...German Paratroopers 1942 - 1945, from Pen and Sword
Title: Fallschirmjager 1942-1945
Author: Francois Cochet
Publisher: Pen and Sword
This is the follow up to the author's earlier book looking at the Fallschirmjager up to 1941 and their lead role in the invasion of Crete. This new one carries the story on, after Crete, through to the end of the war, in a simple chronological sequence.
After their extensive casualties in Crete, the German paratroopers were not used in such a large scale operation, jumping into action again. Interesting that while the German military drew that conclusion, the Allies took the opposite view and developed their own airborne forces.
The Fallshirmjager did make some small operational jumps in the years after Crete, notably the capture of the island of Leros in 1943, and an event which is included in the book. More commonly they were used as very capable, elite infantry and they filled that role well. The books itself is split over 12 chapters. Amongst the topics, each one illustrated with a set of appropriate archive photos, are a series of actions by the Fallschirmjager which rather confirm their elite status during WW2. The Ramke Brigade performed well in North Africa, and went on to add to their reputation as tough opponents in the fighting in Italy with the glider rescue of Mussolini from the Campo Imperatore Hotel on the Gran Sasso, in the defence of Cassino, in Normandy around Carenten and then in Holland and in the fighting around Bastogne. All these are featured in the book, and more. The other inclusion, dotted throughout the book, are copies of Obituaries recording the death of many Fallschirmjager, published in their newspapers back home. A good reminder that these were individuals, and worthy of remembrance for what they gave for their country during the war. Casualties on both sides were sons, husbands, brothers and fathers who left their family behind.
I have to add that any book on the Fallschirmjager reminds me of my old friend, Horst Kalinke, now sadly passed away. As an 18 year old, he was a member of 2 Fallshirmjager Div, wounded and made a POW in Holland and who made his home here in the UK at the end of the war. Another fine book in the Images of War series.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.