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JoeArthur

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Finished Osprey book "French Foreign Legionairre vs Viet Minh Insurgent" by Martin Windrow---three good accounts of actions that would make good scenarios in ASL.
If you are reading that then you might find this useful:

Devil's Guard, author George Robert Elford. Probably a work of fiction though:



Devil's Guard



Devil's Guard
The constant justification of SS measures, compared to those perpetrated by the Soviets—as well as the almost-un...


I emailed it to Xavier (of LFT) and his comments on it were:

There has been no SS battalion in the French Foreign Legion as such. What's true, nonetheless, is that many Wehrmacht and SS soldiers joined the Legion after Germany's defeat, and plenty of them died in Indochina, true. But they were not used as an organic unit, which is completely logical.
 

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Finished Mark Zuehlke's Forgotten Victory, which took me into the mud and forests of the Reichswald. It was good to come across so many place names that pop up in ASL scenarios and to learn more about the events that are depicted in the Rileys Crossroad CG. The author has a great gift for blending operational history with the human story. I'm looking forward to cracking into his Holding Juno since Bloody Buron is in transit.

Also finished up a quick re-read of most of Keegan's Six Armies in Normandy that was inspired by the arrival of Beyond the Beachhead 2.
 

HansK

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Finished reading 'Uncle Bill' by Russell Miller.

Very good book on this neglected British commander, William 'Bill' Slim. Commanded 14th Army in Burma, so a must read if you like the CBI theater of war.
 

Michael R

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I've seen some mentions of SLA Marshall in previous posts. I thought his work had been discredited.
 

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An: overview of Osprey's The Imperial Japanese Army, The Invincible Years 1941–42 by Bill Yenne:

This book provides a broad and brief overview of the period of the "Japanese Blitzkrieg" during the first months following December 1941; that is an introductory summary of the campaigns in Malaya, Burma, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, French Indo-China and the Philippines. As it is only an overview of the campaigns, details tend to be command level and brief, but that is not a detriment (as the book doesn't claim to be anything other than a survey). The book begins with an interesting (and brief) summary of the Japanese military history following WW I, told by following the careers of Yamashita and Tojo. (At first I thought this an interesting device to give focus to the narrative, but it eventually just gets dropped and one wonders why it was ever introduced.) The book then transitions to the debates over the northern (Russia) vs. southern strategies, and discusses the relatively late ascendence of the southern strategy. Finally, the book provides a readable survey of the aforementioned campaigns.

If, like me, you don't really have a good understanding of these early months, the book provides a very satisfying summary to get you started in the literature (and the book does provide a bibliography to point you to some more detailed treatments of individual campaigns - though it is not annotated). There are no footnotes, so one is left with the sense that the survey was compiled solely from secondary sources, however, if one is reading the book only as an entry point (and not the definitive word on any topic - especially the pre-war debates in Japan) then this is not a serious problem. So, in summary, if you are looking for a brief but fairly satisfying introduction to these campaigns, this book quite ably fills the bill (and I'm not really aware of many other options that survey such a broad swath of the campaigns in Asia).
 
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pwashington

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Saw this on the Stone Books website:

News from A. S. Hamilton
11 March 2019
Author A. Stephan Hamilton sends this information:
"A revised and expanded edition of Bloody Streets will be released in January 2020 after being out-of-print for over a decade. Previously un-published first person accounts and new archival data, especially from Soviet wartime operational war diaries, makes this the most detailed tactical treatment of the battle ever produced.
"New maps and graphics will provide an unprecedented perspective of the day-to-day fighting across the Seelow Heights and each city block of Berlin."

Never read the original edition, but this looks like something that should be interesting.
 

jtsjc1

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Great book probably the best on the subject. This is great news. If you can purchase it first day, I have the original and I'll buy it again.
 

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I usually wait until I am done with a book to post a review, but I've enjoyed this one too much to wait (I'm about ¾ of the way through). The book is Martin Russ', The Last Parallel. The book is a very lightly edited diary that Russ kept, describing his experiences and feelings from about September 1952 during training in a replacement battalion at Camp Pendleton, through (so far) April 1953 when we was serving as a squad leader in Able Co., 1st Marines at outpost Hedy. If you want to understand the daily grind of the final stages of the Korean war, this book is spectacular. It is not a book of large unit actions, nor even is it a unit history of Able Co. This book is a day-by-day recounting of Russ' experiences of manning LPs at night, of near nightly patrols (to recover bodies or to scout for Chinese listening posts), and of the occasional raid. The book is extremely personal (if you can read about Lt. Guyol and not be moved, then you don't understand the tragedy of war) and helps one understand Marines and the boredom and excitement and fear and tragedy of war (without lapsing into tedious sentimentality or moroseness or platitudes). A simply wonderful book! (Could it be the All Quiet on the Western Front or Red Badge of Courage of the Korean war?)

From Kirkus Review, which describes the book far better than my clumsy efforts:
Russ went to the Korean War with the ribald impiety of the college boy, a passion for jazz, a lingo devastatingly hyper-modern, and a fixed notion that being a Marine was a hilarious joke thought up by a pack of cretins. In his jagged, haphazard way, wonderfully assassinating the King's English by any verbal somersaults he fancies, Russ gives a picture of Korean trench-fighting reminiscent of the early Cummings and sometimes of Laurence Sterne. Nothing very much happens; there's a series of half-hearted raids and patrols, a precise account of equipment, a tally of obscenities in vogue and the variety of methods for baiting the nearby Chinese, etc. Occasionally a Marine is wounded or an enemy flashlight retrieved or the Marines talk too noisily -- and all this varies the prevailing, suffocating monotony. A new stratagem for ambushing a patrol or for wiping out a listening post is devised. Russ has no story to tell -- he is neither a hero nor a symbol nor even a keen observer -- but (and this is a big, important but) he is simply a hugely gifted young writer, painfully and somehow proudly outgrowing his own immaturity. An original for special consideration.
 

Yuri0352

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I've been enjoying a bit of reading about the Korean War during the past few weeks.

'To The Last Round ' by Andrew Salmon
A very interesting account of the actions involving the British forces in the vicinity of the Imjin River. A fascinating back story to the scenarios 'Gloster Hill, Seoul Saving and Centurions Reverse. I would be very interested in hearing of any recommendations of additional books regarding the British and Commonwealth forces in this conflict.

'Devotion ' by Adam Makos
The story of Jesse Brown, the first African American U.S. Navy fighter pilot and the experiences of him and his squadron mates during the Korean War. This book also includes personal accounts of the fighting on the ground from perspective of the U.S. Marines during the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir. A very moving story of camaraderie and sacrifice.

'Give Me Tomorrow ' by Patrick K. O'Donnell
A relatively short book about George Co., 3/1 USMC. Much more than a unit history, this book is a series of personal accounts of this company from their hurried training at Camp Pendleton, the Inchon landings, the liberation of Seoul, with a particular emphasis on George company's resolute defense of East Hill at Hagaru-Ri, which was a crucial factor in the success of the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir. The absence of a 1st Sgt. Rocco Zullo SMC counter was a definite oversight from the Forgotten War module. :)
This book also includes an account of 3/1's actions with the Royal Marine commandos while attached to Task Force Drysdale during the relief of Hagaru-Ri. (I'm very much looking forward to any future scenarios depicting this action or for that matter, any involving the Royal Marines).

I am most grateful to MMP and the designers of Forgotten War not only for creating such a fascinating game module, but also for creating an interactive history product which continues to motivate me to learn more about this tragic conflict.
 

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djohannsen

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I just finished "Outpost War; U.S. Marines from the Nevada Battles to the Armistice" from the "Marines in the Korean War Commemorative Series." This is a brief pamphlet describing some of the last (though very intense) battles of the 1st Marine Division during the final months of the Korean War. Though I would be hard pressed to say that there was anything remarkable about the pamphlet, I found it a nice summary of a chapter of the war that I had previously not found interesting. That is, I assumed that the the final period of the war (the so-called Outpost war) was simply a stalemate and, thus, uninteresting. In fact, there were numerous violent clashes. One is struck by simply an incredible use of artillery (often firing thousands to more than ten thousand rounds over a period of a day or two). Combine this with ground radar guided air support and there are a lot of interesting aspects to the combat of this period. The pamphlet doesn't claim to be anything other than a brief overview, and it succeeds admirably at this.
 
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Mike205

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A couple of weeks ago I finished Mark Zuehlke's, Breakout from Juno: The First Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign, July 4-August 24, 1944.

I immediately reached for this after finishing Holding Juno, which I thought was a terrific book and a fine memorial to the Canadians in Normandy. In contrast to it's predecessor, Breakout seemed to read a bit too much like an AAR or rehash of an official history, particularly in its early chapters. As a fan of both Zuehlke and Lone Canuck's Bloody Buron CG I was dismayed that the recapture of the town received short shrift in favor of the fighting for Carpiquet and Caen. I didn't really gain much insight into the struggle to take Buron and this was surprising given, as I understood it, the place it held in Canadian popular memory.

Holding Juno was tense up until the last page and I really felt as if I was familiar with some of the young soldiers by the end. Breakout tends to paint with a broader brush and I suppose this comes down to his efforts to reconcile the scope of the July and August campaigns with the publisher's page cap.

Another slight criticism is that Breakout lacks deeper consideration about the German perspective, whereas Holding Juno went into detail about the 12th SS and their operations. Although Zuehlke mentions some units specifically, and writes generally about OKW's larger strategic plans, the Germans seem like some shadowy entity out there on the ridges for large parts of the book. Again, I think that this might have been related to scope.

Things did improve though and by the time I'd reached the fighting around the Falaise Gap the old Mark Zuehlke had reemerged to provide a gripping, detailed discussion which highlighted the Canadians' contribution to the fight around Hill 262. This was enlightening since I'd previously thought that the Polish armor was solely responsible for forcing the Germans to fight their way out at great cost.

All in all, I'd give this one a mixed review. I think that if you're looking for a fine operational history of WW II that also takes the reader to ground level and humanizes the combatants you just can't go wrong with Mark Zuehlke. He's head and shoulders above the rest That said, from the perspective of a ASL fan looking for details about specific actions during this part of the campaign, the book was uneven. On the one hand I was bummed Buron received short shrift but the book has me itching to play AP40 Head of the Mace.

Still well worth the money but I'm looking forward to reading another of his works whose scope and operational setting is more conducive to his great strengths as an author.
 

Eagle4ty

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...

Holding Juno was tense up until the last page and I really felt as if I was familiar with some of the young soldiers by the end. Breakout tends to paint with a broader brush and I suppose this comes down to his efforts to reconcile the scope of the July and August campaigns with the publisher's page cap.

....
What was so disappointing about the last page of Holding Juno?
 

HansK

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Finished reading 'Tank Action' by David Render yesterday.

An interesting and well written book. Author was a troop leader and tells how he went from Normandy to the Reich. Lots of small scale actions and clearly displays the tension and dangers the tankers faced. A number of those actions took place in The Netherlands, which made it even more interesting for me to read.

Also read a couple of things, that were completely new to me, about how they tried to spot Panthers in the bocage and how they handled them.

One of the better books on this subject if you ask me.
 

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Steven Zaloga, Smashing Hitler's Panzers: The Defeat of the Hitler Youth Panzer Division in the Battle of the Bulge.

This was an insightful look at the opening days of the fighting on the Ardennes offensive's northern shoulder. To sum up, it was pretty much over before it even started, as terrain, weather, logistics, and the poor quality of the German forces combined to blunt the HJ division's advance into Belgium. Not to mention American artillery, but we'll get to that in a moment.

The thing I appreciated most about Zaloga's book was its ability to concisely analyze a unit's combat effectiveness and this probably speaks to his background as an analyst. Very much in tandem with the latest German language scholarship on the Waffen SS, Zaloga emphasizes how much fighting quality HJ had lost since summer '44 and questions its status as an elite unit by the opening of the offensive. It was essentially rebuilt, but unlike other Waffen SS formations, who received an influx of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe, 12th SS was fleshed out largely with draftees from the Kriegsmarine, and the division lacked a shortage of seasoned NCOs for these new troops. In fact, during the opening days of the offensive, the division's panzergrenadier battalions lost so many company and platoon officers in the Krinkelterwald that it lead to combat paralysis in some units. They took so many casualties among their leaders because veteran officers had to lead from the front in order to organize their inexperienced troops. 1st SS and the performance of Kampfgruppe Peiper also take a hit in Zaloga's analysis of the campaign in the northern shoulder.

The division also lacked many of the armored vehicles it was allotted on paper. The AFV muster was largely rounded out with Panzerjaeger vehicles pressganged into a vulnerable assault gun role, and only one panzergrenadier regiment had half-tracks, the others were issued trucks. However, this mattered little since the few roads through the forest created massive traffic jams, slowing motorized traffic. Artillery was also lacking and the division's attack was spearheaded by Volksgrenadier divisions rather than an armored thrust, preceded by a short, ineffective barrage. One staff officer suggested an infiltration in order to swarm the 99th division and its interesting to think about this might have been much more effective against a well entrenched but green unit. At any rate, American troops were able to significantly hinder the attack because German forces were insufficiently concentrated and supported by armor. Once breaking out into open country, weather played a key role, as muddy fields forced the Germans to confront Krinkelt-Rocherath head on. By this point the panzergrenadier elements were either greatly weakened by the Krinkelterwald fighting or stuck in traffic, forcing the armor, including vulnerable tank destroyers, to enter the villages alone, where they were picked off by American bazooka teams or smashed on the outskirts by the ever present artillery- the American corps and divisional artillery batteries fired a record number of missions during the battle, speaking directly to the disparity in fire support between the two sides. Most stunning of all, Zaloga mentions HJ recovery teams attempting to retrieve wrecked vehicles in full view of American positions, as the division desperately tried to replace its dwindling armor as quickly as possible through battlefield repair. This was one of the many moments in the book where scenario ideas popped into mind, as well as memories of watching a gaming buddy try to scrounge equipment during a KGP II campaign.

Zaloga's stated aim was to return the critical battles of the northern shoulder to the center of the Ardennes narrative and he succeeded by creating an interesting, detailed, concise, and quickly readable book that also refreshingly calls into question the combat capability of the Waffen SS in the latter stages of the war.
 

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I just finished reading:

Merillat, Herbert. The Island: A History of the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal, August 7- December 9, 1942

Merillat, Herbert. Guadalcanal Remembered

Hersey, John. Into the Valley


Taken all together, these books made for an incredible literary vacation to Guadalcanal circa October 1942. Though they have to be taken with something of a grain of salt, it's always fascinating to read material written during the war (Into the Valley was published in 1943, The Island in 1944, Guadalcanal Remembered in 1982-- though the extensive diary excerpts were written in 1942).

The Island is a wartime account of First Marine Division operations on Guadalcanal written by the man who more or less served as Division Historian from August through December, 1942. Guadalcanal Remembered pairs nicely with The Island in that it is written around many of the entries in the diary Merillat kept through his time on Guadalcanal. The rest of the book provides context, both for Merillat's personal story and the campaign as a whole. It also benefits from forty years of hindsight, these sections having been written after many of the details had been declassified.

For a visceral description of combat, it's hard to beat Into the Valley. John Hersey was a correspondant attached to the 7th Marine Regiment and had an up close and personal view of H (Weapons) Company's attempt to cross the upper Matanikau on October 8, 1942. Hersey provides incredibly vivid descriptions of all aspects of this venture-- the people, the climate, the terrain, and the horrors of combat.

Wartime works can seem a lot alike, and these beg comparison to Richard Tregaskis' Guadalcanal Diary. On the balance, I find each of these works to be superior to Tregaskis'. Merillat was on Guadalcanal for much longer, and had better access to information than Tregaskis did, and Hersey wrote about events that he directly experienced and was personally involved with instead of basing his work on interviews of the participants.

The one major downside to these works is that the editions I was reading did not contain adequate maps. Fortunately, I have a copy of The History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (vol I) on hand, which more than made up the difference.
 

witchbottles

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I just finished reading:

Merillat, Herbert. The Island: A History of the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal, August 7- December 9, 1942

Merillat, Herbert. Guadalcanal Remembered

Hersey, John. Into the Valley


Taken all together, these books made for an incredible literary vacation to Guadalcanal circa October 1942. Though they have to be taken with something of a grain of salt, it's always fascinating to read material written during the war (Into the Valley was published in 1943, The Island in 1944, Guadalcanal Remembered in 1982-- though the extensive diary excerpts were written in 1942).

The Island is a wartime account of First Marine Division operations on Guadalcanal written by the man who more or less served as Division Historian from August through December, 1942. Guadalcanal Remembered pairs nicely with The Island in that it is written around many of the entries in the diary Merillat kept through his time on Guadalcanal. The rest of the book provides context, both for Merillat's personal story and the campaign as a whole. It also benefits from forty years of hindsight, these sections having been written after many of the details had been declassified.

For a visceral description of combat, it's hard to beat Into the Valley. John Hersey was a correspondant attached to the 7th Marine Regiment and had an up close and personal view of H (Weapons) Company's attempt to cross the upper Matanikau on October 8, 1942. Hersey provides incredibly vivid descriptions of all aspects of this venture-- the people, the climate, the terrain, and the horrors of combat.

Wartime works can seem a lot alike, and these beg comparison to Richard Tregaskis' Guadalcanal Diary. On the balance, I find each of these works to be superior to Tregaskis'. Merillat was on Guadalcanal for much longer, and had better access to information than Tregaskis did, and Hersey wrote about events that he directly experienced and was personally involved with instead of basing his work on interviews of the participants.

The one major downside to these works is that the editions I was reading did not contain adequate maps. Fortunately, I have a copy of The History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (vol I) on hand, which more than made up the difference.
The best thing IMO from a historical standpoint is its the "right after", and the primary sources themselves, which gives the reader an insight into the thoughts, feelings, and concerns and fears, of the men and commanders on the ground, just because of the getting it all on paper while it happens or right after. This is what makes the AARs filed with higher commands on order some 30-90 days after the conclusion of operations so incredibly vital and vibrant to read. You do get the "knife fight in a phone booth" viewpoint not present in the later on historical monographs.

The downsides are that you cannot take the material presented via narrative at face value for factual reference alone. Even a short period of the stresses during and after combat cause, far too often, a selective memory lapse that when considered even in a supposedly "sterile" environment of AAR writing or in censored letters, provide a patchwork that the historian then needs to collect, coalesce into a narrative and independently verify through other means (typically other primary sources.). A weight of evidence is enough to accept the event or the fact being presented which may seem incredulous, to be accepted at face value. Those which cannot be readily verified, are those which, as you note, you should consider with a healthy dose of salt.

the other downside is one must then also recall that during WW2, and especially in both the vast expanses of the USSR and in the featureless wastes of the North African desert, and finally across the myriad of barely explored areas of the Asia-Pacific region and CBI theaters, maps were at best, unreliable, if not flat out incorrect, even those used to plan the operations that occurred in the area. Not even photo recon of the period could fill in the gaps across the vast distances in those theaters. So the reader of recent or at the point and time sources does need, as you discovered, some other point of reference in order to make sense of the geographical viewpoint coming from the man with the boots on the ground, some 70+ odd years ago.

Great choices, and I like the follow up with the 1982 "stepped back" perspective.

If anyone is interested, the USMC "Red Books" (History of the United States Marine Corps Operations in World War II), all 5 volumes are available for free online in html linked format, at hyperwar.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/index.html#ops

highly recommend the hyperwar website should be on everyone's bookmark list. It is an expansive and growing collection of the monographs from all points of view of the war period from 1930-1946.
 
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