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Munch, Karlheinz. Translated by Bo H. Friesen. Combat History of Schwere Panzerjaeger Abteilung 653, formerly the Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 197, 1940-1943. Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, 1997.
The Author; The Artist; Preface; Acknowledgments; photos; diagrams; documents; schematics; glossary; Comparison of Ranks; German Army Decorations for Valor; Bibliography.
Here we have one of the early contenders for the Top Ten new WWII-related books of 1998. (Despite the date printed in the book, it appears not to have hit the streets until January 1998.)
Munch has done a terrific job of following the unit and its components from their original formation as 197th Sturmgeschutz Battalion through various permutations, designations, and equipment. His book includes OBs, excerpts from diaries, operational summaries, lists of commanders, after-action reports, maintenance reports, technical data, TOEs, orders and awards, losses, and more.
All this text would be worthwhile by itself, but Munch has also assembled an incredible array of photos showing not only the unit's gigantic Elefant (aka Ferdinand) tank destroyers but also its earlier Sturmgeschutz IIIs and its later Jagdtigers. More than that, the photos are carefully arranged and captioned (in English and German) to provide a comprehensive chronological account of the unit's organization, training, and operations. While some photo-histories can bog down in repetitious and redundant images, the photographs here are well-chosen and prove enlightening rather than numbing.
The photos are complemented by an extensive section of color plates from Jean Restayn which serves to spotlight various vehicle details and display color schemes.
Combat History of Schwere Panzerjaeger Abteilung 653 combines all the best features of a good unit history and a striking photo-history and is certain to appeal to military book lovers.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from J.J. Fedorowicz.
Thanks to Fedorowicz Publishing for providing this review copy.
Reviewed 1 March 1998
Copyright © 1998 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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