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Book Review
Panzergrenadier Aces
Panzergrenadier Aces: German Mechanized Infantrymen in World War II
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

Panzergrenadier Aces: German Mechanized Infantrymen in World War II
Author: Franz Kurowski
Series: Stackpole Military History Series.
ISBN: 978-08117-065-68

Summary

The panzergrenadiers were the footsoldiers who went into battle alongside the Third Reich's feared tanks. Whether in the Wehrmacht or Waffen-SS, these troops endured all the horrors of infantry combat--fighting hand-to-hand, storming enemy positions, and rescuing fallen comrades--but they did so in the shadow of thundering giants like the Tiger and Panther. Kurowski tells the stories of some of the very best of these mechanized infantrymen, bringing them and their actions to life.
(from Stackpole Books website)

Content

This title is released for the first time in English. Author Franz Kurowski clarifies that most Panzergrenadier Schützen are more accurately motorized infantry – the term "Panzergrenadier" is misleading. Panzergrenadier units had only a small number of their troops riding in armored personnel carriers (Schützenpanzerwagen, or “SPW”). Most would dismount from wheeled transport and SPWs to fight on foot amongst the tanks.

Panzergrenadier Aces: German Mechanized Infantrymen in World War II is brought to us through 308 pages split into 11 chapters, with several appendices, an extensive bibliography, index, and an introduction:

    • Foreword
    • Introduction Panzergrenadiere

      1. Generalleutnant Helmuth Beukemann
      2. Feldwebel Rudolf Brasche
      3. Oberst Albert Brux
      4. Oberstleutnant Georg Feig
      5. Major “Hannes” Grimminger
      6. Generalmajor Joachim Kahler
      7. General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel
      8. Major Georg Michael
      9. Hauptmann Oskar Schaub
      10. SS-Unterscharführer Remy Schrijnen
      11. Generalmajor Friedrich-Carl von Steinkeller

    • Appendices
    • Select Bibliography
    • Index

Mr. Kurowski explains the origins of mechanized infantrymen after the First World War. Using his unique expertise gained as a Wehrmacht reporter during the Second World War, he defines and refines facts about Panzergrenadiere. Many pages have detailed footnotes. These expand understanding of awards, concepts, operations, individuals, tactics, and words and phrases.

What’s in each chapter? They start by highlighting an account of the feats by a chapter’s soldier that gained him the mantle of “ace”. Usually a childhood and family history is explored, as is the subject’s previous service or pre-war life. The remainder of the chapter recounts the career and experiences of the Panzergrenadier, whether as a general commanding an army, or a Landser fighting alongside the panzers on foot. Each biography includes the fate of the soldier.

What kind of fighting will you read about? Taking bridges by coup de main under fire, close combat with entrenching tools and knives, mortar duels, patrols, tank busting with light weapons, employing heavy anti-tank guns, Schützen armed only with captured weapons (Imagine how they had to restock their ammo!), field officers reconnoitering the frontline; fighting off enemies with pistol and grenade. On deserts, steppes, and in hedgerows, Schützen of all ranks fought.
As selected abstracts I offer:

    I. Feldwebel Rudolf Brasche leading small patrols in machine-gun duels deep inside a Russian-held brickworks, later neutralizing a soviet position by dropping a large chimney onto it with the use of Teller Mines.

    II. Flemish volunteer SS-Unterscharführer Remy Schrijnen, an anti-tank gunner, whose opening account is titled “FACING MASSED ENEMY ARMOR ON HIS OWN”. Need more be said?

    III. Generalleutnant Helmuth Beukemann forcing a superior force of Greeks on a fortified hill to capitulate. He later led his 7,000-man Kampfgruppe from Crete to El Alamein, via a 600 kilometer trek across the desert without their own transport.

    IV. Oberstleutnant Georg Feig personal written account of an 80 kilometer advance through retreating Soviet units outside of Moscow:
      “We went to sleep in our SPWs. All of a sudden, we were roughly awakened. Eckinger was calling his men and told me:
      “Get moving…it doesn’t matter, just get moving!”
      “Where…what’s the mission?”
      “No idea…just go!”
      A Russian unit of some sort was in front of my lead vehicle; there was a Russian truck right behind me. My hearts started to beat somewhat irregularly. I sent out a radio message: “Turn off your lights! Don’t fire! Don’t talk!”


    V. General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel’s textbook mobile defense of Targul Frumos.

Whether you lean towards sweeping divisional actions or in-the-foxhole narratives, this book has something for you.

Photographs and Graphics
Eighty black and white photos enhance the text. Many are of poor quality, exposed by amateurs or under field conditions. Many are studio quality. Some appear to be “stills” from a motion picture reel. Most are of battle scenes and soldiers and vehicles. Several pages include detailed photos of German equipment: helmet with an Army Splinter A pattern helmet cover, Infantry Assault Badge (Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen), a late-war canvas MP 38/40 ammunition pouch, and leather Luger holster.

Extensive appendices include:

    • Rank Comparisons
    Panzergrenadier Divisions, 1939-45 (Wehrmacht, Waffen SS, special units Hermann Göring and Grossdeutschland), including units constituting the parent unit
    • The mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen Sd.kfz. 251
    • The leichter Schützenpanzerwagen Sd.kfz. 250

Conclusion

I have read over a dozen Stackpole military books and have yet to be disappointed or bored. One can gain insight to the technical aspects of each subject. Yet, these books remain personal. The body of text is a great balance between personal stories and historical archives. Of all the books I’ve donated to libraries during my recent moves, none have been Stackpole Military History Series. Highly recommend!
SUMMARY
Highs: The body of text is a great balance between personal stories and historical archives. Photographic support.
Lows: Some poor quality photos, and some typos.
Verdict: This book brings the stories of several Panzergrenadier aces to life.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9780811706568
  Suggested Retail: $21.95
  Related Link: Book on vendors site.
  PUBLISHED: Mar 14, 2012
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.18%

Our Thanks to Stackpole Books!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Great review. Like you, I'm a big fan of the Stackpole books. I like the fact that they often republish books, at much more affordable prices, that had earlier been published through other publishing houses.
MAR 15, 2012 - 03:31 PM
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