Leibstandarte, Ardennes 1944...

...a Past and Present series title from Casemate Books

Title:  Leibstandarte, Ardennes 1944

Author: Steven Smith

Publisher: Casemate Books

ISBN:  978-1-61200-542-3

This is one of the new titles in the Past and Present series of paperback books from Casemate Books.  It tells the story of the lead unit of the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944, the 1st SS Panzer Division, Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, and it's spearhead led by Joachim Peiper.  It starts with an introduction that gives the background to the German plan for their 'Wacht am Rhein' operation.  This is accompanied by maps, and the Leibstandarte Order of Battle.  It then moves on to look at the combat history of the division, from its' formation through combat in France, Russia and back to Normandy.  It then goes through the sequence of events from the start of the offensive on 16th December to when they started their withdrawal on Christmas Eve.

The events of the Ardennes Offensive are reasonably well known, with initial successes which took the Allies by surprise.  The narrow roads and bridges of the Ardennes provided a part of the challenge facing the German units, along with the size of the huge Tiger II tanks they used and the need for fuel.  There were some atrocities, with both POWs and civilians being murdered.  It does make an interesting story which is told in a neat, clear style.  Throughout it all, the book is heavily illustrated with a mix of archive photos that illustrate points in the text, along with modern comparison photos that show the places today.  These include one of the genuine battle relics which remains in the region, King Tiger 213, which now stands in front of the museum at La Gleize.

A good addition to this series, and one that would be handy to have in your car with you if you get to visit the area.

Thanks to Casemate Books for our review copy.