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Book Review
The Mareth Line 1943
The Mareth Line 1943 – The end in Africa
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


** The battle of El Alamein saw the shattering of Germany’s hopes for victory in North Africa. From this point on the end was inevitable, as Rommel’s forces began the long retreat that was to end in Tunisia in May 1943 when, hemmed in by British and American forces on all sides, over 250,000 Axis soldiers filed into prisoner of war camps, a number comparable to those captured at Stalingrad.**

** This new study describes the hard fighting that took place in the six months between Alamein and the final surrender, as the British Eight Army forced its way through a series of German defensive positions, including the pre-war French Mareth Line, on its way to victory in the desert. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released The Mareth Line 1943 – The end in Africa as Number 250 in their Campaign series. It is a paperback book with96pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, color maps and ‘birds-eye-view maps, an information chart and detailed captions. It has a2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-093-7. The book details the command strategies, tactics and battle experiences of the opposing forces throughout the crucial stages of this particular area of fighting between the Allied and Axis forces in the North African desert during World War II.


Origins of the Battle
Opposing Commanders
- British commanders
- Axis commanders
Opposing Armies
- British forces
- Axis forces
- Orders of battle
Opposing Plans
- British plans
- Axis plans
The Pursuit After El Alamein
The Mareth Line
- The position at Mareth
- The battle of Medenine
- Assaulting the Mareth Line
- The break-in attack
- The New Zealand Corps’ left hook
- Forcing the Tebaga Gap
The End in Africa
The Battlefield Today
Further Reading and Bibliography


The text in the book is well written and gives detailed information on the Mareth Line in North Africa in 1943 during World War II. The text and the accompanying photographs are in a correct chronological order and are well written. As the title states, Ken Ford covers and discusses the Mareth Line in North Africa in 1943 during World War II very well in a well written and easy to follow and understand manner and it is obvious that Ford has gone to great lengths to research the subject. Anyone interested in the fighting in North Africa, the Mareth Line, bunkers, Allied and Axis troops, armor, vehicles, anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, and World War Two military history in general will find this book very informative and interesting and a worthwhile read.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.


There are a total of 58black and white photographs and 6color photographs. The majority of the photographs is very nice and will help the military diorama modeler well. They range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. There are a few well known and often published photographs to several that I myself have not seen before. I appreciate the fact that there are photographs that are new to me as this makes this volume even more exciting for me to sit down and read. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however there are some of those that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and some appear too light, which is typical for photographs of that period of time. I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason as well as the fact that the photographs are close to 70 years old. With that said the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and take away nothing from the book. Ken Ford has stuck to the title of the book and chose photographs that are specific to the Mareth Line in North Africa in 1943 during World War II and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. There are several excellent photographs that will help out the armor, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon and figure modeler. The majority of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information and inspiration for the diorama modeler due to the wealth of details they contain. The photographs contain subjects such as:

• Italian M13/14 tank
• South African-built Marmon Herrington armored car
• Captured Kfz 15 passenger car
• Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun
• Italian anti-personnel ‘thermos bomb’
• Italian Divisione Corrazzata ‘Ariete’ field guns
• Daimler armored car
• German PzKpfw III Special
• German 88mm anti-aircraft gun
• British 6-pdr anti-tank gun
• British Valentine tank
• Querzi bunkers on the Mareth Line

Some of the key individuals shown are:

• Major-General George ‘Bobby’ Erskine
• General Montgomery
• Major General Karl Spaatz
• Air Vice Marshal Harry Broadhurst
• Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder
• Major-General Wimberley GOC 51st Highland Division
• Generalfeldmarchall Erwin Rommel
• Generaloberst Has-Jürgen von Arnim
• Generale Messe, commander First Italian Army
• General Kurt von Liebenstein, commander of the German 164.leichte-Division
• Brigadier Howard Kippenberger of NZ 5th Brigade
• Men from the Maori battalion
• Troops from the 51st Highland Division
• General Leclerc, commander of Free French Force ‘L’
• Troops from the 4th Indian Division
• Generale Messe

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.


There are 3 color illustrations by illustrator Steve Noon. Each color illustration is accompanied by a black and white copy of the same illustration that describes the scene and points out and describes key areas of interest. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

• Axis Forces in Full Retreat after the Battle of El Alamein
• Sherman Tanks From 8th Armored Brigade Advance through Wilder’s Gap during the New Zealand Corps’ Operation to Outflank the Mareth Line
• The 4th Indian Division Applies Pressure to the Mareth Line Defenses by Launching an Outflanking Attack through the Matmata Hills

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

There are 6 color maps included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:

• The North African Campaign
• The immediate aftermath of El Alamein
• The advance from Benghazi to Tripoli
• Operation Pugilist: the main attack on the Mareth defenses
• The Eight Army advance after the battle for the Mareth Line
• The end in Africa
There are 3 ‘birds-eye-view’ 3-D color maps also included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:

• The Battle of Medenine, 6 March 1943
• Operations against the Mareth Line
• Operation Supercharge II, 26 March

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the maps for yourself.


There is 1 informational chart provided which covers:
• Key to military symbols
• Key to unit identification


The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph. The captions go into very specific detail as to defensive positions and weapons shown, such as their type, location, unit they are attached to, as well as specific individuals, armor, and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Ken Ford’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.


I am impressed with the book as it examines and discusses the Mareth Line in North Africa in 1943 during World War II very well. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.


• Brigadier P.Young (editor), ”Decisive Battles of World War II”, Bison Books LTD

• D. Sommerville, “World War II Day by Day; An Illustrated Almanac 1939-1945”, Dorset Press

• Editors of Time-Life Books, E. Sevareid (foreword), ”WWII Time-Life Books: History of the Second World War”, Prentice Hall Press

• C.L. Sulzberger, “The American Heritage Picture History of World War II”, American Heritage Publishing Co. Inc.

• B. Pitt (consultant editor), “The Military History of World War II”, The Military Press

• Beckett, “llustrated History of World War II”, Portland House

• P. Dowswell, L. Le Rolland & K. Tomlins (design), J. Chisholm (editor), T. Harman (consultant, historian, Imperial War Museum), “The Usborne Introduction to the Second World War, In association with the Imperial War Museum”, Scholastic Inc.

• M. Gilbert, “The Second World War”, Owl Books

• R. Heiferman, “World War II”, Octopus Books Limited

• J.B. Davies (co-coordinating editor), “Great Campaigns of World War II”, Exeter Books

Imperial War Museums web site

Search inside the book on the Osprey web site

Look inside the book on the Amazon web site

Look inside the Kindle Edition of the book on the Amazon web site
Highs: Nicely written text and captions Excellent photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book of the Mareth Line in North Africa in 1943 during World War II that is well researched and written.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-78096-093-7
  Suggested Retail: US $21.95
  PUBLISHED: Jan 23, 2013

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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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