Fighting to Kill: The British Infantry Section in the Second World War


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Often typified by the large tank battles of the Eastern Front, the hunt for U-boats in the Atlantic and the dogfights over European skies, the Second World War saw mechanised warfare on an unprecedented scale. Yet there was another side to the fighting. This was also the infantryman’s conflict where an individual fighting man and the comrades to whom he was attached were asked to play a more diverse – and decisive – role than ever before. The Second World War was as much a war of small units as of big battalions.

Here, Alexander Shaw explores the significance of this emphasis on small units for the men who fought between 1939 and 1945. He describes the evolution of the infantry rifle section of the British Army and brings together the history of their weaponry, their small-unit tactics and the soldiers’ personal experiences. Covering every major theatre of operations where British infantrymen saw action, Shaw offers a compelling narrative of Britain’s fighting philosophy and the part played by the individual.

Drawing upon unpublished research into War Office publications, government documents, soldiers’ memoirs and several archives, this is a new and methodologically original interpretation of Britain’s war.

Talking Points is a short-form book series from the Royal Armouries, Britain’s national museum of arms and armour. Focusing on issues that have sparked debate or controversy, Talking Points enables authors to publish original research free from artificial length restrictions to ensure the maximum public impact of their work.

Publication date: 1 November 2023
ISBN: 978-1-913013-43-1
Dimensions: 240x168 mm
No. of pages: 80
Binding style: Paperback with flaps
Details of illustrations: 46 Colour images

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