There can be few greater expressions of pride than that of a son for his father who fought for King and Country, as is the case with Leonard Tonks, a Desert Rat of the North Africa Campaign who served during the Second World War.
Having read the recent article in Bugle 1067 about Alex Franks and his recently published book about his service with the legendary 7th Division and much more besides, Calvin Tonks of Hinksford Park, Kingswinford, brought a few precious memories he has of his father to show us; a couple of photographs, and the actual Desert Rat motif that T/249792 Leonard Tonks wore on his army uniform. Calvin told us, "Dad served in the 8th Armoured Division, ‘The Desert Rats’, and the one photograph was taken during his time in the Middle East when he used his truck called Evelyn named after his wife (they always named their vehicles after loved ones), as a bus to ferry squaddies from base camp to the nearest town.
“The portrait picture was taken in February 1945 when Dad was attached to the Royal Army Service Corps, and The Desert Rat badge is a prized possession of mine, something I know he wore with pride. It provides me with not only a connection with Dad, but also a link with the tremendous victories in North Africa achieved by Field Marshall Montgomery and the Desert Rats that turned the tide of history in 1942."
Whilst researching the Desert Rat motif, we discovered that this particular design was carried by the 4th Armoured Brigade who were known as the Black Rats. In addition, the 8th Armoured Division was deployed to Egypt in 1942, which is likely where Leonard was based when the photograph of him leaning against his truck was taken.