Monday, February 4

Review - “German Army Grenadier 1944-45” from Landser Books

There are lots of books on the German soldier of WWII and what he wore and the equipment and weapons he carried – we think we have found a special one in this book though – “German Army Grenadier 1944-45” from Landser Books – read on in our review to find out why….
German Army Grenadier 1944-45
Paperback: 34 pages
Publisher: Landser Books Ltd
Large format pages 29cm (h) x 22cm (w)
ISBN-10: 0956790003
ISBN-13: 978-0956790002
Available from: directly from Landser directly from their Ebay shop stephenandrew-books for  £14.95 + P&P.
A note: we haven't published too many pictures from this book on the basis of giving too much away!

In this job we do a lot of guesswork. There are several figures that come to us - or even pictures of figures, and many of them German because of the nature of them selling so well in the modelling market. The German troopers of WWII carried a lot of different and specialized equipment that changed in type and material throughout the war.

There are lots of websites and books which show you replica and period items from the war – but none of them really explain much about the items apart from the physical attributes of each of them. You can learn the names of each item but you never really get a deeper understanding of the items. There is a great difference between being told and truly understanding about things I find. I have always known what things are called but there hasn’t really been an understanding of the circumstances around these objects, why they changed from year to year and even often what they are made of, how these items and garments developed and why. I have long been after a book that would do this. Would this book be it?
The author - Stephen Andrew, is well known for his excellent work and artistry of the German soldier especially in the Osprey “Men at Arms” series, as well as some of the Concord series of publications. These would show an illustration of a soldier and then a description of what he was wearing and the particulars of why he was wearing them. These books are cherished by their owners as an excellent source or research. Stephen started his own series of Publications called “Landser books” (Landser was the name of the common German Infantryman) - in 2010 and this book was published first in 2011 and is still in print.

This title “German Army Grenadier 1944-45” – is the first in a planned series by the author which shows you the equipment and ordinance of the soldier in a specific part of a conflict. I suppose wisely this book is set in the best-selling market – the German army of the late war period. Small in page numbers at 34 pages – it is a fairly considerable amount of information which has been crammed into those pages. The large format pages of 29cm (h) x 22cm (w) are covered with a soft glossy binder and the pages inside are of good quality stock paper. The book is split mostly in a layout of text on one page and the illustrations of each of the soldiers it describes or their equipment on the other page.
When I first saw this book I was surprised to see that it looked rather thin, though I was soon impressed by the large format of the pages and the wealth of text inside. The writing is not just a caption on each pictures like you may find in previous books like this, it is very detailed and explains exactly what the soldier is wearing and the difference between this and something similar or sometimes the subtlety of each of the equipment in it’s variation. Although this book captures what the soldiers were wearing in the last year of the war it takes into account the fact that many soldiers would get equipment from an earlier time in this period because of shortages. Indeed it often describes what the older equipment was – often from the gear the soldiers used from the war’s commencement. All types of kit are shown, from tropical types in the Mediterranean to the summers or Europe to the whitewashed winter uniforms it is all covered here.

From a detailed introduction then into the main part of the book you are treated to some detailed background information on each of the pages of the period/type of uniforms shown and often the details of each of these like the collar patches “Litzen”, the national emblems or details like belt buckles worn by the soldiers.
The text gives you insight into each of the items but it is nothing without the artwork it describes. 15 superb colour artwork plates – on every second page, there are two soldiers, skilfully illustrated and coloured, they are THE feature of this book for me. Each  soldier is drawn about nine inches high and you can clearly see all of his characteristics and what he is wearing and the difference between his Kameraden on the same page or indeed another similarly attired soldier in the book. I like the format here that shows you the information on one page and the soldier illustrated on the other – you can read about the picture as you look at the artwork, you do not have to turn the page around or flick back to the end of the book and look up a key. Each double page spread reflects a certain period or type of uniform.

I should not forget the end of the book that gives you four pages of both text and illustrations of the field equipment just by itself. Each item is described and shown with a numbered key on each so you know exactly which item is being described. This helps you identify exactly the equipment that is represented if you could not work it out from the earlier text and pictures.
Lastly there are also two pages of text describing in length certain aspects of the uniform. This is excellent in that it tells you exactly when and why the items such as helmets, footwear, colours of the equipment, methods for wearing them and what the hell “Stoff” equipment was! This book makes sure you understand what this equipment was and why it was worn.
And that, my friends is what makes this book very good indeed, the low number of pages begets the wealth of knowledge I garnered from this book. The UNDERSTANDING I got, now I truly can tell you why something was used, what it was made of and why it changed – sometimes not for better but why it did.

This is now my companion whenever I am trying to work out what a soldier is wearing in a sculpture or artwork. I has definitely given me an understanding I did not have before reading the book – and that is the difference between it and looking at most other titles like it.

In summary if you like or are interested in this period of history or the German soldier specifically you should own this book.

Thanks to Landser books for this title – this sits on my closest accessible shelf near my workbench!

A small footnote – Contrary to claims from some sellers this book is still in print! I have seen it go on sale on amazon and other places for US$170 + because people think you cannot buy the book anymore - it is available from Landser’s suppliers for a RRP of under £18 – or about US$25. You can buy them directly from Landser directly from their Ebay shop stephenandrew-books for  £14.95 + P&P.