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This book completes this mini-series concerned with the German infantryman’s experiences, weapons, equipment and tactics as used in the final two years on the Ost Front. The author provides a brief introduction in order to set the mood, and then jumps immediately into a segment describing Partisan Warfare. In this segment, he details the German attitude towards the Partisans (which was basically, a “no quarter asked or given” policy) and the specific problems encountered in such operations. He then uses an actual incident to illustrate these points and problems. As the brutality of winter weather in the east is of mythic proportions, the author spends time detailing operations in that extreme climate, again using actual examples from German reports. Likewise, fighting in the Taiga and Tundra, presented problems of their own, as did defensive warfare. Finally, the battles before and within Berlin close the book, with personal anecdotes included to lend an air of immediacy to the text.
All of this is well written and competently presented. These are complimented with eight maps detailing the episodes in the text. An index and bibliography are included, which will help the person who wishes to delve further into the subject.
The 43 B&W photos are in general quite interesting since they not only depict troops, weapons and equipment (including captured, destroyed and abandoned Soviet items), but also terrain and field fortifications as well. In general the captions are concise and informative, but I noticed a glitch on one of them. On page 31, bottom an artillery piece described as “a destroyed Russian field gun” is, in fact, a fairly completely demolished German 10.5cm l.FH18.
Likewise, the eight pages of color illustrations, by Ms. Sharp are technically well-done and visually quite pleasing. They detail ordnance (15cm Nbw41), uniforms (especially cold-weather types, as well as a horse-mounted trooper), vehicles (StuG. III) and weapons (with the emphasis on later items such as the MP44, GW43 and Panzerfaust). There is a glitch or two in the commentary, regarding the StuG. III Ausf. G. The author repeats the oft-quoted (and incorrect) notion that the Germans equipped their tanks and assault guns with schurzen to counter hollow-charge ammunition, when in fact they were fitted to defeat Soviet infantry anti-tank rifles. He also incorrectly states that the StuG. mounted a 7.5cm PaK40, when it actually mounted a StuK40, a very different gun with ammunition that could never fit in a PaK40 (although the performance was essentially similar). While these “errors” are no great things, they could confuse the novice.
Altogether, this is fitting end to this particular mini-series and will prove quite helpful to modelers who prefer to work on projects depicting combat in the east.
Frank De Sisto