I am in the process of reading Antony Beevor’s latest book, ‘D-Day’. A super read if you are at all interested in military history, even if World War Two isn’t your subject. Antony Beevor is one of those clever historians who manages to combine the big picture of army groups and brigades manoeuvring against each other with the accounts of the soldiers that were there doing the actual fighting. It’s riveting stuff and the truth of war appears to be stranger and more horrific than most fiction.
Beevor is not particularly complimentary about General Montomery and from the evidence presented, Monty appears to have been suffering from a bad case of over inflated ego. However, the idea that somehow the British and Canadian Forces were slower to break out of the Normandy beachheads than the Americans ( and therefore were perhaps less of a fighting force) is put clearly into perspective when it is explained that the British were facing the cream of the troops available to the Germans, the Waffen SS. Whilst in the main, the Americans were fighting the German line infantry, including many Russian and other foreign conscripts.
The Waffen-SS were the cream of the German army, well armed and equipped and highly motivated to the point of fanaticism. In Beevors book there are tales of Waffen- SS troops refusing medical treatment from the Allies, prefering to die for Adolf Hitler rather than surrender. There are many examples of SS troops fighting well and within the bounds of what we can call ‘civilised war’ ( if such a thing exists), but too many incidents of brutality occured throughout the war, tainting their reputation. That said SS units fought courageously, sometimes ferociously, against great odds until the wars end in Berlin, 1945.
Bolt Action Miniatures, the WWII section of Warlord games have just released their Waffen-SS set containing 20 metal soldiers. They are, as always from this Company, beautifully sculpted and produced and a must have set for any WWII wargamer. Also available are two support packs, An HMG-42 machine gun team and a PAK 40 antitank gun and crew. Heres a picture of the painted models courtesy of Warlord.