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Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay
Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay
The first thing the reader needs to do here is ignore the claims on the back that this is a 'new novel' by Carruthers and McLay. As their own postscript makes clear this is in fact a translation of a German novel written by an anonymous author, 'Ritter von Krauss'. His works remained unpublished until the death of the last of his children, who had blocked their publication because they disagreed with their father's political beliefs and in particular his campaign to restore the legal rights and pensions of former members of the Waffen SS. The translated text reads very fluently (so much so that I didn't realise it was a translation until the end).
I didn't realise this until I had completed the novel, and it makes a big difference to my attitude to it. It would have been a very odd novel for a modern author to write, with entirely decent Germans struggling against sadistic 'Soviet' villains and high ranking traitors, with the aim of bringing the Tiger tank into service, little mention of German war crimes, and a largely positive view of Hitler (including the false view that he didn't especially celebrate his birthday in wartime). There is a brief mention of forced labour and hints of darker things that are dismissed by the main character.
However the novel makes much more sense with a former German tank commander as author, especially one who remained a convinced nationalist even after the war. It makes the book a valuable source, giving us a view of the attitudes of a wartime tank commander (or possibly the attitudes and knowledge that a post-war tank commander wants the reader to believe he held at the time), slightly modified by later knowledge of some of Germany's war crimes and of the complex world of Admiral Canaris. We also get an interesting view of the technicalities of tank warfare, at least from the German side.
Translators: Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay
Publisher: Coda Books
Year: 2013 edition of 2011 original
Tiger Command! Hardcover – 24 November 2011
Tiger Command! is an interesting tale of one Tiger tank crew and the development of what was perhaps the most feared and successful Panzer of World War II. The story takes place on the Eastern Front and in wartime Germany and focuses on the crew's training and the first operational deployment of the Tiger. While the book touches on the horrors of Nazi Germany and the mutual atrocities of the Germans and Soviets towards one another, that is not the central story. Instead, the reader is given insight into the perspective and perceptions of a German tank crew mid-war, after the tide had started turning against the Germans, and their combat experiences.
I read the Kindle edition and, as other reviewers have noted, there are some issues with editing and formatting. The grammar and syntax weren't particularly distracting to me, but there were frequent issues with the changes in character POV from one character to another without any break to differentiate. Occasionally a single asterisk would be used, but it wasn't consistent. While slightly disconcerting, it wasn't really a problem because it soon became readily apparent to whom the POV had shifted.
Also, you don't find out until the appendices that the book was not actually written by Bob Carruthers and Sinclair Mclay -- they are actually the translators for the original author who is revealed at the end of the book only by his pen name, Ritter von Krauss. Von Krauss was apparently a German World War II veteran (presumably a panzer officer) whose books were never previously published (at least in English). I think this is an important point because it adds verisimilitude to the tale. Von Krauss apparently wrote numerous books in the 1950s and 1960s, the manuscripts for which have just recently been released for publication/translation due to legal wrangling from the author's estate.
If you have an interest in viewing World War II from the other side, I highly recommend this book.
Stop drinking that shit and you might be able to think straight,” came the blunt reply. “Wars aren’t won by idiots who feel sorry for themselves,” added Korsak with mounting venom.
Every tank man should make it his business to learn what’s possible.
Предварительный просмотр книги
Tiger Command! - Bob Carruthers
Panzer rollen! SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans von Schroif jerked his clenched fist downwards as if pulling on an imaginary bell chain and gave the familiar command. Responding with a smooth discipline bred from years of familiarity, driver SS-Panzerschütze Bobby Junge disengaged the clutch and the battered Panzer IV lurched violently into motion as it rolled forward towards the front.
Had the tank not been festooned with a motley selection of grenadiers precariously holding onto everything they could, the thankful landsers, sundry rear area warriors and the overworked engineers left behind in the assembly and supply area near the company workshops, would have noticed the neatly stencilled word Magda on the side of the vehicle.
Dutifully, the remaining tanks of his SS-Panzerkompanie fell in behind. They were followed by four SPW half-tracks, each packed to capacity with shivering grenadiers, as Kampfgruppe von Schroif began to rumble over the river of mud which constituted the main rollbahn to Rostov. The muddy morass of the Rostov road was unmistakeable, its route clearly marked on each side by the remains of thousands of stranded cars, trucks and carts which formed an almost unbroken verge of worn out and dilapidated wrecks. The few spectators, both military and civilian, watched in sullen silence as the column slithered its way past.
In addition to a prominent identifying number on the side of the turret, each of the succeeding tanks also bore the name of a wife or sweetheart left behind in the security of the Reich. Greta fell in behind Magda and one by one the small column of panzers skidded into position and began the treacherous journey towards Rostov.
Mounted in the turret of his battle-scarred Panzer IV, SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans von Schroif reflected ruefully on the fact that the twenty-two tanks which had come under his command in February had so recently constituted an impressive mass of ironclad might. He glanced backwards and counted the machines again.
Seven? That’s it? Christ, this is getting serious!
Time and time again over the last two months he had watched in horror as comrades were blown apart or died screaming in a mass of flame. No one who had heard it could ever forget the cries of dying men trapped in a burning tank. but the terrible sights and sounds of this godforsaken war in Russia crowded in on each other, and what had once seemed earth-shattering was now commonplace. There had been far too many funerals for death to make any further impression. Too many good men were now biting into the grass.
Russia had taken its toll. It wasn’t just the fighting either. In the logical side of his over-tired brain von Schroif knew and gratefully acknowledged that SS-Hauptscharführer Klaus Rubbal and his team at the battalion workshop did an amazing job keeping the tanks rolling forward, but the mud of this muddy season, the second which they had endured out here, tested the men and machines of the Panzerwaffe to their limits. The locals called it the rasputitsa, but von Schroif couldn’t give a damn what they called it. No single word could ever be sufficient to express his disgust and contempt. He was not well disposed to the locals and grumbled bitterly to himself that if the lazy bastards spent less time inventing stupid names and more time building a proper civilised road system, then none of them would be in this mess.
The desultory drizzle of misty rain which had been falling since 03:30 hours now gave way to a heavy fall of sleet, and the muddy surface was soon coated in a dispiriting blanket of grey. To von Schroif it seemed that this second Russian rasputitsa was even worse than the first season they had encountered in October ‘41. That first time, the unexpected phenomenon, with its endless and seemingly bottomless ocean of mud, had tested the vehicles to their limits and now, just six months later, here it was again. In his fatigued mind the two recent seasons of mud blended together to form one gruelling nightmare of muck and filth. The only redeeming feature was that the intervening horrors of the merciless Russian winter were temporarily forgotten as the grim nightmares of the white hell on earth now lay buried under a tidal wave of liquid clay.
As they rolled along, past groups of vaguely interested landsers huddled beside the miserable panje huts which passed for human habitations out here, the grenadiers and tank men alike cursed the rain, sleet and melting snow which had again turned every metre of the primitive Russian road network into one bottomless alley of mud. This awful bone-chilling and cloying mess stuck to everything and everyone.
Haupsturmführer von Schroif considered himself relatively lucky he at least had a vehicle to ride on. He had, of course, to dismount for track failures, engine failures and a potential host of other irritating reasons, but nothing was sufficiently annoying to make him envy the hapless wayside figures he passed by as the tank slipped and slid through the mess. The despatch riders suffered most. To a man, they were coated in a uniform skin of sludge which gave them the look of elemental creatures formed in some demented kindergarten glory hole.
Faced with this new and implacable foe, the German horse-drawn transport system had completely broken down. The horse teams floundered in their efforts to make progress and the exhausted animals died in harness, overcome by the viscous morass. The only remaining solution to a host of day-to-day mobility problems had been to use his newly issued tanks as workhorses, and they were soon being requisitioned for every task imaginable.
It was now, too late, that the further limitations of the Panzer Mark IV came to light. The tracks, which seemed adequate by European standards, were hopelessly inadequate out here, beyond the reach of civilisation. The narrowness of its tracks made life nigh on impossible, but von Schroif knew, and reluctantly accepted, that his job was to make things possible.
The few tanks which had survived the fierce battles of the winter were now, once again, being pressed into service as recovery tractors, supply lorries, glorified staff cars and ammunition schleppers. Nothing else could get through the mud and there was simply no alternative. Already worn down and in need of spares and repair, Krupp’s finest were called upon for every conceivable job faced by a modern army. Engines which were already overworked were pushed to the limits as the panzers crawled through the sea of filth. Their road wheels and tracks barely visible, the few remaining panzers could usually be found dragging trucks from muddy pools or hauling staff cars to distant field conferences. Air filters and carburettors soon became clogged with mud. It seeped into every nook and cranny, obliterating vision ports and forcing the crew to drive with the hatches open, under a constant spray of mud thrown up by the tracks.
The only man who appeared immune to the misery of the muddy season was SS-Panzerschütze Otto Wohl, von Schroif’s main gun loader – and full-time comedian. The schiessekrieg was Wohl’s catch-all description of the war in Russia. To Wohl, the whole Russian experience could be summed up very simply.
A shit country, run by a shit, full of people covered in shit, fighting a shit war, for possession of a pile of shit about which I couldn’t give a shit!
With his free flowing Bavarian sense of fun and irrepressible outlook, Wohl could always be relied upon to lift the spirits with a relentless stream of droll observations. It helped morale, but von Schroif had to keep a lid on Wohl’s natural exuberance. In the wrong ears, Wohl’s remarks could easily be interpreted as defeatist. Now that events had turned sticky, the Gestapo were always keen to hear of any potential dissenters and the last thing von Schroif needed was to find himself without the services of Otto Wohl. Nor, for that matter, could he do without SS-Panzerschütze Bobby Junge, the wizard at the steering controls, who somehow managed to keep Magda going forward when virtually nothing else could get through the rollbahn of endless mud. Or, as Otto Wohl so aptly called it, the scheissebahn.
An unofficial truce appeared to have been declared for two months, with both sides seemingly immobile, stuck in the endless mire. The season of mud had exercised such a deadly grip that, until 02:30 hours this morning, even the Ivans had been forced to halt most of their activities, but now the cunning bastards had shattered the peace at the worst possible time, with an artillery bombardment of a scale and intensity which even von Schroif had not witnessed. The old military cliché was being reinforced once more, and von Schroif sensed that the months of boredom were about to be replaced by brief moments of sheer terror. Everything which had formerly seemed so unimportant now needed to be done in a tearing hurry, mud or no mud. Suddenly there was no time to get the Kompanie in order. He had been given thirty minutes notice of the mission and here he was with seven tanks. just seven!
Russia had indeed taken its toll alright and, as they rolled past another identical stretch of panje huts, von Schroif was forced to come to grips with the reality of his situation. No matter how hard the battalion and divisional workshop engineers worked, the reality was that the latest strength report stated there were five total write-offs awaiting replacement, four more of his panzers were under short-term repair at the battalion workshop and six were at the divisional workshop, awaiting engines.
Logically, Hans von Schroif accepted that there was nothing that could be done, but the tired, cold and hungry part of his brain railed against the fates which had brought him here. Stuck in the damn turret hatch of an ailing vehicle, he could clearly hear the ominous, fitful, spluttering sounds emanating from the engine compartment and the rasping noise of the gears which told him that his own machine was about to go the same way as eleven others.
He needed more force for this mission and his tired brain was not easily satiated. Defying all logic, it screamed back at him that surely some of the other panzers could have been made ready! Mentally, he inveighed against the gods once more. Irrationally, he convinced himself that this was obviously just another excuse from the rear-area echelons to hide their rank incompetence.
Following a further wave of internal cursing, von Schroif decided that he could at least get warm inside the tank. He had performed the move a thousand times, but on this occasion, perhaps because of his extreme tiredness, as he moved to close the hatch his knuckles somehow caught on the catch side of the open turret hatch lid and a sharp pain flooded over him, bringing him back to resentful wakefulness. This new indignity triggered a fresh mental tirade as the fast receding pain was conflated with dislike for the mission, with life in a tank, and the war in Russia.
Fuck! Fuck them all, fucking bastards. It can’t be that fucking difficult. Fuck Voss and his stupid fucking death fucking mission. Fuck this fucking war!
Hans von Schroif was right, there were clearly insufficient tanks for this mission, but then there were insufficient tanks for any mission these days.
He had attended the 04:00 hours emergency briefing and his heart sank when he learned that his Kampfgruppe would once again be thrown against Hill 15. Old man Voss had detailed the mission, which was to provide fire support and reinforcements for the few desperate grenadiers still fighting to stabilise the line, but surely Voss knew that the whole area was now the preserve of Ivan’s T-34s. Their wide tracks gave them a huge advantage over the battered Panzer IVs of Kampfgruppe von Schroif. They could still move if necessary and they carried a deadly high-velocity main gun. Countering the T-34 demanded mobility, and a better weapon than the short and stubby low-velocity gun of the Panzer IV.
As every East Front tank commander knew only too well, the Panzer Mark IV had originally been designed as an infantry support tank. They weren’t supposed to be tank killers. The standard tactical doctrine proclaimed that engaging enemy tanks was the job of the Panzer III. Von Schroif ruefully reflected for the thousandth time that, against the T-34, the main gun of the Panzer IV was all but useless. It was essentially a howitzer, to be used against entrenched infantry positions, and once again von Schroif cursed the lack of real tank-killing potential. What was needed was a high-velocity Kampfwagenkanone which could match the T-34.
The theorists back in Paderborn would no doubt pronounce that tank duels were intended to be the exclusive realm of the Panzer III, but that was the theory. In practice, this was impossible, as the Panzer IIIs in his Kompanie were now all out of action. In any event, the puny 50 mm weapon on the Panzer III was demonstrably no match for the strong, well-sloped cast armour of the T-34. And when it came to facing up to the monstrous KV-1? Well, it was time to pack up and go home.
It was a badly kept secret that the design boffins were already working on a long-barrelled, high-velocity 75 mm gun for the Panzer IV, a new and much more effective Kampfwagenkanone, which could still fit inside the smallish turret of the Panzer IV. The F2 was rumoured to be on its way, but it would take time to roll out the new machines and, out here, there was no time left any more.
His war now boiled down to a case of needs must, and von Schroif and his crew had become experts in the deadly game of cat and mouse which ensued every time he attempted to get as close as he dared to a T-34 in order to get in a side or rear shot from his unsuited main gun. The gunnery team of Wohl and Knispel did a great job and worked miracles time after time, but every time felt like it could be the last.
Mobility and manoeuvrability were the deciding issues and in deep mud, as Junge never tired of complaining, the narrow tracks of the Mark IV were as much use as a pair of ice skates. Various bodged attempts to add width had been conjured up by the battalion and divisional workshops. Even in their augmented incarnation, the tracks were no more than forty centimetres wide. Sure, they were better than the previous thirty centimetre tracks which did so little to spread the weight and made the vehicle cut into the mud, but, even with the improvised enhancements, the tracks were obviously still too narrow.
They’re slightly narrower than the tyres on my dad’s Volkswagen and about as much fucking use! was driver Bobby Junge’s, only slightly exaggerated, description of the track design.
From his cramped position in the bowels of the fighting compartment, Bobby Junge certainly had his work cut out keeping Magda’s forward momentum going at all, but Junge’s problems were of little concern to the grenadiers in their grubby off-white snow camouflage overalls perched on the engine deck. They knew they would have to do the dirty work soon, but for now there was still time, and they fell into the rhythm of the familiar journey and rearranged themselves so that they were bunched together on the engine deck of each of the tanks, where they gladly absorbed the heat emitted by the engines.
Huddled on the back of Magda, the small group of grenadiers swayed precariously and grumbled ferociously as they clung on to any handhold they could find. Among them was SS-Schütze Fritz Müller, a slightly built youth from Hamburg. Müller had reason to curse the sleet which drove into his face, but, as always in these situations, most of his personal anger was reserved for Herr Bauer, the local Nazi Blockleiter who, unfortunately for Müller, had also been his Hitler Youth leader. It was Blockleiter Bauer who had cajoled Müller into joining the Waffen SS. SS-Schütze Müller was now a very bitter young man and had good reason to be. As he repeatedly wiped the freezing sleet from his eyes, Müller regretfully recalled the words of their last conversation in the Hamburg sunshine during May 1941.
I still don’t understand why you haven’t signed up for the Waffen, SS young man. A tall, fit racial comrade like you shouldn’t be hanging around, waiting to be called up. You should join now! You’ll see the Mediterranean, maybe Afrika! Who knows? I have it on best authority that the Führer has decreed that the party should be represented by its own fighters in every theatre. there’s bound to be a Waffen SS division ordered to Afrika soon. You’d best enlist now. Rommel will have the British in the bag soon and you’ll be too late. Trust me, you won’t regret it. After all, you’re a miller and I’m a farmer – we depend on each other.
So he had trusted him, the bastard, and he had signed up – and all he had achieved was the order of the frozen meat, then the miseries of the season of mud, and now winter seemed to have come back!
Müller consoled himself by making yet another resolution to kill Herr Blockleiter Bauer as soon as he got his first leave. He wasn’t sure how he would do the deed, but he intended it to be every bit as slow and painful as this shitty journey.
Müller glumly noted that, even in April, the melting snow still held sway, but the welcome sight of patches of green stony ground speckled the landscape as the fearsome Russian winter of 1941/42 slowly gave way to an unsettled spring.
The treacherous Russian weather was obviously the ally of the Russians and, in its own way, was every bit as dangerous as the Red Army which, as they had been briefed in the assembly area, was now pouring through the gaps in the line only five kilometres distant from the battalion workshops which serviced Hauptsturmführer von Schroif and his SS Panzerkompanie.
Up ahead, the columns of black oily smoke pointed the way to the front as surely as the best Zeiss compass. As they crawled slowly down the muddy rollbahn towards Rostov, the rumble and crash of explosions grew louder and formed a continuous wall of noise which soon drowned out even the noise of the tank. Ivan was obviously throwing everything he could at the thinly-held line of main resistance.
Reluctantly, von Schroif opened the commander’s hatch. A blast of freezing air hit him and, on the muddy roadside, he observed the first fleeing fugitives hurrying in the opposite direction, slipping and sliding through the mud and sleet of the rasputitsa. Many were wounded. Others appeared to be unharmed. physically at least. Von Schroif had some sympathy for them. Two hours ago, a deadly barrage had fallen with pinpoint accuracy on the main resistance line and, just when it seemed that things could get no worse, there had come the sound of the infamous Katyusha – Stalin’s Organ.
Screaming down like banshees from hell, they produced a nightmarish enclosed box of exploding fire. The avalanche of high-explosive iron rained down on a designated target area, destroying virtually everything inside the hellish cauldron marked by the barrage. Inside the barrage area, the continuous concussion of multiple detonations was enough to transform the strongest and most dedicated warrior into a shivering nervous wreck.
He noticed that many of the retreating fugitives had thrown away their weapons, which incensed him. His sympathy evaporated and he thought briefly about stopping to round up these haunted men, but immediately thought better of it. For now, these disoriented refugees were beyond salvation as a fighting force, but a few kilometres back, he had no doubt, lay old man Voss and a welcoming committee of military police. They would catch up the residue and turn them into a fighting force once more.
Slipping down inside the tank and carefully closing the hatch behind him, von Schroif began to take an ever closer interest in the terrain outside the tank. They were approaching a bend in the track – exactly the place where Ivan might lie in wait.
Driver Bobby Junge had become an expert in handling the involuntary mudslide which accompanied every attempt to turn a corner in this godforsaken country, but it was still a difficult task. As the narrow tracks of the Mark IV slipped and slid, attempting to gain some kind of purchase, up ahead came the unmistakable and most welcome sound of the 88 mm Flugabwehrkanone, known to the troops as the Acht-acht Flak gun. Somewhere up ahead the familiar bark of the Acht-acht told him there was still some resistance and, as long as a few strong points continued to hold, there was still a chance.
Where’s the flak gun position, Junge? barked von Schroif to his driver.
No movement, same place as last week, replied Bobby Junge, straining to make himself understood over the intercom as he wrestled with the controls of the sliding tank.
OK, leave it to the others. Turn off here. Take up a position 400 metres at 3 o’clock to direction of fire, ordered von Schroif.
Junge responded immediately and Magda began to jump and jolt as the tracks sought some form of purchase and the tank somehow ploughed its way through the mud. Now and again the odd wounded fugitive made his way back to where he hoped safety lay. Somewhere up ahead, inside that wall of smoke, there was still resistance and, as long as a few strong points continued to hold, there remained the possibility that the line could be held. but why a fire support mission?
Voss. Damn Voss! Has he learned nothing? von Schroif thought to himself.
Old man Voss was his long-standing, and highly trusted, superior officer. Von Schroif grudgingly admitted to himself that Voss was a wise old fox. He would not endanger his men or their precious machines recklessly. Even in his tired and angry state, von Schroif acknowledged this, but the man was just so obdurate! It was absolutely infuriating!
They had first met at the KAMA facility in 1927 and both had been there watching the first Great Exercise near Munster in 1936, attended by the Führer himself. It was plain for all to see from way back then the key was mobility, mobility, mobility! Why in God’s name would anyone still ask for the few remaining Panzer IVs to provide fire support? That was now the job of the divisional artillery or the Sturmgeschütz abteilung! The lazy bastards. but no sooner had the thought entered his brain than von Schroif knew to let the anger pass.
In his mind, he surmised what Voss knew for certain. He pictured the tangled remains of the divisional artillery and the Sturmgeschütz battalion after the bombardment by a brigade of Stalin’s Organs. He let his feelings subside as the reality of the situation dawned. This was no place for too much anger, as too much anger got you killed. The intractable mud had forced the big guns to stay locked in the same place for too long and Ivan had done his homework. The early morning whirlwind bombardment had come with pinpoint accuracy. Obviously, Voss knew that there was no divisional artillery left and, as a result, his seven tanks had to do the job they were originally designed for.
Now completely resigned to his mission, Hans von Schroif fell into the familiar survival pattern of observe, notice and remember. Panje huts 200 metres to the east, forest 300 metres beyond that, open ground to the west, a river, a lone beech tree, a single track coming out of the trees and a small hillock beside it with heavy foliage, these were all mental markers that had to be remembered if they had
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Battle Story Kursk 1943
- Author : Mark Healy
- Publisher : The History Press
- Release Date : 2012-01-31
- Genre: History
- Pages : 144
- ISBN 10 : 9780752481289
In July 1943, Hitler launched Operation Zitadelle, the last German offensive on the Eastern Front. It was an attempt to shorten the German lines by eliminating the Kursk salient – created after their defeat at Stalingrad – and was designed to result in the encirclement of the Red Army. In reality the German tanks came up against impenetrable Russian defences: minefields, artillery and anti-tank emplacements, spread through lines 250km deep and manned by Russian troops whose actions often verged on the suicidal. The greatest tank battle in history, Kursk assured the Nazis’ defeat and was ‘the swan song of the German tank arm’. Involving over 9000 tanks, 5000 aircraft, 35,000 guns and mortars and 2,700,000 troops (of whom 230,000 became casualties), the Battle of Kursk was a conflict whose scale and barbarity eclipsed all other clashes in Europe. This book gives a clear, concise account of those dramatic days in 1943, supported by a timeline of events and orders of battle, and illustrated with over fifty photographs.
Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay - History
When Germany&rsquos leading tank ace meets the Steppe Fox it&rsquos a fight to the death. Faced with overwhelming odds Kampfgruppe von Schroif needs a better tank and fast but the new Tiger tank is still on the drawing board and von Schroif must overcome bureaucracy, espionage and relentless Allied bombing to get the Tiger into battle in time to meet the ultimate challenge.
Based on a true story of combat on the Russian Front, this powerful new novel is written by Emmy&trade Award winning writer Bob Carruthers and newcomer Sinclair McLay. It tells the gripping saga of how the Tiger tank was born and a legend forged in the heat of combat. Gritty, intense and breath taking in its detail, this sprawling epic captures the reality of the lives and deaths of the tank crews fighting for survival on the Eastern Front, a remarkable novel worthy of comparison with &lsquoDas Boot&rsquo.
About The Author
Bob Carruthers is an Emmy Award winning author and historian, who has written extensively on the Great War. A graduate of Edinburgh University, Bob is the author of a number of military history titles including the Amazon best seller The Wehrmacht in Russia.
Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay - History
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When Germany's leading tank ace meets the Steppe Fox it's a fight to the death. Faced with overwhelming odds Kampfgruppe von Schroif needs a better tank and fast but the new Tiger tank is still on the drawing board and von Schroif must overcome bureaucracy, espionage and relentless Allied bombing to get the Tiger into battle in time to meet the ultimate challenge.
Based on a true story of combat on the Russian Front, this powerful novel is translated by Emmy&trade Award winning writer Bob Carruthers and newcomer Sinclair McLay. It tells the gripping saga of how the Tiger tank was born and a legend forged in the heat of combat. Gritty, intense and breath-taking in its detail, this sprawling epic captures the reality of the lives and deaths of the tank crews fighting for survival on the Eastern Front, a remarkable novel worthy of comparison with 'Das Boot'.
An interesting view of the technicalities of tank warfare.History of War
Bob Carruthers is one of the UK’s leading military historians and is famous in the UK for the bestselling book The Wehrmacht in Russia, published by Pen & Sword, which topped Amazon bestseller charts in 2012. Bob is also an Emmy AwardTM winning filmmaker whose work in the form of series such as Battlefield, Line of Fire, and Weapons of War are channel staples that are shown on BBC, Channel 4, Discovery, PBS and numerous other channels around the world.
Into the Gates of Hell - Stug Command ཥ Paperback – 4 January 2013
I was curious about a WW2 novel focusing not only on the Germans (of which there are many), but on the StuG assault gun - a fighting vehicle overshadowed by the mighty "Panzer" but just as, if not even more, important. I did notice the title received very mixed reviews, but the price was cheap and I took a chance.
Overall, I have to say this is a flawed book. The story of the siege of Brest-Litovsk is an interesting one, and there's certainly great opportunity for an incredible amount of action and drama. Unfortunately, the book immediately stifles any expectation of said action and drama by choking the reader with an overwhelming amount of exposition over the course of the first third of the book. In fact, the beginning of the invasion doesn't take place until literally 33% of the way through the novel. There are some brief discussions of past combats - especially during discussions of the characteristics of the Russian soldier - but they're not even delivered as flashbacks, just conversations about past events. Along with these are multiple grinding discussions of the various technical details of the StuG III, the Nebelwerfer rocket mortar, the protocols for air support and ground forces signalling to each other, and so forth.
Even once the book takes off and the real plot of the story begins, there are a number of areas where the story bogs down. One particularly irritating example was when a character gets sent back behind the lines for training in Morse signalling, and we are subjected to multiple lectures - yes, lectures - on Morse code and its usage. That Morse signals are tied into a small plot thread at the end of the book makes little difference, and making the reader suffer through so much nonsense, only for it to matter so little, proved doubly frustrating.
With all of the above, I felt justified in knocking a star off the rating. But in addition, the novel doesn't really even focus all that much on the "StuG Command" itself. Although the reader is stuck with the StuG "command" for most of the first third of the book, once the attack begins, the book shifts back and forth multiple times, and by the end, spends most of the action with a German Brandenburger who'd infiltrated the fortress. Since I bought the book largely to read about StuGs battling it out with the Russians at the kickoff to Barbarossa, I thought this book really missed the mark. It really should have been crafted/sold as the Siege of the Russian fortress of Brest-Litovsk, which was a long, bitter, horrible struggle anyway.
Also, I'm not sure what to make of the whole "Ritter Von Krauss" as the real author angle. According to the blurb at the end of the book, this title as well as the book "Tiger Command" and a host of other, unpublished works were originally penned by a German officer whose pen name was Ritter Von Krauss. There's a long "biography" about this German soldier-turned-author, but it smacks of nonsense, and some web searching reveals nothing. Surely there'd be a little more out there about this guy if he'd really written dozens of manuscripts for books after the war, so I feel like this is all made up to lend some hackneyed "authenticity" to the story, just as the book's subtitle calls it a "real life" account.
All in all, for three bucks, it's not a bad read. Although the prose can be a little dense at times (and all those SS ranks get a little mind-numbing to read over and over again), it isn't badly written for what it is, and as a book about the opening moves of the German invasion of Russia, it's interesting. I do advise skimming over the first third of the book VERY quickly, though. Almost nothing you learn there plays much significant relevance to the rest of the story.
When Germany’s leading tank ace meets the Steppe Fox it’s a fight to the death. Faced with overwhelming odds Kampfgruppe von Schroif needs a better tank and fast but the new Tiger tank is still on the drawing board and von Schroif must overcome bureaucracy, espionage and relentless Allied bombing to get the Tiger into battle in time to meet the ultimate challenge.
Based on a true story of combat on the Russian Front, this powerful new novel is written by Emmy™ Award winning writer Bob Carruthers and newcomer Sinclair McLay. It tells the gripping saga of how the Tiger tank was born and a legend was forged in the heat of combat.
Gritty, intense and breath-taking in its detail, this sprawling epic captures the reality of the lives and deaths of the tank crews fighting for survival on the Eastern Front, a remarkable novel worthy of comparison with ‘Das Boot’.
German and Russian tank battalions clash in this action-packed novel of WWII combat and conspiracy cowritten by an Emmy Award–winning historian.
When Germany’s leading tank ace meets Russia’s Steppe Fox it’s a fight to the death. Faced with overwhelming odds, Kampfgruppe Hans von Schroif needs a better armored vehicle and fast, but the new Tiger tank is still on the drawing board. Now, von Schroif must overcome bureaucracy, espionage, and relentless Allied bombing to get the Tiger into battle in time to meet the ultimate challenge.
Based on a true story of combat on the Russian Front, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay’s Tiger Command! presents the gripping saga of how Germany’s Tiger tank was born and a legend was forged in the heat of combat. Gritty, intense, and breath-taking in its detail, this sprawling epic captures the reality of the lives and deaths of the tank crews who fought for survival on the Eastern Front.
“Carruthers has a masterful grasp of the realities of the conflict.” —John Erickson, author of The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin’s War with Germany