“Stavelot La Gleize, the fate of Peiper’s Tigers” opens a new series named Panzer Battle Guide at Caraktère presse & editions.
This new series is intended to study the details of large tank battles of the World War Two.
The first volume is a comprehensive study of the commitment of the 1st SS-Panzer Division during the Battle of the Bulge and more specifically during the fighting around Stavelot and La Gleize.
The two authors, Hugues Wenkin and Christian Dujardin, have acquired a deep knowledge of this period and explain throughout the book how one of the best tank units of the second world war, equipped with the most powerful tank ever produced to date, finally failed and lost nearly all of its tanks.
The 176 page book comes in a soft cover and the portrait format (21 x 28.7 cm). It includes 196 period photos, a great number of color profiles of US and German vehicles, some 4-view drawings of a number of Tiger II tanks and color graphics showing the operations.
After a brief introduction, the book divides into 6 chapters and ends with an annex.
Chapter one goes into the details of the German plan for the operation “Wacht am Rhein” including the contribution of the Luftwaffe. It progressively narrows its scope from the 6th Panzer Armee to Peiper’s Kampfgruppe. The authors also present the order of battle (“orbat”) of Heeresgruppe B down to the divisional level. The chapter concludes with a biography of Joachim Peiper, the controversial SS tank unit commander.
Chapter two presents the 1st SS-Panzer Division through its 4 Kampfgruppen. It also focuses on the Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 501.
Chapter three deals with the battles of Stavelot and Stoumont. It is intended to describe the historical background of the Tiger’s commitment. It includes three “photo reports” of the fighting at Stoumont, Poteau and Kaiserbaracke. It also deals with the dark side of this operation and the massacres committed by the SS troops against US prisoners as well as Belgian civilians.
Chapter four is a thorough presentation of the Tiger II and answers to the question: was the Tiger II suitable to operate in such an environment?
Chapter five details the end of a number of specific tanks in a very interesting way. The authors have compared the period documents which the actual terrain and gathered some accounts by eyewitnesses to understand the fate of those tanks.
Chapter six concludes the book with a deep analysis of the failure of Peiper and his Tigers. As always there is not a single reason for this failure, but a combination of lack of preparation, wrong choices regarding the terrain, logistical problems, lack of air superiority and so on…
As an annex, a roadbook is designed to give the reader all the information needed to make his own trip on the track of Peiper’s Tigers.
As usual with this publisher, the text is in French only.
Highs: The rigorous historical approach combining deep research work in the war archives and terrain work with eyewitnesses.
The original roadbook at the end.Lows: Honestly, I can't find any.Verdict: With this first volume of their new series Caraktere have struck a blow.
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About Olivier Carneau (bison126) FROM: AUBE, FRANCE
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