Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume 2 1942-45, Bernd Hartmann

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume 2 1942-45, Bernd Hartmann

Despite its designation, Panzer-Regiment 5 was actually the oldest armoured regiment in the German Army. In the first volume of this two-part history of the regiment we followed the regiment from its earliest pre-war days to North Africa and its first victories and defeats under Rommel. In this second volume we pick up the story at the start of 1942, just before Rommel's final victorious campaign, the series of victories that would see the Germans reconquer Cyrenaica, finally take Tobruk and enter Egypt, only to grind to a halt at El Alamein.

After that early success the regiment's story is one of retreat, disaster and defeat. Rommel's attempts to break through at El Alamein failed, and he was then defeated by Montgomery. A long retreat into Tunisia followed, before the regiment was finally destroyed in the surrender that ended the campaign in North Africa. It wasn't reformed, but a panzer detachment 5 was formed around a core of personnel from the older regiment. This unit was equipped with StuGs, which it took to the eastern front, only to be swept away in the destruction of Army Group Centre. The unit was reformed once again, and fought on the western borders of Germany late in 1944, then on the shrinking Eastern Front during 1945, before escaping into American captivity at the end of the war.

The text is supported by an excellent (and sizable) selection of photographs, mainly from the period in North Africa, although there are some from the fighting on the Eastern Front. There is also a useful photographic appendix on the panzer troop's uniforms, and an interesting selection of awards and certificates, often linked to a picture of the recipient. There is also a good selection of maps, organisation charts and diagrams showing the various types of armoured vehicles used by the regiment and its successors (each accompanied by statistics and notes on the individual vehicle).  

The text itself has been translated well and is clear and readable. The narrative is supported by plenty of supporting information, presented in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow (medal winners, timelines, lists of commanders, tables of organisation etc.) The tone is generally neutral (although the regiments defeats are always blamed on overwhelming odds, and their opponents are rarely given any credit for them). The text is supported by plenty of first-hand accounts of the action, which give a great feel for the sense of elation during the early successes and the depression as the fighting turned permanently against Germany.

Chapters
1 - Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Campaign in North Africa, 1942
2 - Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Campaign in North Africa, 1943
3 - History of Panzer-Abteilung 5, 1943
4 - History of Panzer-Abteilung 5, 1944
5 - History of Panzer-Abteilung 5, 1945

Author: Bernd Hartmann
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 290
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011 translation of 2002 German original


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