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Panzers in the Sand: 1935 - 1941 v. 1: The History of the Panzer-Regiment 5 Hardcover – 21 Apr 2011
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Whilst the Tank itself was a British invention from WW1, the German army had already developed a small number of these weapons by the time hostilities ceased in 1918. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was then prohibited from having any form of armoured vehicle which might be used in war. Whilst these provisions were closely monitored up to 1927, formal training in tank warfare did take place elsewhere. From these humble beginnings grew a first class panzer division within the German army with tanks which were, eventually, the envy of the world. By the outbreak of WW2 Germany's Panzers were probably the most formidable force of such weapons found in a single country. Whilst those early vehicles (Panzer 1) were the German mainstay until 1940, their shortcomings were soon exposed by enemy forces whereupon they were quickly replaced as new innovations in German technology worked hard to keep pace with new demands.
This book is a marvellous compilation of history - both written and visual, and is an overwhelming triumph of detailed research, hard work and who knows how many hours spent examining what must be thousands of documents and other sources of information. The historical photographs are so plentiful they actually add a sense of almost allowing the reader to identify with the work. Put another way; Whereas a reasonable collection of good quality pictures will always give the reader a feel for any subject, in this work, there are sufficient in number to almost tell the story by themselves. So much so, that they provide a much deeper understanding of the history of Panzer Regiment 5 which is as honourable as any regimental history.
Having set such a high bar for himself, I look forward to an equally superlative Volume 2 which, when both are placed together, will combine to provide all readers and historians with as complete a record as possible of this once great German regiment.
I really do congratulate the author on a most excellent job of work.
(British army major - retired)
They contain useful information and material but do not present a complete story. I was disappointed that in Volume 1 the Battle of Mersa Brega on the 31st March 1941, the first British - German engagement in Libya, is not told. That battle saw the remaining half of 2nd Support Group fought for 12 hours with some 450 infantry, sixteen field guns and nine anti-tank guns faced a leichte Division with 3000 infantry and 150 panzers to hand, and yet held them for twelve hours forcing two retreats, and then the British force (no Australians present) still got out in fighting order - and with no tank involvement from 3rd Armoured Brigade after 0630 hours 31st March.
The cumulative damage to Panzer Regiment 5 is also not made clear as only total losses are counted but those do not explain why so few panzers were present as the fighting continued at Tobruk and onto the Libyan-Egyptian frontier.
However, these volumes contain very good additional material, although the complete diary of Leutnant Schorm is not fully quoted from the War Diary of 'B/O' Battery, 1st Royal Horse Artillery.
Now that I've got that off my chest I can happily say that this is a truly fascinating account of life in an armoured regiment during its formative years, between 1935 and 1941. Overall, the narrative is well informed and interesting. But what really makes this book stand out is the wealth of photographs, illustrating daily life for the soldiers and showing the regiment in action in Europe and Africa.
(The reviewer, Robert Widders, author of Spitting on a Soldier's Grave: Court Martialed After Death, the Story of the Forgotten Irish and British Soldiers received a free review copy of this book. Robert Widders is not connected with the publisher in any way and did not receive any payment or inducement for this review.)