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Book Review
Mortar Gunner
Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front Volume II Russia, Hungary, Lithuania and the Battle for East Prussia
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

I have found that reading the memoirs of soldiers who fought in various conflicts have grabbed my attention and appreciation when presented in a certain style; by this I mean I like to read the actual thoughts and words of those fighting regardless of the side they were fighting on. This offering from Greenhill Books courtesy of Pen and Sword tells the second part of a German soldierís story covering his trials and tribulations during World War 2. It is also attractive to me due to covering World War 2 which is a conflict I grew up hearing about, but is now slipping from living memory.

The following portion of the introduction is as supplied by Pen and Sword:
Returning to his old unit, the grenade launcher, in May 1944, he experienced the heavy defensive battles in Romania as a platoon commander and from August 1944 in East Prussia and Lithuania. After being transferred by ship from Memel to KŲnigsberg in late 1944, he took part in the battles for Ostprussen in the winter of 1944/1945. Constantly exposed to the attacks of Russian bombers and fighter planes and severely wounded by shrapnel on the leg, he manages, with the help of a Russian volunteer and a horse-drawn vehicle from Balga to Rosenberg, from there by ship transport via Pillau to Swinoujscie and by train to Schwerin. Fleeing the impending Russian imprisonment to the west, he falls into American captivity on 3 May 1945 and is released in July 1945 in the home.

Memories of a corporal and platoon commander in the grenade launcher 1943-1945.

Review

This offering from Pen and Sword is a Greenhill Books offering. It is a hard backed book offering 340 pages of good quality paper, and is the second book offering covering the memoirs of Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt. There is an introduction by Gilberto Villahermosa, but it is otherwise the words and memories of the author. The Introduction provides a short intro to the book covering the unitís and a brief history or overview of the conflict before heading into the memoirs.
The layout of this title is as follows:
1943
Defensive Fighting in the Achtyrka Area
Retreating as far as Kremenchug
Crossing the Dnieper towards Kirovograd
Transfer to Seleni
At the Front Again

1944
To the Army Veterinary Academy - Hannover
Operation Margarethe I - The March into Hungary with Reinforced Infantry Regiment (MOT) 1029 Grossdeutschland
Through the Wild Carpathian Mountains
Securing the Carpathian Passes
Through the Minefield of Orsoaia!
Out from the Front
On the way to East Prussia
The Battle for the Memel Bridgehead

1945
From Memel to Konigsberg: The Journey Continues
Attack and Defence Around Jaskeim
A Last Attempt
East Prussia - Cut Off From the Reich
In the Mehlsack - Heiligenbeil - Zinthen Pocket
Operation Ordensritter
The Russian Breakthrough
My Second Wound
And God Remained Silent
My Escape from the Pocket Always One Step Ahead of the Russians
Into American Captivity
Freedom Again
Home at Last

The memoirs of Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt are presented in a diary format and I like this in the respect that it reads as a life lived rather than a story told. The fact that he was a German soldier does not really have any meaning to me as it is the story of his life during the war years and I am sure it was much the same for many who fought regardless of the side they fought on. The presentation of this offering kept me reading long after I should have put the book down and turned out the lights.

As I have said the book is presented in a diary format and so runs in chronological order, this makes the book easy to read and follow rather than bouncing around the life events of the author. The text has obviously been translated into English and so some of it has had to be altered to read correctly in English. There are a very good number of black and white photographs in this title taken by or of the author and these help to further add that human touch that is often missing from books covering warfare.

This manís story of World War 2 is a great read as I feel he should have been dead several times over, but each and every time he managed to survive another day and live until 2017. What I particular like about this format is that it portrays the sense of excitement and fear that must be common to all when in conflict; and that is interspersed with moments where it is almost like having a beer with a friend and that information is all provided in a very human context that provides the reader a great insight into this manís life during World War 2.

Conclusion

This book brings the World War 2 years covering Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt life to a close. The book presents in a very human way life and death during World War 2 and the loss of a comrade in arms is hard felt due to you becoming closer than brothers, and so as such regardless of the side you were on during this conflict it does provide a look into the life of a soldier who spent most of the war fighting on the most de-humanising front in the East. This book and the previous title make a great read for anyone with an interest in World War 2 and to some extent life during World War 2.
SUMMARY
Darren Baker takes a look at the second book covering World War 2 through the life of Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt from Pen and Sword and titled 'Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front Volume II Russia, Hungary, Lithuania and the Battle for East Prussia'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781784383657
  Suggested Retail: £25
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Nov 15, 2019
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 94.17%

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2019 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Darren, Thank you for the review, Iíll be sure to buy this as I have the first volume. Kylie
NOV 16, 2019 - 06:27 AM
I really enjoyed reading about his life during World War 2.
NOV 16, 2019 - 08:11 AM
Interesting that there is only one review on Amazon at 3/5, with no comments. Disappointingly the book is not released until January 2020. Looks like Iíll have to wait.
NOV 16, 2019 - 11:06 AM
   

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