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Wilhelm Bender with Raupenschlepper Ost on the Eastern Front (9786155583681)


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Wilhelm Bender with Raupenschlepper Ost on the Eastern Front

Orel-Brjansk-Kowel-Warsaw-Danzig (9786155583681)

PeKo Publishing

 

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This new book from our friends at PeKo is unusual in that it is a pictorial diary of one man’s service to his homeland.  The gentleman’s name is Wilhelm Bender and he started the war as a medical orderly attached to an artillery regiment in the German Wehrmacht.  He started his war quite gently during the quieter times from a German point of view, avoiding most of the invasions and before the tables turned when they were pushed out of France and the East of Europe.  He was quite a shutter-bug, and seems to have carried a camera with him almost all the time, using it frequently to document his journey, colleagues-in-arms and the equipment that they used, which for a great portion of the war was the unusual truck/tank hybrid that was the RSO.  After a relatively pleasant first few years behind the front lines, he was sent to the Eastern Front like many of his compatriots, where things got an awful lot harder, including loss of comrades through enemy action as well as unfortunate accidents, loss of equipment that was often destroyed by them as they left one position after another, and finally an almost complete loss of the regiment, leaving them amalgamated into a makeshift unit with captured Russian artillery hardware.

 

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It is hardback in landscape format, hard bound with 179 genuine pages plus two blank inner leaves, finished in a cover that is a composite of some of the photos, plus a picture of the man himself, and arriving protected by a layer of shrink-wrap that also helps prevent scuffs and keeps out dirt during shipping and storage. The photos are generally full page, although some are multiples of a similar theme, each caption adding valuable, if brief insight to the photo, which may not be immediately apparent without it, pointing out named colleagues and some of the equipment used.  For the modeller there are plenty of diorama possibilities, as well as opportunities to see how the crews actually stowed their gear on their vehicles, how and where they set up their firing positions and hid themselves and their equipment from enemy fire of all calibres in real-world circumstances.  There aren’t many photos of the destruction of their gear, but there are plenty of the ruined towns and terrain they passed through and some of their compatriots’ tanks that weren’t so lucky.  The photos are from Wilhelm’s private collection, and there is a brief introduction from him at the front as well as a table of contents and a brief list of his assignments from the beginning to the end of WWII.  The chapters are broken down as follows:

 

Foreword

  1. Securing the German Western Border in the Schnee-Eifel Region

  2. With the Troops of Occupation in Poland

  3. With the San.Ers.Abt. 12 in Bad Kreuznach

  4. At the Reserve Field Hospital, Lörchingen

  5. Transfer from San.Ers.Abt. 12 to le.Art.Abt. 849 (RSO)

  6. Defensive Combat in the Vicinity of Orel, Brjansk

  7. Defensive Combat around Brjansk, on the Dneiper and the retreat to the Ssosch

  8. Defensive Combat around Pripjet and White Russia

  9. The Battel of Kowel

  10. Positional Battles with the 12. Königl. Honvéd-Division in the Sector of Heeresgruppe Nord-Ukraine

  11. Disengagement Manoeuvres on the Eastern Front; from the Bug to the Weichsel

  12. Refitting in East Prussia and Subordination to Heeres Fest. Art. Abt. 849

  13. Suppression of the Polish Uprising in Warsaw

  14. Securing Fortress Warsaw

  15. Disengagement Manoeuvres by Heeregruppe Weichsel

  16. Refitting As Heeres Art. Abt. 849 Pomerania

  17. Defensive Battles in the Danzig Bridgehead and Weichsel Valley

  18. On the Frische Nehrung

  19. Capitulation

 

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While the photos are in black and white for obvious reasons of cost and the low availability of colour stock at the time, the detail in which they are depicted would be an absolute boon to any AFV enthusiast or modeller, especially those wishing to go down the route of realism and authentic settings.

 

 

Conclusion

Whether you have models that you intend to use this book for reference (I do!), or have an interest in the subject, this book will give you all the reference pictures and some besides, as well as some realistic settings ideas for dioramas.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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