Osprey's Gebirgsjäger vs Soviet Sailor
80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼
Next in Osprey's Combat series is this one that takes place in the Arctic during WWII. It was the German's goal to, if not capture Murmansk, at least cut the rail line that led south. That would staunch the supply of materials coming into the port from reaching industry and the Military. Operating from the Petsamo area in what was then Northern Finland, it was a relatively short distance to Murmansk.
However, the Arctic is not a good place for warfare. In addition to the generally horrible weather, there are few roads, which make travel difficult and using large artillery and tanks even more of an issue. It also requires a special type of solider to operate in these conditions.
On the German side were their mountain troops, who trained in harsh, winter environments and were equipped to fight in this type of terrain and weather. On the other side were the Soviet sailors, who were expected to be able to perform amphibious assaults in order to out-flank the Germans and were also expected to be able to defend the ports.
Well, the Germans got off to a pretty good start and made some impressive gains through terrible conditions and the Russians were rather inept in their attempts at not only defense but also amphibious landings. In fact, disaster would be the operative word. However, as the war progressed, they got a lot better at things and actually learned from their mistakes. The Germans, on the other hand, were constantly plagued by lack of supplies and reinforcements as the far north was not an area that really interested the OKW. Eventually the armistice between Finland and the Soviets put an end to the struggle and allowed the very north of Finland to be annexed by the Soviet Union.
In this book, we look at the background, training and tactics of both sides at this time. We see the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and get a chance to read about the progress of the fight and how the soldiers on both side fought during the battles. It is this look into the make-up of the two armies and how they put their training to work that really is the heart of this series. We learn from their actions what worked well and what did not. We see what these men went through and how the battles affected them and their comrades. The book covers three major actions, which seems to be the standard pattern of the series.
These are Motovskiy Bay in April/May of 1942, Liinakhamari in October of 1944, and Nikel, also in October of 1944. I am sure that most of you, like I, have never heard of these events and actually, that is part of what makes this such an interesting edition. The book is further enhanced by some great period photo and superlative art work. They provide great insight as to the difficulties of waging war in these types of terrains and it makes for a fascinating read. This is one of the series that I can easily recommend to you.
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