Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Finished: "British Paratrooper Versus Fallschirmjager" by David Grentree

Finished: British Paratrooper Versus Fallschirmjager: Mediterranean 1942-43 by David Greentree, 2013, 9781780969244.

One of military history paperbacks that Osprey Publishing must have hundreds of in print. Greentree uses other history and biography titles for a brief history of paratroops by the Germans and British and two larger fights between the two groups. I don't think Greentree uses any primary resources like maps, unit diaries and histories; none of those are listed in the bib anyway.

One fight, Green Hill, was in North Africa when British Paratroopers jumped behind lines with a mission to attack three separate airfields. The mission was way too ambitious and poorly planned for a lightly armed group marching on foot. The Brits had a running five day defensive battle across the desert mountains and had to leave behind wounded men.

The second fight was a Brit Paratroop attack against a bridge in Eastern Sicily. The Allies wanted to cut off the German retreat to mainland Italy using the Straits of Messina. Paratroopers dropped and attacked the 400 foot long Primosole Bridge south of Catania. The Limeys succeeded in taking the bridge and the hills south of the bridge but fought back and forth with the German paratroops sent in to counterattack.

Both fights are good examples of misusing the units. Paratroopers are meant to drop behind enemy lines, fight, and be relieved ASAP. Paratroopers cannot bring enough people or carry enough arms, ammunition, equipment, and vehicles to easily hold out past a couple days. The table of organization changed during the war with units adding heavy machine guns and using gliders to deliver small vehicles and cannon.

Since the paratroopers were often misused they often failed to fully complete a mission or ended up with high casualties. But, paratroops were recruited and trained as elite soldiers so they would be employed as shock troops to reinforce trouble areas as regular infantry.

1. These books are fun, quick reads. I have trouble keeping all the German names and military titles straight.
2. I read Currahee! by Donald Burgett when I was in middle school and, ever since, I've enjoyed reading paratrooper books.
3. I appreciate that Osprey Pub. always has maps, photos, and color illustrations in the books. Maps especially, I hate when someone writes a book and does not include even a simple hand drawn map.

No comments: