New memoirs by combatants in the Second World War are sadly rare today due to the passage of time. Tanks and Thoroughbreds will be warmly welcomed as the author, now into his 90s, fought through with The Bays from Alamein to Tunis and then on up Italy until VE Day. As a young tank troop commander his chances of survival were slim and tragically many of his friends were killed. Peter Willett, a professional journalist and much published author, is superbly qualified to describe his war and the experiences of his fellow cavalrymen. He tells a moving story with characteristic lightness of touch and modesty. As well as satisfying the military enthusiast Tanks and Thoroughbreds will find a ready audience in the racing fraternity. Peter describes equestrian activities in postwar Austria and goes on to summarize his career as a racing journalist, authority on breeding, membership of the Jockey Club and long association with Goodwood.
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Peter Willett joined the Army in August 1940 after Wellington College and Cambridge University. He was commissioned into the Queen’s Bays and this book describes his experiences. Today he is the sole survivor of those who fought at Second Alamein. Post-war he enjoyed a distinguished career in horse racing as a journalist, author, bloodstock consultant and administrator. He was a member of the Jockey Club, then the governing body of British racing, President of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and a director of Goodwood for 35 years. Among the recognition he received was the coveted Daily Telegraph Award for Merit at the Cartier Racing Awards.Review:
This is Peter Willett’s memoir of his service in the Second World War, all of which was with the Queen’s Bays, a tank equipped cavalry regiment in the Eighth Army serving in North Africa and Italy. It is an utter delight to read; the authors prose is engaging and the story compelling... There is rich detail of life in armor, both in combat and in the rear. Willett's recollections of combat are crisp and understated; the author saw plenty of it. The tight knit community of a cavalry regiment shines from the pages, particularly on an awful day in Italy when the regiment lost almost two entire squadrons (two thirds of its combat strength) in a few minutes, suffering 64 casualties in the process. This is very much a memoir of a young officer at war. As such it casts light on the pursuit of fun and what soldiers got up to when their units were not in action, which of course was the status of most of the British Army most of the time. Peter’s interest was racing and at the end of the war he quickly became involved in organizing racing in Italy and Austria... This is a wonderful book and I commend it to you wholeheartedly. (ARMY RUMOR SERVICE)
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