ATB Bound Vol. 42
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ATB Bound Vol. 42
The 42nd bound volume of After the Battle (issues 165-168) again presents a wide mix of stories from around the globe.
The main feature of this volume is a special on Stalingrad, the most-famous battle fought on the Eastern Front, decisive for the outcome of the entire war. Due to the wholesale destruction of the embattled city, it was long thought impossible to apply our ‘then and now’ format to this battle but with the help of local expert Alexander Trofimov we managed to match up numerous combat photos taken all over the city, giving full treatment to the months-long struggle for the city on the Volga.
In May 1944, the Germans launched a surprise airborne raid by parachute and glider on the town of Drvar in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia in an attempt to capture or kill Marshal Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav partisans. Although the SS paratroop battalion made a successful landing and captured the town, they failed to find Tito, who narrowly managed to escape. Soon encircled by superior partisan forces, the Germans had to fight for their lives before being rescued by ground units. Karel Margry covers the operation, code-named Rösselsprung, in full detail.
Turning to Western Europe, Jean Paul Pallud recounts the 1944 battle for Brest, the port city and U-Boat base in Brittany in France. American forces, having broken out from Normandy, reached the city in early August, beginning a siege that would last for six weeks and ultimately involve three American infantry divisions in a slow and costly battle against a determined German garrison.
Also from the Western front comes the Battle for Singling, a famous small-unit action fought in December 1944, when a tank/infantry force of the US 4th Armored Division tried to capture a village in north-western France, which resulted in a short, sharp fight with an unexpectedly strong German opponent. Based on combat interviews made immediately after the battle, the story comes alive in vivid detail.
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated in April 1945. Karel Margry reveals how the photographers and cameramen of the British Army Film and Photo Unit fully documented the horror camp and how this material was subsequently used for an official documentary titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. The film was shelved in late 1945, and not finally completed and restored until 2014.
From the British home front come the stories of Mary Churchill, the Prime Minister’s daughter, and her wartime service with heavy anti-aircraft batteries, and of the Ministry of Food Home Guard, a unique little militia unit that served on the north Wales coast.
Two stories make an excursion to the First World War. One describes Britain’s Home Defences along the Kent coast, the other details the 2014 centenary commemoration at the Tower of London, when a sea of 800,000 ceramic poppies filled the castle’s dry moat.
Smaller stories include the Battle at Camp Bowmanville, about a three-day rebellion of German prisoners at a POW camp in Canada; and a nostalgic trip back to the Siegfried Line by your Editor-in-Chief.