So, after another week of camping in the Canadian (almost) wilderness (see above) and reenacting I came back on Sunday. Having cleaned my musket yesterday (you reenactors out there know what fun is that) I am keen on catching up where I left.
During the time in the camp I started to read interesting book that hit the shelves already some time ago – Battleground Prussia by Prit Buttar. The book covers the fight for the easternmost part of the Reich as it unfolded in the end of 1944 and first months of 1945. This particular period and area of operations is not among those lavishly covered by literature, so Mr. Buttar’s contribution is appreciated. The book is written in style that I personally find very involving. Having read just the first 130 pages I find the description of operations very detailed, covering both larger strategic picture of the war as well as the tactical developments of individual actions.
Where the book excels is the use of the first-hand accounts of the battle by the participants of both sides. These sections provide very personal picture of the war and of the experiences of soldiers involved in one of the most savage fights of the wars. I personally found most interesting the narratives provided by the veterans fighting on the German side, which showed the chaos of the desperate fights during the last months of the war and the slow realization of the inevitability of the outcome.
Another aspect that I highly commend as an armour modeller is the fact that author pays attention to the technical aspect of the warfare – types of tanks and armoured vehicles involved in the fighting are clearly identified (not just “there were four tanks here and five tanks there”…) and their technical advantages and disadvantages put into the context of the battle tactics of both sides. This is rather unique as in majority of military history books coverage of this topic is rather superficial.
One strong disappointment is the quality of the maps, these are rather poor. While the positioning of the individual units is very detailed, there are no topographical markings enabling the reader to see the terrain of the battlefield. Rivers are merely lines on the maps without any names provided. Locations of the major cities is marked, but many smaller towns mentioned in the text are simply missing. In many cases is thus reader left in the dark…
Overall however I must say this is very enjoyable read and I can strongly recommend the book to any military enthusiast with the interest in WWII and its less explored chapters.