Another attempt at a diorama, this one depicting a German sK 18 field gun position about to be surprised by Soviet cavalry. The gun crew figures are included with the gun, with the exception of the kneeling figures with the powder charges which are 3-D resin prints. The German officer and radio operators are Zvezda, as are the Soviet cavalry.
Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist’s Journey from Campus to Combat in 38 Days
By Buzz Williams
Hardcover in dustjacket, 300 pages and photographs
Published by Gotham Books, March 2004
Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
Buzz Williams saw enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a way to achieve his two primary goals – serving in the Marines and going to college. Inspired by his older brother, he wanted to go to boot camp. Upon graduation, he drilled “one weekend per month, two weeks per year” and attended service schools on the LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle. His unit was activated as part of Desert Storm and participated in the liberation of Kuwait. Afterwards, he remained in the Reserves and became a teacher, eventually leaving after realizing the constant shifting from civilian to military worlds was exasperating his PTSD from the war.
This is a very personal story, an autobiographical arc following his journey from civilian, to boot camp, Reservist, a combat deployment, Reservist, and ultimately a return to civilian life. New Reservists go through the same boot camp alongside enlistees destined for active service. A sizable portion of the book describes the boot camp experience in great detail, along with the eventual realization that everything in boot camp is planned and specifically designed to prepare the recruit for combat conditions.
I found the descriptions of the Reserve drills and training fascinating. The transition from civilian to military mode can be jarring, and there is little time to preserve (or learn) the specialized military skills which may, at short notice, be required for the unit to perform well in combat. Williams’ descriptions of dealing with his OCD and returning from Desert Storm are also interesting.
Spare Parts is well written, Williams is an excellent story teller and the book flows well. His descriptions of his fellow Marines will be recognizable to veterans. His insights into the Reserve program are interesting. The Reserves are a vital part of the U.S. military, but one which is rarely described in detail. This book is easy to read but hard to put down, I can recommend it without reservation.
Photographs taken at the Air Zoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
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Walter Rupp landed this aircraft at the RAF aerodrome at Manston, Kent after suffering combat damage on 17 October 1940. Rupp became a PoW. The Aircraft was assigned to 3./JG 53 “Pik As”, who were ordered to remove their unit insignia because they were out of favor with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring at the time – the unit applied the red “bandage” marking in protest.
Here is a small diorama featuring Polish Uhlan cavalry advancing, supported by a TKS tankette. Even a horse makes the TKS look small! The TKS and figures are manufactured by First to Fight, horses are from Zvezda.
Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front
By Günter Koschorrek
Read by Nigel Patterson
Published by Tantor Audio, July 2018
Length: 9 hours 41 minutes
Günter Koschorrek was a 19-year-old German Army machine gunner who was sent to Stalingrad in 1942. Assigned to a dismounted Kavallerie brigade, his unit was able to escape encirclement. Their escape was a close-run thing, their positions were over run by Soviet armor and they were saved only by crossing the frozen Don River on foot under fire. Koschorrek was wounded and evacuated back to Germany.
After recuperating, he was briefly assigned to Italy on anti-partisan duties, then back to the Eastern Front. This time he was part of a well-equipped and supported “fire brigade” unit tasked with countering Soviet penetrations in the front lines. After each action, they were withdrawn to quarters in a local village. This inevitably came to an end as the Soviet offensives gained momentum, eventually resulting in a general retreat back to Germany.
This is a very gritty tale of combat on the Eastern Front from the perspective of a common infantryman where the hardships were many. Koschorrek was one of the very few from his original group to survive the war, and he himself was wounded six times. He avoided being sent to the Soviet Gulags after the war by aggravating one of his wounds and being hospitalized.
The audiobook is read by Nigel Patterson, who has an English accent. I found this a little odd at first for a German memoir but grew used to it as the book went on. Patterson did quite well with the occasional German rank or phrase. The translation is also very English, with German soldiers being referred to as “blokes” and that sort of thing. An odd error is the Soviets are often described as being armed with “Kalashnikovs” instead of the expected PPSH-41s or Mosen-Nagants, perhaps another problem with the translation.
I listened to this book while travelling to the Cincinnati IPMS show, a good way to get some benefit from the dead time while driving. The book was “loaned” from the local library to my cell phone, a very welcome option when needed. This was an interesting book which I can recommend to anyone interested in the Second World War on the Eastern Front.
Photographs taken at the Air Zoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan.