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This is a really good reference, not just a list of units and their composition as you might have thought. It begins with a look at the combat missions of tank and tank destroyer battalions, the tank battalions here being the “separate” ones not those in armoured divisions. As in the rest of the book, the two battalion types are covered in individual sections. No punches are pulled on the infighting that resulted in daft ideas gaining official acceptance, and the book is worth reading just to get a balanced view of how it all happened. Next comes the Preparation for War chapter, and again there’s a good analysis of why so many mistakes were made on the tank destroyer side. The main problem with the training was its almost complete lack of consideration of cooperation with infantry, but there were other problems like the shortness of time between finalisation of training ideas and the units’ going into combat.
The next chapter is a long one, dealing with unit organisation. Here we get details of the separate tank battalions and the tank destroyer battalions with descriptions of how their organisations changed over time. Their equipment is considered too, and the T10 Shop Tractors, DD tanks, mine rollers and mine flails are dealt with as well as the different types of Sherman and of tank destroyer – both SP and towed. Yes, there are tables here and they set out all the various battalion tables of organisation and equipment, backed up by excellent pictorial graphs and not forgetting tables of the actual tank and tank destroyer strengths in the ETO at various dates.
A shorter chapter deals with command and control arrangements, how the tanks were integrated with the infantry they supported and the tank destroyers moved to being attached to individual infantry divisions. Then comes the longest chapter, and a very detailed one it is too, dealing with tactics by examples of combat use. These range from the Normandy and Provence assault landings via fighting in the bocage to assaults on defended fortifications, river crossings and meeting a panzer counter-attack. This is great stuff, clearly explained. The final chapter sets out potted histories of all the separate tank battalions and tank destroyer battalions, with notes on the equipment of most of them.
There are no plates in this series but the book has plenty of battle maps and a good selection of photographs. These are to show the equipment so picked for clarity, and as a result familiar to many of us, but there are several wartime colour shots.