31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
into the fire of battle on the Eastern Front
, 15 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius (Stackpole Military History Series) (Paperback)
Otto Carius was one of the most successful Panzerkommandanten ever to take a Tiger tank into battle, claiming some 150 tanks destroyed and being decorated with the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross. This is his memoir and Stackpole are to be heartily congratulated for this cheap paperback edition of a long-out-print Fedorowicz classic.. When World War II broke out Carius had volunteered for 104th Infantry Placement Battalion in May of 1940. Following training, he was assigned to the 21st Panzer Regiment and experienced his first battle as a loader on a Panzer 38(t) during the "Barbarossa" operation in June of 1941. After about a year of war experience on the Eastern Front, Carius was accepted in an Officer Candidate Course and following its completion, was assigned to the 502nd Heavy Tank Battalion in April of 1943. Equipped with the new Tiger tanks, he was assigned as a tank commander to the 2nd Company of 502nd Tank Battalion. That summer, the 2nd Company was deployed to the Russian Leningrad Front and took part in several operations in that area. During that time, 502nd Tank Battalion was ordered to reinforce the front along with 11th SS Freiwillige Panzergrenadier Division "Nordland" at Narva Bridgehead. During one of his engagements, Carius destroyed four Soviet SU-85s and successfully withdrew without losses. In June of 1944, the company was transferred to Dunaburg (Daugavpils in Latvia) to defend the city from a concentrated Russian offensive. In the July of 1944, Russians outflanked the German defensive lines via the motorways west of Minsk and Borissov to Witebsk (same route was used by Germans in 1941). By using tanks in vast numbers, Soviets intended to divide the German occupied territory into small salients and then take port city of Riga. Since Riga is situated at the mouth of Dvina River, Dunaburg was an important strategic point for both Germans and Russians.
On 22 July 1944, 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius with his company of eight (early and mid production) Tigers advanced towards village of Malinava (northern suburb of Dunaburg) in order to halt the Russian advance. 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius and 1st Lieutenant Albert Kerscher (one of the most decorated commanders of sPzAbt 502) took a Kubelwagen in order to check if the village was already occupied by Russians. They discovered that village of Malinava was already occupied by the enemy. Carius recognized that the Russian tanks in the village were only advance troops waiting for the main force to arrive. He decided to recapture the village with a daring 'coup de main' before reinforcements arrived. He decided to attack the village using only two tanks because there was only one road leading to the village - six Tigers remained in reserve while Carius and Kerscher's Tigers moved towards the village of Malinava. Speed was the essence of Carius' strategy.
Entering the village, two T-34/85 tanks were observed rotating their turrets. At that moment, Kerscher's Tiger No.213, trailing Carius, opened fire and knocked them out. Also for the first time, Otto Carius encountered Russian's latest JS-1 (or possibly JS-2) heavy tank. Carius recalled that the entire battle lasted no more than 20 minutes - Carius and Kerscher's Tigers knocked out 17 Russian tanks during this brief but violent action. His quick and accurate recognition of the situation and the excellent tactics used were the main factors in the outcome; the Tiger's achievement at Malinava is perhaps as equally outstanding as Michael Wittmann's exploit at Villers-Bocage.
In November 1943, Otto Carius destroyed 10 Soviet T-34/76 tanks at distances as close as 50 metres. In August 1944, Otto Carius was transferred to Paderborn to the newly created schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512 and was given command of the 2nd company. sPzJagAbt 512 was equipped with the massive Jagdtiger, armed with the 128mm Pak 44 L/55 gun. On 8 March 1945, 2nd company - its training incomplete - was directed to the frontline near Siegburg and participated in the defence of the River Rhine and eventually surrendered to the US Army on 15 April 1945.
All told, this is a fine - and rare - account of what it was to fight, live & die in the Tiger tank. The book is complete with reprinted period newspaper articles, both in the orginal German and in translated facsimile form and as such comes highly recommended.
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