belgium and across the Rhine, ending the war with the capture of Hamburg. In July 1945, the division was selected for the Victory Parade in Berlin.
Panzer Grenadier players who are fortunate enough to be Gold Club members can get their own special set of pieces for this distinguished formation. It’s a sales incentive available only until October 14th; see your Insider newletter for details on how to get it.
The set has 176 laser-cut scorchless pieces: all the benefits of laser technology (smooth finish, no dog-eared corners) without the drawbacks (scorch marks and laser residue). You get the tanks and vehicles and infantry suitable for use with Afrika Korps, Desert Rats, and the upcoming An Army at Dawn.
Join the Gold Club right now!