Rommel and ‘HR’

Letter published in The Times, 28 February 2017.  © Richard Kemp

While Captain HR McMaster was attacking Iraqi tanks in the Battle of the 73 Easting, I was doing the same a few miles across the desert with the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats (‘ “HR” and the Charge of the Heavy Brigade’, The Times, February 25). I was in the command tank with Brigadier Patrick Cordingley, also an outstanding battlefield commander. While McMaster had a photograph of Rommel in his armoured vehicle, from ours fluttered the flag flown by the commander of 7th Armoured Division who fought under General Montgomery when he vanquished Rommel at El Alamein.

Ben Macintyre is right to say that President Trump has not acquired a docile general who will meekly follow orders. Most British soldiers became deeply impressed by the fighting spirit and initiative of the US Army and Marine Corps during that war, and we can be sure that from McMaster and his Marine colleagues Generals Mattis and Kelly, the president will benefit from a great deal of military straight-talking.