Catch That Tiger : Churchill's Secret Order That Launched the Most Astounding and Dangerous Mission of World War II Hardback
Unleashed by Hitler in 1942, the German Tiger tank was by far the most powerful tank ever built at the time.
The 60-ton monster could destroy any Allied tank from more than a mile away, and it soon became the most feared tank in the world.
Desperate to discover the secret technology used in the Tiger's manufacture, Winston Churchill close a brilliant young army engineer, Major Doug Lidderdale, as his special agent.
In a late-night briefing in the subterranean War Rooms under Whitehall he ordered him: 'Go catch me a tiger'. Doug did not hesitate and by February 1943 was facing Rommel's desert army.
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.
The morale boost to the Allies was such that both Churchill and King George VI flew to Tunis to examine the Tiger first hand. But the Germans were not finished with Doug. They did not want the secrets of the Tiger benefitting the Allies' sabotage attempts, and constant attacks by the Luftwaffe and U-boats pursued Doug and his men on every step of the journey back to England.
But eventually, by October 1943, the Tiger - number 131 - was delivered to London and gifted to Churchill, who had it placed on London's Horse Guards Parade.
Lidderdale went on to use some of the Tiger technology to develop war machines for the D-Day landings and was promoted to Colonel.
Tiger 131 is now kept at Bovington Tank Museum and is the only working Tiger in the world.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 288 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: John Blake Publishing Ltd
- Publication Date: 14/05/2012
- Category: Autobiography: historical, political & military
- ISBN: 9781857826609
- Paperback from £6.15
- EPUB from £3.99
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Review by scuzzy
In one of the lesser known acts of bravery in WWII, this book retells the story of a humble officer and a few hand selected non-comms who were given one simple order, directly from Churchill himself; “Go catch me a Tiger!”The Tiger tank was the ultimate in tracked terror, an almost perfect combination of destruction and refinement, the largest tank of the North African campaign. Dwarfing anything that Germany, England, or America had in stock, the Tiger housed an 88mm within a 60-tonne shell capable of demolishing Allied armour accurately from 2 miles, while seemingly not having a single flaw. So steps up Major Doug Lidderdale.When Churchill demanded that an intact Tiger be captured and brought back to England for analysis one would expect a crack team of elite commandos, the envy of every soldier and hero of book-reading youth, but no, Dog and his selected men were just mere tank repairers, which as this book reveals, was a heroic bloody mob in itself as they raced into battlefields with tractors to two back damaged tanks under shell fire.The book is a mix of fact derived from letters and official documents, including Lidderdale’s own diary, but at times it feels a little fictional as conversations take place between some of the role players. All in all, it is an amazing story as young men risk life and limb to hijack a weapon that had no obvious predators, fiercely protected by the Nazis, and not only get it back to Allied lines, hide it from their own side and try to smuggle it back to Old Blighty.With scenes of deception and cloak and dagger stuff, it reads at times like a James Bond novel, so it came as no surprise when Ian Fleming himself popped up in a starring role! In a case where any attempt to hide the ending, the Tiger obviously is captured, and shipped to England (with no real sense of urgency, I noted) amongst spies, repeated sub attacks and internal command break downs.