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Panzer Gunner: From My Native Canada to the German Ostfront and Back. In Action with 25th Panzer Regiment, 7th Panzer Division 1944-45 [Hardcover]

Bruno Friesen
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Feb 2008
There are few memoirs available of German Panzer crews that focus on the climactic last 12 months of the war on the Eastern Front, 1944-45. What makes Bruno Friesen's account virtually unique is his family background: his parents came from a German-speaking Mennonite community in Ukraine, and were to all intents and purposes culturally German. To make matters even more complex, in 1924 his parents left the Ukraine for Canada, where Bruno was born. In March 1939 he and his brother Oscar found themselves on a ship bound for Bremerhaven in Germany. He barely spoke German, and had never been to Germany, nevertheless his father envisaged that a better life awaited them in the Third Reich. Needless to say, Bruno became caught up in the Second World War, and in 1942 was drafted into the Wehrmacht. The author provides a full account of his family background, and how, through these unusual circumstances, he found himself a Canadian-born German soldier. The bulk of the book is a detailed account of the author's training, and his subsequent service with 25th Panzer Regiment, part of 7th Panzer Division. As the title suggests, Bruno Friesen served as a gunner aboard, initially, Panzer IVs, before crewing the lesser-known Jagdpanzer IV tank hunter. The author provides a fantastic amount of information about these two vehicles, and how the crews actually fought in battle with them. This kind of 'hands-on' detail has almost never been available before, particularly such extensive information concerning the characteristics and combat performance of the Jagdpanzer IV. Apart from providing a large fund of information about specific German tanks and their combat performance, the author writes in great detail about the combat the experienced on the Eastern Front, including tank battles in Rumania, spring 1944, Lithuania in the summer of 1944, and West Prussia during early 1945. If one wants to know how German tank crews fought the Soviets in the last year of the war, then this book provides an outstanding account, containing material simply not found elsewhere. The author closes his account by reflecting on his post-war efforts to return to Canada, which eventually succeeded in 1950, and his subsequent life there. This book is not just a critique of armoured fighting vehicles and tank warfare, it is above all a very human story, told in a lively, conversational and fluid manner, and is a remarkable contribution to the literature of the Second World War.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Helion & Company; First British Edition edition (15 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906033110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906033118
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.5 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 796,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A fascinating and bizarre biography of a young Canadian born to parents from a German-speaking Mennonite community in Ukraine. The book contains a few familiar images of the vehicle types along with pictures from the authors own collection but the real interest is in his first hand accounts of what it was like to crew these vehicles which is bound to be of interest to many modellers. --AVF Modeller, 05/2008

The author goes into a considerable amount of technical and historical detail, but it is his first hand accounts of tank versus tank encounters that I found fascinating --Classic Military Vehicle, 05/2008

The book goes into very detailed explanations of what it s like to serve as a crew in these vehicles... but as well as a technical side, also has a very human element... --Model Military International. 08/2008

There are a number of excellent battle narratives, easily transferable to table-top This book will prove useful to anyone interested in armoured warfare on the Eastern Front or 7th Panzer Division in particular. --The Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers Journal

An unusual book, one is tempted to say a unique memoir... --Windscreen

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Thousands of times, I have been asked, "What made you go back to Germany?" Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Ducks Tale 25 May 2009
Blimey! Where do we start with this one? Bit of a curate's egg to be sure. Truth is the really interesting bit's would just be a couple of chapters but, in fairness they are worth the price of the book He is clearly a bright chap and was more importantly lucky when it mattered both in and out of the war however, author he is not, at times the writing is laboured and it's often haphazard with time lines, some of the repetition is difficult to understand too. I haven't read much about panzer crews - Tigers in the Mud and a few others but I would like to read more about the average crews not just the aces - and I guess this is it albeit a little brief with the action and little detail to speak of re the rest of the crew. They often seem like total strangers - perhaps they were. I get the feeling the Jadgpanzer IV was not to his liking outside of the gun maybe he would of preferred the Panther , who wouldn't ! However it does seem to backup the term Guderian's Ente.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective on the Panzer war 25 Feb 2010
By Siko
One of the earlier reviews was very harsh and unfair I think !

This is a really valuable resource and a unique perspective - the author was a Panzer gunner on an assault gun - I haven't seen anything else in english that equates to this, although "Tigers in the Mud" is overall the superior Panzer book.

It is a sometimes loose collection of stories, with perhaps too much concentration on his earlier years, but his combat accounts are absolutely breathtaking. His descriptions of ambushing Russian convoys behind enemy lines are totally spellbinding and he leaves you with a real sense of the hell that it must have been to have fought in the cramped, noisy and lethal confines of the Assault gun.

This is well worth the effort, it sometimes feels like you are dragging the stories out of an old mans addled mind, which must of course been what actually happened, but when you get to the nub of the action it's easily worth all the pain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good! 23 Oct 2011
Sorry but this is not a good book. As one other reviewer says, it is rambling. I thought it badly written and badly edited; and written by a Prof of English?

It lacks the detail about actions that would bring them to life and frankly I only finished the book to save anyone else having to - I took one for the team.

I would offer the advice to spend your money elsewhere. Currently, according to Amazon, there are "only 3 left in stock" - leave it that way!
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