This is the untold story of the hundreds of New Zealand railwaymen - shunters, builders, engine drivers, firemen, engineers - who answered the call to construct and operate a railway network in the Western Desert during the Second World War. Overlooked in other war histories, these men played a significant role in the Allied victory in North Africa. The desert railway became a crucial strategic operation, transporting soldiers, equipment and supplies to the front line, that the Germans were determined to destroy. The various challenges they faced, from relentless bombing, to the dreaded fifty-day-long khamseen winds, to the siege of Tobruk, culminated in the second Battle of El Alamein, during which Field Marshal Montgomery stated, 'Well, now it's the railway versus Rommel.' The Desert Railway is a tribute to the courage and enterprise of these railwaymen who kept the trains running no matter what.
This is an excellent book, which gives coverage to a very important, but overlooked part of New Zealand military history. This book is meticulously researched, and isn’t just a collection of old Soldier’s tales (which sometimes must be viewed with a grain of salt.) I enjoy this book – it was a surprisingly easy read, and I recommend it to all who are interesting in Military History (esp. you Def Studs students at Massey – buy it for ‘Logistics’ papers – it is a PERFECT case study.)