Elite Panzer Strike Force: Germany's Lehr Division in World War II, Franz Kurowski

Elite Panzer Strike Force: Germany's Lehr Division in World War II, Franz Kurowski

This book followed Panzer Lehr Division from its formation at the very end of 1943, through its formation, an early expedition to Hungary, the fighting in Normandy and France and on to the Battle of the Bulge and the defence of Germany.

The title is a little misleading in that by the time the Panzer Lehr Division was actually formed Germany was firmly on the defensive, and so it spent very little of its time acting as a strike force - only one failed attack in Normandy and a not particularly successful role in the Battle of the Bulge, and the rest of the time was spend on the defensive. Panzer Lehr fought in Normandy, was almost wiped out at the end of the fighting there, was reformed to take part in the defensive of Germany's borders and then the battle of the Bulge.

The division succeeded a series of smaller units, some of which had served as a strike force, starting with the Panzer Lehr Regiment of 1938, Lehr-Brigade 900 (mot) of 1941, which fought on the Eastern Front and Lehr-Regiment 901, which would eventually become part of the division. The earliest units were formed as training and demonstration units, with the intention that part of the unit would serve at the front to make sure that the unit kept up-to-date with recent developments. 

This is a good example of the sort of unit history that is quite familiar on the British side, where it normally covers a single regiment. The scope here is enlarged to cover an entire division, but the feel is the same, with a mix of a good narrative account of the fighting and detailed personal memories of individual incidents. One gets a good impression of how devastating Allied artillery bombardments could be, but also of how robust the German army was on the defensive. 

Chapters
1 - Roots of the Division
2 - Activation of the Division
3 - In Vienna and Budapest
4 - The March to the Front
5 - The Fighting for Tilly
6 - Days of Horror
7 - A New Major Attack
8 - Westward
9 - Hell
10 - Retreat
11 - At the Westwall and Beyond
12 - Victory Lost: The Fighting in the Ardennes
13 - To the Bitter End

Author: Franz Kurowski
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 236
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011


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