by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
Much has been written about the final big push of the German Army in World War 2 and which came to be universally known as the ‘Battle of the Bulge’. These two books cover the battle from the lead up to the end while providing all of the details In between. So let’s take a closer look at what we are being offered here.
These two titles looking at the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ are authored by Phillipe Guillemot. The books are both hard back offerings printed in a portrait format. In side you find 191 pages in each of the two titles and the paper used is a very good quality in my opinion. The quality of the paper has presented the text, drawings and the photographs to the viewer in a pleasing way, I should also add that the font and size of the text makes it easy to read. The text and images are interlaced throughout the titles rather than having them split up as I have seen in many titles covering events such as this.
The text elements of these two titles is presented in a way that reading them is not a chore but a relaxing read and at the same time the information is presented is in an easy to take in format. Reading through these titles enabled me to get from them what I wanted while at the same time peeking my interest in aspects that I had not considered or had paid limited attention to previously; a good example of this would be the participation of the US and German Air Forces, some of information I was aware of but there was a surprising amount I didn’t know of. The photographs add a nice break to the reading while you take in the details provided, the captions are quite short in many cases and I would have liked them to be more expansive in their detail.
The information in the book is presented in a logical progression with drawings that visualise the events presented both belief of opposing forces and the facts of their status and what they really faced. One aspect of the battle I would have liked to see covered more was the use of German armour and troops made to look like US troops and vehicles to cause confusion during the assault, but I have to accept that this was a small part of the battle as a whole, and it is covered to a reasonable depth in these titles.
Taking a look specifically at the photographs presented me with a series of black & white images taken before, during and I believe after the battle was over bar the clean up. The photographs are for the most part of a very high quality considering their age now, some are of course fuzzy to look at but still provide an insight into this arena of conflict. The photographs are a mix of images I have seen previously and others I have not and these offer a wealth of information, an example of this is a photograph showing dogs pulling German troops in the snow.
What the publisher has to say on these titles.
In his previous book, the author discussed a little-known and insufficiently examined area in the history of the Second World War: the fighting in Hungary during the winter of 1944 and 1945 and notably the war's final German offensive, initiated by the 6th Panzer Army in mid-March 1945. In this new work, the author tackles a subject which is the antithesis of his previous one as much from the geographical as the reputational perspective: the famous Battle of the Bulge.
This is the first volume to be offered to readers, with an examination of the northern edge of this offensive launched by the 6th Panzer Army. Its deployment during the Battle of the Bulge represented its baptism of fire. Drawing on the examination of thousands of pages of archives focusing as much on American as on German forces, as well as an analysis of the most recent studies combined with site visits, the author reviews the northern sector of the battle for us - a sector which was to be the main axis along which Hitler hoped for nothing less than to shatter the American front, speed towards Antwerp and reverse the course of the war to his benefit.
Throughout these pages, the author invites us to follow the fierce and bloody run of the Kampfgruppen from the I.SS-Panzer Division, the failure of the Hitlerjugend in the face of the GIs' determined resistance and the charge ofthe II.SS Panzer Korps. However, this book also specifically provides a detailed review of the special operations which were to facilitate the 6th Panzer Army's achievement of its aims: von der Heydte's paratroopers' night jump or the operations of Otto Skorzeny's 150th Panzer Brigade.
Finally, the author provides a detailed survey of preparations for the offensive, the combatants' logistical challenges, the Allied information service fiasco or the suffering of Belgian civilians trapped within this inferno, in the middle of an especially harsh winter. Through this research, the author is able to reveal new factors to us, re-examining clichés and dismissing misconceptions. The reader will find among these pages, alongside a wealth of illustrations and precise maps, answers to many questions including, for instance: how was Patton able to redirect his army so quickly to go to Bastogne's aid? Could the 6th Panzer Army really have reached Antwerp or even the Meuse river? Why could the victorious 1940 offensive not be replicated in 1944, although the Americans were completely taken by surprise? What were the factors explaining the failure of an army seemingly as powerful as the 6th Panzer Army, which represented the Reich's last strategic Panzer reserve and yet still assembled four full SS Panzer divisions, at least in terms of men?
Finally, the appendices to this volume offer enthusiasts a wealth of information to enhance their knowledge: for those curious to examine history a little more closely, a series of archive documents has been translated and reproduced - both reports and telegrams, often from or received by the SHAEF. These enable us to approach history from a different angle. We will also find the translation of the surviving fragments of Hitler's harangue to his generals on the 12th of December to strengthen their resolve in this battle in which the fate of the Reich would be played out.
This second book presents the reader with the Northern attack on part of the 6th Panzer army whose commitment in the Battle of Ardennes represented the "baptism of fire.” By studying the thousands of archives on the American and German forces, the author revisits this division that must have been the main way through which Hitler hoped to reverse in his favour the outcome of the war. In this work, Philippe Guillemeot invites us to follow the ferocious and bloody cavalcade of the Kampfgruppen of the 1st SS-Panzer Division, the unsuccess of the "Hitler Youth” against the fierce resistance of the GI's, and the force of the II.SS-Panzerkorps.
One chapter is clearly dedicated to the special operations schemed by the German parachutists and the ineffable Otto Skorzeny.
These two books covering the Battle of the Bulge offer a wide range of information covering every aspect of the battle both land and air. They are a great testament to the men who fought on both sides of the conflict and a battle that can truly be considered an American battle. The price of each of the two books does move them from a casual purchase to a specific interest area and they are of course not directly aimed at the modeller, but they still offer some fantastic reference and background.