SS Grenadiers on the Russian Front
...a new Images of War title from Pen and Sword
Title: SS Grenadiers on the Russian Front
Author: Bob Carruthers
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Another addition to the Images of War series, and another from author Bob Carruthers. It opens with a 10 page introductory text considering the role of the Waffen SS in the war on the Eastern Front, and their reputation and actions. We all know of the atrocities they committed at times, and their close link to the extremes of the Nazi party. However, they were also a tough group of soldiers even though the course of the war led to a great dilution of those skill by the end of the war. At the start of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia there were just 6 Waffen SS divisions. By the end of the war there were 38, even though many of these were not really any larger than a regimental or brigade sized unit, and not manned by the well trained troops of the divisions that were involved at the start of the invasion.
The photo collection is not sub-divided into chapters, but they do chronologically follow the course of the war, between 1941 and 1945. At the start, the well equipped units had the high morale brought by success in battle. By the end of the war, they were starting defeat in the place, but fighting not only for their own survival but also for their homeland. Whatever the views on the Waffen SS and the rights and wrongs of what they did, they were tough soldiers. I remember my own father, who fought through North Africa, Italy and North West Europe always said that when they came up against Waffen SS troops they knew they were going to be the toughest opposition. Their use of such a variety of camouflage clothing makes them of interest to historians and modellers, and those designed formed the basis of so many of the patterns used by a wide variety of post-war armed forces worldwide.
The faces of the men in good times and bad, how they coped with conditions from hot summers to ultra-cold winters and deep snow or mud, are all well illustrated. There are also plenty of pictures which include the heavier equipment, from Tanks and SP gun down to small arms and mortars. Captions add more explanation to the pictures. One thing I now know might be missed by some is in looking at the men carrying belts of ammunition and the MG42 machine guns, and that is their weight. They were not light by any means and the idea of having to physically carry these over the long distances encountered on the vast Russian Steppes makes for an interesting consideration on how tough these troops needed to be. Plenty of good references for modellers, sculptors and re-enactors in here once more as the story of the Waffen SS seems to continue to fascinate.