With World War 2 quickly disappearing from living memory, books such as this covering Tiger tank battalion 503 will quickly become our only connection to the events of WWII. This offering is a Stackpole books publication courtesy of Casemate publishing. The authors of this release are Dr Franz-Wilhelm Lochmann, Richard Freiherr von Rosen and Alfred Rubble. The book is provided with a very thin card cover, with 438 matt stock paper pages inside. My very first impressions at this point, is what is a book of this quality doing in this extremely poor cover, as it should be a good quality hard backed book. The book provides the history of Tiger tank battalion 503 over six parts of 39 chapters. I am going to list the parts, rather than the chapters.
Part 1 Organisation of the Battalion
Part 2 First Employment in the Kalmuck steppes, 1942-43
Part 3 In the Ukraine, 1943-44
Part 4 Normandy, 1944
Part 5 In Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia, 1944-45
Part 6 The End, 1945
The text in this offering is in a clear font, that is just on the border of being comfortable for my to read, due to the font size. The paper used is very thin, and you can see the text on the opposite side through it. Another sign that this book has not been given the care and attention is deserves as regards what it contains. Most of the text in the book is written in the form of diary entries, and so provides the reader with the very human nature of serving in a tank battalion of the German army in WWII. Entries cover everything from where they were going, what they did and even covers aspects, such as having ice cleats fitted to the tracks to prevent them going side ways. The text is very readable, and I suspect will have you reading far more than intended, each time you pick it up. Because being the words of people who were there, this makes it so human.
Interspersed with the text is the odd period photograph, and then in some places there are just pages and pages of photographs to look through. The sorts of photographs taken by crew rather than propagandists, which makes the images so valuable. It does mean that the quality of the photographs varies greatly, but that does not detract from their value. The captions provided do not cover every photograph, and in some cases are quite short, where as others provide a very good level of context to the photographs they relate to. Along with the photographs are the odd map, and organisational break down charts, that give the viewer a better understanding of what they were facing, and the distances involved.
This offering from Stackpole Books, takes a fantastic look into history of a German Tiger tank battalion in WWII. The presentation style of the writing just makes you want to read more and more, and the human nature of the photographs will appeal to anybody who reads the title, as it brings the events to life. I cannot get over the weak binding of this title, and thin paper used in the book, as this is one of those titles that deserves to be a hard back book offering of a high quality publication. Rather than a book that feels like a penny a dime novel, and it is only that quality aspect that I can pick fault with.