Saturday, April 8, 2017

Panzer Killers: Anti-tank Warfare on the Eastern Front by Artem Drabkin and Stuart Britton

Similar to the other volumes published by Artem Drabkin and translated by Stuart Britton, 'Panzer Killers' offers readers a glimpse into the everyday life of Soviet combat veterans that served in the artillery arm of the Red Army.  Mainly you'll encounter soldiers who served with 45mm and 76mm artillery units and self-propelled guns, SU-76s and ISU-152s.  For those familiar with the Second World War and the Eastern Front, you'll find much that rings true and many fascinating anecdotes and reminiscences of time spent in combat, in retreat, in hospitals, and on the offensive.  The high casualty rates that these units suffered are regularly mentioned and discussed.  These men saw death on a regular basis, losing best friends in the blink of an eye.  One of the more interesting aspects of these interviews is keeping track of how many of these veterans and their comrades sustained wounds at the front.  Random and sometimes not so random artillery fire was often the culprit, which might explain why they survived.  Many were wounded multiple times and often they would not wait to be discharged from hospitals but take their chances hitching rides to the front to return to their former units and gun crews (otherwise it was anyone's guess where they might end up).  Aside from discussions of frontline actions (some of which are accompanied by diagrams to better situate readers with the engagements they're reading about), the interviewees also go over their daily routines, from meals to maintenance, and share their thoughts about ignorant officers who wasted men's lives and brave and courageous officers and NCOs who helped many survive the war.  All in all this is a highly recommended volume for those interested in first-hand accounts from Eastern Front veterans.

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