Combat History of Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 217
|Tim Haasler & Simon Vosters|
|$78.99 from www.casematepublishing.com|
284 pages, 8.5x11
It is always a delight to read a comprehensive unit history that is well written and not simply a collection of passages from war diaries. True, this book does have some of that, but the amount of research that has gone into this volume has produced a most comprehensive history of Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 217.
This unit was formed in mid 1944 when it was originally thought that 216 was going to be the last. As is often the case in later war German units, it took a while to get together the personnel and equipment. This was not only hampered by somewhat slow equippage, but by the fact that the majority of personnel were untrained and so not ready for combat.
The unit was able to overcome these obstacles by providing a brief training period for crews and filling in the missing parts with actual combat. Not exactly the best way to do things, but events did not allow the luxury of a proper training course. The crews were quick to learn their Sturmpanzer IV vehicles along with the quirks of the type. By the time July 1944 rolled around, the unit was in combat in the Caen area.
There are several major positives about this book. First of all, it is published in landscape format. That allows the hundreds of quality images to be printed at a decent size without crossing the 'ditch' at the middle of the book. Secondly, it is printed on high quality paper for the best photo reproduction. There are maps in each chapter so that you can follow the unit from its introduction into combat until the end. Add to this that there are several quality artwork images based on photographs in the book and you have what is an excellent reference.
This is not a book that you can finish in a few days. The amount of information is extensive so it will take you a fair amount of time to read it. But is is superbly done and provides an outstanding history of this unit, which is the only one of its type to operate solely on the Western Front. Most highly recommended.
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