Thursday, 4 November 2010

234 Armoured Infantry - Warriors and Chimeras

Hey All,

I love my Armoured Fist platoon, and (although they're finished) I was pleased to find a book in the local library about the chaps who do this stuff in real-life to help me find out a little more.
Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War is a detailed account of 1PWRR Battle Group's 2004 deployment in Al Amarah and Basra. Written by Prof Richard Holmes (who was at the time the Regimental Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment) it's a lavishly detailed account based mainly on the testimonies of those serving in the battle group.
A Warrior IFV from 1PWRR

Like many of you, I enjoy military histories, and Holmes's style mixes quiet humour with gentle authority to great effect. That said, Dusty Warriors is far more personal and subjective (if not quite biased, per se) than his previous comparable works, such as the excellent 'horse and musket'-era Redcoat and Tommy - about the Great War. This perspective is openly acknowledged and explored, and I believe it adds significantly to the enjoyment of the book.

What did I learn from it? Well, I think the following were my main lessons, some 40k-related:
  1. The British public were (and remain) largely unaware of the ferocity of the fighting in Al Amarah, as there was very little media coverage for some considerable time;
  2. The personnel of the 1PWRR battle group routinely demonstrated feats of extraordinary physical and moral courage (Pte Johnson Beharry won his VC in Al Amarah);
  3. The role of an armoured infantry unit is more fascinating than I anticipated;
  4. Life aboard the Britsh 'Warrior' IFVs seems intense and the cameraderie simply awe-inspiring;
  5. The rules, role, reliability and weaknesses of an IG Chimera make it a wonderfully comparable beast to the Warrior;
  6. I've been mis-naming my mounted infantry detachment (1st battalion, Cadian 24th) as 'mechanised' where 'armoured' is more appropriate. Henceforth they shall be redesignated '1/24th Cadian Armoured Infantry'.

Pte Johnson Beharry with his Victoria Cross

I've also decided to use an extract from the book in class with my Year 9s next week!

So there you are. It's not to everyone's taste, but I found it highly engaging, and although I'm not prone to posting things like reviews, I was so moved by some of the accounts I thought I'd share.

Thanks for reading.

By the way, my converted Salamander-proxy IFV is now completely finished (hooray!) but I've not been home in the daylight all week, so I can't photograph it (boo!). Pics soon.


- Drax.


  1. Sounds like a good book- I'll have to check it out.

  2. Got any other books you can recommend? I'm looking more for a Bradley style book than a discourse of who went where why sorta thing.

  3. Very good post, will check it out.I would also recommend "Sniper One" by Sgt Dan Mills about british infantry fighting primarily but with british and american armoured support in Iraq 2004.

  4. Loquacious - Check out "Armored Warfare" (note the yankie spelling) by Tom Clancy (Don't worry, it is a reference work, not one of his awful stories). A pretty complete profile of a modern (Gulf War 1) era armoured formation.

    To add to people's reading list (sit up straight, King. Pay attention in class):

    An Ordinary Soldier Doug Beattie. Commando Chris Terrill. Immedaite Response Mark Hammond. Eight Lives Down Chris Hunter. Apache Dawn Damien Lewis. Danger Close Stuart Tootal. Desparate Glory Sam Kiley. Apache Ed Macy. Armed Action James Newton.

    If you can get hold of anything by Micheal Yon, it'll probably be worth it just for the phots.

  5. Zzzzz- I sort of like Clancy- at least about 4-5 books of his are pretty damn good and on my favorites list. Other than those select few, I have to read him in very small pieces because he likes to show off how much he knows. Gag.

  6. Re: the Tom Clancy book. I think you mean "Armored Cav: A Guided tour of an Armored Cavalry Regiment"

    Another good Clancy book, from a Corps Commanders perspective of Operation Desert Storm is "Into the Storm: A Study in Command." It's pretty high level (that is, strategic as opposed to the day to day live of a tanker), but still has lots of good information in it.

  7. Good post Drax. I shall have to add that title to my reading list.


  8. as a random note the PWRR was going to be my sponsorship regiment when i was looking at joining the forces. though i never got to meet Col. Holmes. may have to read this book.

  9. Thanks, All!

    Cheers for the other suggestions, too...Loquacious, I'm sorry I can't be of more help.

    @ Courtney: I got to meet him when he took my passing out parade at RMAS in 2002. He's a nice chap: gives the impression of quiet capability too...although I think from his slightly orange tint he'd been doing a lot of TV at the time!


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