Book Review 'Catch That Tiger' - Churchill's secret order that prompted the most dangerous mission of WW2

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by BlakePub, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    I have read the first couple of pages using the Amazon feature. That's what I referred to when I called it cringe-making. I have no doubt that the bit on Adolf getting up on his birthday it is entirely made up, but while that maybe par for the course these days in order to provide entertainment to the iPad generation, what isn't is historical nonsense such as Rommel reporting the night before that his men advanced 300 miles to the gates of Tobruk (the last time they advanced was in early February), or Hitler saying that the Tiger is bigger than 'our Panzers'.

    All the best

  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I am reminded of the paper being circulated around Whitehall - which one lowly clerk thought that was a whole load of cods wallop- but owing to his low wage scale could not say so - whereupon he wrote in the margin - "Round Objects"

    Anthony Eden - later reading the various comments on this paper asked - Who is this Round - and why does he object " !

    Doesn't anyone have the 48th RTR War Diaries ??? - I only have the Diaries for the 21st TB in Italy - kindly supplied by our old friend Gerry Chester

  3. BlakePub

    BlakePub John Blake Publishing

    Oh dear Andreas
    It is so easy to laBel something 'cringe making'
    It is quite remarkable just how much petty detail is available about Hitler's birthdays when one undertakes deep research. Much of it improbable but, in reality, no less true.
    To the military mind to simply state that an army has advanced three hundred miles may not be precise enough. As it is a very minor point in this context it is unnecessary to specify days, hours or weeks. The normal reader will accept the point and move on.
    Sadly, many younger readers are not attracted to World War ll stories.
    We have written this book in a style which they will enjoy reading. We want them to admire our troops for rising to the extraordinary challenges they were presented with and which often called for huge personal sacrifice.
    It may be a little 'boys own adventure' style' for some military minds but don't forget
    Catch That Tiger is written for the purposes of entertainment as well as conveying previously withheld information. Nobody is demeaned in the book. Indeed, they are cherished as extremely brave men. Unlike many books written about our armed forces today we do not use snide innuendo or mockery. We are proud of what the Allies achieved in North Africa and it shows in our words.
    It is certain that a damned fine shot from a British 6 pounder initially wounded our Tiger but Lidderdale and his men did a damned fine job of capitalising on that splendid artillery success.
    Don't just glance at a few pages on Amazon. Read the whole book and share the pride in these men that took our king on the longest air journey ever undertaken by a monarch at that time to express his admiration in person.
    Noel Botham (Co author 'Catch that Tiger')
  4. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books


    I doubt you'll find something there. I guess we have to see 'captured' as literary licence for 'recovered' with Gerry's prior intervention to be taken into account, and treat the remainder of the stirring narrative with the same credit that we attach to the first person recollection of Hitler's servant about how Adolf and Eva were getting laid on the former's birthday.

    All the best

  5. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    And facts be damned.

    I should leave it at that. It is clear that we won't agree on what is and what isn't appropriate.

    All the best

  6. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tiger Tank 131.

    Post number 3 by one on the co-authors reads:
    "In the covering first two pages of his 1943 technical analysis of the Tiger sent directly to Major-General E B Rowcroft, Director DEME, War Office in October 1943 Lidderdale wrote:-
    Given assignment with other members of his team to capture intact one of these latest Tiger tanks and carry out a full specification analysis of it. The assignment was undertaken successfully by Major Lidderdale in command with members of the 25th 21st Tank Brigades captured and immobilized Panzer Tiger tank No 131, Chassis 250122, Turret No 230639 by overpowering the 5 German tank crew on the 21st April 1943 on the Medjez-el-Bab to Montarnaud Road.

    That this was written and delivered to Rowcroft in 1943 is indisputable. It was never officially contradicted at the time. Lidderdale was promnted to Colonel and worked on two innovative pieces of machinery used for the D Day landings.

    That it was also embarrassing to the top brass to have the capture of the Tiger pulled off by non combatants is easy to accept, as is the fact that he and his men were told to keep their mouths shut.

    Lidderdale left detailed diaries for the relevant period. His family obituary also refers to his capture of the Tiger."

    This is totally untrue as records show. It is a cheap way to pump up sales for this travesty of a book.

    Tom your outfit does not deserve such dishonesty!!!!!!

  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    can only agree - the 48th did a damn fine job in North Africa as did BOTH 21st and 25th TB's - especially your 'B' squadron at Longstop in supporting the "Agile and Sufferins" finally led by Anderson when the future of the Churchill Tank was in the balance - happily wiser heads prevailed and we went forward to Italy in support of the Canadians to do similar task - with the same success !

    AS you have no doubt learned - Honesty is now relative- especially where book sales are involved.....and lucre !

    I repeat - according to Brigade legend - a gunner from 4th Troop "B" squadron 48RTR
    of 21st TB fired his six pounder - jammed a Tigers turret - the crew baled out - NIH of 25thTB recovered this Tiger which finished up at Bovvy.....

    ...and I am only 88 y.o. BUT - just yesterday I passed an Altzheimer test by 100%
    and can now drive my Sebring sports job until aged 90 - BUT - I did promise the Doctor to "keep death of the roads" - by driving on the sidewalks - and I won't even ask how many can pass that test - to-day ?
  8. BlakePub

    BlakePub John Blake Publishing

    The official papers at the time state:-
    7.5.43. P.Z.K.P.F. W.G.Vl. H.MODEL H.!. D.K.R. 43 W.A.D. 198 TANK NO. 131 TURRET NO 230639 CHASSIS NO 250122
    Recovered from Pt. 174 0n MEDJEZ-EL-BAB to MONTARNAUD Road by D.8 tractor of 104 Army Tank Workshop R.E.M.E. uinder direction of Maj. A.D.Lidderdale R.E.M.E. and with the assistance of Lt. R Whatley and A.Q.M.S. Shaw of 25 Tk. Bde. Workshop R.E.M.E.

    This a proven fact. Not a myth or an assumption or a Brigade legend. This is what actually happened. It was accepted by Peter Gudgin - who was there at the time.

    I'm sorry if it spoils the NIH long held belief. But this really is the way it was.
    Noel Botham (Co-author 'Catch that Tiger'.
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    That little quotation of yours may very well be accepted by the war office AND Peter Gudgin- who was there - along with about 5000 members of 21st and 25th TB's- who were also there and founded the Brigade legend - and if we accept that as fact then we should also trust that Longstop hill was finally captured by the US 82nd Para division as all the British Divisions were having tea at the time- notwithstanding Gerry's photographs of
    his squadron TanKs climbing Longstop to it's capture - OR US 2nd corps capturing Tunis-
    or what the hell - the Italians beating the hell out of Monty at El Alamein- everything is relative to-day - which means changeable- you just lost one sale of that book
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Firstly, Noel, I honestly applaud you for getting stuck in here. I'm waiting for a copy of the book as I do believe one ought to see the elephant before commenting on it more seriously.

    But (you knew there'd be a but didn't you), that 7.5.43 date is two weeks after the action in which 131 was abandoned (21.4.43).
    Nobody's disputing that Major Lidderdale arrived to collect the tank, so that part of the paper trail doesn't really feed into the objections being raised at all. It doesn't add or subtract to the story or change any part of the accepted course of events - it only confirms that he picked 131 up in May.

    The book may carry more sources than the one you mention there, but I'll naturally have to wait & see.

    The official papers at the time state:-
    7.5.43. P.Z.K.P.F. W.G.Vl. H.MODEL H.!. D.K.R. 43 W.A.D. 198 TANK NO. 131 TURRET NO 230639 CHASSIS NO 250122
    Recovered from Pt. 174 0n MEDJEZ-EL-BAB to MONTARNAUD Road by D.8 tractor of 104 Army Tank Workshop R.E.M.E. uinder direction of Maj. A.D.Lidderdale R.E.M.E. and with the assistance of Lt. R Whatley and A.Q.M.S. Shaw of 25 Tk. Bde. Workshop R.E.M.E.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  11. BlakePub

    BlakePub John Blake Publishing

    To Mr von Poop

    I should have been more explicit. The Tiger was captured on 21st April.
    It was then left for two weeks because all the REME people were involved in battlefield duties during the big push towards Tunis. They could not be spared to recover the Tiger until after the Allied breakthrough on May 6th.
    On May 7th it was actually recovered by Lidderdale and co.
    Hope this explains the date disparagy
    Noel Botham
  12. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    So Churchill sends out a mission with a personal order to capture this Tiger, and they do, personally, but then they leave it standing around for 2 weeks in no-man's-land because they were busy doing other stuff?


    All the best

    RosyRedd likes this.
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I have no doubt that this Officer set aside a Churchill order to capture a Tiger Tank to lead
    the 6th and 7th Armoured Divisions plus 4th Brit and 4th Indian divs along with 21st and 25th ATB's in conjunction with Lt.Gen Brian Horrocks to capture Tunis and collect 250,000 Axis prisoners at Cap Bon etc -THEN went back to Churchills order to ship the Tiger to let mr Churchill see the results - THEN he was promoted - I see it all now

    Don't think Monty would have promoted him
    but then- I have been wrong before now
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Again, that doesn't really change anything, Noel. Perfectly workaday and conventional for a recovery to take a while. I don't think any of us find that so controversial.

    The 'surprise' is more based (regarding the actual capture period) on the newspaper coverage (and your own promo) which implies Lidderdale leapt from his bed and shot up 131 himself.

    If the book says something different to that implication, then we're possibly moving onto the more familiar ground of 'papers exaggerating the contents of something they've not read either.

    I'm actually wondering how many wires are getting crossed here.
    ~ Adam.

    (BTW - Do you feel the Newspapers have misrepresented your book?)
  15. PeterG

    PeterG Senior Member


    Hitler justly deserves the contempt of the world, but he was not the simpering imbecile portrayed in the opening pages of your book. In the first few pages Hitler is portrayed as a fool with little technical understanding avid for baubles and toys. Contrary to this a minimum of research would have shown you that he had a detailed knowledge of German arms production and was known to intervene at the design stage of tanks and aircraft.

    Joachim C. Fest Hitler page 531:[Hitler] had ... the tyro's need to show off his knowledge of tonnages, calibers, and all kinds of statistical matters.

    Hitler's detailed knowledge of arms and armaments is shown again and again in the surviving stenographic record of his Military Conforences, for instanceMidday Sittuation Report March 5, 1943, at the Wehrwolf:

    [Jodl] "We have relatively little news from North Africa. ... The losses that the 5th Panzer Army have reported are considerable. I have not yet received a detailed report. According to rumours, 19 Panzer IIIs ... Panzer IVs and 7 Tigers were lost."

    [Hitler] "The loss of the 7 Tigers can only be explained by problems with the gearshift that are too well known to us, which caused the tanks to be abandoned."

    See also Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer, page 323:Hitler knew all the types of ordnance and ammunition, including the calibers, the lengths of barrels, and the range of fire. He had the stocks of the most important items of armaments in his head - as well as the monthly production figures. ... He seemed to be constantly endevouring to show himself the equal or the superior of the experts. ... Hitler's memory for figures was the terror of his entourage.
    An example:Meeting on May 19, 1943

    [Hitler] "How many Panzer IVs does the Leibstandarte [SS Panzer Grenadier Division] have?"

    [Lieutenant-General Walter Buhle] "As you ordered, the SS corps will be provided with another 75 Panzer IVs. I don't have the precise number for the corps, but I assume that the Liebstandarte will get at least 25, so it will have a total of 60 Panzer IVs. It will get 14 Tigers, and it currently has 32 assault guns according to my records."

    [Hitler] "No, 22."

    Attached Files:

    Dave55 likes this.
  16. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    This is what says:

    After several unsuccessful and hair-raising efforts to bag a Tiger on the battlefields of Tunisia, Doug and his team put their lives on the line in a terrifying, close-hand shoot-out with the five-man crew of a Tiger, capturing the tank intact.

    It's the official product description.

    By the way, according to the book it was also a new introduction with the Tiger that German tanks could wade underwater. Obviously Jodl kept that from Hitler for two years to surprise him on his birthday in 1942. Instead of telling him that this might come in useful in invading Britain in 1940 when they did develop it.

    Facts, shmacts.

    All the best


    Attached Files:

    Za Rodinu likes this.
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Sorry, A - I was editing as you posted and noting the promo/blurb.

    Though I still think we can approach this the merest tad less guns blazing until someone's actually read the whole book and gained a clearer impression.
    eg. The recent Greywolf Hitler book does seem to have deserved attack, but I found it quite odd how vociferous some of the reviews on Amazon were considering they sometimes began with a phrase like 'I haven't read this, but...'.

    As I said, I'm cynical, being absolutely no stranger to 131's story, right up to the current restoration appeal (send 'em a tenner, you know it makes sense), and German tank development history as a whole - but I do hope the publication hits my doormat sooner rather than later so I can comment from a far stronger basis on more particular content, rather than from some blurb and a few pages.
  18. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Tunisia was crammed with Tiger tank wrecks.


    Several were captured in various pieces (hull alone/turret alone) and at least 3 intact. 2 were sent to to the USA.

    Extensive firing trials were carried out in Tunisia and much more of the 'secrets' were learned in the destructive tests that was garnered from the intact model shipped to the UK.
    The Tiger's debut in Tunisia was brief and fairly mundane. The much later Tiger hype was a product of Normandy 1944 and it was the relative ease with which they were dealt with in Tunisia that bred the false sense of security that delayed the upgunning of the US and British tanks.

    To suggest some special squad was running around trying to capture one intact in battle is laughable. Just for starters how would they know when they were going to turn up?
    Pz III/IV were the main tanks in Tunisia and the Tiger barely got a look in.
    A total of 1400 German tanks shipped to NA of which 31 were Tigers.
    The 500 shipped to Tunisia included the 31 Tigers.
    von Poop likes this.
  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA


    Horay! The USN seems to have captured one too. Lets have a screenplay along the lines of "Battleship" :)

  20. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books


    The US Navy. Is there anything it can't do?

    All the best


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