In Deadly Combat. It's an infantryman's take on Wehrmacht activity on the Eastern Front in WWII.
I just started it, so this isn't a full book report, Teacher. I did want to give some first impressions while they are still fresh.
According to the Preface, by Dennis Showalter, the US Army consciously modeled itself off of many organizational scheme. Like number of companies in a battalion, regiment, division, etc. Down to the squad level. The Germans called a squad a Gruppe. Here the purpose of the squad size units diverge between the two forces. While the Americans stressed the individual rifleman with his Garand and his role in a fight in his squad, the purpose of a rifleman in a Gruppe was to support the machinegun, either an MG34 or MG42. Mauser rifles were to keep the machinegun covered. As long as the machinegun was protected and supplied and barrels swapped out with alacrity, the Gruppe could hold out against most anything but tanks. I kinda knew that doctrine already, but reviewing it doesn't make it any less interesting to me.
The other thing was the horse drawn or captured French-tractor drawn (the German army, as you probably know, was certainly not motorized) anti-tank guns called Paks that were very prominent in this recounting. Pak stood for Panzerabwehrkanone. If my High School German doesn't fail me that is Pather-defense-cannon. It was an anti-tank field piece. 37mm at the beginning of the invasion of the Soviet Union, predominantly, and that wasn't enough to stop T-34s. Larger versions came online as the war progressed. The Pak 40 had a 75mm projectile and was effective enough against most Allied armor.
Anyway, reading ahead in this book, the author's division, the 132nd Infantry Division stepped off on June 30th 1941, fought through to the Crimea, shifted up to Leningrad, and retreated back to the Baltic where it was finally captured by the Soviets in 1945. Survivors endured Siberian prison camps until 1955. So reading about bruises and blisters on their feet in 1941 makes me think, ruefully, "you think you're miserable NOW, just wait to see what the next 15 years will bring you, soldier boy."
I chose this book because my historical knowledge of the Russian front in WWII is woefully inadequate. Currently it is mostly "Barbarossa, Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Kursk, Warsaw, Berlin" and that's about it.
No matter how crummy your day was - You didn't go through this: How we find such soldiers, I can't fathom. The Republic is still in good hands, at least in this way. (via)
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