The battlefield history of the Afrikakorps is well known, but the background story of its troops is less familiar. This entry in the Osprey Warrior series fills that gap, looking at the training, selection, equipment, uniform, food and daily life of the Korps. There is also a brief overview of their battles, and a look at the battlefield experience of the soldier.
One thing that emerges from this text is a sense of how similar the experiences of an Afrikakorps' soldier were to those of a Desert Rat. The desert imposed itself on both armies, with soldiers on both sides modifying their uniforms to suit, and adopting captured elements of each others kit (British shorts being popular on the German side). The famous 'two types' cartoon showing an old desert hand and a new arrival would have been just as appropriate to the Germans as to the Allies.
There is a clear sense of how things changed in the Afrikakorps as the fighting in the desert changed. The early freedom to exploit any opportunities as they developed on the ground was slowly replaced by a more cautious attitude and a more rigid requirement to obey precise orders, while an influx of new troops and formations reduced the overall quality of the Korps.
This is a useful study of life in the Afrikakorps and helps to explain how the Korps developed such a long-lasting 'esprit de corps'.
Recruitment and Enlistment
Appearance and Equipment
Life on Campaign
Belief and Belonging
Experience of Battle
After the Battle
Author: Pier Paolo Battistelli