SS Polizei at War 1940-45...

 

...an Images of War book from Pen and Sword

 

Title: SS Polizei at War 1940-45

Author: Ian Baxter

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-097-8

Another fine addition to the prolific Images of War series by author Ian Baxter for Pen and Sword.  I found this an interesting choice of subject, within the context of SS units in WW2.  The Polizei Division was initially formed from members of the German Police force in 1939.  Not intended to be a regular fighting unit at the outset, it wasn't equipped as well as other SS units, still relying on a lot of horse drawn equipment, especially their artillery.  That changed as time went on and it was upgraded and designated as a Panzer Grenadier Division in 1942.

The 142 page softcover book is divided into 5 chapters, which give the chronological story of the division over the course of the war.  It starts with The Origins, taking us through the formation of the division.  Next is Western Front (1940) and the division was in action in the Argonne Forest region.  It stayed in France until 1941 when it was withdrawn to take part in the invasion of Russia, so in chapter 3 we get to Holding the Line, when as part of Army Group North it was part of the ring around Leningrad.  Next comes Bitter Fighting (1942).  The final chapter covers Greece and the Eastern Front (1943-45).  After suffering heavy casualties the division was withdrawn to recuperate and allocated to security duties in Greece and the Balkans, a posting where they committed a number of atrocities.  Then it was back to the Russian Front and Army Group North, where they continued to resist against constant Soviet pressure until the end of the war.

The large number of archive photos which make up each chapter, introduced by a couple of pages of the historical context show an interesting history of the division.  Naturally we see many troops and can see details of their uniforms and personal equipment, but we also get to see a useful selection of their heavier equipment, especially their artillery and a good deal of horse drawn equipment.  For the modeller there is a lot in here of interest, and plenty of ideas and references for dioramas.  The artillery and rail transport feature in quite a few.  The mix is also provided by summer time images in France at the outset and again later in Greece, a lot more shows the conditions they faced in the snow and the mud of the Eastern Front.  Another good one from Ian Baxter.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin