Panzers In Normandy
Then And Now
Author: Eric Lefevre
Born in 1949 in Paris, Eric Lefevre studied at the University of Paris before joining the French Army. Since the author's first book, Les Panzers, published in 1978, he has over 19 works in 22 publications in 2 languages specializing in military history.
Panzers in Normandy is published with an outer cover (dust jacket) that appears to be made of glossy laminate paper. The hardbound book itself contains the same images on the front as well as the back. The book contains 212 glossy pages with 392 black and white illustrations in an A4 format (11.7 x 8.3 inches). First published in 1978 in France as Les Panzers (Normandie 1944) the author has accumulated additional material giving way to its current edition.
The book is divided into several chapters with the majority covering the 10 Panzer regiments. Additional chapters discuss other German armor with an interesting and informative chapter on uniforms. Starting with the Introduction, the author gives the reader a brief background of the German high command's strategy on 6 June 1944. Interestingly the author has included a section on the roadside gravesite of the infamous Michael Wittman.
Organization of Panzer Regiment '44'
This chapter covering pages 6-17 consists of organizational charts, tables, and data providing an in-depth view and historical background of the enormous military machine the German military had at their disposal. Staff Companies, Anti-Aircraft Platoons, Battalions, Supply Companies, and Workshop Companies are included relative to what support vehicles are within each. An excellent example can be seen on page 9.
The next 11 chapters consist of the various armor, support vehicles, and mobile flak guns supporting the Panzer Regiments. The author in each section briefly describes the background of their usage and provides specification tables. The writings are clear and easily understood providing a wealth of information. Also, excellent detailed black and white images are included, given the time frame they were taken. Captions are included describing what the reader is viewing in the image. A large amount of material is presented on the different variants of the Panzer IV with text and images. Page 21 shows the specification table for an Ausf. J and a side view of a late model Ausf. J.
I found it fascinating that the author was able to obtain two images of P-47 pilots being shown two of their victims. Both images are of Panther A's, one appearing intact and the other shown with the engine compartment open. From an artistic value, both images would make excellent diorama subjects for the modeler. See page 30.
The "Then and Now" twist content of this book is shown on page 37 of a street scene in Bourgtheroulde with a Tiger tank and the image below it is of the same street 40 years later.
On page 41 we see a King Tiger with a tank crewman pointing to shell damage on the front armor by anti-tank rounds. Another interesting image for the modeler to add to his collection of historical images for later use.
An additional "Then and Now" image is seen on page 45 showing a Stug III Ausf G with battle damage and the same road in the image below 40 years later. This comparison adds to the level of excellent writing this author has written.
Over the next fourteen pages, the author includes images of Jadgpanzer IV, Jagdpanthers, mobile flaks, recovery vehicles, half-tracks, and other armored vehicles such as the Goliath (SdKfz 302) a remote-controlled tracked vehicle with a 60 Kg charge. Page 58 shows a clear image of the Goliath with a US soldier at the helm. Photo from the US Army.
In the next 12 pages, the author includes the uniforms used by the Heer, Waffen-SS, Panzerkampfabzeichen, and The Panzerlied. On page 63 we see three images of the Wehrmacht Heer, two in the traditional black color and one Jagdpanther commander in a camouflaged version. One image clearly shows the earphones and throat microphone.
The next large section in this book, albeit 112 pages, relates to the Panzer Regiments of the Heer, and Waffen-SS. On page 83 we see another example of the author's "Then and Now" character in the book. The top image shows two destroyed tanks of Panzer Regiment 130 on a road leading to Lingévres. Then 40 years later the author states "little has changed."
Another interesting page as shown below has two images of the Normandy Region, Le Mesnil-Durand with a knocked out Panzer IV and as the area looks 40 years later. Another idea for the diorama modeling artist to contemplate using.
Page 103 shows a clear detailed image of an abandoned Panther Ausf. A. sitting atop rubble in the street and between destroyed buildings with Allied soldiers sitting on the sidewalk. Another amazing photo the author has given us. The bottom image shows the same street today located in northwestern France in the commune of Argentan.
What book on WWII military history, Allied or Axis, would be complete without the mention of the infamous Michael Wittman? The author of this book includes 2 images on page 177 showing the disabled tank of Michael Wittman sitting atop rubble on the streets of Villers-Bocage in June 1944 and immediately below the same street 40 years later.
Then on 8 August 1944, Wittman met his fate from a group of 5 Sherman tanks. It's interesting to note the author does not describe what type of Sherman tanks were involved. On page 183 the author provides several images showing the exact location Wittman and his crew met their death, as seen in "Then and Now" images. Along with these images is a solitary image of the final resting place of Wittman and 2 crew members at the La Cambe German War Cemetery located close to Omaha Beach. Previously thought to be buried beside the N1581, the remains were unearthed and interred at the La Cambe German War Cemetery in 1983.
What Now Remains?
In this last section, Eric Lefévre includes numerous images showing remains from the battle in salvage dumps, and scrapyards strewn about after intact vehicles were retrieved by the Allied forces.
- The author has written a superb book on German military history from the German perspective with an added twist of "Then and Now" images.
- His writings are clear, and concise and are informative to the reader as to what he is seeing. Clearly an added benefit for any historical research book.
- Most of the images are detailed given the time frame. This image detail would be an invaluable resource for any modeler or historical buff.
- The content flows logically throughout with added tidbits of information most likely not found in other resources.
- Content I had not seen before was included in this latest edition.
- For these reasons:
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks go out to Casemate Publishers for this review copy.
Reviewed by Phillip Cavender
AMPS # 3060
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